Monday, August 30, 2010

Tending the Worms

But First, The Mysterious Me

If you haven't already read Jean Henry's interview of moi at Mysterious Writers, it will be up all week.

Tending the Worms

I spent a productive hour in my yard today, pulling a few weeds, spreading the composted yuck (from one of my worm bins) around my roses and lavender plants, and washing out the empty bin.

The worms in the other bin still have room to work, so I added shredded newspaper, soil, and the fruit and veggie peels and trimmings I'd collected in my bucket in the pantry.

Most of the ick factor is removed from these tasks when I wear old clothes and long rubber gloves to do the work. Picking up the redworms and moving them around is no problem. It's the yuck they produce as they eat and excrete that turns me off.

It's a small price to pay, however. I like the idea of keeping our fruit and veggie debris out of the landfill or sewage treatment plant. Using a natural fertilizer on the garden is a good thing.

The bins are easy to set up. I used two of the big plastic storage bins with lids that are vented in the handle. With a hammer and nail, I punched more vent holes in the lid. Added plain soil, shredded newspaper, fruit and vegetable parings from the kitchen, and redworms. Turned the mix from time to time. I also add more soil and newspaper strips to help keep the mix from getting too soupy.

Piece of cake.

Last winter I made the mistake of leaving my worm bins on the patio. Turns out the worms don't do so well when the bins get bitter cold. This winter I'm going to put them in the garage (stashed under my worktable so hopefully my guy won't notice) and do a better job of tending the herd. I should have at least two bins of excellent compost for spring planting.

To read about a more complex composting project (and relate it to writing, no less), see Marvin Wilson's August 23rd post at The Old Silly's Free Spirit Blog.

Here's an article on Composting with Redworms that covers everything, including The Sex Life of a Redworm. You don't want to miss that.

What does this have to do with my writing? Well, it's what I did right after lunch instead of writing. Does that count?


Margot Kinberg said...

Patricia - I think writing about the worms counts as writing. And I've always liked the idea of that kind of composting, actually. And yes, the more natural the fertilizer, the better.

Jenny said...

Writer, worm there anything you don't do?

Worms have always had a pretty big 'yuck' factor for me. I'm not sure I could have bins of them. But they are voracious eaters and produce great fertilizer.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I love the idea of composting, but only as an idea. The ick factor will not let me do much more than that :-(
But I do bravely pick the single earthworm I have from one pot and transfer it to another,when I feel the other one needs a bit of aeration - does that count?

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Hi Patricia. I used to have a hobby worm farm and I found them fascinating. I used to visit racing stables and bring home a trailer filled with manure for the worms to compost. I'm sure the smell bothered the neighbours, but it only lasted a day or two. I was raised on a farm so the ick factor never have had a chance. I'll pop over and read the interview. Happy gardening.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I leave the worm-wrangling to professionals, thanks!

Clarissa Draper said...

I don't think I've read a post before where I was so intrigued about the state of worms. Thank you for this insight. I wasn't as icked by it as I thought I would be.


Ann Best said...

I think the worms counts as much as writing as my fiddling with my blog does! Which I changed yesterday and am changing again today.

But I think it's much more relaxing to work outside with worms and soil etc etc than sitting in front of a computer. This sounds like so much fun.

The Old Silly said...

Pat - I didn't know you were a gardener and composter ... guess I should not be surprised, though. Good for you! Hey I KNOW you'll enjoy my post today, then. (wink)

Karen Walker said...

Patricia, you are a woman of many talents. I wish I was the kind of person who could do what you describe in this post, but alas, I don't think so. I'm learning to let go of the days when other things take priority over writing. It feels so much better when I do.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Well someone has to write about worms and you have made an excellent job at doing it.I enjoyed the read.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Worm wrangler. I love that! And Rayna, I really like the idea of moving an earthworm from one potted plant to another for aeration. That's a great idea.

The truth is, I grew up on a farm, so there's really not too much in the way of yucky farm work I haven't done. Even shoveling out the manure in the barn. Worse yet, cleaning out the chicken house. Worm composting is a pleasant hobby compared to those chores.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Thinking of changing to non-fiction? The worm piece could be the basis of a short non-fiction piece for either adults or kids.

I cut/pasted it so I could wave a printed copy under my old man's nose.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Just read you comments, Pat. I agree. There's nothing worse than cleaning out the chicken house ... and we only had about 50 of them scratching around the chicken yard.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I read your interview yesterday and enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for the information about the worms - if I can every clear the weeds in my garden I'll try them. I swear the roots go through the centre of the earth.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Elspeth -- They're probably connected to the weeds in my garden. I'm ready to have raised beds built so I can have a real garden next year.

Hi Kay! I'll never change permanently to non-fiction, but you're right that articles are a good way for fiction writers to spread their "knowledge" around. Just seems weird my knowledge would involve redworms.

Simon, I've avoided the manure option for my worms. They told me it wasn't necessary. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not a big worm fan - silly but true. I do know a few teachers who have vermi-composters in their classrooms. *shudder* :)

Anonymous said...

Lof worms and the idea of natural compost. Currently we have tons of worms in our gardens and no compost to speak of.

I suppose I could let the kids eat in the yard. Then I wouldn't have to clean dishes and the worms wouldn't go hungry...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Back in the days when I attempted to garden, the appearance of a big fat worm, spider of any size, or a creepy crawler immediately sent me indoors! Needless to say, I didn’t spend many hours working in our yard. Must be why I easily adjusted to condo life!)

I’m sure while you were out there, you probably came up with dozens of ideas for your WIP, so, yes, it does count.

N. R. Williams said...

Ah, to have fun in the sun with the squigglies.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

arlee bird said...

My goodness! You and Marvin and your compost heaps. And now worms. Sounds like a great way to recycle food scraps and old newspapers. How about coffee grounds? I used to hear something about coffee grounds being good for plants. Or do the caffeinated coffee grounds keep the worms up and get them too hyper. Maybe some worms will help me with my writing.

Tossing It Out