I need to start this post with a big THANK YOU to my tolerant and wonderful husband who is putting up with my worm bin project. He has been very supportive from the start with the caveat that they would not be inside. His 2 main concerns are run-away worms and smell.
|Kitchen Pantry - Glass Jars & Produce Bags|
This past year I’ve been following and inspired by the Johnson Family and their Zero Waste Home lifestyle. I still can’t fathom how a family of four is able to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and only end up with a jar of waste for the entire year but I’m on a mission to try and do my part. This spring I started the process in small steps by transitioning the kitchen to bulk foods stored in Le Parfait French Glass Canning Jars. I take the jars to Whole Foods, check the tare weight, fill them up, and then usually coach the cashier through the tare weight and bulk #s. It is so simple, I feel guilty that I haven’t shopped this way my entire life. I receive most of my produce in my weekly SFF, but I also have reusable produce bags for the grocery store.
The next step in the kitchen was composting. I’ve been a dedicated recycler for years, but had never tackled composting. I don’t have any good excuses and since going vegan, my compostable waste has skyrocketed. I’m not sure why I decided on worms, but why not. I searched the internet and bought the “Worms Eat My Garbage” Handbook and felt comfortable that the worms could survive our winters, especially with testimonies from Michigan and Canada. I’ll admit there were some complex structures for keeping them warm, but I figured a household with 2 engineers could figure something out if the worms started shivering.
|Worm Bin Setup|
I ordered the Can-O-Worms bin this summer and finally got around to purchasing the worms and accessories in the fall. Did you know Sears sells worms and ships them ground? The first box arrived while I was on a business trip and Terry figured they were the worms so he left the box sealed and put them on a high shelf in the garage as far from the inside as possible. (Remember Concern #1: Run-Away Worms). I got home and immediately checked out the box to see if they had survived the 5-7days shipping plus 3days garage and cracked up as I carefully opened the accessories.
|Outside Location - Day 1 - Warm Fall|
A couple days later, the worms arrived and I was able to get them settled into their new home. We set up the worm bin under the front porch nestled behind the garbage can. They spend the first week eating the starter block and cardboard packaging so it wasn’t too exciting other than the cold October nights. Within a day, I added a blanket and tarp layer and started to worry about the little guys. I started to add food scraps the next week and then a thermometer when I stopped seeing movement. The nights and days were getting colder and the worms were wishing they had moved to Mexico with the neighbors.
|Outside Location - Day 2 - Cold Front|
Only 2 weeks in and it was time to build a structure like I’d seen for the Michigan worms. We drew up some plans and headed to Home Depot to price out the materials. Maybe we over-engineered it, but the worm bin was starting to get expensive so we returned home empty handed with plans to find something on the internet that would do until Spring. I had lobbied for a worm bin migration to the garage but the best spot was within 6ft of the door to the basement and Terry was nervous about run-aways and smell. After an unsuccessful internet search, I went to the garage and began reorganizing just “to see” if the worm bin would fit. I got permission to try it out for a few days. Here is where I mention again my awesome husband.
(please ignore the non-Utah beer)
This worm bin migration proved successful and the guys started chowing down and producing some stellar soil. I continued to keep them covered with a blanket which kept the temp around 60F. I keep track of the temp and other data in a notebook which gives me flashbacks to my HS Science Project that involved 3 rabbits (Golly, Gosh, and Gee Whiz) and their drinking habits.
Fast forward to late October and I need a worm babysitter for 3 weeks. That amazing husband steps in again, gets task-trained, and completes at least 2 maintenance cycles! He got into it enough to admit that he was worm babysitting to friends and fed the worms egg shells and coffee grinds when they finished off the large pile of produce I had given them as a goodbye present.
|Insulation Fix for Single Digits|
By Thanksgiving, the cold weather was intense and the temps in the worm bin were in the 40s. Back to Home Depot for some insulation to build a make-shift cover and hope for a rebound into the 50s. One week later and single digit temps the worm bin was starting to approach freezing. More blankets inside the insulation and fingers crossed, but by Wednesday of this week the worms were not moving and I decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission while Terry was at work. I will point out that I said I was working on a surprise for him at home and was he ok that I go thru with it. Pretty sneaky huh? Little did he know the surprise involved yet another worm bin migration!
Giving Lecture before Lid went back on
So, for the past couple days, the worms have been hanging out in the utility room and today were motoring around the food scraps like a football team at a buffet. As promised, I’m keeping a close eye and nose on possible run-aways and smell. According to my handbook, as long as I can keep the worm bin aerobic, then there won’t be foul smells. Looks like I might need another column in my notebook to track smell from 1-10 or better yet, I will just give the worms another lecture about having to migrate back to the arctic if they don’t keep things fresh. There have been no run-aways in any of the locations, so I’m not sure if they know it is an option, but as long as I’m the first one to find out when someone goes AWOL – everything will be just fineJ