Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Today is Earth Day, so I thought it would be appropriate to tell you about a "green" effort I've undertaken. At home, we have been increasing our general recycling and trying to use fewer disposable paper products by using rags instead of paper towels for cleaning, cloth napkins instead of paper, glassware instead of plastic, etc. And of course, we traded in the H3 for the Prius (hee hee! sorry honey.) But this past winter, I started a worm compost bin for our preschool.

My friend Sandy, the Green Guru, turned me on to an idea known as Vermicomposting. Her blog is here, and I highly recommend checking her out!

To put it simply, vermicomposting is using worms to convert organic waste into usable compost for the garden. It's really easy to do, fortunately for me because (I hate to admit it) sometimes if new things are hard, I just won't try it. But I'm so glad I did, because (1) kids love worms and (2) it's totally good for the environment.

Want to make your own worm bin? Here's how.....

1) Gather up the following supplies
  • an old plastic storage container (fairly large, like a Rubbermaid tub)
  • a handful of red wiggler worms (from the bait shop or online)
  • a handful of soil
  • some kitchen scraps
  • some newspaper
2) Toss the worms in the tub with the soil and the food, cover them in barely damp newspaper strips and put the lid on. Don't forget to poke holes in the tub's lid for air circulation.

3) Every week or so, add more scraps and newspaper strips as needed. In a few months, you'll have wonderfully rich compost for your garden or houseplants. You'll also have a lot more worms -- they multiply like crazy in there. Happy worms make a lot of babies, so I've heard.

4) Generally, you want to put only raw fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and the like in the bin. Stay away from meats, oils, dairy products, orange rinds and other citrus fruits. Worms also like a weekly eggshell or crushed Tums.

At school, the students give their teachers any leftover scraps from lunches - surprisingly, nobody is "saving" lunches for the worms...just giving them things like brown spots from bananas or the peels or crust from a sandwich. It's very cute. At first, one of the teachers found an escapee on the floor one morning before class. I'm sorry to say, he didn't make it. But I believe that was the only casualty. And we know now that if they try to escape, they are not happy. In this case, a little more newspaper and water did the trick.

I'll be taking home the preschool worm bin for the summer and hopefully keeping them alive and happy. My daughter has a new fascination with worms, and has even created her own mini worm bucket in the garage. She found a new worm today and now there are 7 of them. Plus one leaf and a bunch of dirt...and some grass clippings.

I would also like to state for the record, I will never actually have to touch a worm. I will use a spoon, if necessary. Or have my daughter do it. She will be more than happy to volunteer for worm duty. Actually, maybe I can convince her this is a new pet. Yeah, that way...we won't ever have to get a dog!

Do you vermicompost? Are you going to give it a shot? Drop me a comment and let me know! (and check out Sandy's blog for more details on starting your own bin)

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