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Losing My Worm Card

Maybe I should just turn in my Vermicomposter liscense. The Red Wiggler gods do not look upon me with favor this day. Again.

Here’s what I just emailed off to Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, recent replenisher of my compost bin workers:

Dear Uncle Jim, I received a bag full of red wigglers from you last week, with much joy. After a little mishap I’m not proud of (see https://bartblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/dirty-confession/), I lost all of my worms this past Fall. So, starting again was an exciting time for my daughter and me. But something strange happened to the worms after I placed them into the fresh worm bed boxes I had prepared carefully for them. They all bailed! Pretty sure I had the moisture and the mix in good shape, and the temp was cool, but not cold. Just now I found all but maybe a dozen dried up and goners in my worm tea catcher and around the bench and floor of my garage where they sat.
Any ideas? Thanks.
Bummed in South Dakota

Need to get this all back in balance fast–my kitchen pail is getting pretty full.

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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in compost, rants, worms

 

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Dirty Confession

I have no worms. They’re gone. Every last one of them. At least until Thursday.

It’s a long, sad story. OK, it’s actually pretty short, but still sad. Last Fall I was harvesting worm compost, which means I was separating the Red Wigglers who eat our kitchens scraps from their poop, which makes one heckuva compost for the garden or house plants. The process is fairly simple: coax the little guys into one corner of the box with some tasty treat, then remove the big gooey glob of worms into a new starter box I’ve prepared. Then it’s just some careful sifting through the compost to find the stragglers. When I finished, I put the fresh worm poop compost around the base of a few baby trees in my yard, and covered the new starter box and put it away in the garage.

At least that’s what I thought I did. Till about a week later when I went out to add some food scraps to the freshly started worm box. (Because I got a little carried away helping lots of friends and workshop attendees get started with their own worm farm, I had combined my four boxes down to one.) I lifted the lid, and thought it was strange they hadn’t turned the sweet potatoes I fed them into dirt. Then I sifted through a bit, and found nada. Not even a trace of one little wiggly worm. It was a complete mystery–they just vanished.

I had had an issue once before when I let the box get too wet, and the worms started high tailing it out of there. But the box was perfect moisture, and there were no signs of escapees. I was baffled. And I kept it quiet, because I didn’t want Uncle Carl to be sad about his worms’ babies kicking the can, or any of my vermicomposting fans to be disappointed.

My lovely and brilliant wife is convinced I grabbed the wrong box to fertilize the baby trees, and accidentally set those Wigglers free. She’s probably right. But on Thursday, maybe sooner, balance in the universe will be restored.  2 pounds of prime Red Wigglers are on their way to Montrose from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. I promise I’ll be more careful this time.

There is a silver lining in all this, if you are my wife and you hate it every winter when your husband sneaks several boxes of live worms, and their poop, into your basement for a few cold months. And Uncle Carl, find peace in the idea that your worm descendants are spread out in boxes and kitchens and garages all over South Dakota, and even into Minnesota, thanks to my over-generous vermicoposting-starter-streak last Summer and Fall.

There’s magic in that there dirt.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in compost, worms

 

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Starter Pack Update

Today I met my most bicycle crazy friend Michael at our favorite west-side coffee shop. What the friendly Coffea baristas didn’t know was we were trafficking immigrants without papers.

By my count, that makes a baker’s dozen red wiggler starter packs I’ve sent out there into the prairie abyss. Except for one troubled exception (yes you, Brett), all are doing well and relishing in rotting food. At least the ones I know about. Some packs have gone to total strangers who were opportunists at a workshop or talk. Who knows how many of my first level starters have created starter packs of their own. We could be talking a nation of red wigglers here. And they all came from Uncle Carl.

In fact he’s the one who inspired me to give a lot of worms away. It was the original starter pack from Longmont, CO that Carl brought to me back in ’07 that turned me into a passionate worm poop farmer.  So, I’ve been returning the favor by paying it forward. I really only want 3 boxes anyway, and those things make babies like catholics.

The Chosen Ones:

  • Jane, a dean at SDSU (first ever starter pack)
  • A 5th grade teacher at a Sioux Falls elementary school
  • Another teacher, this one hangs with high school science nerds
  • My cousin Brett, who lost a game of chance
  • Flowerman and Letwan in Pest Control
  • Chris Z, my very favorite Extension Educator and rain barrel maker
  • Aimee, the bravest sustainability coordinator ever
  • A lady at a compost workshop
  • An old lady and a young boy at the Garden Show (they took my strawberries too)
  • Kim the Trash Talkin mommy with moxie
  • The Kindergartners at Lowell Elementary, via Drew
  • And, now, He Who Minuses Cars

Did I forget you? Holler.

UPDATE 5/20: Some mirroring on MinusCar. Yes, he said ‘caffeinated.’

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in compost, worms

 

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Wiggler Update (plus worm poop tomatoes)

What my worms love this summer: strawberries and zucchini. This stuff disappears in about 48 hours (that’s pretty fast eatin’ for red wigglers). They also gobble away watermelon, but I’ve been putting most of that into the big compost bin (without worms). The watermelon makes the whole worm box soaking wet. I’ve used it to my advantage though–I set up a pretty simple system to capture all that ooey ‘compost tea’ as it runs out the bottom of the worm box (see below).

That stuff is supposed to be super fertilizer and a cure-all for sick plants. I’ve tested it twice, with mixed results. I put some on the cherry tomato plant in our garden, and we just harvested the best little ‘maters we’ve ever eaten. I also put some on a dying bush in our yard, and it just finished it off (it’s dead).

There’s also a shot up there of our veggie and bulb garden (and the cherry tomatoes we didn’t already eat). It’s commercial fertilizer and pesticide free. Only thing we added to our (lousy) soil was compost from last fall and some worm poop to each tomato plant. Two of the tomatoes are heirloom varieties, and they haven’t had any disease problems at all. All those marigolds are great natural pesticide too.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2008 in compost, garden, going green, worms

 

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No Impact Man Loves Slimy Worms Too

Collin Beaven, a.k.a. ‘No Impact Man,” is one of my favorite bloggers. He’s a proffessor in NYC who took a one year challenge of living with his wife and daughter while making nearly no negative environmental impact at all.

Thursday, he spread some worm love to the masses. His post is chock full of how-to goodness.

Hope and I started the second bin in the Bartmann garage on June 1.  The worms we moved over seem to be liking their new home. I’m having some issues with moisture right now (too much) that I’m looking to remedy. Anyway, here’s a pic of a few of the critters in Bin #2 (and a very sexy hand model).

I planted some heirloom tomoatos in our little garden this year, and one was very sick about two weeks ago. I put it on a worm poop presecription and it’s looking great now…

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2008 in compost, garden, going green, worms

 

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