The magic of worm poop (Apr. 12)

April 8, 2008

We don’t have “real” pets at our house. Allergies preclude cats and dogs; fish are out because I’m not a water person; gerbils and hamsters are too likely to die (and M. got so upset about the Christmas tree that I know exactly what would happen, and I REFUSE to go through similar mourning for rodents).

Instead, we have worms. Thousands of ’em. In the backyard compost bin. Well, in the ground too, and the boys love to dig them up (especially at this time of year when the huge ones are still right near the surface). But for five or six years now we’ve been vermicomposting our fruit and veggie scraps in a plastic tub in the back yard, and I have to say it’s been phenomenally easy. And the compost has gone a long way to making the salt-and-asphalt-doused flower beds along the street habitable for live plants again.

There are plenty of sites with directions on how to get started, so I’ll leave the explanations to them. I do have a couple pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t bother mail-ordering worms. Get red wigglers from your local bait and tackle shop (ours is the 42-year-old family business Paul’s Bait and Tackle on Chippewa).
  2. Use plenty of shredded newspaper, especially if your waste tends to be soggy (lots of coffee grounds, etc.) because worms don’t like sogginess.
  3. If the worms die, and the kids happen to check on their “pets” and freak out, it’s easy to replace them with no one the wiser.

If you’re not sure how your kids will do with worms, check out the class at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis this Saturday (Apr. 12) at 10 a.m. Participants will learn about vermicomposting and create a suitable habitat where the magic can happen (you can bring an old cooler if you have one). Registration ends Friday, so call 314.877.6014 to sign up.  Parents can sign up for the simultaneous session on native plants (also free) at the same number.  For details, visit the Web site.

And don’t be surprised if soon your kids, like mine, are pointing out worm poop in the garden!


One Response to “The magic of worm poop (Apr. 12)”

  1. Ah, I love worms! I still get made fun of by some who have known me a long time because when I was young (and not well-paid), I once enthusiastically declared “when I get paid, I’m buying some worms!” I do tend to have trouble with my worm bins though — we make it about halfway through the summer and then things go terribly wrong. Lately I’ve started preempting their deaths by dumping them straight into the garden about 3 months in. Great post!

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