In my pursuit of being more self-sustainable, and growing my own food, I ultimately stumbled upon the magic of worm poop (more commonly referred to as worm castings). This magical panacea for our sprouting and established plants alike is a fantastic alternative for people who do not have neither the inclination to buy composted manure, nor like the smell. My plants were HUNGRY, and I really didn’t want my patio to stink every time I went out to check on my plants, nor do I think my neighbors would appreciate me dragging bags of poop through the halls of my apartment building!
I purchased a bag of vermicompost from Lowe’s during the summer, and was amazed at all the research I found online about it’s usefulness. I was also happy to learn that vermicompost does not burn plants when applied topically, due to it not having the sodium levels of other fertilizers. It is essential in the ecosystem of no-till gardening, along with mycorrhizal fungal association, that worms and their castings are present to help build soil humus, aerate dirt, and fertilize plants/trees by consuming decaying organic matter such as leaf and wood mulches.
It was around the time I was researching vermicompost, that I came across the YouTube channel of Emily The Crazy Worm Lady. Emily has a fantastic YouTube channel with weekly progress videos of her different worm bins, and a lot of great information about keeping them alive and happy. I encourage any prospective worm-enthusiasts to check her out!
Needless to say, Emily convinced me to give it a go. I was excited to generate my own “black gold” and save some money from needing to purchase it, as well as cutting down on kitchen/food waste, and up-cycling potential garbage. Saving money and the environment? Sign me up!
There are tons of videos online about how to create different worm systems. I decided on a 3-tier vertical bin system, created from shallow, 10-gallon rubbermaid totes. With some luck, I found a local “worm guy” and purchased my first batch of 1000 worms for $20, and never looked back!
The plan was to keep the bins under our kitchen sink, and properly kept, shouldn’t have had any smells or nastiness within our apartment. My first pitfall was the fact that I didn’t measure out the bins, and they were about an inch too wide to fit under my sink. So my worms moved to the far end of the dining room, to sit in a dark corner. However after a two or three weeks, I started noticing bugs in my apartment! ARGH!
While there are options of screening any necessary air-holes, both me and my girlfriend were not keen to share our living quarters that intimately with exploratory insects. My bin has now found residence outside on my patio, and I’m hoping to try to keep them alive over winter. Luckily Seattle winters are pretty mild compared to the New York winters I grew up enduring. I’m employing a few tricks to try to ensure their survival, but at this point, I’m unsure if they’ll make it to spring. Fortunately, the aforementioned “worm guy” is located very close to my apartment, and I’ll be able to reach out next year if the need arises. I also found a great book that’s a standard across the Vermicomposting community. I’ve found it to be an amazing resource in helping get set up, running, and troubleshooting issues. I’d highly recommend checking out Mary Appelhof’s “Worms Eat My Garbage” for more information.
I will be making another post soon on how to create your own vertical system, and some do’s and don’ts when it comes to Vermicomposting.
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