Monday, March 14, 2011

Bring on the worms!

The Brentwood Community Garden had an Open House this past weekend.  It was nice to get out of the house and visit with some of our neighbours - sometimes over the winter it seems like everyone goes into hibernation mode and we'll go months without seeing even or close neighbours who live down the street.  So it was really nice to get out and do something in the community.  There were a number of tables set up with information about the community gardens and gardening in Calgary.  There were talks going on and a silent auction.  I only stayed for a few of the talks, but they were really interesting. The kids had a great time too.  They got to have hot dogs for lunch and they played in the kids zone for quite a while.  They had a few crafts, some colouring pages and the kids got to plant a bean seed.  But the highlight of the event (from my kids point of view) was the vermicomposter!  It had worms!  It was very exciting.  Barb Longair from the Nosehill Library discussed vermicomposting, how to do it, what supplies are needed, and where to get the worms.  The presentation was excellent and even the kids learned alot.  My three-year-old came home talking about how excited he was going to be when we get our new pet worms!  I have been thinking about vermicomposting for a few years, but I've aways been intimidated by how complicated and expensive the setup seemed to be.  But Barb shared with us her inexpensive and easily constructed home-made vermicomposter.

As you can see from the pictures, it is made from a large, sturdy bin with a simple household air vent added to the top.  She also labelled each side with a 1 or 2.  Then she had a small label attached to the top of the bin to indicate which side to "feed" the worms - 1 or 2 or a rest week.  She lets the vermicomposter rest once every four weeks.  She discussed the bedding required and how big a vermicomposter would be required for a family.  The one she showed takes about a cup of compost per week.  Here is a useful website that has lots of information.  She also discussed where to get the worms since you need red wiggles which are not native to North America - not the regular earth worms we find in the garden since they eat earth, not compost.  She recommended Worms at Work as a local source for the worms.  Vermicomposting in Calgary means that we can continue to compost through the winter months.  It is very difficult to compost in the winter - between the frozen trek out to the compost bins to the piles of garbage that thaw in the spring after being frozen all winter.  In fact composting in Calgary is a slow process since winter lasts at least five months and then even in the summer it is very dry and cool.  So in comes the vermicomposting!  One excellent book to read if you want more information is Worms Eat my Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

Heading home after all the fun...still lots of snow - but look at the puddles!  It is melting!

**Oh, and we learned a new vocabulary word...Do you know what a group of worms is called?...A squirm of worms!


Nicole said...

A squirm of worms - really? That's too funny. I know someone who did this but they got infested with maggots, which started eating all the worms...eww....but there's probably a good way to prevent that. I don't know much about it myself but I think it's a great idea!

Kristin said...

Nice post, Kim. I have been interested in vermicomposting for a while and have had a good conversation with Worms at Work. Great folks! But still need to get my hubby as excited as your kids ;-)

Calgary Garden Coach said...

Congrats! My kids LOVE the worms. I should be harvesting my first batch of compost soon. It is awesome stuff. Just in time for spring!

Calgary Garden Coach said...

Oh, and freezing then thawing whatever you put in your bin will help prevent infestations.
My hubby is on board (no mess, no smell, what's not to like?) but the bin definitely makes my mother-in-law pretty squeamish! Ha!

Kim said...

Thanks for the tip Garden Coach! I am a bit worried, but I figure we'll just have to dive in and try!

Barb the Amazing said...

Hi Kim! Barb here. Thanks for the great vermicomposting plug! Have you taken the plunge? Drop by the Nose Hill Library anytime if you have questions.
Just to clarify the amount of food to feed the little darlings, one cup of food can be fed to one pound of worms per day, or approx. two litres per week.
We're about three weeks away from harvesting the bin you saw at the Brentwood Garden Open House. Just in time to use in planting vegetable seeds.