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A citizen of the greatest country on earth, subject to the laws and protection of mightiest sovereign, and I'm preoccupied these days with…figuring out how to feed my red wigglers as much of my household waste as possible. I'm wondering whether they'll dig into avocado pits I shove under their bedding.  

IMG_1231

"Waste," what my worms convert to compost, got to be a phenomenon, roughly, when the Industrial Revolution got into swing in the 1800s and human population started to take off apace. After you got through creating and using what you needed, there was so much leftover. Damn, waste piled up, and the piles just kept growing. And post-industrial society has been clogged in waste ever since. Buy a drink, toss the cup. Get rid of the ads, the wrappers; just throw them away.  

Indoor vermiculture is my partial solution to this contemporary problem. To explore roots of that solution in early modernity, follow me below.

T565318_02

In the early 1500s, in Poland, amateur Renaissance astronomer Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) was watching the heavens from his town on the Baltic coast. At the time, the best scientific understanding was that the sun orbited the earth. But Copernicus was noticing peculiarities in the sun's "movement," relative to the earth, which this dogma couldn’t explain. Eventually, he was forced to conclude that the sun didn't orbit the earth, as the Greeks had thought; the earth orbited the sun. He published his Commentariolus, explicating this new theory of the solar system, and other scientists started replicating his work. To make a long and tumultuous story short, within a respectably short historical span, Copernicus's heliocentric model of the solar system was widely adopted.

Humans weren't at the center of the known universe. That scientific discovery rocked the age. Five centuries later, it's still rocking our own.

I like the phrase, "Copernican Revolution," which philosophers and humanists into modern times prefer. "Revolution" means "a full turn," and implies the action of a wheel.

Years before setting up my worm bin, I became a political progressive. I'd learned about Copernicus's heliocentric model of the solar system in grade school. By college, the Copernican "wheel" was turning in my very life. It was dawning that, just as humans weren't at the center of the universe, nobody in the world was more important than anyone else. My experience, suppressed as it often was, mattered equally to any other mortal's. Any other mortal's experience, suppressed and distorted as it might be, mattered equally to my own. It meant that no dictate I had to honor, anymore, commanded me to sacrifice my adult volition, or any other personal faculty I had. I had the right to speak up for my human needs, and I had the obligation to listen to people very different from myself, speaking up for theirs. I'd work all my life to advance humanist-democratic ideals. I'd do this by voting, by dissenting, and by looking inward for self-awareness.

By the time I reached adulthood, we'd long had a thriving "ecology" movement. "Recycling" had even become mainstream, a household word. These days, municipalities, or their waste-collection franchisees, typically "recycle" much household waste. They take your plastic soda bottles to the plant and melt them down to make new ones. They grind up your scrap paper and cardboard to make other stuff. All "recyclable" waste I produce—and an ever-higher proportion of my personal throwaway is labeled that way—could theoretically be handled in just this fashion. Back to the post-industrial dichotomy: you have what you need, and you have leftover. They're inviolable categories. You pitch the diaper, the hand-wipe, the Kleenex, the pizza carton. You go and live your life.

recycling

As even proponents of industrial "recycling" admit, it's an inefficient process. All your stuff isn't converted, and the attempt takes energy and resources. But more than that was bothering me last spring. Despite my best efforts, I was producing "waste"—all by myself, literally, tons and tons of it. The ironclad categories of "keeper" and "throwaway" were working all the time less- and less-well for me. I wasn't at the center of the universe. I wasn't so high-and-mighty I could just keep churning out all this stuff all the time, clogging up nature, with no end in sight—unintentionally, no less. It was dawning on me that no human being had that prerogative.

So, once again, the Copernican "wheel" was turning in my mind. And then I opened
futurebird's June 8 diary, about indoor worm composting. I'd certainly heard of "composting" before, which I understood to be people rotting their household waste in piles in the yard, to feed their gardens. But since I had merely houseplants, I didn't think much about it. What futurebird said, about 1,000 worms in an indoor bin in an NYC highrise, eating ½ pound of kitchen scraps and junk mail per day, made me sit upright. The worms ate your garbage. In turn, they produced "vermicompost" for their keeper to use or sell. In theory, then, you could cultivate enough worms, you'd have barely any paper or kitchen waste. The worms would break down waste, expending no resources but a bit of your time. And your trash.
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Days later, I went and bought two vinyl cat-litter trays, a smaller one and a larger one, 15" X 20." I bought 500 red wigglers from the Ecology Center in Berkeley. I drilled holes in the cat-litter trays, for ventilation and drainage, and I stacked the bigger tray on top of the smaller one. Then I made a lot of bedding out of moistened scrap paper, and buried moldy food scraps and the worms in it. The total cost for my "start-up venture"? $40. Not bad. Not bad, at all.

This month, the approximately 500 red wigglers in my bin go through at least ¼ pound of kitchen scraps and waste paper each day. Later this summer, I'll be ready to harvest the vermicompost, a quart or two of it, for the first time. Am I making a dent in my personal waste "problem"? Not close. The full transition from my conventional household waste-disposal, to optimum vermiculture-disposal, probably will take years.

Momentous change can't be rushed.

I hope my remarks touch a revolutionary fervor in readers, as futurebird's diary did in me. I hope readers discuss why's and wherefore's of improved waste disposal in the comments. (For detailed discussion about vermiculture "best practices," please drop me a PM.)

I'm personally turning the wheel the great Renaissance astronomer Nicholas Copernicus set in motion, centuries ago. Ask me how.

On that note, I conclude with this song:

Originally posted to karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am right behind you (8+ / 0-)

    I am preparing for a move right now so I do not want to start any new projects, but once we get settled in the new place Vermicomposting and Aquaculture are near the top of my to-do list.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:51:09 AM PDT

    •  Just Getting To Compost Myself (8+ / 0-)

      but I did a few raised bed gardens a few years so. Made the soil myself (Google It). There were worms, ants, you name it. I was happy. I made a little eco-system.

      •  Hey, could you use one of those (4+ / 0-)

        3-D printers to make soil? (Only partly joking here.)

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:18:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My home is composting around me (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Limelite, jsquared, karmsy, shaharazade

        It amazes me how many other lifeforms share it with me. In the barn I have porcupines, rats, mice, squirrels, an occasional deer or wild turkey that wanders in, several harmless snakes that keep the insects down a bit; bats, sparrows, beetles, ants, various eaters of wood to include a beautiful green and red woody fungi that has replaced the putty in my windows. In the house and outbuildings I have most of the above plus a coating of moss on all the non metal roofs.

        I have stacked my blow downs to cut up as firewood. The piles start out about six or seven feet high but over a winter are reduced by carpenter ants to about four feet.

        Properly composted piles of grass clippings alternated with blown down apples appear to have been able to build a foot or so of soil since 2007 which I intend to mix with horse manure to replenish my garden

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 02:37:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am still quite ignorant of aquaculture. (6+ / 0-)

      I assume you mean as a source of compost? This wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/... contains an overview that's very general and apparently doesn't reflect the way most home practitioners use it.

      What resources would you recommend for somebody learning about it?

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:17:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not for composting..more of a Permaculture thing (8+ / 0-)

        I should have said AquaPONICS rather than AquaCULTURE.; an (almost) closed loop ecology between hydroponic vegetables and fish (...and Im possibly considering adding crayfish as well).

        I will be moving to a location in USDA Zone 8 so without hydroponics there will be a lot of plants I will not be able to grow.  Rather then use a straight hydroponic system dependent on NPK fertilizer, I'll raise Tilapia or Jade Perch and cycle the nutrient rich waste water from the fish to be filtered and returned through the grow beds.

        For resources, Aquaponics is still a very DIY subculture (don't be fooled by the store-bought turnkey systems)... there are a LOT of resources on the web.  Also, google PERMACULTURE and there is a lot of sustainable gardening topics, including Aquaponics.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:27:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm going to look into this for sure, thanks. (7+ / 0-)

          My off-the-cuff reaction to your remarks, not having looked anything up for myself yet, is that it sounds like it might take some sophisticated know-how, even as DIY as it can be.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:41:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The 9th Principle of Permaculture (7+ / 0-)

            is "Use Small and Slow Solutions".

            It can be as simple as a $4.00 aquarium tank pump linking a goldfish bowl to a window sill of potted plants up to a mutli-million dollar hydrocycling plant mass-producing produce.

            Its up to you, your needs, your space and your available time and energy.

             

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:51:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Great, thanks. I'm mighty curious now...n/t (4+ / 0-)

              It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

              by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:54:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  hang on...you will be amazed! (4+ / 0-)

                Earf day exhibits last year and a couple of other foodie/eco/green type festivals had some aquaponics exhibitors...I spent hours there just marveling at it all and still was able to not kick myself for 'why didn't I think of that!'

                it's very cool to see...and then there is the bio char info and exhibits...you will find this somewhere near you soon..it's that phenomenon where all of a sudden you find out something, id a new bird, and suddenly it's/they are everywhere.

                Permaculture is such a terrific understanding...

                Have fun, love this diary, thanks!

                This machine kills Fascists.

                by KenBee on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:26:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This is "living in tune with nature," isn't it? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KenBee

                  These city slickers who fantasize about "moving into the country with no people" and "living off the grid" and "making their own food," don't think ahead to all the gasoline they'll use, living so far out, and how inefficient everything will be. And how lonely they'll get! Kind of like early suburbanites at first didn't factor in inconveniences posed by distance when they considered their new "rustic" (and racially pure:) lives.

                  We're not being sold any promise with permaculture. We'll never again live like hunter-gatherers, and that isn't the premise.

                  It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                  by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:54:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  well done...and said. (16+ / 0-)

    so much time here is spent showing how screwed up the world is...it's nice to read something we can do ourselves...for positive change.

    we compost at home...not the worm method...we do all our yard waste...food scraps...food stained paper...like pizza boxes...etc...

    we get a lot to use in the garden and potted plants...but mostly it feels good to know we've cut down on what gets sent to the disposal facility...we now only set out our cans every other week...zero yard waste...and sometimes the garbage can is only half full.

    great stuff...great diary..!!


    We are not broke, we are being robbed.

    by Glen The Plumber on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:16:17 AM PDT

  •  Very good diary, karmsy. (9+ / 0-)

    This is such a practical and inexpensive idea.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

    by Dragon5616 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:33:30 AM PDT

  •  I think red wigglers would be a good (8+ / 0-)

    alternative to cremation or burial.  I like the idea of going sustainably to dust...

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:40:24 AM PDT

  •  ...absolutely wonderful... (9+ / 0-)

    ...I love compost and I love red wrigglers...

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:21:28 AM PDT

    •  After reading futurebird's diary, (9+ / 0-)

      I went and checked out "Worms Eat My Garbage," a 1990s how-to for vermicomposters, and something of a bible in the movement, by the late Mary Appelhof.

      I chose red wigglers for my bin over other species of worms because she recommended them. She also discouraged people from getting certain other species of hardy and prolific worms for vermicomposting, because of their reputation for getting loose! You're sitting there, paying some bills, minding your own business, and suddenly you have a little "friend" sitting next to you on your chair :) No, I don't think so...

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:47:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly What I Was Wondering (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy, shaharazade, samddobermann

        How do you keep them "down on the farm"?  I live in Hardiness Zone 10a: 30F to 35F on land that is more worms than soil, I sometimes think, as during the wet season they emigrate into our garage and onto our porch by the hundereds.  During the shoulder seasons, the ibises plow through our land like a police walker line looking for evidence, feasting on worms and other wetland critters that they find in their probing.

        Our worms are big, dark, and numerous.  And that last is an understatement.  I imagine if we just threw our household organic trash out in the morning, it would be "soilized" by sunset.

        The last thing I want to do is invite 'em into the house!   ;^)

        Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

        by Limelite on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 03:43:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have no idea what species of worm (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Limelite, shaharazade

          you have wild there. As Mary Appelhof points out in her book, "Worms Eat My Garbage," however, a worm species that's absolutely perfect for outdoor gardening, might not work so well in a worm bin, and vice-versa. Worms have different characteristics that suit them to different kinds of environments.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 08:13:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If you have a shredder, (12+ / 0-)

    it speeds things up a bit, as there are more spaces and the paper doesn't clump. Also, worms love corrugated cardboard, they can fit in the little spaces. I would tear up boxes into roughly hand sized pieces. Ditto for eggs shells. I don't know that they actually consume them, but the shells always had a bunch of worms inside.

    I had a couple boxes in CA for years, made out of scrap wood with a plywood cover.  When a box was mostly finished compost, I'd spread out the contents on a tarp, and as the worms went deeper into the pile, remove the compost. At the end, I would have a mass of worms, who went back in the box with new bedding. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    One trick I learned regarding ants and other invaders. I aways had my boxes outside, and other creatures want to get in also. At the least, they'll compete with the worms, and they may even eat the worms. So, I had the boxes on brick legs, each one inside an old paint can filled with water. Watch out for mosquitos in the water, but in CA the water never lasted long, and each time I was watering plants I flushed out the cans and refilled them. It only takes seconds.

    Everytime I see a diary about worms, I miss them and am reminded that I'm now a couple years worm-less. I need to get some.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 12:04:11 PM PDT

  •  I love my red wigglers (8+ / 0-)

    In fact, Wednesday will be the one-year anniversary of the worm colony in my kitchen. I've been learning a lot about how to keep them fat and happy -- and keep the fruit flies at bay. Lately the heat wave has been hard on the worms. I've been putting ice cubes into the bin, scattered around so that the worms can be either near or far from the ice and the cold water that drips off of it.

  •  ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, Mary Mike, Aunt Pat

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 02:04:54 PM PDT

  •  I like (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, paradise50, Limelite, shaharazade

    the Galilean/Newtonian/Einsteinian revolutions myself.

    They are more modern.

    That to speak of the sun revolving around the earth, or the earth revolving around the sun, one or the other, has no special scientific validity.

    Especially with Einstein, it's the revolution that the universe is strange, beyond the commonplace understanding of worms. Or people.

    •  Sure. But the Copernican Revolution (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, KenBee

      touched off unprecedented breakdown, ferment, decay in the culture--all the things nearest and dearest to my heart.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:13:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, and RELATIVISM (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee

        we have the Copernican Revolution to thank for a relativistic understanding of the universe, which we'd understood only in Absolutes before.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:29:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I encourage you wormophiles (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paradise50, karmsy, KenBee, Orinoco, Limelite

    to check out the Saturday AM Garden Blog that's actually 24/7

    I think that worm discussions will fit in great there. And if anyone wants to hear more from me, Kos mail me, I'd be more than happy to chat about worms.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 03:32:25 PM PDT

    •  Dandy. You are obviously a more experienced (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Orinoco, Limelite

      vermiculturist than I am (with less than one month's tenure). I am already having practical questions arise, and I'll keep you in mind as a resource.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:07:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The worm diaries remind me to get some (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy, KenBee, Orinoco, Limelite

        so, it's a favor.

        In the US, it was easy, as I recall it was about $15 for a pound by mail, and that was it. I had worms for 10 years. Here in Panama, I need to make a bit more effort. (I kick myself.)

        Good luck with your little livestock. They really are some of the most non-stressful animals to raise.

        This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

        by Karl Rover on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:19:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You pay shipping, I'll send you some. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karl Rover, KenBee, Orinoco

          And I'm not joking. I have it on good evidence that my little guys are making lots of babies.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:38:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Find someone with horses. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Limelite, karmsy

          They generally pile used horse bedding (straw and horse manure) in a compost heap, and underneath that heap are worms.

          Or find yourself a spot of land, dig a little hole, fill the hole with the same kind of kitchen scraps you'd feed the little buggers, then cover the hole with a rock or a piece of tile. Come back in a couple of weeks: the hole should be full of worms.

          Customs might frown on you getting live worms in the mail.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:58:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Worm crap is the best fertilizer ever! (5+ / 0-)

    Truly amazing! (Even more amazing than bunny balls) I would supose it's because it is the origanal,
    Plants are accustomed to it for millions of years

    I never thought I would be doing this commercial...

  •  "A citizen of the greatest country on earth" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, Orinoco, Limelite

    Êtes-vous français?

  •  Tipped and rec’d (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, Limelite, karmsy, shaharazade

    Great diary.

    In the old days, people thought the earth was the center of “God’s creation” and everything moved in the skies around us, including the sun. Because God made it that way. But then Copernicus (and Galileo) figured out we move around the sun. It’s simpler to explain it that way -- which is Occam’s razor, which says we should choose the simplest explanation.

    Then you moved on to vermiculture. I had a compost pile once (vegetable scraps are good, but not meat) when I lived in a house. I’m not very religious, but I like the idea of worms turning food scraps into fertilizer. It’s the great cycle of death and rebirth. Dead stuff (potato peels) turning into living stuff.

    With food scraps you have three options: 1) throw the food scraps in the garbage can (which ends up in a landfill), 2) grind it up in the garbage disposal (which ends up in the sewage system), or 3) recycle it into worm food that can be recycled into food, which makes the most sense.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:28:58 PM PDT

    •  I'm new enough to vermiculture (0+ / 0-)

      that practical issues still come up for me all the time. Just yesterday, I was wondering if I should compost this funky jar of applesauce that was in my fridge, when it was runny enough to pour down the drain. Was it too "wet" to compost? I ended up composting part of it, and dumping part, though there was probably no good reason to dump it.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:32:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We've got three worm condos in our basement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite, karmsy, orlbucfan

    and a grow tower with worms outside. We throw away 1 13-gal bag of trash a week (family of three plus a cat since oldest kid is at college).

    Our first worms came from Will Allen personally :-)

  •  I have bad news for you... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite, karmsy, shaharazade

    Worms won't eat your avocado pits. Nor will they eat raw potatoes or any other thing that grows when it is buried under the soil. So, if seeds or viable cuttings wind up in your vermiposting bin, expect to find plant shoots growing out of the soil (pale sun starved plant shoots) when you open up your bin to feed the worms.

    The good news is that if you carefully lift these shoots out with their surrounding worm castings, you have a head start on growing whatever it is that sprouted. I have tomatoes and beans and a squash plant on the balcony that started that way.

    Makes sense if you think about it: if worms ate seeds, nothing would ever grow.

    One way to avoid the shredder is to roughly tear paper then soak it in water for a few days and massage it into paper mache. Let the paper mache dry in thin sheet then use it as you would cardboard.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 11:50:10 PM PDT

    •  Good tip, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco

      By and large, I want to compost stuff the worms will consume completely. I wouldn't have put the pit in if I had known, since I have virtually no space to grow stuff outdoors. I DID chop the pit up before putting it in, to make it easier for the worms to digest, I thought. Does that mean each fragment of the see will sprout a little plant?

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:37:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, each avocado seed only sprouts one plant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy

        most of the pit is food for the growing avocado plant. Chopping the pit will make it easier for bacteria to attack the bits, and eventually degrade them to the point where they become worm food, and if you cut the embryo avocado plant while you were chopping, it won't sprout either.

        Leftover cooked potatoes compost quite well, so it may be that cooking avocado pits for a while will alter them so they become worm food. I haven't tried that, though.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 12:30:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know what my lil' buggers LOVE? (0+ / 0-)

          It's white bread. They go bananas. It's something with those simple carbs...

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 08:05:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have so many recipies for stale bread (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            karmsy

            that bread of any sort never makes it into the worm bin. Even the stuff that gets super hard gets ground up for bread crumbs.

            What gets my little buggers going is coffee grounds and banana peels. Fortunately for them I love coffee. And bananas.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 05:18:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  You can make worm bins out of almost any container (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    as long as you provide adequate ventilation holes and a cover and bottom.  I've used window boxes, plastic storage containers as well as the special multi-tiered draining system.  It's one simple thing we can each do to help the world.

  •  Vermicomposting is just great. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, GDbot

    Waiting until my wife will allow me to have a box here. Small studio and almost all of our space is used up.

    The bin I started back in the States is going very well. I would regularly feed the worms all sorts of herbs and leafage from dynamic accumulator plants from the garden in addition to all of our scraps. That and when I would visit the grocery store, I would always make sure to look at the marked down foods- especially organic bananas and take them all home as a special treat.

    One of the most beautiful things about compost, and especially vermicompost, is the abundant life present. Just a small amount in a container will, if you cover the compost with some mulch to prevent UV radiation from wiping everything out, inoculate your entire container within a few weeks with beneficial organisms.

    I credit the wonderful success of our efforts to change our lawn to a forest garden back in NC to biological inoculation through vermicompost and mychorrhizal fungi. Take the two together and make sure your soil stays covered and growing as long as possible and you have a recipe for success even in the most degraded and abused soils.

    •  Also see NC State's free permaculture (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, GDbot

      course lectures online. IIRC you will need to install Microsoft Silverlight in order to play these but that is worth it if you are new to permaculture.

      Link.

      There is a guest lecture from a vermicologist who shares some very inspiring research into the benefits of up to 30% vermicompost in your top soil.

    •  Interesting comment, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FinchJ

      about the unique contributions of regional soil to vermiculture. Here in the Bay Area, the soil is pretty sandy, unless humans have somehow enhanced it for farming. I was using handfuls of outdoor dirt to start up my bin, then I remembered about about this awful (to humans) digestive parasite found in the guts of raccoons. While unwitting use of soil contaminated with this parasite likely wasn't a huge risk, why take the chance at all? So I bought some potting soil.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:42:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks I love worms (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy

    I've been composting for about 15 years on my tiny plot. This year when I dug up my burned down compost pile the worms were in short supply. Don't know why because when I turned over the dirt in veggie bed there were worms galore. I had moved my compost piles to a hot spot under the eaves of the house. I am thinking maybe it was too dry for the worms. I had moved the compost to this area as the year before it was so wet that instead of compost in the spring I had wet slime, albeit wormy slime. Very interesting and fascinating diary.    

    •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade

      No practical advice to offer :) if you were even seeking that.

      Does a functioning compost pile even need heat from outside to function? I thought it was supposed to generate its own heat.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 02:12:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wormer here weighing in. Love my vermiculture, (0+ / 0-)

    but just wait until you make worm tea from the castings. Wow. Your vegies and garden will look like they are on steroids.  In addition, the worm tea protects against bugs.  I did manage to kill my whole herd of several thousand worms last year by feeding too much excess, rotting pineapple. Now I keep two bins going to prevent such a complete collapse.  Third bin starting soon.  I use 15 gallon rubbermaid bins and drill holes for ventilation.  The worms get all our kitchen scraps except meat, dairy, onion and citrus.  GardenWeb has a vermicomposting thread with very knowledgable posters.
    Happy composting.

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