Turning Trash Into Treasure (With A Little Help From My Little Friends)

This is the first in a three part WFAEats series on composting from Charlotte blogger Julie Mastbrook. Stay tuned for more and please, share your tips!

Originally, I had no intention of getting into worm composting.  While the idea intrigued me, it also seemed a bit daunting.  Little ol’ me? responsible for the lives of 1000 worms?  Some days I have a hard enough time just making sure the kids get their breakfast.  So I let the thought go and moved on with my life, compost free.  Then Christmas came.  Nicholas, my oldest, noticed that he and I had the two biggest presents under the tree.  Hmmm.   What could it be?

Legos? Jacket? Compost bin??

As you would have guessed, when the paper was torn off and discarded, there sat my very own worm composting bucket.  It turns out my Aunt Ann who has been composting with worms for the past several months now, decided that taking on this new adventure was exactly what I needed.  My first thought when I saw the my new worm habitat was, “are there seriously a bucketful of worms sharing space under my Christmas tree with my husband’s new jacket and Nick’s new Lego Tie Fighter?

The answer of course, was no.  Those would come later.  We first needed to eat up some compostable foods and then she would send the worms crawling our way…

So we got to work turning this:

Into this.

Once our bowl was adequately filled, we put out an APB to my aunt in Arizona and she promptly had the worms shipped our way; all 1,000 of them.  The kids could hardly stand the wait.  They would run out every day to the mailbox to see if the crawlers had arrived yet.  Finally the big day came.  We opened the box and here’s what we found:

Bag o' Worms!

When it comes to worm composting, you can’t just throw and go.  You need to prepare the bedding and that means wetting down the shredded paper that came with the bucket.  Alex was my trusty helper with this task.  You want your paper to be nice and damp, but not so damp that it clumps together.

Once you’ve sufficiently dampened the paper, it’s time to add in the worms.  Ours came in a pile of peat, so we simply spread the peat around and then left the top off of the bucket so that the light would send the worms running for the darker parts of their new home.  Check out that clump o’ worms!

How cool that these little “pets” will, in the not too distant future, help us to feed the house plants and plant a summertime veggie garden all the while reducing our waste?

Once we had the worms adequately dispersed in the bucket and they had retreated to their respective dark hideouts, it was time to add in the first of our saved up compost.

We buried it under the bedding/peat mixture, covered our box back up, and that was that.  The only other step we took was to number our bucket one through eight, so that we knew where we should bury our garbage next.  We alternated sides, working our way from one end to the other.  By doing this, you ensure that when you bury your compost at position 1, by the time you return to it about 4 weeks later, the worms have had adequate time to eat and decompose the previously placed food waste.

As an added reminder to “feed the worms”, the boys and I marked our calendar to re-nourish our legless pets every 4th day with the associated bin position number.

What once was just a passing thought in my mind is now our every day pet project and what a fun experience it’s turning out to be.  The boys all love taking turns loading in the compost.  We only need to feed every fourth day, but they ask to peak in at our new friends on a daily basis.  I’m looking forward to the spring when we can harvest all our hard work and plant our very first fruits and veggies over at the local community garden.

If you would like some information on how to start your own worm composting bucket, I can highly recommend the book “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof.  Happy Composting!

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4 Comments

Filed under The Foodie's Garden

4 responses to “Turning Trash Into Treasure (With A Little Help From My Little Friends)

  1. Jessica

    Awesome. I’ve been going back and forth on getting my own worm set-up, but I think I’ll stick to my backyard compost pile for now. I think it’s great your kids are involved.

    Looking forward to future stories about this!

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  3. Jane Warren

    Sounds like you’re off to a great start. Who knows, I might have to start one myself if it goes well. So you are being the pioneer (after AA of course!)

  4. Pingback: Backyard Vegetable Gardening // WFAEats

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