Cindy was a little miffed the other day, when she realized that a goodly amount of our refrigerator space was taken up by "worm food" at various levels of decompostion, aka rot.
So when I woke up at around 3 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, I decided to feed the worms.
I have read and heard about all kinds of disasters and disappointments when it comes to small-scale vermicomposting, but I have been more than fortunate in my worming endeavors.
And I think a lot of that comes to care I take in feeding them.
They're not that picky but there are some basic guidelines. They don't like spicy. They don't like citrus or garlic or onions. They don't like fresh. In fact, the funkier it is the more they like it.
They don't have big mouths, so they like their food chopped or better yet blended.
Things in the "farm" need to be moist, but not too wet. That's when you need to add "brown" or more carbon-loaded stuff, like newspaper and junk-mail, or at least I think that's the proper terminologies.
At the end of the day, it's about keeping things balanced, I suppose.
The Factory from the Top Down
Different worm varieties have different habits and tastes.
My current "worm factory" is made up of mostly red wigglers with some European night-crawlers thrown in, though I don't think I could tell the difference.
Anyhow red wigglers are "upward migrators" meaning they spend their time in the topsoil, among leaves and other rotting bits. So you try to mimic some of this in the factory.
It's at this point I get impatient and go a little rouge.
I tend to mix up the soil and not fuss too much about dealing with the feedings and levels too sequentially. I've been pretty lucky so far. My worms are multiplying pretty rapidly and I've not had any run-aways or smells, which can happen if things get to wet or not wet enough or if the food sources are too much or too little.
We try to not create too much food waste.
over-shop and eat left-overs before they go bad.
But when we're working, we usually end up eating out. So our attempts to support the local food sources by buying fresh goods from the farmer's markets; we end up with food going bad.
My worms can only eat so much, so I end up freezing some of it.
I will sometimes blend it up, which serves two purposes; it takes up less space and is also broken down more which shortcuts the decompostion schedule quite a bit.
Flowers smell and look wonderful, until they don't.
It's amazing how quickly they go from room fresheners to smelling like a stagnant swamp.
When we had a yard and could compost, things were much easier.
Now I've had to come up with stealthier tactics.
I have a bag of compostables that are too big for the fridge and not quite ready to be introduced into the worm factory.
I keep them out on the little bit of grating that is our balcony.
I might feed them to the worms eventually, or take them to a friends yard for composting or even do a little guerrilla gardening and dig them in across the way along the belt-line.
Now normally in a post about vermicomposting, this would refer to some decomposed matter. But this time around it refers to my finding a file box full of my reference and research materials when I was teaching an ecology class to the home school community back in LA.
Maybe I'll look into doing something like that here in the Big A.