Worming Around

Peeps...I've been working hard on my list for 2012. I may not be winning with everything, but having more measurable goals for myself has made a difference. Number 26 on the list was to "Compost, compost, compost." I haven't been as great about this as I would have wished, but lately I've been getting into the swing of it.

I initially thought I was going to just collect my food scraps and take them to my job, since I run a composting initiative there. But taking nasty garbage to work isn't as fun as it sounds. A couple of weeks ago, though, things really turned around for me. I attended a workshop at the Garfield Park Conservatory (the same place we went on our 1st anniversary!) on worm composting. Besides learning about the ins and outs of worm composting (pun intended), you also got to build your own worm bin and they gave you a handful of worms to get your bin started.

Here's the thing: I actually have a worm bin at work. A colleague started a worm bin for our composting initiative. A while back, though, her job responsibilities changed and she no longer was working with me. I was stuck with the worm compost and I had no idea what to do with it.
Flash forward a few months to me in that workshop and, well, the entire time all I could think was I am a worm murderer. Seriously. I was not taking care of those worms AT ALL. I'm pretty sure I killed them all. Well, I know I didn't, because the day after the workshop I looked through the bin and found some, but I know for a fact that there used to be a ton of worms in there. Now there are a few. I'm going to harvest the remaining worms this week and start over and hopefully, they will breed and we'll get the bin going again the right way. Live and learn, I guess. (Well, kind of, because I was supposed to feed the new worms a couple of days after I got them and I freaking waited a whole week and a half because I kept forgetting. Don't worry. These worms didn't die. They had the initial stuff we loaded into the bin to munch on before I started adding food scraps.)

The new bin, I've kept at home. Technically, I was supposed to take it to my work and use it there, but honestly, it's better off at my home. I can take the compost to work instead. I'm getting better about putting scraps in as I get them and the worms are munching slowly but surely and turning my food scraps into "black gold." There are some limitations to worm composting that have made it so that I can't put all my scraps in there or all my paper, but for the most part this is a great way for us to be a little greener and for me to "work" from home. Here are some pictures from the workshop and some recent pictures of the worms working their asses off (again, pun intended) to give me a beautiful garden come spring. Enjoy the grossness!

Ollie is fascinated by the worm bin. He likes to sniff the air holes on the outside. He takes these deep snorty breaths right outside. It's kind of funny. He just can't figure out what is going on in there!
(Photos by me!)


  1. Heh. This is kinda gross, but totally informative and I love it! I've been meaning to research worm composting myself but I didn't even know that Garfield Park has classes. I'm gonna check their schedule to see if they have another one coming up.

    Does the compost smell? I'd like to keep one underneath my kitchen sink. I have tons and tons of food scraps from the buns and I'd like to put it to good use.

  2. Hey Liz! Garfield Park doesn't actually offer classes, this was a workshop offered at the conservatory through a professional network I'm in. I have a copy of the powerpoint that they gave us though and would be willing to scan it in and email it to you if you're interested. I will say that you can find a lot of good info on the web, too. U of I extension has this page, which is similar in content to what I learned (though I got a big science lesson, which was informative, but a bit more than you would really need to know):

    In terms of smell, it really doesn't smell at all. You bury the food scraps and worms under the newspaper, which keeps insects and odor at bay. There are a lot of bins you can purchase, but honestly making your own out of a rubbermaid container is sooo easy. You just drill holes for air/ventilation and cover them in hardware mesh or screen and duct tape it on. Then, add newspaper that is wet, some soil or compost, and your worms. Give them a bunch of scraps initially to get them accustomed to their home and then feed them weekly. Let me know if you end up doing it. I'd love to see your results! : )

  3. I've been wanting to do a warm bin, but I don't think I will properly take care of them. We have city wide composting with our trash service but I never get to see the soil that results from the composting. I feel like once a year they should give a free bag of compost away to those who want it!


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