Category Archives: Composting

April 4: Firing Up the Composter

I brought my composter out of the basement and out into the yard sometime last October to give it a good clean. And then…I forgot about it. Winter rolled in, the worms disappeared, and it kind of just sat there, in a corner, neglected.

But now that I’ve caught the gardening bug again, it’s time to fire that composter back up. My plants LOVED the nutrient-filled worm castings last summer, and I don’t want to go without them again. We don’t have the space for a traditional composting heap, so this vermicompost box my sister gave me is a great way to enrich my soil.

Today I opened up the box and caught sight of a couple of little worms–hanger-ons who made it through our mild winter. I’ve ordered more Red Wigglers (one of the best composting worms) from Uncle Jim’s  and added a yummy “salad” for the little wormies I still have from last year to munch on until their new friends arrived.

Mystery Compost Plant

Mystery PlantThis mystery plant has sprouted up next to one of my pepper plants. While it might be a weed, I think it’s from a fruit or vegetable seed left over in the worm castings I used as fertilizer.

I wonder what it could be? The flowers dangle in the same way that pepper flowers do, except they are yellow, not white. The leaves are pocked with holes and the stalk is not as woody as the pepper plant stem. Hmm…

UPDATE – 7-10-11: It’s a tomatillo plant!  I am certain. Looks just like this guy here. And it makes perfect sense. I always buy tomatillos from the Associated on Seneca because they look so cute with their little paper coats. Then I bring them home and have no idea of what to do with them. They stay in fridge a couple of weeks (or more) and then go right into the compost. I’ll have to study up on some recipes in advance so my home growns don’t go to waste.

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out

Thanks to my new vermicompost, I have recently become familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of rotting food. I now regularly sift through last month’s meals like a forensic investigator, pulling out worms, dodging flies, separating vegetables in various stages of decomposition with my bare hands (try picking up worms while wearing garden gloves – it’s impossible), all the while retching slightly as I remind myself that it’s just a bunch of old greens and coffee grinds. Nothing to be afraid of.

Vermicompost Bin My vermicompost bin was a gift from my sister, a gardening expert who created this Vermicomposting Fact Sheet that lists some great tips and tricks. After bugging me for months to take an old bin that she had parked in our mom’s garage, I finally did so on the condition that she set it up and give me a private tutorial.

VermicompostThe whole process has been much easier than I thought. We keep ours in the basement and except for putting stuff in and occasionally reorganizing the layers, my interaction with the what’s going on “inside the box” has been pretty minimal. When everything is closed up, the system is very clean – no smells or worm or bug leakage.  And setting aside our leftover scraps each day has been a huge wake-up call to the amount of reusable trash I was previously sending to landfills.

I’ve already used some worm castings in my flower beds. And –  surprise surprise –  a lone tomato plant has appeared among my cosmos and purslane… a remnant from a long ago meal.