Monday, March 30, 2009

Worm's meat?

Ok. I know it's a gross title. It's kinda a gross subject. And definitely some 'yucky' pics. But it's all for a good cause. Healthier self, healthier plants, healthier ocean, healthier planet. That's right, kids, we're talking about compost.

I'm new to the compost scene, and am in no way as experienced or informed as pretty much anyone else who has a bin in their backyard. So this is a way for you to track my experimentation in turning leftovers, yard waste, and cardboard into what they call in the gardening community "black-gold."
As soon as we saw this house, with its postage stamp plot of land (hard to find/afford in Hawaii!!), I knew I wanted a little vegetable and herb garden, and a compost bin. But we have a lot of landscaping work left to do, plus the addition of a deck over our back slope, so I couldn't really put in anything permanent yet. I've, therefore, started my composting in a plastic trash can. Good compost needs plenty of air flow, so I drilled a ton of holes in the sides of the bin and simply started dumping kitchen scraps in. Not the best idea. Only adding kitchen waste means lots of bugs, and a bit of a smell. Compost done right smells yummy- like sweet earth- and should be mostly free of swarming bugs. My initial attempt was not done right. It didn't stink, per se, but I wouldn't have recommended a good inhalation over the bin, either. And the bugs were EVERYWHERE. Ugh!!!
So I actually read about composting (brilliant, huh?) and found out that I was doing pretty much nothing right. After adding layers of "dry" waste (soaked shredded paper and cardboard, dry grass clippings, dead leaves) the bugs started thinning out, and the mixture started to heat up- the process necessary for the composting to "work". And it is working! I get far too excited when it's time to go 'churn' my bin. I love knowing that I can no longer see certain things I've added, as they've turned into blackness. We add all kinds of things- fruits and veggies, of course, but more unusual additions as well- egg shells, coffee grounds, dryer lint (free of fabric softeners) and it's all slowly losing it's original form.

One new addition to the pile is grubs. We'll say grubs because I can't bear to think of the pile swarming with maggots. From what I've read, as the pile grows, heats up, and balances even more, these should thin out. But while they are there, they are beneficial to the compost, churning it, eating it, and pooping out super-rich grub poop. But no matter how good the little buggers may be, it still really freaks me out. And knowing that soon I'll need to actually handle that dirt they're living and pooping in gets me a bit squeamish. True gardeners suggest to pick them out to feed them to birds and fish. Hmm. Maybe that'll be a chore for hubby.
But I can't be Earth-Mother without holding a few...erm...grubs... right?

The first batch of usable compost should be able to be sifted out in about two weeks. I'll keep you guys informed (I'm sure you're beside yourselves with anticipation!)

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