Worms eat my garbage

pledge allegianceFridays are trash day in my neighborhood. Homes here have three different bins: black for trash; blue for recycling; and a recent addition, green for yard waste. It’s surprising how much debris seems to accumulate in a week’s time. And, as the weather is getting warmer, some bins are emitting rancid smells potent enough to warrant a detour, while making me wonder about residents’ habits—a taxidermy hobby? Surprising amounts of usable items are left at the curb instead of being donated. What a waste. Watching solid waste pickup, makes you realize that garbage collector is a tough way to make a living.

As an environmental conservative, I’m aware of the planet’s fragility and track how compromised ecosystems are leading to extremes of drought and flooding; contaminants in water and depleted soil. If you remember grade school science, from a biological perspective, there are two types of organisms: producers and consumers. Producers, like plants, can make their own food by converting energy from the sun into their food–photosynthesis. Consumers, like humans and other animals, receive nourishment by eating other organisms. With humans at the top of the food chain, we need to ensure our survival by protecting the plants and animals that we rely on for sustenance. We can only keep water and air clean, but we can’t manufacture more. One thing I can do is make sure vegetable scraps are converted into soil.

worm bins (1)

Top bucket: scraps after 2 weeks with worms

Worms help accelerate recycling food scraps into compost. While worms are not cute and a bit icky, they are very good at what they do. During a visit, my granddaughter was curious and asked to hold a worm. When I collected a handful (wearing rubber gloves), she decided, “No. I am not too happy to touch it.” Touching is not necessary. My vermi-composting system is functional but not exactly something that you’d want to display in the living room.

worm bins

Worm bucket system

Recipe for worm compost: food goes in one end; compost comes out the other. I stacked three 5-gallon buckets (leftovers from renovations). Two buckets have holes drilled in the bottoms and near the top, to allow for air flow, worm movement and drainage. Liquid accumulates in the bottom bucket. This compost tea is useful as a soil amendment when diluted. We collect fruit and vegetable scraps in the kitchen. Avoid meats and dairy which take longer to break down and can attract pests. Tea bags, coffee grounds and filters are fine. We store egg shells in a separate canister so they can be pulverized before feeding to the worms. Every two weeks or so, I add kitchen scraps and shredded paper to the top bucket in the basement. A few sheets of newspaper spread on top seem to prevent fruit flies. Bottom bucket has liquid; middle bucket is older compost–usually ready for spreading around plants; and the top bucket for most recently added scraps. Every few months, I drain the liquid and harvest the compost then switch out the middle bucket top buckets for the newest fruit/veggie scraps. You can buy worms (red wigglers) on Amazon or in bait shops or get some from someone with a working worm bin.

We share a planet.
Breathing the same air;
Drinking the water;
Cultivating the land;
Using sources of energy;
One family under the sun.

We each have a obligation to protect and care for the earth. What goes around will come around; good and bad. Are we good stewards of things we can’t create? Are we using our fair share? Will there be some left for others? Sometimes change begins in some buckets in the basement. Exist responsibly.

© Joan S Grey, 27 May 2016
IndexCardCure™: questioning the default
do a little

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