Sunday, March 29, 2009

Clay and worms

Ok, I have 3 miniature blueberry bushes waiting to get in the ground--and I can't get deeper than 8 inches into the soil. I've hit the clay layer. Despite being heavier than I want to be (hello Jenny Craig?), I don't apparently weigh enough to press my shovel into the clay, even when I stand on both sides of the shovel and jump up and down on it!

I'm going to have to get a pick-axe, I think. I hate this $%$#@#@ clay.

One bright spot is that we are on our way to getting 1,000 new pets! The worm composting idea has really taken off. Only Barley wants nothing to do with the new project. I was proud of myself for not bringing up my newest research project at dinner with my friends last night. Talking about worm composting over a spaghetti dinner just seemed like a bad idea.

DH has agreed to take on any task that I find too gross to handle. With no space to dedicate to real composting, and kitchen scraps being a fairly large portion of the waste stream coming out of American households, worm composting seems like the responsible thing for us as a family to be doing. Plus it beats the heck out of trying to dig a compost hole big enough out of this %$%^$# clay soil. But I digress.

Here is a link that talks about the advantages of worm composting, aka "vermicomposting".

I found 3 "continuous flow-through" manufactured worm bins that seem to operate on the same principles: Wriggly Wranch, Can O Worms, and the Worm Factory. The idea is that as the worms generate compost, they rise up to the top layer of the compost to get to the food scraps you are providing. When you have enough compost to harvest, you take the worm castings from the bottom tray for your garden, and rotate it to the top after you empty it. I like anything that minimizes my contact with the little wiggly things.

My friend showed me her Worm Factory, and I have to admit I was pretty impressed by how not-as-gross-as-I expected it was. Each of these can run over $100 - 150 after shipping, and worms are not always included. However, in the San Fran Bay area, there was a Craigslist ad for a West Coast dealer who offered a complete package for $100. Check your local ads for a deal.

Even better, a lot of municipalities offer the Wriggly Wranch free or discounted to their residents, as it eases pressure on the local landfill. It is not as attractive as the Worm Factory, so if you have to put it someplace where you will be seeing it in your backyard, you may want to think about getting the Worm Factory instead.

Some cities offer "composting basics" classes in conjunction with the discounted worm bins. Here are links for Alameda, San Jose, and San Mateo. Check out your locale as well!

If your budget is tight, here is a link to a page that shows how to make your own. You just need a tub, and good ventilation. However, being the wimpy, squeamish type that am, I prefer the manufactured versions that have layers.

Once you have your worm bin, you can read up on maintenance and troubleshooting on this worm composting blog! Wow, there are blogs for everything, aren't there? This probably isn't even the only one out there--just the first one I found. There is even a social network-who knew?

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