February 17, 2008


It’s getting pretty earthy over here at the Little Blue House. Last night I finally got around to potting a dozen herb seedlings, which I’d been germinating under the sink for the past few weeks, and then this morning, I potted over 1,000 red wiggler earthworms. You see, for Valentine’s Day this year Kevin received the nifty “Can-O-Worms” composting kit from All Things Organic. (Really, I was the one who wanted the earthworms, but as they say: “The couple that shares together stays together…”)

Why earthworms for Valentine’s? Well, other than the fact that those little red wigglers are pretty sexy, I wanted to have a steady supply of rich compost “tea” in time for Spring planting, which, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, will be sometime in June. So, over the next few months, as the worms digest our kitchen scraps, they’ll produce castings, or worm manure, which is an extremely rich organic fertilizer. And by fussing over my worms a little every day, I hope to satisfy my itching green thumb. When there’s two feet of snow on the ground and the temperature hovers around –15, in-home worm-composting is the only way I can play in the dirt.

Vermiculture was also the next step on my three-step plan to turning the Little Blue House into an experimental city farm. My hope is to create a small, organic – though hardly self-sustaining – life cycle, right in my own back yard. It goes like this: I grow organic vegetables in the backyard for us to eat. I feed the leftover wastes to our worms who produce worm compost, which I use as an organic fertilizer to improve our vegetables. Wash, rinse and repeat! (At some point I’d like to add a couple of chickens to the mix. Chicken pellets are supposedly a gourmet worm fattener, and the occasional worm in a chicken’s diet is supposed to greatly improve the quality of their eggs – but that’s for another post.)

Most of all I’ve just been extremely distressed by the amount of trash we’ve produced since moving to Canada – a 20-gallon bag per week! In Germany, Kevin and I produced less than one 10-liter bag of trash per week, about the size of one of those little bathroom trash bags. Everything else was recycled, including kitchen wastes. Although I bitched and moaned at first about having to separate our trash 20-different ways according to the overly wordy and abstruse German system, once I got the hang of it, it was addictive. It became a little game to see how little trash we could produce each week. Unfortunately, Alberta doesn’t have bio-recycling. (And if my neighbors’ trash is any indication, they don’t recycle much of anything in these parts.)

Since moving here, it’s pained me to watch all those wonderful vegetable scraps going to waste, but now I can use our egg shells, our vegetable peels, our coffee grounds – even those little tufts of cat hair that are starting to accumulate under the bed – and serve up a gourmet meal to our new basement-dwellers. In fact, with 1,000 new mouths to feed – as many as 15,000 after a few years – I may have trouble keeping up. But I guess it's too late to put the lid back on this can-o-worms.

To see how one sets up a basement worm-composting system (with a little help from our friends) check out the slideshow below

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