I think it’s time for a worm update. Don’t you?
I know many, nay probably all, of you having been wondering: how is the hobo worm farm extravaganza doing? Well, friends, wonder no more. I am here to report that, sadly, my hobo worm farm is defunct. You will never have to wonder again.
Just to recap for those of you not familiar with my worm farm story: I made a worm farm from some polystyrene boxes acquired with manic grin from the local grocers. I have an urban concrete courtyard garden, so a worm farm was the best option for organic food waste disposal (and trust me when I say I researched and considered many options.) I like being frugal, so I made the worm farm for the cost of a smile and a few well chosen, but nervously delivered, words. I then bought the right kind of worms from Ceres, a local nursery (and lots more) Alas, summers in Melbourne are unbearably, whingingly hot. The heat is dry. The people and plants wilt. Each summer thus far, my worms have died in droves. A few usually survive, and the entire worm bin ecosystem eventually revives with judicious application of newspaper and lashings of patience.
But I do not like being a worm murderer. Each summer I have worried and tried to find a better location. I have watered the bin, and covered the bin with a tarp and watered that and felt sick at heart when I saw their hundreds of dessicated little bodies on the outside of the box, fried as they futilely attempted to escape the heat inside the box.
Also, dead worms smell.
Also also when we moved from the little flat to this not-so-little house, I could not find a satisfactory location for the worm farm, and the worms were surviving but not thriving the way they had back at the little flat. I moved the farm around quite a bit to try to find a good spot, but the worms just weren’t doing as well. They took ages to eat through a usual serving of food scraps. I cut our scraps even smaller than when we were at the flat, but even so, I sometimes had to extract mouldy banana peel (worms don’t eat mould!), which I just then tossed into the compost bin.
And therein lay the nub of the problem, but also the solution. As this not-so-little house has a narrow patch of dirt, we acquired a compost bin, which hulks in a corner of the courtyard, under some thriving jasmine (well, jasmine always thrives.) We alternated between the worm farm and the compost bin; if the worms weren’t eating fast enough, the scraps went in the bin. Compost in the bin has been doing really well, plus there are lots and lots of worms in there (some were relocated from the worm farm; the rest are either third/fourth generation worm farm descendants or emigrants from the dirt.)
At the end of this winter, I decided not to go through the summer ritual massacre of my worms and moved them from worm farm to compost bin, emptied the worm castings into our various pots, and spoke a eulogy for my hobo worm farm . The polystyrene box will be repurposed as a planter box and the worms will live more happily in the compost bin, where when it gets too hot they can head deeply down into the dirt, and the compost goes from vermicomposter to hot composer with me doing nothing (this is the best way to compost – doing very little).
Just as my bokashi era ended with the advent of a compost bin, so too has the era of the hobo worm farm ended. I know you share my sorrow, but there will be much to look forward to with the black monster compost bin.
Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you composting is hard. It is easy. Anyone who says differently is selling something (name that movie, wherein there was, strangely enough, no mention of compost.)