Sunday, March 29, 2009

Composting Worms

Last spring, I went to the Sustainable Tourism Conference in Duluth. At Tuscarora we’re always striving to be more “green”. To be honest with you, Tuscarora has been around for many years, and the previous owners were thrifty and tidy. I think those old fashioned thrifty and tidy values are often synonymous with the newfangled green values.

But, always there is room for improvement. Starting with our garbage.

An assertive woman named Ellen was displaying a LaVermi Worms composting system. Sold.

I LOVE my worms. It's such a win win! They turn 27 gallons of garbage into one gallon of rich dark dirt. Through the spigot I collect the “worm tea” which, looks really nasty, but completely odorless, and honestly, I don’t believe worms actually void worm tea. It’s supposed to be great concentrated fertilizer that I use on little pine trees in the summer, but in the winter, I have no plants. I can’t keep plants alive…..which actually speaks volumes for the hardiness of these worms.

In goes the pineapple. The next day---there are swarms of worms covering it.

A week later, pretty much, just dirt in that spot. In the mean time...I've been burying other garbage in other spots in the bin.

This worm system doesn’t stink..I've started another bin this winter, all they ask for is something biodegradable, from meat products to leather boots. Then they reproduce like crazy to devour it.
However, they do not handle things like white bread, Hostess Twinkies, or bleached white paper. So, a respectable goal would be to only consume things that the worms will eat (except Hostess Twinkies shouldn't be a problem, who in their right mind will ever THROW OUT a Hostess Twinkie???)

Once last summer, Andy and I were standing in the outfitting yard chatting with guests, when Denali showed up. They were charmed by her, as I explained that she'll love to retrieve all day long.... no pressure, but feel free. The nice woman smiled and then Denali dropped a dead bunny into her outstretched hand. They were a little horrified and I quickly left the awkward moment with the poor little cute but dead thing. I wondered what the worms would do to a bunny? Ellen the worm lady said it wouldn't stink, or attract bugs, as long as I never used newspaper for bedding. (Newspaper has clay, and Ellen was very militant about NO NEWSPAPERS). So I buried the dead bunny in the bin. Two days later, I pulled out an empty fur bunny case, completely clean of any gushy innards---like a dried up fur sock.

Wow!!! I was so impressed. It was the coolest thing...I showed it to our staff...then I showed it to Andy. He was repulsed.

Andy separates compost,
but doesn't want to THINK ABOUT the worms. Our friend Ben had the same squeamish reaction to them. Daniel confided---"Mom, I just worry that you'll get mad at me and I'll end up in the worm bin sometime, in the dead of night."

No worries, no bodies in the worm bin. Just milliions of little buddies eating our garbage.