Whims and Worms

Confession time: it’s been a long time since we’ve seen sections of our garage floor. There’s hoardable stuff that’ll be useful one day piled and just about balancing on top of other really-useful articles: timber that’s reclaimed from skips, the broken handles of a couple of forks, some metal paint, half a hundred paper sacks, baker’s trays, a wheel without a barrow and buckets galore.

But we have to have the gas boiler replaced. So, apparently it needs some degree of sorting out. Or, at least that’s what the Plantation Owners Wife is using to get me started. Now I’m not good at clearing stuff out. I look at it, move it about with my foot, remember it when it was actually functioning, then find somewhere else to hide it/keep it safe … er store it until it is actually either useful or binned by the good lady I share a life with.

O.K. the shed down the garden is now functioning; having been re-clad. And some of the stuff finds a new home down there.

But buried in there somewhere is a wormery that I got off Freecycle (always useful to get stuff or to get rid of it). I was interested, at the time in setting one up: a source of free compost and a way to recycle organic matter from the kitchen easily. I never actually got past the thinking stage on that one, so, some years later I donate it to a local primary school.

Image result for school gardening club

They have a thriving gardening club and this might be just the sort of thing to further encourage them. I remember going to a talk by naturalist/photographer Chris Packham who said that one of the most important things to do was fire up the enthusiasm, experience and imaginations of youngsters. This seemed like a good chance, even when I was asked to go and help set it up. Amazing kids: they began, not surprisingly as somewhat squeamish but were soon tucking in, handling the worms (kindly donated by a local angling shop) with squeals of that kind of delight that is part horror and part overcoming fear. Others also decided to take up the challenge and their task is now to keep the waste coming. Maybe, just maybe one or two of them will, with pester-power persuade their parents to set up their own wormeries … and the ripples spread. Well one can but hope …

But back at home – and some days later – I actually find a second wormery: this one brand stinking new and still in the box. A gift from a well-wisher somewhere down the years: stored and to-be-useful one day soon. And setting up that first one has whetted my appetite …

Now I could write all I actually know about wormeries on one half of a small sized, second class postage stamp. But there are instructions … and I can read (although am famous for not paying attention to pieces of paper with numbered lines on them). And we’ve been saving kitchen waste for more years than I care to remember and adding it to the allotment compost heap (there are two each about two metres by two and getting deeper) once a week or so; the populations of tiger worms in the heaps regenerating at a considerable rate.

… and, of course other people manage it. So I decide to have a bash. The worst that is going to happen is that it fails, I tip the contents onto the heap at the allotments and put the wormery on Freecycle.

The instructions are actually well written. Add water to the coir compost (I add a little extra compost from a used-up Growbag and some shredded newspaper and crushed eggshell). I put the plastic trays together, add the tap that will be used to drain off the leachate (which will be diluted to feed pot plants around the house if all goes to plan). Usefully one of the sections has legs that will hold it off the ground and, while the temperature is rather too low outside at the moment (worms operate more slowly, the sheet says at less than ten degrees Celsius) it can set on the newly uncovered garage floor until conditions are better outside.

Up to the allotment on Saturday. On the agenda is getting a trench dug. This will be filled with compost from the “ready heap”; the one that has had six months to rot down. The trench takes eight barrows full, gets me warmed up under clear warm skies – and I pick a bucketful of energetic worms that wriggle and twist in the spring sunlight. These are the first of the wormery colonists and, if conditions are good will provide the generations to come and ready to use concentrated compost.

When I add them the bottom compartment is pretty full … and I feel satisfied.

Another thing on the go: watch this space (it’ll soon be crawlin’ with worms I hope!)

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