A vermiracle!

It’s been a busy time. In the course of the last year my extremely significant other has changed careers while I have become a full-time stay-at-home toddler-wrangler. During the same year we also moved from an apartment in one city to a new house, our first house,  in a new city.  When I say “new”, I mean new to us, the house is anything but new. (Neither is the city for that matter but luckily we aren’t responsible for trying to modernize and maintain the city.) Anyway moving, changing careers, updating wiring and plumbing, new furnace, landscaping, all while chasing a toddler and a couple of dogs around the place… it’s been a busy time.

During this busy time some other things we just let slide. One of those abandoned things was our worm-bin. Growing vegetables had given us a good excuse for composting, but growing them on a balcony made regular composting a bit awkward. A vermicomposting bin fit into the situation very nicely. The bin was at the “ripe”, ready to harvest stage at about the time we moved, but as it happened we just moved it and let the bin go idle.

And there it sat.

For a year.

Since, unlike regular composting, vermicomposting continues to process right through the winter and since winter (or fall, anyway) is right around the corner, we finally decided it was time quit stalling and restart the bin. Or at least that was the plan. New bedding shredded, banana skins and coffee grounds ready to go and time to clean out the bin. We had used a nested storage bin design for our worms. In that set-up the top bin is a house for worms with some small holes in the bottom and the bottom bin is to catch any liquid that might drain out of the worm tank above. So the first inkling that I got of anything surprising was when I lifted the top bin out of the bottom and found a dead worm. That’s not too surprising in itself. When the bin was “running” a worm would, every once in a while, escape into the lower bin and die there. The surprise this time was that this dead worm was very recently dead, no more than a day or two dead. So, to make what should have been a short story even longer, I dug into the beautifully processed compost in the bottom of the top bin and found it full of wriggling red worms! We had utterly ignored them for an entire year and yet they were, if not thriving, at least surviving.

Red worms
What’s the moral of the story? That there is  no reason not to try (or not to continue) vermicomposting.  I had thought it was trivially easy before but it turns out to be even easier than I thought. Not only are those little red wigglers harder to kill than Lilly of the Valley but my new cuke and jalapeño seedlings just love the worm castings (i.e. worm poop) in their pots!

(The ongoing sagas of trying to kill a huge Lilly of the Valley colony or to grow cucumbers in pots indoors I will save for another time.)


Just peachy.

Last weekend but one I put down a batch of peach jam. It was the first time I’ve done peaches. I used local fruit which turned out not to be quite as ripe as I would have liked, making the process of skinning them a pain. Other than that the batch went down without a hitch. Now, ten days later, I discover the hazard in making peach jam; we’ve already polished off an entire jar! At this rate three and a half pounds of peaches is going to vanish before Hallowe’en!

So it was back to the farmer’s market for ten pounds of peaches to be put down this weekend. Lesson learned!

Appearing hatless in public

“Riddles, quibbles and evasions” comes from Tom Stoppard’s wonderful Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in which we find R&G discussing the madness of Hamlet:

“G: It really boils down to symptoms. Pregnant replies, mystic allusions, mistaken identities, arguing his father is his mother, that sort of thing; intimations of suicide, forgoing of exercise, loss of mirth, hints of claustrophobia not to say delusions of imprisonment; invocations of camels, chameleons, capons, whales, weasels, hawks, handsaws — riddles, quibbles and evasions; amnesia, paranoia, myopia; day-dreaming, hallucinations; stabbing his elders, abusing his parents, insulting his lover, and appearing hatless in public — knock-kneed, droop-stockinged and sighing like a love-sick schoolboy, which at his age is coming on a bit strong.

R: And talking to himself.

G: And talking to himself.”

It just seemed appropriate.