Earth Day is intended to raise environmental awareness of "our fragile island home" the need for conservation, and reduce global pollution. That's good since this is the only home we have. Now commercialism has joined the cause, extending Earth Day to a week and more. Just pick up today's paper and see advertisements that celebrate Earth Day - which was April 22nd - but get their specials ON SALE now.
In our home we participate in Earth Day everyday through worm composting. It's a natural process where worms recycle food scraps and other materials into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. The worms eat scraps and produce a rich fertilizer we use to grow healthy plants. Simply speaking, vermicompost is good because worms digest nutrient-rich food and turn it into nutrient-rich compost.
For millions of years those worms have developed the skills to break down organic materials and return nutrients to the soil. We feed them raw fruit and vegetables but avoid meat, oil, citrus, and dairy products that take longer to break down and attract other pests.
Setting up a worm bin is easy as 1-2-3. Get a box, shredded paper, and add worms. Give them what they need -- moisture, air, food, darkness, and warmth. A dampened bed of newspaper or leaves will hold moisture and trap air space essential to the worm colony. We start with red wigglers that can be purchased at a garden supply store if not readily available in the garden. Red wigglers are surface dwellers that like the top 12" of soil. They will work tirelessly to eat "garbage" and produce compost so soon the bin has less raw material and more rich black compost.
Every month we harvest the finished compost as it becomes unhealthy for the worms to live there. There are two ways to harvest. Either (1) add new food to one side of the bin for a week so the worms will migrate leaving the other side available to remove soil, or (2) remove fresh compost from the bottom of the bin if there's an access door. Since most worms live near the top, you can recycle the few stragglers to the garden along with the new compost.
Worms live for about a year in the bin, but new worms are consistently produced so we haven't noticed any population decrease. We are very happy to celebrate Earth Day by feeding our worm colony extra food this week. Over time we've saved money by reducing our household garbage, and saved even more $$$ by buying fewer garden fertilizers. How smart is that?
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it!