There were no frowns or disapproving looks among this group of people, no squeals of disgust or moves to empty out the stacked containers full of worms into the dust bin.
Nope, I think you could have called this group "friends of worms." Or, at least, people who were really curious about them and what they can do to a bin full of shredded paper and kitchen scraps. Now here's something you can try at home!
A class on vermicomposting - composting with the help of worms - given by ABG horticulturist Scott Brawner, attracted about two dozen people to a classroom in the UAA/APU Consortium Library on Saturday.
Some were already composting with worms, some came to try their hand and some, like me were interested in finding out more.
So what does it take? A system of stackable bins with holes in the bottom, big enough for the worms to pass through and moisture to drain out, some shredded paper, kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy and easy on the citrus) and a handful of red wiggler worms to get started. The worms like temperatures between 40-80 degrees which should fit most indoors year round. You don't want to use the worms you find outside in your garden - they are mighty happy out there, so leave 'em be. And keep in mind that red wiggler worms won't survive our winters either.
Scott said you can get as scientific as you want, with PH readings (worms like it between 6-8) and trying to keep a balance of scraps so it's not overwhelming. Or you can just have a place to throw scraps without worrying abut it. Leslie Patrick, who is an experienced vermicomposter, reminded us that the worms are working for us, and in her home, that means they get whatever her household is eating.
I guess that means you don't have to think of them as pets and don't even try to name them!
Helpful hints included freezing fruit peel before adding to kill fruit fly eggs and chopping scraps to increase surface area.
Another thing, worms don't have teeth so they can't chew. They do ingest food that has begun the decaying process so it's good to wait a few days after building your scrap pile before adding the worms.
In a healthy system the worms can eat their weight in food a day and they will begin to reproduce as well. And before you know it, well in about a month at least, that scrap pile will be looking like compost and the worms will move on to another prepared bin to start the process all over.
So will I be trying this out myself? Well, no, can't wrap my mind around it just yet, though that could change in the future.