picking up hermaphrodites in ypsilanti

Sorry for the provocative title. It occurred to me this afternoon, as I sat in my yard, picking through a year’s worth of worm castings. It took about two hours, but I think I picked out about 90% of our red wigglers before putting the rest into the garden, along with the several pounds of super-enriched compost that they’ve churned out.

I wish that I’d weighed out all the scraps we’d given to the worms over the past year. I’d like to know how many pounds of rotting vegetables and egg shells we’d kept from the landfill. It has to be a few hundred pounds.

I’d like to be more zealous in my earthworm compositing evangelizing, but we’ve still got a few kinks to work out. Most notably, it’s the bugs. The worms, which live in a plastic tub in our kitchen, seem to attract gnats and flies. That’s why I had to dump it today, sort out the worms, and start over again… Anyway, once we get everything running smoothy, you can expect me to be a royal pain in the ass about it, harassing you all to get worms for your home.

And, no, that’s not my giant condom.

The image to the left shows what happens to a disposable coffee cup given to a thousand hungry worms… All that’s left after a few weeks is the plastic lining. It’s absolutely amazing.

[For those of you who came to MM.com thinking that a post on “picking up hermaphrodites” might be more titillating, you’re in luck. It just so happens that I know about something that’s both sexy and wormy.]

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19 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    That last link was supposed to take you here, but, for some reason, the software that I’m using wouldn’t let me do it:

    http://tinyurl.com/3j8z5r

  2. egpenet
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    That’s a coffee filter!? It looks like a pair of YpsiPanties to me.

    Thank the Lord it’s just a coffee filter.

    I thought you had found something in the bushes in Riverside Park or on Frog Island that might embarass us all wiht the “Press” in Ann Arbor. You know how slanted they can get.

    Coffee filter … mein Gott! how my heart skipped!

    I’ll sleep better tonight. Thanks.

    G’night.

  3. Slim Pinky
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    As I understand it, the worms prefer to use Mark’s actual condoms as cozy little sleeping bags.

  4. Hillary
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    You probably know about this forum already.
    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/verm/
    I’ve been able to solve all our problems so far by searching the archives.

  5. mark
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I have my condoms custom made.

    They have lots of bells and whistles.

    And they have legs in them, so I can wear them like pants.

  6. mark
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    And thanks, Hillary, I didn’t know of this particular forum.

    As for the bugs, I’ve stopped composting fruit inside, and it seems to help somewhat. The bugs still find the worm bin fascinating, though. I’ll read through this and hopefully come up with some more ideas.

  7. The Exterminator
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    What type of flies are they? What do they look like? Like big fat fruit flies? Little fruit flies?

    Be prepared that the only help I may be able to offer is to tell you not to compost stuff inside.

    But I may be able to think of something else non-insecticidey that might help.

  8. Mrs. White
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    It works on people, too.

    A well-maintained compost is exactly how I got rid of my first husband.

  9. Alan
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    What worked for me in my worm bin, v2.0*:

    1. No fruit in the bin.

    It’s annoying to toss perfectly compostable fruit rinds when you have a worm bin. You have to keep the big picture in mind, though: less than 100% composting is better than 100% composting and a house full of those hopping, black flies. I suppose that you can always put fruit in a traditional outdoor compost bin.

    2. Small air holes, such as those drilled with a 1/16″ bit.

    3. Liberal use of shredded paper to cover new feedings.

    *Worm bin v1.0 ended with 2006’s Wormapocalypse: Escape from Festering Sludge-Bin.

  10. Hillary
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I put fruit in mine, finely chopped for easy digestion, with shredded financial documents on top to cover. I’ve read that some people who have had problems switched to bins with no air holes, and they cover the top with cloth and elastic around the edge. Others freeze scraps for 2 or 3 days before composting to destroy all eggs. Flies and gnats can also be a sign that the bin is wetter than necessary for worms. In that case, add “browns”, like paper as Alan suggested, to absorb the excess moisture.

    Another website and forum:
    http://vermicomposters.com/
    http://vermicomposters.ning.com/forum

  11. Stan Mann
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I have a single, large container that I put all of my waste in.

    One morning a week, I take out to the curb before I go to work. When I get home, the previous week’s refuse is completely gone. Condoms and all.

    It’s like magic. You should try it.

  12. Robert
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Who needs a diet plan? I’ve just been making a habit of checking out Mark’s blog every day right before dinner. It works like a charm. I usually don’t get my appetite back until sometime around noon the next day.

  13. freeman
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been wanting to start vermicomposing for quite some time now. I now have a collection of tupperware tubs (mostly for container gardening, but one set aside for vermicomposting) and a powerdrill (much older than me, but works). Next step: worms. Where did y’all get yer worms?

  14. Brackache
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    freeman: many bait shops have vending machines that dispense tubs of big fat earth worms. You can also purchase leaches to help rid your body of harmful toxins.

  15. mark
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I got mine from a friend. They’re red wigglers. Hillary, I believe, ordered hers online, from a woman here in Michigan. I seem to recall it was Lansing… They apparently ship just fine.

    I could have given you some of my little ones, but, like I said in the post, I just put them in the garden.

    And I think my problem is consistently excess moisture. I need to drill some holes in the bottom. It always ends up getting too soupy.

    Along the lines of what Hillary said about freezing scraps, I’ve heard that some folks put theirs in the microwave. I’d rather just throw my fruit outside, though, and let the outside worms have some fun with it.

    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

    I Heart Worms.

  16. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    freeman. If you have a hard time finding worms, for $150 I will do a rain dance for you and guarantee that sometime in the next 60 days they will mystically appear on your sidewalk.

    For $300, I will come over to your home with my shaman shovel and instantly summon them up from the depths of the spirit world.

    Or, try a vending machine.

  17. Hillary
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    My red wigglers are from Kalamazoo.

    http://www.wormwoman.com/acatalog/index.html

    You can get them from bait shops, but they’re really expensive.

  18. freeman
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll probably order some online, I guess.

  19. Posted July 8, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I ordered mine from the Worm Woman. She will not give you individual birth certificates for the worms – I asked.

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