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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Worm Talk

We always have the garden back up to snuff by the fourth of July. I am amazed at the things that survived with zero care, little water (it never rains in California, that's why it's on fire), and no light from being covered with weeds and vines in my absence.

A lot of plants did kick the bucket. We took the red geraniums and cracked them off and planted them all over the place. Free garden in an instant!

Good Afternoon, Sister. I find your blog both educational and entertaining! Might I convince you to tell us a bit more about your experiences with worm composting, please? I find that there is often a big difference between the theory behind something and the actuality of day to day life with, say, a bin of worms and trash.

Boy, you can say that again! I don't know how much I explained about the worm farm in the past. In a nutshell, I read somewhere that worm castings get rid of white fly. We are plagued with white fly. Buying worm castings in a bag is astronomically expensive. A one pound bag is over $40.

Hence the worm farm. Unfortunately as it happens, it takes 20,000 worms working day and night at least six months to produce a one pound bag of white fly killer. My dreams of ridding the neighborhood of the plague are long dashed.

I believe I have never mentioned actually harvesting the worm castings. To begin with, I hope we are all on the same page when I say 'castings'. We're not talking about worm skin, say, or bits of food of which the worms took a pass. Do we understand each other?

It has a funny smell. Just...funny.

One has to wait for the worms to eat everything they have been given, which takes forever. Then the worm farmer is supposed to open the top of the can and leave it open for awhile. The worms will abandon the top layer and mosey into the next layer, leaving the black funny smelling gold for the worm farmer to scoop out and use as fertilizer. It is THE best fertilizer AND it kills white flies.

So Voila!

I did that. Perhaps I was not patient enough in waiting for the worms to migrate. They certainly took their sweet summertime. At the end of the day, I gave up and start scooping out the stuff, still very full of worms. I got a worm bucket and and castings bucket going. Each and every scoop was full of worms. I meticulously them picked out. I figured I couldn't lose a single one, since it takes them so long to do their work. I can't afford to lose one pair of worm choppers. When I put them back in the can I felt as though I was putting escaped prisoners back into a labor camp. Eventually I left some in the casting bucket, justifying my new choice by telling myself that worms are also good in the garden. (They aerate the soil...and they still have to...cast.) No worms actually escaped. Poor things.

It took hours. I had a child's pail of castings. The size pail that makes a little sand castle.

For the rest of the evening, even when I was dozing off to sleep, every time I closed my eyes I saw worms wiggling in black goo. That was very disconcerting. Very, very disconcerting.

It did get rid of the white fly on the hibiscus.

The hibiscus was one of the plants that kicked the bucket this year.

What is the lesson here, besides sounding like the plot of a sixties movie? Remember that? There was a time when all movies had an ironic ending. Just when everything seemed okay for the hero, he would be randomly killed. Murdered, in fact.

Easy Hibiscus Rider. Electrahibiscus in Blue.

And the compost bin. Well...the bees abandoned it as suddenly as they came. I wish I would have known. I would have had some honey in the bargain.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sister, I have a question for you. What do you think about choosing to travel to another parish because you decide your own parish isnt orthodox enough? Or because you don't like the priest or the look of the local place or whatever?

Is this still frowned upon?

Or is it recommended or necessary for the GOOD catholics (not to be confused with those cafeteria types.)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Soutenus said...

Poor hibiscus! The worms experience was fun to read about --- obviously as a bystander!!
Please come over to A Catholic Notebook and add your personal favorite Catholic books to the growing list via the com box. I'd like to put together a Blogger's Choice Catholic Reading List. I can't wait to see and share the results. Come on by!

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on the worms, Sister! I wasn't worried about whitefly, just wanted to make nice compost in a place I didn't have to hike out to on a blustery day. The worm can went in the garage and I felt very virtuous about disposing of all my scraps. If you don't put meat or oil in there, it doesn't smell, and the worms really do make great soil. We live in a cool climate where outdoor composting takes a lot longer than in warmer parts of the country, so that was another incentive.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I wouldn't dream of giving up. That's why I was so upset when I thought the bees had taken over the worm farm. The worms are doing fine. I just have to gear up to do some harvesting.

Anonymous said...

We kept a worm bin (which quickly grew into 2) for a couple of years. Feeding wasn't a problem, harvesting wasn't a problem.... until the worms grew SOOOOO BIG that we could literally hear them -- the squishing and the slurping and the slithering.... ugh. at that point none of us (6 in the family, going on 7) wanted to even open the bins. So we didn't, for several months, and just let them die a slow death. I did nurture a fantasy in the beginning of selling those castings because they ARE expensive. But I figured getting my hands (gloved or not) into the midst of all that slurping just wasn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

This comment is really apropos of nothing but...

I greatly enjoy your blog.

Reading this post gave me such a twinge of nostalgia. Boy, do I miss California (fires and all) where almost any plant can thrive and you *can* just crack off a bunch of red geraniums and get an instant garden...

Geraniums don't survive the winter where I am now.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I live in California too and I'm wondering how you keep your worms alive during the hot summers. I read a discouraging book on worm composting which said that they don't survive temperatures higher than the eighties. We have summer temperatures in the nineties and sometimes soar into the hundreds for days at a time.