December 21, 2009

The Bottom Dwellers

Remember the escapees from way back when? And the more recent migration?

I can no longer refer to those times as "the good old days" anymore:
worm wigwamI took that pic yesterday when I was clearing out some castings from the bottom of the wigwam.

That's right: the BOTTOM of the wigwam. Not INSIDE the wigwam, where I faithfully water and feed them, but in the BOTTOM.

WHAT IS GOING ON? I feel like Happy Gilmore when he gives his speech to the golf ball to go HOME, just GO HOME, GO TO YOUR HOME.

I carefully put the "bottom dwellers" back into the bin where they belonged. It will be a far merrier Christmas for this motley crew of worms now that they'll be back where food and family is..HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

December 13, 2009

Worm Bin Under Arrest!

When I was growing up, my Mom would get real angry when people would leave up holiday decorations past their time. Because of this, I called her the holiday police.

The problem happens a lot between Halloween and see all kinds of people with their jack-o-lanterns on their porches like, right up until the day before Thanksgiving. At least turn their faces around!

Another rush (or lack of it!) occurs after Christmas, when some aren't inclined to put away the lights until the Easter bunny hops up and snatches them down.

The holiday police would have a major arrest on the worm bin this week, as I noticed the Halloween pumpkins I put inside continue to sprout and grow no matter how deep I bury them and no matter how far past their season it is. Here's the recent sprout collection:
worm wigwamI just pull them out and rebury them so they rot and the worms can just eat them.

That's the only problem with unloading Halloween pumpkins into the Wigwam- the never-ending growing season with the seeds!

I haven't been using peat moss at the top of the bin lately, and I've noticed the bin is a lot drier. The peat moss must hold a significant amount of water and keep it at the top of the bin longer than just with scraps and castings.

Looks like I will be giving the wormies a healthy gift of peat moss this year for Christmas!

October 17, 2009

Where, Oh Where, Have My Little Worms Been?

They've been right inside their bin since I last left you on JULY 5th! Ugh! What a terrible blogger I've been and I haven't been winning any awards in the worm-farming department, either....but lucky for me, the worm wigwam doesn't require much.

So, despite my mild neglect, my worm herd is still flourishing and multiplying!

In recent worm news, I fed the bin a head of funky lettuce and a worm-bowl full of rotting fruit and cucumbers today. I keep a watering can nearby so I can also give them a little sprinkle once I've buried the scraps. I had to give up on the spray bottle a while back, as I was getting carpal tunnel syndrome from the number of spritzes required to keep the bin moist.

For those following the strawberry planter saga and plant/berry count, you won't want to read this next part. I ended up with ONE berry plant that grew to about an inch and a half and ZERO berries!

I finally dumped out the whole conglomeration and kept the snappy white planter for next year. Reuse and recycle!

Recommended seasonal sites to visit in honor of the autumn season:

What Tree Is It? Click through their basic photos, and they'll help you figure it out.

What's That Bug? With all the spiders and wooly-willies that fall brings, What's That Bug? makes it easy to identify any creepy-crawly. You can even submit your own pics for identification.

What To Do With Leaves? This Philadelphia Inquirer article has tons ideas with links about what to do with fall leaves, including drying and pressing, mulching, and even painting.

Pics promised for next time!

July 5, 2009

Do Fireworks Scare the Worms?

Who knows? I thought of that watching the AMAZING 1 1/2 hour display our neighborhood puts on every year. We have a big open field in the middle of our plan and the families GO TO TOWN competing for the title of who sets off the best fireworks.

Terrible news. Don't blame the worms or their poo.

Current berry plant count: 3- CASUALTY!
Total berries harvested: 0

Joining the recent ranks of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcet, and Steve McNair, one of my teeny tiny berry plants has died.

It was not an overdose, cancer, or gunshot wound to the stem.

I believe this small plant was a victim of an infrequent waterer (AKA, me).

There is no reason to post a photo, because the plants are the same dang size. And I just watered them, so no worries.

In other news, I bought new kayaks and took them on the Yough today.

These are not your wild-water-rapid, flipping-over-and-around, wearing-a-helmet-to-ride type of kayaks.

They are more the paddle-up, place-a-frosty-beverage-in-cup-holder, coast-down, jump-out, frolic-around, get-back-in, take-your-small-dog-with-you kind of kayaks.

In worm news, I finished screening. At this rate, I should actually have some worm tea bags for watering cans around 2011.

JUST KIDDING! I really did finish screening and hope to have some worm tea bags ready SOON. I am just not ready to commit to exactly WHEN!

June 10, 2009

Slow Progress

Current berry plant count: 4
Total berries harvested: 0
CLOSE UP of my best berry plant so far!

Berry growing, like worms, requires patience.

I have to feed the worms tonight and the bin is almost ready for another cranking. Unfortunately, as I have been moving slower than a worm's pace, I am barely done screening and doing something constructive with the first batch.

In direct contrast, my new job is going great. People gamble a ridiculous amount of money, and I get to work on reports, planning, and promotions to convince them spend even more. All that work and concentration makes me want to come home, walk my dog, and do some yoga or take a run.

See what's missing from that list? You got it- worms.

HOWEVER, now that the new facility has opened and things are dying down a little, I have been less busy and the wheels in mind have been turning back to the squirmers.

Onward and upward!

May 17, 2009

Baby Berry Plants!

Current berry plant count: 3!
Total berries harvested: 0

The strawberry planter kit has sprouted THREE little berry plants! Look see!

I'm a little nervous now that there are three plants, because how they will get germinated? Thinking back to my elementary school science days- don't the flowers need to get "bee'd", or pollinated, so they'll actually grow berries?

If anyone has any knowledge about this, please share in the comments section. I can always put the planter outside for a few days and hope my flowers get lucky with the bee traffic.

So let's say the berries do grow, I will need to relocate them to an out-of-cockapoo-reach space. At my old house I grew strawberries and raspberries outside, but when we would let the dog out at night to go to the bathroom he would eat them! These ones are inside, which will make it even easier for him to grab a quick treat.

Even small gardens take lots of planning!

May 3, 2009

Run, Worms, Run!

I ran the half marathon today in the Pittsburgh Marathon. How cool!

I picked up my race stuff yesterday at the Convention Center- black drawstring bag, lots of samples, dry-weave marathon t-shirt, white Nike socks, coupons, plus race bib and shoe monitor thingee.

I had to get up at 4:50AM and be at the starting area for 6AM. Starting time was actually 7:30AM. I began the race with the nine minute ten second pace person, but lost him pretty quick in the mix because there were tons of runners.

I saw so much of Pittsburgh in one run, I was sure I had ran WAY further than 13.1 miles. We started near the Convention Center, ran through the Strip District, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, West End, South Side, and back through the middle of downtown to the finish line in front of the Convention Center through cool and cloudy conditions, and it even rained the last 4-5 miles.

The best part was the first 4-5 miles- bands, fun, cheering, music- I even slapped hands with Mayor Ravenstahl! The hardest part was the ramp up to the West End Bridge and the mile or so through the South Side towards the end. UGH.

I finished in a little over two hours and got a special medal and picked up a race poster.

I developed my own way to down a styrofoam cup (gasp! I hate styrofoam) of water while running: put a hole in the bottom side with your finger then slap it to your mouth real fast and suck down the water. A little messy, but better than choking or stopping!

I was determined NOT TO STOP RUNNING for any reason WHATSOEVER, and I didn't- YAY FOR ME!

What does this have to do with worms?

I have a great answer!

Worms eventually become so maintenance-free that you are able to train for a half-marathon.

April 19, 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

I received an original Easter gift this year: a strawberry planter. What a great place to test my worm castings!

The kit came with these little compact dirt disks that swelled to five or six times their original size when I wet them. I mixed up the disk dirt with worm castings for a squishy enriched seed bed.

Then I placed the dirt about 3/4 of the way up the planter and sprinkled in the seeds in, and filled the rest in to the top. Strawberry seeds are about as big as specks of dirt or small fruit flies. Very small.Have you ever noticed product photos can be kind of exaggerated?

If this kit takes off like the picture on the left, I will be pretty dang impressed (and well-fed).

Current berry plant count:0
Total berries harvested: 0

Stay tuned!

April 15, 2009

What Goes Around...

Comes back around!

It is almost time to turn the crank on the wigwam again, and I haven't even finished up with the first batch of castings I cranked out. I have everything sitting in my worm-work area (worm tea bags, cotton drawstring bags, little scoopers) waiting patiently for me to spring into action.

The Lilliworm site has been finished for a while now, also waiting patiently for me to get on with the show. I know....SLACKER!

Here's my current list of excuses:

-New casino opening- working like a crazy person!

-Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon- running like a crazy person!

-Eating and sleeping in between

Over the next two weekends, I am COMMITTED to devoting more time to my worm project!

The casino is open, I can run lots of miles, and I have reverted back to being an omnivore and getting 7.5 hours of sleep per night. I have no excuse for not heading back to the worm-grind!

I fed the worms last week with four MASSIVE bowls of scraps and a bag of gross lettuce. I finally checked on them last night, and all is quite well- even without my peepers nosing in every other day.

Even though I've been slacking, they have kept up the good work.

April 6, 2009

Moving Day

Remember Moving Day for the worms? I was so excited to uproot thousands of small lives for the promise of a better tomorrow. I didn't consider they might miss the close quarters of their mini-bins.

My new workplace had the same feeling of anticipation about our new building as I did about the wigwam, and this past week was Moving Day for the casino offices.

I now have sympathy for my little friends. How alone and lost they must have felt those first few days! Not that the wigwam is a labyrinth of corridors like my new building...I have been lost trying to find the stairs twice and walked by my office four times!

All of our stuff was marked and boxed for the movers, however not all of it showed up where it was supposed to. I was chairless for two days even though I super-taped a post-it with my name to it.

Today I was able to find a new chair, though not as good or cushy as my first.

It is my hope that the worms will also find peace, because I now know how stressful a big move can be!

March 29, 2009

Managing Worms and People

I've been at my current job for a few weeks, and I think I am starting to get the hang of it. There's a lot to learn going from the amusement park industry to the casino industry, even though they are both entertainment-oriented.

One part that is new for me and has given me the most anxiety is managing a large group of employees while at the same time trying to set better processes and procedures for my department.

And mastering new software and reports.
And remembering where on the network things are stored.
And learning how to order stuff and from who.
And constructing the "perfect" work schedule for the supervisors and reps (does such a thing exist?).

I think I have a classic case of overwhelmed-ness.

In another instance of life imitating the worm operation, I recall when the worms arrived and I was so concerned about their environment:
Was it the right temperature?
Was the bin damp enough?
How will I ever stop them from escaping?
How much should I feed them?
Where in the basement should I put them?

It all worked itself out and I'm a pro now!

So, this too shall pass.

March 17, 2009

Worm Slacker

That's me. A worm slacker. You know how I used to say how painfully slow the worms did everything- i.e., eat, multiply, etc.?

I've got news for you. Right now, my worm herd is downstairs saying the same thing about me!

I have become a worm slacker.

I fed them loads of scraps this weekend, finished up the screening, and then...well, then...Then I went shopping, went to yoga, walked my dog, and cleaned my house. Then I helped with laundry and went to dinner with friends. The next day, back to work again.

I find myself in a worm slump.

I want to do worm things, I do. I just haven't been able to carve out the time to make it happen.

The weather started getting nice, the marathon is getting closer (YIKES), I got a new job, and all the sudden I don't have the extra worm hours I need!

Have you ever been in a funk and needed some motivation to KEEP MOVING on a project? That's me right now.

Feel free to share how you were able to kick yourself into action!

March 8, 2009

Slow Going

A month and half after introducing whole apples to the bin, there are finally some noticeable signs of decay. Most of the apples have large mushy spots or thick cracks through them that are full of worms.

Since worms cannot live on apples alone (at least I don't think so), I fed them four whole bowls today of fruit and veggie scraps. Which leads me to my next piece of news...

My finest and most loyal worm bowl contributor ever worked with me at America's Finest and Favorite Traditional Amusement Park. Over the last month, I left my position for the glitz and glamour of the gaming world, but I am hopeful her valuable scraps will continue to be an integral part of my worms' diet. (I have to return her worm bowl for fill up after the most recent feeding...)

She's also one heck of a writer and very I hear "guest post"?

I continued to screen castings- they are pretty dry now- and only have a few scoops left to finish. I should finish just in time for growing season...sheesh, I don't know who is slower: me or the worms?

February 22, 2009

An Apple a Day

The latest installment in the apple experiment finds one apple with a worm trying to squirm into the stem and another with a mushy crack down the side with a few worms crawling around.
And that's it! The remaining apples have been in the bin for OVER A MONTH, and show zero signs of decomposing and are impenetrable by worms. They look like the day I put them in!

However, one interesting change in the bin is the absence of escapees over the past few weeks. I'm not sure if the suspense and anticipation of the apples rotting make the worms stay in the bin with baited breath (LOL! Worm joke!), but the number of ones flying the coop has dropped dramatically to almost none. (Sorry the first pic is so fuzzy- I was so overcome with excitement I guess I couldn't hold the camera steady?)

In yoga news, only one week of teacher training left before I'm a certified yoga instructor! One of the things we discussed this weekend is being able to give inspirational quotes or "gems" to your students during class.

It's only appropriate that I come up with a worm-related gem to share with my beginner yoga students: "When you just start yoga, you'll feel like a worm in a bin with an apple that just won't go mushy. You visualize the prize- a better, healthier you; you can smell success- by seeing others around you who have been practicing for a longer time. You only have to be patient until you can enjoy your own mushy apple reward- an energetic, life-changing practice."

Worms + yoga = inner peace? I'll let you know.

February 15, 2009

Worm Friendly Jackson Hole

Update on the apples: still whole. No change. Moving on.

I just got back from one of the coolest (literally!) places ever: Jackson, Wyoming. We skied the longest steepest mountains I've ever seen at Jackson Hole resort- check out their mountain cams.

We stayed at the comfortable and friendly Wyoming Inn. Free continental breakfast in the morning, soup and sandwiches in the afternoon, and fresh-baked cookies every night- plus super comfortable pillow-topped beds to die for.

We snowmobiled with our guide Mike (listed first in the Guide page of the link) through the Tetons to the hot springs. The changing rooms had no heat (yikes!), and I broke my vegetarian ways for one day to eat the most delicious steak EVER (please don't revoke my membership, PETA!)

We hung out on the saddles at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and ate Mexican at the The Merry Piglets.

You are asking yourself: what does this have to do with worms?
What is your problem with sticking to the topic, Lilliworm?

I've got news for you: Jackson is one of the greenest vacation towns I've ever visited- I bet they would love my herd of worms to gobble up their organic scraps!

Not only does Jackson Hole love public transportation and have shuttles full of people darting all over, many of the hotels are quite eco-friendly and way into recycling, and the restaurants love to brag about their local naturally raised meat (sorry again, PETA!).

Winter vacations rule!

February 2, 2009

How Do You Like Them Apples?

This image may look familiar if you frequently read this blog, but it shouldn't. These apples have been in the bin for over a week now and, unfortunately for my big experiment, look just like the day I put them in.

Apples are quite the hardy food it turns out. I would say if you are going on a long journey and are looking for a food that will hold up without refrigeration or heating, go with the apple!

In other news, yoga teacher training is going great- we spent this weekend philosophizing about yoga thoughts.

One thing I found way interesting was chakras.

We learned that if you or your students are having problems in a certain pose or with a certain part of the body that each pose is linked to a specific chakra that relates to a certain part of the body and a life balance or attribute that might need to flow better. The best online comparison chart I found was here.

Back to the worms soon...

January 20, 2009

A Bushel and a Peck

Experiment time! My favorite worm-loving co-worker generously donated a bag of bruised apples to the bin today. I thought it would be cool to put them in whole (pictured above) and see how long it takes them to get eaten.

I gently covered them with some peat moss so they don't attract any other "friends", but I'm gonna uncover and snap another photo in a few days.

Did you know:

--- Apples are grown in all fifty states.

--- A bushel of apples equals 42 pounds, and a peck is 10.5 pounds.

--- One gallon of apple cider takes 36 apples to create.

--- One apple contains only around 80 calories and has no sodium, fat, or cholesterol.

If you liked reading these, visit Apples & More Apple Facts.

BTW, I am STILL sifting the castings from the big crank. I have to keep waiting for the layers to dry out a little- the damper the castings the more they clog up the colander/strainer. And my basement isn't the warmest place to hang out with damp hands!

January 11, 2009

New Year, New Worm Goals

This New Year, I not only resolved to be a vegetarian (I've lived to Day 11) but also to continue my efforts with Lilliworm. So, in addition to my full time job, yoga teacher training, homemaking, skiing, and dog walking- I know, call the WAAAHMBULANCE!- I do plan to keep the worm dreams alive!

Some of the challenges I've had are:

-PATIENCE- Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was a super productive worm wigwam. I've always had problems with patience- I had my worm empire built and producing before the first pound of worms ever even arrived! It really has been an adventure with worms because I've had to learn to move at their pace, not my own personal breakneck speed.

-PACKAGING- Packaging is expensive and it takes time to test which might work best. The trick is coming up with a creative packaging idea that is efficient, cost-effective, and totally environmentally freindly (EF). Anyone can toss some castings into a plastic bag for sale, but how EF is that?

-LABELS- Sheesh, the information out there about labeling and making claims and wording guarantees is endless. If I use the word "fertilizer" I have to get a certain license and pay for certifications, if I call it "soil conditioner" the state can ask for another type of fee, and on and on and on. Remember the saying "Ask forgiveness instead of permission?" Eventually, I am going to have to just go with that, because I know I'll miss some rule or regulation somewhere!

-TIME- You know what I mean. Job, exercise, dog, husband, ski season... I have tried to carve out a few hours each week for worms, but its been difficult over the last month or so.

Hopefully the resolution will give me a sense of responsibility to fulfill my promises to myself in 2009!