Monday, September 04, 2006

Got worms?

So, you recycle your paper, tins and glass, maybe plastic if your local council are so inclined. You give your old clothes to Oxfam, or perhaps you take them to one of those big metal bins that say DO NOT ENTER on the giant flap, and wonder who is was that did. You probably send off your used printer cartridges for recycling, maybe your old mobile phones too (check out Envirophone, who will not only recycle your phone but pay you for the privilege... unless it's really crap like my old Sony J5, in which case they'll still take it, but you'll get nowt. Either way, come to think of it, you're probably better off selling on ebay, which is a kind of recycling when you think about it). Basically, you're doing your bit and you feel pretty good about it.

Still, there's probably one type of waste that you stick in the trash without even thinking about it: food. No matter how much you try not to be wasteful, sometimes your eyes are bigger than your belly and you end up with half a plate full of stir fry/omlette/stale chocolate cake that no one is ever going to eat. And even the best cooks leave behind skins and peelings and horrible hard bits on a daily basis. How can you get rid of this without filling up landfills and incinerators? One word: worms (unless you have a greedy dog. If you do, read on anyway).

I know, I know, you haven't got room for a wormery, you haven't got a garden. What if I told you you can keep a wormery indoors? Really, I didn't know either. Still not sure you've got space? Small kitchen? My thoughts exactly, before I did a bit of research and discovered Original Organics' Junior Wormery. Now I have worms worming away under my kitchen sink!

Here's how it came together:

1. I surfed the net and bought the wormery online from Original Organics website. Because we were going to be away for a few days after its arrival, I chose to get the worms later by voucher (included in the price), but they'll send with as well.

2. My boyfriend stayed at home to take delivery, and as promised it arrived the very next day.

3. I sent off the voucher when we were ready and waited for those worms.

4. I was worried the worms wouldn't fit through our post box, but they just came in a fairly small, ordinary envelope (and a plastic pouch inside that). I wonder if the postman knew what he was carrying???

5. We set up the wormery as per the instructions (everything you need is included), and finally added the worms.

6. Wahey, wormery!

You have to slowly build up the amount of food you add, and after just a few weeks they really start getting through it. The Junior Wormery is only designed to cope with the waste of one person, but it does pretty well with the two of us. The worms are happy with just about anything that used to be alive, although meat is not a great idea, and too much citrus can make for an unhealthy wormery. But it's not just for food - any organic waste can go in: garden waste, paper etc (how much obviously depends on the size of your wormery - our small one manages the odd kitchen towel, some bonsai clipping and the occasional handful of dead leaves). There's very little maintanance involved, but you do have to sprinkle a handful of a special lime mix (also included) every few weeks to keep the pH in the right range.

So, what do you get out of it, except knowing you're wasting less? Well, the best bit for most people is that after about two months you'll be able to get "worm juice" from the tap. This is very rich fertilizer (and boy does it smell like fertilizer!) that can be diluted and used on your plants. The other thing you get after about eight to twelve months is a bin full of compost. (Do you get all of that from a greedy dog? Maybe in a slightly less useful form...) As we haven't got a garden I'm not sure what we'll we're going to do with the compost yet, but we'll cross that bridge blah de blah.

I really think a wormery under the sink is a fantastic idea, and I'm only sorry I didn't know it was possible earlier. I really feel a whole lot greener. One question though: do you think our landlord would class worms as pets?

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