I Have Worms!

Pam Lazos wrote recently, here, on the joys of compost which I can echo. It made me, once again, recognise a parental lesson I received from a young age.

My parents, specifically my mother recycled, repurposed and upcycled well before these activities had trendy titles. It was that wartime ‘make do an mend’ mentality. It had its downsides. Pretty much bugger all got thrown away. The loft was so full at one point that my father wistfully speculated on whether, removed of this load, might the house not spring from its foundations and make a bid for freedom.

We all benefited from her commitment to being able to fix and/or create answers to problems. She even did it with food with her ‘ifits’. An ‘ifit’ is a meal made from leftovers which would not normally be associated with each other, often combined with pasta or rice. When asked what it might be she would say ‘I don’t know but if it works it’ll be fine’. Hence Ifit. We were full, we never had food poisoning and I’ve had an eclectic sense of taste ever since.

Her passion for a ‘no waste’ policy extended to the by products from her kitchen especially things like peelings. We ‘composted’ most by-products which couldn’t be combined to make a soup or stock. My father would build a compost bin every year from any old odds and sods of wood which would be filled with biodegradable materials (when did we learn the word ‘biodegradable, I wonder? Up to that point it was ‘will they rot’? The point being there was no point putting resilient weeds like dandelions or buttercup or bindweed onto the compost because they wouldn’t rot). Dad called the end-product – the delicious loamy fertiliser – guff and spread it around his vegetables and Mum’s precious plants. It took a season to make a binful, a lesson in patience and perseverance but as a something for nothing joy there were few to beat it.

First house, shortly after arrival

The Textiliste and I bought our first house and garden in 1985. Mum inspected the derelict and weed strewn plot and declared herself jealous. Where I saw sweat and hard work she saw opportunity and experimentation. She knew best. We both loved changing it and one of the things which she encouraged me to make was a small compost bin.

The same house three years later

Later we moved to a bigger garden and grew both plants and children there. Their exponentially expanding diets – directed healthily by the Textiliste – generated substantial vegetable waste alongside the prunings of lawn and herbaceous borders.

Last year, two of my three compost bins collapsed from the inevitable rot of the panels and posts – this was why Dad’s needed rebuilding annually. We decided we work reorganise our working area and, where once we had three bins, we now have four. During my Dog walks I would mark the position of skips and builders at work. If I saw someone I’d ask if they minded me half-inching* the redundant pallets on which their materials were delivered. They were delighted, saved from the hassles of disposal.

With an outlay of fifteen pounds on some metal and wooden posts, a friend and I made four bins which we lined with left over pond liner (why was it left over… oh heck, if you need to know, click here) so we can have the perfect progression of vegetable waste to luscious loamy compost. At any time, the optimum position is thus

Bin one is being filled with whatever we want to rot down – here you can see pruned leaves and kitchen waste. You’ll see it is partially covered; I don’t want the materials to get too wet; there’s a lot of moisture in the material anyway.

What goes in

Bin two is being dug out and used where needed around the garden.

Bin three will either be like bin two, depending on the time of year (right now we’ve put down a mountain of compost, in the autumn we have little need of such feeding) or it will be empty, as here and used for temporary storage.

Bin four will be shut down and doing its stuff. We cover and seal it with old carpet which keeps the rain off and the heat in. A newly closed bin, if opened can burn you from the natural thermal properties of rot.


Dad taught me about this process: take your time, prepare the ground and all sorts of benefits will flow.

Mind you he could never explain how the worms could find the bin quite so quickly. I’ve even seen a concrete floored bin were the worms have appeared. Nature might be marvellous but it’s also rather weird.

Ah life; as a teenager I wondered where the noses went; now it’s marvelling at where the worms come from.

*pinching – rhyming slang

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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46 Responses to I Have Worms!

  1. Ritu says:

    Well I’ve learned a lot about composting there!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. elliotttlyngreen says:

    Is it for the original PS?? Cuz if it is…. Im in.!! Video game humor. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hubby built a compost bin last year at the bottom of the garden. We have clay soil here, so he’s turned it over and mixed it in with the pots and Jack’s Magic compost for our roses and fruit bushes, and the onions are being grown in the bin itself. They are coming up an absolute treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    I enjoyed that Geoff Flowerbutts.πŸ’œπŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tidalscribe says:

    I am impressed. I have three compost bins ( plastic..) and if you want to see worms, just lift the lid! Not a sight for the faint hearted!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Terrific info and delightfully presented, Geoff. Your mom would have fainted if she saw the monster weeds at my high desert cottage… They were already bad when I moved in ten days ago. I made the mistake of cleaning and painting before attacking the weeds. They took advantage and brought in reinforcements. Now I pull a large trash bag full every morning (for the past week) and I’ve barely made a dent. Like “Little Shop of Horrors” they clearly plan to take over the world. Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! 4 compost bins, I’m impressed. We have two going usually–one open with mostly yard waste and one a closed rotating kind, where I put all the kitchen scraps. I can’t even imagine putting all that veg and fruit goodness in the trash! Nice worms–and best blog title/subject line yet today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I wonder what people thought as they opened it. Thanks Rebecca. I despair at how much stuff has other stuff on it, in it, around it. If i want a thing i don’t want to indulge in some sort of gratuitous silent pass the parcel to get to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Vincent says:

    I love my compost bin… but I try not to think about the worms when they are wet πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  9. susieshy45 says:

    Great post and what a post for our times. Shows us the true “reuse and recycle” theme in action. I loved it.
    I would love to reblog if you permit.
    Susie

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s a battle to keep the dog from digging up the worms in the yard. I keep telling here, she has food inside and to leave the wigglers alone – we need those guys working

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Right up my garden alley Geoff. I must empty my compost bin soon.

    Like

  12. You are very industrious, Geoff. My Dad also has compost heaps. I can’t say this is high on my list of things to do right now but one day I’ll have more time [I hope].

    Like

  13. Erika Kind says:

    This is truly the best treatment for the ground and the best way of recycling too!

    Like

  14. josypheen says:

    I love worms!

    We have a compost bin in the UK that is full of tiger worms. They were great at munching through our compost! I was sad to leave them behind, but now they live in my mums garden doing the same for her.

    Like

  15. Mary Smith says:

    We had a midden which Dad dug over from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love worms! I’ve been known to save them when they get flooded out of the soil and onto pathways………… There were no worms here when I moved in I had sour, sludgy soil of no use to even the hardiest of weeds. I spent the first year digging every bit of organic waste I could find directly into holes I painstakingly dug in the narrow ‘garden bed’ I did a happy dance the day I found my first worm, clearly a hidden import in some mushroom compost I had purchased to help hurry things along. Worm cocoons can live for at least three years underground waiting for conditions to improve I was told many years ago and it seems that as soon as conditions are right they arrive with bells on and in three months one worm alone can make 100 more…… From that point on the worms are doing everything in their power to make the soil healthy and friable and excellent for growing our food in. Vive the worms!! We should all love our worms they are such amazing creatures!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Are you bothered by skunks, opossums, raccoons, mice, rats and rabbits? We are overrun with the critters. How do you keep them and your compost separate?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. JT Twissel says:

    We’ve got a fancy composter from Australia and it’s full but we can’t agree which one of us will empty and spread it in the garden.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Your worms are beautiful!!! I love compost and worms but I’m not allowed to have a compost bin where I live now. They are afraid they will attract rodents. That only happens if you don’t know what you are doing. I love to see that heat come off the compost because you can see it’s working well and if done right, it doesn’t smell bad either. I miss making compost. You had good parents that taught you well even if a little eccentric. πŸ˜‰ Your stories about them always make me smile.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. noelleg44 says:

    We have so much rain here, along with scads of wild animals (deer, possums, raccoons, coyotes, badgers, fox, rabbits and squirrels) that I think having a composting bin would be a lost cause. I don’t want to attract the wild things!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Our plumber in Newark used to raid our compost for fishing bait

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Pam Lazos says:

    Oh my, Geoff, you are a composting god and I am in awe! Kudos to your parents who taught you well. Also, your garden looks fantastic!!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Widdershins says:

    A most admirable set of compost bins πŸ˜€ … what ‘noses’?

    Liked by 2 people

  24. We’ve just one bin, a plastic sort we pile peelings and green waste into then pull out from the bottom. I didn’t know about the carpet/festering option.

    Liked by 2 people

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