I won’t say it’s a boy thing– since it isn’t. But the Small People do love insects, arachnids (spiders), and annelids (worms). Vermicomposting with kids combines all of that with dirt.
Now, because they are tech-age kids, they will dig for a few minutes, give up, then move over to stand 8.5 inches away from my leg, waiting for whatever worms I find. It makes my chest hurt that they don’t have enough patience to dig for their own worms.
Which begins the choruses of “Can I help with that?” Or, and this was my favorite since it happened right when the Jehovah’s Witnesses should have (they skipped us) walked up the driveway, the gnashing of teeth and eardrum splitting screams of: “YOU JUST TOOK MY WORM. I DON’T WANT YOU TO DO THAT.” For 38 minutes, the Smallest of the Small People loudly defended his worm against what he purported was illegal worm deportation.
A few days later, they found a DIY worm bin in one of my gardening books, beginning Vermicomposting Campaign 2012.
“Mom, can we have worm pets?”
Which, my friends, was a marked improvement last month’s campaign:
“but why can’t the termite friends live in our bedroom? We promise to keep them in the bucket!”
I will warn you, our finished project lacks a certain…polished professionalism. Which should tell you that it was indeed made almost entirely by a 5 and 3 year old. Who think it’s the best worm bin, ever.
We started the vermicomposting process a website and some youtube videos. Next, I used Z’s interest in the project to have him practice copying words/letters. The squiggly letters are in worm-font. Duh.
Then I tried to find non-internet-shipped red wigglers. Apparently you can’t just dig worms out of your backyard– who knew?
First stop, Walmart- I know, I know— but it’s less than a mile away!. Walmart locks up their bait worms, by the way. Requiring a walmart manager (as elusive as photographic evidence of Big Foot) make a worm purchase. Which didn’t much matter, since Walmart only carries a warehouse worm not good for bin composting.
Back in the car, across town to the bait store we go. Success! Return trip home, where I work on convincing the children that we will need to use a dark bin, and they suggest we use a clear bin, paint it black, but leave a window– so the worms can “see us”.
Lots of tongue-biting and cheek-chewing, after all, it’s their worm bin, right? But, it was hard. So very, very hard.
Then Zach piped up with, “look, Mom. There’s black paint right here.” I still had the black paint sitting in the kitchen. Next to the white paint from the cabinets and the eventually to be up-cycled built in shelves.
Drill air holes. Actually, let your children drill the air holes. The smallest of the Small People will first insist on appropriate hearing protection. While reading a coloring book about birds. Get it? Worms/ Birds.
Gather paint and brushes. And more damp paper towels than you will think necessary. Have mild freak out moments because you are letting 2 children paint with non-washable paint– INSIDE. Why inside? Because it’s raining pollen right now. Yellow pollen + black paint + Allergic Small People = no good.
Give them a lot of paper to shred for the worm beds. Show Small People how to make strips. Walk away to check facebook fold laundry . Come back in 20 10 minutes to exactly one sheet of newspaper ripped in half.
Heave a large sigh, and begin to deliver a lecture about the importance of caring for pets. Realize pretty quickly how stupid you sound (and that they aren’t listening) and start ripping paper with them.
Instruct Small People to wet the bedding until it’s damp, like a sponge. Remember too late that damp to Small People is synonymous with dripping wet to everyone else.
Tell Small People that if they can get ready for bed without crying, screaming or yelling (mine, not theirs) that we can add the worms into the hottest new city view worm bin in the South.
Watch a squiggling wet mass of–thankfully–alive worms. Explain to the worms how they were on their way to being bait, but instead now get to live in a giant plastic bucket of newspaper and veggie scraps.
Currently, the bin lives outside as I work on the correct green/brown ratio. I have already explained to my husband that he couldn’t just put a whole apple in there– worms have small mouths, after all.
I assume the worms like it better outside, since they have stopped trying to escape. One, which I’ve named Bent Tail, seems to the be the leader of the worm revolt. Me? I’m looking at a long driveway, lots of birds, and several exuberant boys thinking, “stupid worm, you’ll never have it as good out there as you do right here.”