Vermicomposting with Kids

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.”

Do normal people finish things?

Do normal people actually finish things? Is my fantasy of this place where projects are completed and all of the stuff has a predesignated space just a myth. Are there more people like me, who have a dozen projects residing in either the plan or execute phase and–very rarely–the finished phase? Stuff makes me crazy. Disorder makes my brain hurt. Paying retail prices for just about anything makes stomach hurt. My heart aches over the creative things that I never get to, because it takes too long to shift, dig, and sort through all of the stuff.

I’d like to take this opportunity to blame my piles and unfinished-ness on my ADHD, thankyouverymuch. Impulse begets purchasing things that you aren’t ready to actually start yet. Random, creative thinking gives second lives to otherwise landfill-bound stuff. Which means that I have a hard time letting go of things.

And even as I cognitively realize that there are people who have control of their lives, I have to wonder if it is actually the norm. Mostly I just hope it’s not because that means I would actually be closer to normal.

For those of you that can actually take a package to the post office and mail it before the dust accumulates, well you’ll think I’m a moron. Whatever.

I have problems following a linear path even with the lines drawn out in the road. Well, here, let me try and explain with a recent example.

Since Memorial Day weekend, I’ve been in one of my “get rid of, put away, finish” things. I’ve been freecycling, craigslisting, and goodwilling. I started with the baby clothes in the basement. Which motivated me to clean out the playroom–they have too many toys, they can’t even decide what to play with. The storage system just wasn’t working, the cube idea is cute and all, but the bins don’t stay sorted. I upcycled one of our leftover cabinets from 2008’s kitchen makeover (of course I kept them! I might need it for something!) into a book shelf so I could switch over to the clear, plastic bins. My brain got away from me during the process and I ended up trying to make the bookshelf look like a house, but it just didn’t look right outside of my brain. The cabinet/shelf was fine though. Yes, I have pictures. Yes, I’m too lazy to get up and go download them off of the camera right now. I’ll post ’em later.

By cleaning, sorting, and purging through too many toys, I reclaimed a line of wall space in my bedroom where two rubbermaid tubs had become toy boxes. But three little projects before I finished the playroom, I got distracted and started cleaning through the piles in the bedroom. And, once again, before I was done with either the playroom or the bedroom, I decided to clean out the top of the boys’ bedroom closet. Until yesterday, that closet space was the home to several random glass antiques, a broken coo coo clock, Joel’s ski bibs, and a korean hand fan. Now it has a giant box of kid winter and hand-me-down clothes, so at least the contents are appropriate and those clothes are off my floor. Of course, the clothes were replaced by previous closet residents. My piles are like an elaborate game of tetris. I do not have the high score.

Even now, I’m blogging because–thanks to the great bedroom re-org–I got motivated to finish the floor pillows I planned for the playroom. And by finish, I really mean start. I found all of the necessary items–pillow forms, fabric, thread–under my bed. The project was fresh in my mind after spending 7 hours in the hot, hot NC sun at the Spencer Transportation Museum today. Like the Grouchy Ladybug, at 6pm I looked at the unfinished project and said, “do you want to fight?” and got started. Everything is cut and pinned for three pillows, because if I was going to do one, I might as well do all three of them. In truth, all I’ve done is make a giant mess in the middle of the bed right…….before…….losing……interest.

Now it’s either:
1) finish the pillows, because otherwise I need to unpin the fabric and will have wasted all of my time investment.
2) create a new pile (mess) in a new place (top of dresser) to finish (not to be seen for another 6 months) later.

Decisions, decisions.