Spent a Saturday afternoon separating newspapers, one pile for “black and white” and another for “colored inks used. “ I’d read that the colored inks in the newsprint were toxic to worms, the red wrigglers down in the basement storage area. Yes, I’ve started vermi-composting in my new apartment to take care of my kitchen scraps.
In Chicago, recommended worm sources from comments posted on the Advocates for Urban Agriculture blogsite include:
Urban Habitat Chicago had a vermi-composting workshop in April. Check them out to see if they will have more.
Urban Worm Girl is another source and charges something like $20/lb.
God’s Gang sells worms – Carolyn Thomas is the coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org 773/213-6992 You can share a pound – ½ pound will start a bin.
petsmart’s also sell red worms.
You can also get them from Bill Shores and pick them up locally:
Bill Shores, President
Shores Garden Consulting, Inc.
3818 N. Sawyer Ave.
Chicago IL 60618
And then this note from Debbie Hillman came across the AUA.
Someone asked about worms recently…..
Once again, Nance Klehm and Pacific Garden Mission to the rescue…..
Debbie Hillman, Co-Coordinator
Illinois Local Food & Farms Coalition
Chairperson, Evanston Food Policy Council
Pacific Garden Mission also sells red wrigglers and the most
beautiful, recycled wood worm bins.
’tis the season for the mission to join your list as of a source for red wigglers!
please have anyone interested to let us know how many pounds they want and when they plan to stop by to pick them up.
we are selling are worms at $25/lb
they are available by pick up only from the mission (1458 south canal street)
and are only payable by check.
we need 2-3 days advance notice to get them ready.
we also have handmade wormeries made form reclaimed oak pallets that we sell for $75 that come with one lb of worms.
until the mission can hire someone full time, i am still your contact: email@example.com
The original intent was to contact all of these sources and give a full report on cost of worms at various locations, but the name nance klehm caught my eye.
nance klehm is a forager, and gave a lecture/demonstration sometime last year on edible plants in and around the gardens of Waters Elementary School. We got in to a brief conversation as nance was offering samples of infused teas and vegetations, and herbal varieties she had concocted. But when my conversation turned to food deserts I felt the outdoor temperature shift. Labeling a community as a desert, conditions that community to be a desert. There is a lot of food and food sources in Englewood and it was, in nance’s opinion, terminology placed upon the community from the outside.
I can see this, and believe it merits further discussion on another blog post.
A few traded e-mails with nance, and arrangements were made to pick up the wormerie at Pacific Garden Mission.
Having recently moved with no more back yard I realized I miss the compost bin most. While on a recent trip to Seattle for my father’s 84th birthday celebration I had a moment when I took a small pan of vegetable trimmings and asked my father how he could throw vegetable matter away, just to have someone pick it up – drive it to a landfill and dump it there, when those nutrients would work great in the wooded ravine behind the house. And with that, I tossed the scraps into the ravine to decompose. Why should someone haul away your food scraps, when they can be used to enrich the soil, your garden and your own house plants?
So, I thought I’d try some worms.
Pacific Garden Mission at 14th and Canal. I’d never been before. Apparently, I entered upon the women’s side as I had to sit with the guard and wait for an escort across the building to the men’s side and the greenhouse. While seated there I got to talking with the security guard who was a month away from graduating from the program. He planned to stay on working at Pacific Garden Mission, and was a great advocate for their work. He invited me to come by Saturday for a 3:00 tour followed by the live taping of the Unshackled radio drama series at 4:30pm. Dinner would be at 5:30 with guests invited to stay for a free meal followed by the 6:30 – 8:00 Praise and Testimony session. I’ll have to get back some Saturday.
Robert came out to take me back to the greenhouse. He explained that usually Jose handled selling the boxes, but that he was doing it today. Robert brought me to the greenhouse and showed me where the boxes were built and which one had been picked out for me. But he then took me for a tour of the green house, the garden beds alongside the building, and the front garden area where he did most of the work reclaiming a corner of the ground complete with fruit trees.
It was amazing. He explained how he had not been interested in gardening the first time but since he has come back a second time to Pacific Gardens he’s become very interested. He showed me the various stages of the wooden bin composting (much larger than the wormerie), and gave pointers on how to vent the wormerie if it got too wet, and to be sure to clean the castings out on a regular basis because it becomes toxic to the worms to stay too long in their own poop.
I learned a lot from Robert. But there’s that word again, toxic. I’d read that the colored ink in newspapers could be toxic to the worms. Which is why I was surprised, a bit, to find colored newspapers in the starter box put together by Pacific Gardens. But as I sat in my apartment on a Saturday afternoon separating paper pages, I realized just how labor intensive that would be. For my worms I’ve decided that future newspaper will be color free, and they can detox with the new bedding.
Robert took me through more of the greenhouse and we talked about the tomato container plant / watering system that had been developed on site, even though Robert himself found it to be a waste of time.
It was remarkable learning at the Pacific Gardens Mission, and Robert was an excellent teacher. I arranged to write the check for $75.00 which included a pound of worms (how many worms are in a pound?) the wooden crate wormerie prepared with its first batch of worms and bedding (moist newspapers). It is solid construction with air holes drilled along the top wall, but the lid, which is 1/4 “ ply has warped already.
When I got the wormerie home, I found a spot in the kitchen next to the back door, being careful not to look in on the worms too many times (I did once or twice) because I’d also heard that they can go into shock if exposed to the light too much. (Or, some other such worm-related mythology.) What I didn’t expect was there to be an immediate heat wave as the kitchen shot up to eighty five degrees the next day.
Robert told me they shouldn’t be kept in temperatures above eighty, and while I knew the wormerie hadn’t heated up to that degree, it would soon bake there if the door were open and the afternoon sun drenched the box. Not a good arrangement.
So to the basement, to the locked storage shed the worms were cast…
Yesterday I made the first packet of food to deliver to the worms. Kitchen scraps, nothing with meat or bone, but coffee grounds and eggshells are good. Worms, too, are a little acidity shy, and I’ve been told to keep the citrus out. Wonder how they feel about garlic or peppers?
In the meantime, I have a friend over in Lincoln Square proper who has a house and some chickens on the back porch over the garage. I’m hoping to get some of their eggs, and bring them a small treat of red wrigglers. (Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty more worms multiplying in the box…)
I hadn’t intended for this to become a worm blog, but I’ve been thinking about what it is, each one of us can do, that will help make this a better place? As our friends sob uncontrollably at the images of pelicans in the gulf, we wonder what could possibly help?
Cut down on the gas lawn mowers. Walk. Ride a bike. What is one thing I can do today to help? Shop local. Don’t go so far to buy stuff. Know your farmer.
Yes, and know your worms.