Worm wrangling up at the ranch

Pop's backyard

When I was young I spent most of my time farting around in my granddad’s backyard.

There were a couple of favourite factors:

Hammock – great for indolent slothing and catching stray apricots

Me loving the pants off another hammock, down at Sussex Inlet last Easter

Me loving the pants off another hammock, down at Sussex Inlet last Easter

Climbing on roofing in a highly dangerous for a 4 year old manner – also a good apricot catching ploy

Strawberries – picked hot in the midday sun for optimal yum!

My pop of course – a funny, clever legend full of love and tales – tall and otherwise

And worms!

Worms!

Worms!

They were plentiful – big shallow rounds of rubber and corrugated steel that were curled into vats and filled with a good base of compost, seeder worms, and then food waste and layers of the newspaper that pop would always devour (spare the number puzzles which he’d keep in a jar to devour later and harangue his grandkids with, and the particular article on politics, or science, or misc current affairs that would form the basis of the day’s conversational, letter to the editor, phone call to 2GB, etc).

As a fairly hefty scale home gardener, he needed a consistent base of organic matter to feed into the system. The worms became a foundation of the health and fertility of his vegie production, and such a normative part of hanging out there with him.

Meal prep always involved saving the waste water, saving the scraps in a sink bucket that was matter-of-factly, casually, incidentally taken out at the end of proceedings to the wigglers out the back.

Our food scrap system - compost to the left and tasty worm stacks (no citrus or onion, smaller mushier bits) right

Our food scrap system – compost to the left and tasty worm stacks (no citrus or onion, smaller mushier bits) right

You’d pry the upper layers of the paper off their waiting wormy heads and they would give a good thrash, partly to get themselves away from the direct sun that is more or less their nemesis, and I also think in anticipation of the foody goodness that was to come. Like small squiggly pigs at a meal trough. Nom nom!

I would love to scoop a handful and watch them squirm. Just for a moment though. They felt like a creature that needed to be nurtured, fostered, guarded and fed, in a wet, well nourished cocoon of good nitrogen and carbon balance.

Now up at the Murrindindi homestead we have a bathtub full of the suckers. It’s raised with big old bricks and filled with a base of blue metal for drainage, with a shade cloth over the top to keep the wrigglers contained. Topped with a moist potato sack and two old swing doors for good measure.

Paul Boundy, one of our lovely weekend workshop hosts with our current worm contraption

Paul Boundy, one of our lovely weekend workshop hosts with our current worm contraption

It’s been a great fertiliser to add to our planting pockets and an excellent binder for soil blocks. Their wee, which we collect in a tub at the bottom is also an good stress conditioner and general plant tonic – similar to a mix of seaweed and fish emulsion in it’s activity, but a touch milder.

It’s been very functional and a good lesson in worm wrangling. Seeking a spot of garden beautification, and inspired by some of the very excitingly enterprising worm farm pimping folk out there (including the amazing Milkwood!) we are learning to make our own fancier version of the above this coming weekend.

Steeled by the wisdom of two local permies – worm wrangler Paul Boundy and sustainable DIY mastermind Gavin Smith, we will be learning some simple carpentry skills to build a wooden frame and lid for the contraption, sharing some encyclopedic annelid know how,  some tasty snacks and a beautiful late summer day up Murrindindi way.

Gavin getting his recycled material Macgyver on

Gavin getting his recycled material Macgyver on

Come join us if you’re keen – murrindindiwormworkshop.eventbrite.com

Rego includes plans to build your own farm, ongoing support, and a delicious lunch on the day.

Learn how to process your food waste into one of the best and cheapest organic fertilisers on legs, suss out the farmstead, tie a yellow ribbon (and hide out from the sun) round the old oak tree and smile smile smile this Sunday! Yay!

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One Response to Worm wrangling up at the ranch

  1. Pingback: New life | Murrindindi

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