Worms Eat Our Garbage
Worms Eat Our Garbage
by Barbara Caccamo, , Westury Friends School
“How do you feel about worms?” That was the question posed to me, Barbara Caccamo, Kindergarten Assistant and Early Birds (a before school program) teacher, by our Head of School, Gerri Faivre. “Well, I find them fascinating”, I replied. That was the start of my journey into the world of worms (AKA vermicomposting).
It was early January 2010 when the Kindergarten, Early Birds and the Fifth Grade students joining us began diligently shredding newspaper to make a bed for the worms which would soon be introduced into the big black bin. We were embarking on a new long-term science project, vermicomposting, or simply put, WORMS EAT OUR GARBAGE. The children worked to ready their worm bin by not only shredding paper, but also sprinkling in organic potting soil adding some water,
And then we all waited!
January 14, 2010: The worms have arrived! We put them in their bin along with lettuce, carrot peelings, and celery.
Once the worms were in the bin, the students watched the worms wiggle right over to the food source and start to nibble away. They then covered the bin with black plastic to keep it dark and moist and closed the lid. Air entered the bin through ventilated tubes that run across the bottom.
January 19, 2010: We left the worms alone, in the dark, for four days. When we looked today, only some worms were still visible.
January 29, 2010: Worms still abound. They have eaten all the carrot peelings and lettuce. We gave them coffee grinds and eggshells and tea bags. They now measure two inches!
February 10, 2010: The worms are still fine and eating well.
February 20, 2010: We noticed a few worms outside the bin. They were not moving and were dry. How did they get out?
February 21, 2010: We gave the worms more water and more food.
February 25, 2010: More worms are leaving! We gave them no water or food.
February 26-28: It’s a mass exodus!!! Please don’t leave!!!!!!
March 1, 2010: All the worms have left us and we really don’t know why.
The worm book tells us the worms will leave if they feel a vibration, but our room has a cement floor! We’re all very sad and confused but we vow to try again next year!!!!!
April 2010: After returning from spring break, our Head of School suggests we try again. Once more we make a bed of shredded paper, add potting soil and some water, mixing it all together. This time we move the bin to the Head’s office, introduce two new pounds of worms and there it stays throughout the spring, feeding occurring about three times a week.
May 2010: Worms are alive and well, not thriving but not dying or escaping! We keep them in the office and feed them regularly. The paper begins to look like nutrient rich soil…that was the goal!
June 2010: Summer vacation is almost here and the paper has been transformed into soil…time to release the worms into the garden where pumpkin seeds have been planted with hopes of a harvest in October. Many worms have survived life in the bin and scamper out into the soil and immediately dig deep within it. We wait to see what will happen in the fall.
Due to the very dry and hot climate experienced on Long Island this summer, even with constant attention, our pumpkin patch dies off by September. A few vines remain and a few flowers, but no pumpkins and no visible worms within the soil.
We are still not sure as to why the first group of worms ran away from us, or more than likely died in the bin. Too hot, too cold, north side of the room as opposed to south side, or vice versa. Not enough moisture, too much moisture. Although disappointed, the children did not seem upset about the loss of the worms in the same way they might miss the rabbit or the hamsters if they were to not be there when they arrived in class. We will try it again this winter as we now have six raised beds and a Children’s Community Garden to supply nutrient rich soil. And perhaps our first attempt and first disappointment has provided us with more insight as to how to manage this project better at the onset and to observe and track changes with more accuracy, making adjustments when needed.
Earthworms are a great way to convert organic waste into nutrient rich material, which can support plant growth. What better way is there to contribute in a positive way to our environment than to have WORMS EAT OUR GARBAGE? It is a simple, effective and convenient method of composting, but best of all, it is fun!!! And, as always, students and new thoughts lead us on the path to new and exciting science study…stay tuned for the next episode of As the Worms Turn at Westbury Friends School!