Meet the McWormersons

Happy Earth Day, people of Earth! To celebrate, I thought I’d gross you out and introduce you to the McWormersons, the little army of compost makers that live in my basement.

Worms

Visual approximation. Want to see the real thing? Click the picture.

A few years ago, I started looking for a better way to get rid of my kitchen scraps. For two people, we generate a lot. I wanted to turn the scraps into compost for my garden but my suburban yard is too small for traditional compost methods. I’d rather use the space I have for plants, not a big pile of compost. As I was researching space-saving ways to compost, I ran across several websites that explained how to create a worm compost bin that can be kept indoors with no mess and no smell. After an easy set up, the worms do all the work.

After extensive research, I set up my bins, bought 1,000 red wigglers and set them to work. Within a few weeks, they started turning my kitchen scraps into black gold to use on my garden. Once a week, they  get all of my vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and filters (I only used unbleached filters), rice and noodles that haven’t been made with oil and, occasionally, clean dried egg shells. They also get several inches of bedding made from shredded newspaper each time I feed them.

As pets go, the McWormersons are the best. I feed them once a week, never have to take them outside to go to the bathroom at 3 a.m. in the middle of winter and they work harder than any pet I’ve ever had. As far as I can tell, they do only three things: Eat, have worm sex and poop nutritious, black compost. They may not be warm, fuzzy or cuddly, but if I close my eyes, I can imagine their little cheers of joy at seeing me when I open their bins to feed them.

This summer, I’ll keep you updated on the McWormersons and show you how I set up my bins, feed them and harvest their castings (a.k.a. compost).

Welcome to spring and the loofah soap experiment

I don’t know about you, but I am done with winter. Weather-wise, it has been winter since early November here in northern Ohio. By my count, that’s four months. Four months of extreme cold, gross black snow on the sides of the roads, treacherous driving and high heat bills.

I’m over it.

So, I’d like to announce that here on Emmet Street, it is officially spring! And the opening of spring means planning for my vegetable garden. This year, I’m going to attempt to grow loofah. I was as surprised as anyone to learn that loofah is not a sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea. It’s actually a member of the cucumber family. It‘s edible when harvested early, while the fruit is small and green. As the fruit matures, it become fibrous and, from the looks of it, a choking hazard. At the end of the growing season, it’s possible to remove the skin and dry the fibrous insides, making the familiar loofah sponge.

I’ve read that growing loofah in my region of the country is challenging, but not impossible. It has a very long growing season and needs up to six months to mature. I’m up for the challenge. If all goes according to plan, I will start my loofah seeds inside in early April, transplant them into my garden in May, and by September, I should have at least one fully mature loofah to dry.

What will I do with the loofah once it’s dried? Make soap, of course! I’ve made loofah soap before and it was wonderful for scrubbing away dirt.

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My first attempt at loofah soap. It was scented with orange essential oil. 

I’ll post updates of my progress here on the blog throughout the growing, drying and soaping process.

Have you tried growing loofah or any other odd vegetable? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section!