I thought I’d give you an update on the wigglers today. It’s been five weeks since I brought home the red wigglers and their indoor composting bin. They’ve been sitting quietly in a corner of the kitchen and get a margarine-sized container of food scraps once a week. I’ve given them banana peels and potato peels, bits of onion, coffee grounds along with the organic unbleached paper filter, apple cores, carrots, some beans that had gone a bit past their prime, and a stale organic whole wheat tortilla that got lost in the back of the fridge and a few other things. I have added damp shredded newspaper on top of their original peat and compost bedding and this has made them very happy. It keeps them evenly damp and each week when I move the paper aside to bury more scraps I have found many busy worms.

Yesterday when I was feeding them I took a careful sniff just to make sure they weren’t getting stinky. Far from stinky, what met my olfactories was a rich, loamy dirt smell. It smelled so good I stuck my head down close to the bin and breathed deeply. With that yummy dirt smell I know I must be doing something right! Bookman was not home to witness my adventures in smelling and I neglected to tell him about it, but he will know now and will, I am sure, laugh at me. Those of you who aren’t gardeners probably think I am completely bonkers, but let me assure you, there are few things in this world that smell so wonderful as good compost.

I do need to add some calcium to the bin this week sometime to promote and encourage wiggly sex and baby worms. The easiest way to add calcium is with egg shells but since this vegan has not eaten eggs in twenty years, I found out recently I can crush up the occasional Tums and add it to the bin. This will also ensure the wigglers don’t get heartburn. Heh. Though I seem to recall the worm kit came with a small bag of calcium carbonate. Will have to look for it before I go in search of unflavored Tums at the drugstore.

In spite of their quiet unobtrusiveness, the wigglers have become kind of like pets. Bookman asks me regularly when I fed them last. He hasn’t fed them or done anything in the bin at all, but he likes keeping track of their wellbeing and saving scraps for me to give them. We’ve got three more months before I have to worry about moving them into new bedding and removing their compost. There are a number of ways to do it. I will ultimately choose the easiest and least messy which means dumping the bin out onto a tarp is struck off the list.

In other gardening fun, the catalogs have been arriving. I got one the other day that was all fruit. You know, when I first moved to Minnesota from southern California I was bereft since the only fruit I loved that grew here was apples. No peaches or nectarines or plums or grapes or bing cherries. I thought I had moved to a fruit wasteland. I know better now. I can grow cherries and grapes and plums. Even pears. But the wealth of wonderful fruit I have discovered comes in the form or berries. There are so many kinds beyond strawberries that I am learning about.

This last spring I planted blackberries, huckleberries and blueberries. This coming spring I will be planting raspberries, gooseberries, Juneberries and currants. Eventually I might try lingonberries. I’ve thought about cranberries but I’ve heard those sucker like crazy so I need to do more research on those. I am thinking about trying hardy kiwi. These aren’t the egg-sized fuzzy fruit you find in the supermarket. These supposedly taste similar but they are not fuzzy and are much smaller, about large grape-sized. They are, however, very high in vitamin C and have pretty flowers that smell like lily-of-the-valley. They are vigorous perennial vines and I need two for pollination so I need to figure out against what fence or wall I might be able to grow them.

It is so much fun to imagine planting all these wonderful fruits when the thermometer outside is currently reading -5F (-21C) and will be sinking even further during the night. My body might be in the midst of winter, but my mind is enjoying a warm, fruity summer.

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