In the garden

Pet worms? Well, not exactly.

But those whose plants have benefitted from the rich vermicompost that worms produce are usually enthusiastic about having a plastic bin of these wiggly red creatures in their home. Vermicompost is a humus-like material that contains large numbers of worm castings produced when organic materials pass through a worm’s gut.

“It’s an alternative to conventional backyard composting,” said Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “And it’s generally a faster process.”

Conventional composting depends on micro-organisms to break down organic wastes. Vermicomposting uses worms for most of that work. The worms are housed in a plastic “worm bin.” Carter periodically gives “make and take” workshops for people interested in trying the process.

“None are scheduled right now,” said Carter, “but if you’re interested, call the Extension Office, and we’ll put your name on a waiting list.”

To make a worm bin, drill air holes around the top of a 14-gallon plastic container, roughly 24 x 16 x 12.5 inches. Add roughly 4 pounds of shredded newspaper, a gallon of water, and 2 quarts each of coffee grounds and purchased bagged compost.

“We recommend the bagged compost,” said Carter. “With backyard compost, you run the risk of bringing in insects.”

Last, and most important, add a pound of worms.

“Be sure you get the right worms,” said Carter. “That’s critical because not just any earthworm will work. You need Eisenia fetida, the red wiggler worm.”

The worms are commercially available on line, or you may be able to get them from someone who is already vermicomposting. Periodically, the bins have to be divided both as a method of harvesting the vermicompost and because the worms can easily double in number.

“Harvesting the compost can be the most challenging part,” said Carter. “Some people use purchased systems rather than making their own because they can make separating the worms from the vermicompost a little easier.”

Worms can eat most fruits and vegetables provided they are not too salty or too acidic. Meat, dairy products, and fatty or greasy foods shouldn’t be given to the worms. Coffee grounds including the filters and tea bags also make excellent food.

“Make sure you don’t overfeed the worms,” cautioned Carter. Under optimum conditions, worms can process their body weight in food each day. Typically, however, they can’t quite eat that much, and overfeeding can create odor problems.

Carter recommends anyone interested in starting a worm bin look online at the Virginia Extension publication, “Composting Your Organic Kitchen Wastes with Worms.”

“It’s excellent,” she said. “But we recommend one slight change. Don’t drill drainage holes in the bottom of the bin. Not having them doesn’t turn out to be a problem, and sometimes having those holes in the bottom of your bin makes a mess.”

Without the drainage holes, a worm bin can be kept in the kitchen or basement, anyplace where temperatures don’t fall below freezing or go over 100 degrees Farenheit.

“Vermicomposting can be more convenient than backyard composting,” said Carter. “Plus, it’s an interesting process to watch, particularly if you have children and want to teach them about the natural world.”
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Henrico Public Library wins Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation grant


The Henrico County Public Library system recently won the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation's Library Grant Award, which provides funding, materials and programming from VBCF to help educate citizens about breast cancer.

The grant is given to select libraries in Virginia that apply and is intended to further the VBCF mission to educate the public about breast health and breast cancer. > Read more.

Pet Valu to open in Glen Allen Aug. 26


Pet supplies and accessories retailer Pet Valu will open at 5304 Wyndham Forest Drive in Glen Allen Saturday, Aug. 26.

The store will offer free samples, goody bags, refreshments, raffles and prizes and kid- and pet-friendly entertainment during its first day of business from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. > Read more.

State issues warning about purebred puppy scam


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is warning Virginia consumers about an active fraud involving purebred puppies.

Herring's Consumer Protection Section recently has received a number of reports of consumers entering into agreements to buy a pet with a company they found online, later to learn the website and the company are a scam – and that no such puppy ever existed. > Read more.

Kaine, McEachin to host Service Academy Day


Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) will co-host their Service Academy Day to educate high school students about the service academy nominations process, an honor awarded by members of Congress for students interested in attending a service academy after high school.

The event will take place Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Matoaca High School, 17700 Longhouse Lane, Chesterfield 23838. It will provide an opportunity for high school students and parents to learn about the nation’s military academies, a career in military service and the nominations process. > Read more.

Red Cross, Sport Clips offer free haircuts to blood donors


The American Red Cross and Sport Clips are partnering to provide free haircuts to anyone who donates blood or platelets to the Red Cross during September.

Blood donors of all blood types, especially type O negative and O positive, are urgently needed to replenish the blood supply following a critical summer blood shortage. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

August 2017
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Eastern Henrico Recreation Center will offer “Establishing a New Lawn, Renovating an Old One” from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. A master gardener will review how to decide if you should renovate your existing lawn or establish a new one. The class will also cover the steps needed to maintain your lawn year-round. Registration required. For details, visit http://www.henrico.us. Full text

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