From Under This Hat: Earthworms
By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Two Sundays ago, my younger brother forwarded an email article on earthworms as a best way to clean the soil from toxins and heavy metals. The successful experiment was conducted by a university in India. The initiative made me warm and smile with great appreciation, even if he thinks I was crazy trying to raise earthworms inside the house because we have a wide yard — after all earthworms belong outside and on the ground where they can be happy with their lives, and also be healthy fodder to the birds and chickens outside.
I keep a half a sack full and one large flower pot of earthworm bed in one corner of our kitchen, and also maintain another two small pails of earthworm beds near my corner at the office. Initially, it was an experiment to learn how much dinner table droppings and kitchen organic cleaning can a hand full of earthworms finish at a time; and if it was possible to maintain and rely on them (the worms) to clean (finish off) organic waste in the house or at the office. When I started it, members of my family and office laughed at it (and at me, of course).
The handful of earthworms I started with came from Judith C. and has multiplied a hundred fold, and I have shared some with others too. It has been three months now and I still maintain these two containers each at the office and at home. From my experiment, I learned that a kilo of these worms can transform a kilo of food or vegetable cleanings into no-smell, fertile plant material in about five days, faster if it is chopped fine first. The earthworms work at it better and faster than the fly maggots that make it squeeshy and stinky, besides producing swarms of more flies.
Although the table cleanings all together is more than enough for the earthworms in these containers, there are the pets (2 cats, 5 dogs, a goose and a dozen chickens) to take most of it, and a compost pit for the rest of the biodegradeables. That disposes the food extras and old paper. This and my conscious reuse of and avoidance of using plastic bags is my miniscule contribution towards banning plastics and lessen the volume of garbage in the city.
In the city, there are others who do this better than me simply because they are organized. This August 29th, groups and individuals who have decided to help in their little ways do something about the monstrous and even deadly garbage problem of the city are hosting a “Workshop on Baguio Garbage: Understanding it and getting Involved”, at the UP Baguio. It is a start since our City administration has put up a lot of band-aid programs to clear up the trash but it has not really been able to achieve a comprehensive way to manage our city’s waste problem maybe a push from the grassroots too could make our lives healthier.
On the article sent to me, it said, “ScienceBlog reports that worm composting can also play a crucial role in remediating wastes and removing toxic heavy metals from biosolids: The worms’ digestive system is apparently capable of detaching heavy metal ions from the complex aggregates between these ions and humic substances in the waste as it rots. Various enzyme-driven process then seem to lead to assimilation of the metal ions by the worms so that they are locked up in the organism’s tissues rather than being released back into the compost as worm casts.”
That is good news. Somehow I believe everyone must keep in mind to keep our city clean otherwise we all lose the struggle to keep healthy as a community. I recommend vermicomposting and an honest to goodness ban on the use of any kind of plastic bags (or plastics made from petroleum).
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From my siblings and family, our most heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Guillermo “Guimo” Fianza of Itogon, and DENR who recently passed away. # nordis.net