Monday, September 10, 2012

The Worm Poo Wonder

In a dark corner of my basement stands a multi-tiered worm bin that churns out worm compost 24 hours a day. Stoked on a never ending supply of coffee grounds and produce scraps, as well as the occasional stale cracker, my worms live a simple life - eat, sleep, poop, have sex. It's not a bad life, honestly. I have a few single, constipated friends I think are jealous.

However, every summer a few seeds seem to escape the indiscriminate palate of the worms and end up germinating instead of turning into compost. Last year two different types of tomatoes grew amongst the flowers, courtesy of my worms. This year the bounty is bigger. I'm growing cantaloupe in the front yard!


When I discovered this vine, I decided to let it grow just to see what would happen. I thought this area received too much afternoon shade for anything to grow.


Two large cantaloupe are growing! The vines aren't ready to release from the fruit, so they're still on the vine. I've never grown cantaloupe before. Each melon weighs about 3 lbs or so.


The vines are full of flowers but I doubt any more melons will develop since our temperatures have started to cool.


I highly doubt allowing a compost germinated cantaloupe to grow between the dwarf abelia is conventional landscaping advice, but I don't mind. Plus, it gives my neighbors something to talk about. I haven't done a single thing to the melons to help them grow. This area does stay a bit moist so I never needed to water.  

61 comments:

  1. I am glad you didn't pull the vine out when it was really small. And I hope your melons taste good!

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    1. I thought about pulling it for just a second or two but wanted to see what would happen. I'm glad I left it. :o)

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  2. I was rolling on the floor after the first paragraph! You are hilarious! Your neighbors should be flattered that they are living next door to a very posh women. Don't they know adding edibles to the perennial garden is all the rage, LOL!

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    1. Thanks! I have read that front yard flower/veggie gardens are the hot new thing right now even though I haven't seen any locally. I think the vine is pretty. :o)

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  3. Your worm composting sure turned out better than mine. I got meager poo and no germinating seeds. Now, for the race between ripening and too-cool temperatures.

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    1. My worms are super poopers. Their production slows down in the winter but I still get enough to add to a few spots in the garden in the spring. My biggest compost collections come during the summer and fall.

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  4. I'm so jealous. I TRIED to grow them last year(even bought seedlings)and mine didn't grow half as well. All I got was little golf balls. I hope they ripen and taste wonderful.

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    1. That's weird that yours didn't grow well. Mine are growing in very rich, slightly moist soil with bright afternoon shade and full morning sun. I actually didn't think they grow much at all. I was shocked when I found the melons since I hadn't given the vine any care.

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  5. I have some tomato seeds that make their way into the compost, then volunteer 'maters. Like your cantaloupes, hope you get warm enough weather for them to ripen, so you can harvest and enjoy.

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    1. September here is usually pretty warm. I was thinking that since it's not hot enough for more melons to grow that maybe I should cut off the rest of the vine so that all the energy goes into the two melons.

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  6. Love the cool story. I'd be the same way about letting the plants like melons or tomatoes just grown....that is actually really great! I don't mind surprises like these when they happen. Fun!

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    1. I love garden surprises as long as they're pleasant. Free melons are welcome any time!

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  7. Not sure I would want the worms in the basement, but otherwise--lucky you! And the Cantalope vine actually looks pretty--I would think it was planned. Enjoy!

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    1. Worms in the basement does sound pretty creepy. But they're in a room in an unfinished part of the basement behind a door. If I put them in the garage they'd either get too cold or too hot. I think the vine is pretty, too. :o)

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  8. Well, you know what they say...compost happens :-) I guess your compost just happens to grow melons :-)

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    1. ha ha ha!! Maybe I'll start feeding them seeds from all the plants I want to magically sprout from the compost!

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  9. Wow! I'm jealous. I'd like to grow some cantaloupes too! They taste so good...

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    1. I'm really looking forward to eating them. :o) I hope they're super sweet.

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  10. Wow, that is truly a worm poo wonder....I bet if you had deliberately planted that cantaloupe vine, it would not have grown that well.
    Hope they get bigger and taste really great....keep us posted on the progress.
    Way to go girl!!!

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    1. I was thinking today that maybe I should plant some in the same place next summer. They probably won't grow much at all!

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  11. Well if you have to have a volunteer, at least it's a good one to eat. :)

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  12. hi tammy, such a funny line about friends envying worms, the canteloupes look amazing - i'm sure next year the neighbours will be growing them in their front gardens too...

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    1. I think being a worm is a very low stress, easy life. Totally underrated. :o)

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  13. It's amazing how plants WANT to live, even in the craziest conditions. I have read that melons can be grown in some shade, and your melon patch in the front yard is proof! I'll be over for a taste when you harvest. Will there be prosciutto?

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    1. I hadn't thought about wrapping them in prosciutto til I read your comment and now I'm craving it. Yum!! I never new melons liked a bit of shade. Can't say I blame them!

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  14. If you want to eat those melons you'd better protect them from the critters. Something (squirrel?, rabbit?) gnawed their way into my cantaloupes before I could pick them. This was my first year trying melons. If I did it again I would pick them early and let them finish ripening on the counter or put some sort of cage around the fruit. Good luck, and I hope they taste yummy.

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    1. I haven't seen any bunnies in quite a while and rarely see them in the front yard. I read that if I pick cantaloupe too early, they stop ripening, so I"m going to risk it. But if a bunny beats me to it, rabbit stew will be served!!

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  15. Tammy, I really admire your writing style, it is so funny and entertaining! Now to the cantaloupe melon: That is indeed a little wonder that it has to come to grow in your garden this way. I love that gardening is always full of surprises. Hope you let us know how it tastes, when it is ready to harvest.
    Christina

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    1. Thanks!! I used some of the same compost in a friends garden and she had vines everywhere. She ended up pulling hers but did leave a compost angel tomato plant. It grew big, fat, juicy tomatoes. :o)

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  16. Nature's "freebies" are everywhere, kudos to you for finding it, leaving it be, and appreciating it. Happy cantaloupe, hope it tastes delicious!

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    1. It's been a long time since I've bought a grocery melon that was actually sweet. I'm really looking forward to eating these!

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  17. Your multi-tiered worm bin is a source of fascination and consternation. It's no wonder that you are brimming over with mirth since everything turns out fine; lots of poo to enrich your garden and a source of fertile seeds.

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    1. Worm poo is amazing stuff! Plus, keeping worms is super easy. :o)

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  18. Great remake compost worms.
    Great to grow on compost vegetables and flowers.
    In your photos you can see that they are beautiful.
    Great photos.
    I cordially greet.
    Lucja

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    1. I think the melons snuggled in with my shrubs are pretty, too. :o)

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  19. Nature certainly has her own way of growing - and we thought we were gardeners! Have a great day and keep those worms fed.

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    1. Mother Nature is the gardener. I'm just the caretaker. :o)

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  20. I love it! I don't think the Abelias mind and if the neighbors have an ounce of smarts, they won't either. Congrats on the two melons. I bet they'll taste divine! Hail to the worms.

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    1. My neighbors are used to my craziness. :o) They actually really love the garden so they're probably not surprised I have melons in my shrubs.

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  21. Wasn't that nice of your worms to go quietly about creating a surprise for you. Will they get to feast on the discarded melon rinds? Perhaps they are smarter than we give them credit for.

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    1. They absolutely get the rinds as a thank you. :o) I think the whole thing was planned. I'm convinced they're geniuses.

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  22. I've heard about worm compost bins, but I am too squeamish to try that in my basement. Hope you are able to harvest your melons before any critters get them. It is always a nice surprise when something unexpected grows in the garden.

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    1. I'm super unsqueamish so the worms don't bother me. They're tucked away in a dark spot so if you didn't know where to look for them, you'd never know they were there. So far the melons are chugging along, unnoticed by any critters. Yay! :o)

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  23. I love this, how exciting to see even more treasures from the worms.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  24. I love the plants that come up unexpectedly, melons though how prefect is that!

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    1. I love melons. :o) Now I need to figure out how to plant mashed potatoes and gravy.

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  25. I have to get a worm bin, that sounds like so much fun, and lots of opportunities for poop jokes, oh boy! I wanted to plant some cantaloupe this summer, but I didn't think I had room, I never thought about just plunking one down in a regular bed like that, I think it looks really swell and interesting.

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    1. We have a never ending supply of poop jokes. :o) Worm composting is incredibly easy. My bin is called The Worm Chalet, which cracks me up since it's full of poop. I guess Poop Palace doesn't have as much market appeal.

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  26. How fun! I think maybe I would have better luck with my vegetables with I grew them in with my ornamentals. I hope the melons are delicious and sweet!

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    1. I've seen veggies mixed in with ornamentals and it's a cool look. I'm a temporary garden hipster. :o)

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  27. Your cantaloupes look great! Squash-family plants seem to grow out of my compost pretty regularly too, but I haven't gotten anything worth eating. It's usually runty acorn squash. I wonder if the squash we get from the grocery is a hybrid, or whether (more likely) total neglect doesn't work as well in my front yard as yours. I hope those 'loupes are tasty!

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    1. I'd pass on a runty squash, too. I think the steady supply of water and the shade are what made all the difference.

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  28. How much fun is that? A word from where the cantaloupes grow on purpose... hold off on the water before you harvest and they will be sweeter.

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    1. I haven't watered at all but it's been dry this week so I hope they're growing sweeter by the day. Thanks for the tip!!

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  29. Worm composting is now on the list now for next year! Do you notice a difference in the garden using it? I don't know if I could pull it off in the basement too, the cats will probably use it as a litter box. I remember a kid growing up in London, see tomatoes growning along the banks of the river Thames. It turned out it was from the dumping of sewage into the river, allowed at that time. Brings a new meaning to recycled.

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    1. I've noticed a huge difference. It has excellent antifungal properties and plants that tend to mildew in our humidity often don't mildew at all after being treated with a liberal dose of worm compost in the fall/winter. I give it to my monarda every year. It's great for plants that need a boost but don't want to be overfed. The worm liquid that comes off the compost is an amazing liquid fertilizer. Great for stressed plants. My bins have a cover that would protect them from the cats.
      London has a tremendous history of using the Thames as a toilet. Gag! I'd pass on those tomatoes. :o)

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  30. I've never seen the plant before, it's quite pretty. I think that's what we call rockmelons here. What a wonderful surprise. I once got a crop of butternut pumpkin in a similar way.

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  31. I reckon the worms deliberately left the cantaloupe seeds for you, as a thank you for all the food scraps you've been feeding them.

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  32. You have the most fun posts ... who knew worm poop could be humorous AND herbaceous-ly fascinating?!! CM - it's always a treat to stop by!

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