Laverme's Worms Vermicomposting Laverme's Worms Vermicomposting

Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

I'm assuming marigolds and petunias like the juice, then. I'll try it on those showy "alley beautification" plantings in a couple of weeks at a low concentration.

Kristine (again), Saint Paul, MN

Dear Kristine (again),

Yes, petunias and marigolds both love worm juice! In fact, the first year that we did the worm composting project at the Hermantown Federal Prison Camp, the federal government cut the funding to the prison so drastically that the institution could no longer afford to buy fertilizer, this despite the fact that they have a very large vegetable garden there that they rely on to supply most of their vegetables in the summer. Luckily, we had been running the 100-foot- long vermicomposting bin for at least six months by the time planting season rolled around, so they had worm compost and worm juice.

All the leftover chemical fertilizer (the blue kind) was allotted to the greenhouse where the annuals for the flowerbeds were grown (the prison has very extensive flowerbeds, because they want to make the inmates' families feel welcome when they visit). One fine spring day the inmate who was in charge of the greenhouses put in a request to have me visit the greenhouse. The officer who was in charge of the recycling-and-composting area escorted me over to the greenhouse, and the very excited greenhouse manager explained why he wanted me to visit. He'd used the chemical fertilizer on half the petunias and worm juice on the other half (this was the same variety of petunia) and the difference was so extreme that you could tell which petunias had gotten worm juice when you were standing at the far end of the long greenhouse, about thirty feet away from the plants! The wormjuice petunias had much, much brighter green leaves, and much, much brighter and larger flowers, and way more of them.

So that's my petunia story.

Environmentally yours,



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