Chewed paper for worms

Worms, I read in various on-line vermi-chats and vermi-blogs, like dryer lint. This is splendid news, as I've always wanted something to do with dryer lint after comparing and contrasting the color and quantity from laundry load to laundry load.

It must be a family fascination. My dad pours his hot breakfast bacon or sausage grease from the frypan into a glass jar each day to ponder the strata variations as if they were in agate or onyx.

So, from now on my dryer lint is going in the worm bin. True, I worry about my moist little redworms slithering into a furry collection. Does the lint fuzz stick to them, and make them look like little feather boas?

Dryer lint is very flammable, my cub scout son once explained. If you are rubbing two sticks together, it is good to have some dryer lint to catch the sparks. You can also give your lint to the birds for nesting material, but not for new outfits.

Penguin chicks look like they are covered in fuzzy, gray lint. When I was in my papier-mâché penguin phase, I tried covering chicks with dryer lint. It was a total disaster. The lint turned too quickly to goo, and slid right off the penguin forms. Maybe it slides right off the redworms, too.

"Papier-mâché means 'chewed paper'," we introduce the 3-D art project. Little art students gasp, fearing the next instruction. It's a moment easily-amused art teachers savor:

1753, from Fr. papier-mâché, lit. "chewed paper," from O.Fr. papier "paper" + mâché "compressed, mashed," from pp. of mâcher, lit. "to chew," from L.L. masticare "masticate."

A material, made from paper pulp or shreds of paper mixed with glue or paste, that can be molded into various shapes when wet and becomes hard and suitable for painting and varnishing when dry.

You'd think a papier-mache artist would realize that getting a large amount of shredded newpaper soaking wet, then squeezing it out to the moisture level of a well-wrung sponge would create a pulp too dense for a redworm habitat. Alas for one pound of worms, no.

My second worm bin was made with a bedding of torn cardboard t.p. and paper towel tubes, a bit of corrugated box cardboard, and several broken-up gray cardboard egg cartons. Even when these materials have the moisture level of that "well-wrung sponge," they retain enough shape to form air-pockets in the compost. So far, it seems to be working great. The worms have enough breathing room in the compost to stage runway fashion shows. Dryer lint is what the trend savvy worms will be wearing this spring!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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