Chopping Banana Peels

Okay, I’m just going to say it. I have worms. At least a thousand of them. They live in my basement. By the time you finish reading this, I’m pretty darn sure a little part of you will want the same thing.

Because the thing with these worms is, they do magical things. Worms eat what we don’t want and turn it into the perfect plant power food: compost.

This might seem strange, but my worm obsession really got underway while I was anticipating a purchase and watching NHL 36. It was unusually warm spring in Minnesota this year and I started planning my garden early. I was thinking about focusing on squash this summer and deciding where to place my tomatoes. And then I had a flashback to my least favorite part of the planting season: hauling bags of compost. My sandy soil in South Minneapolis needs a little oomph. And so, I go down the street to the garden store. I open the hatch of my car. I lift and stack the bags in the back. I pay for them. Wait, I pay a lot for them. I drive my loot home, unload it, rip open the bags, and distribute their rich contents throughout my beds. I’m exhausted now just thinking about it. And all of that went through my mind just as I threw another bowl of juice pulp into the trash. As sustainable farming evangelist Joel Salatin would say, “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.”

But there was a missing link.

One night, Jay flipped on the show Beyond The Puck on The National Geographic Channel. As the name suggests, it follows a pro-hockey player and his life off the ice. Andrew Ference is a defenseman for the Boston Bruins. He’s a Canadian. In 2011, he was fined $2500 for giving the middle finger to the crowd after he scored a goal. He’s also a worm composter. Jay and I watched Andrew take his daughter to the back door and reveal his worm compost bin to the cameras. He opened it up, checked in on the red wigglers living their wormy life and fed them kitchen scraps that in most households end up wasted.

The missing link is sometimes found in unexpected places.

I was getting myself some worms.

After days of research, I settled on the Worm Factory 360. I ordered the worm bin, a ceramic compost pail to keep on my counter and a thousand red wigglers from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. And that day, as I dumped more blitzed, dry bits of organic carrots, apples and greens into my garbage can, I knew things were about to change.

I prepared the worms’ bed with a mixture of shredded newspaper, pumice and coir (coconut fiber). The worms went in and slowly but surely, they started eating through small piles of cooking leftovers (sans meat, dairy and citrus). Coffee grounds, shredded paper, fruit and vegetable leftovers are all fair game. We had a few tense moments at the beginning when about a dozen worms wiggled their way out of the bin and fell to their death on the basement floor. I felt guilty. But their buddies were living the high life in the snack-packed worm bin, so I moved on.

And all of this led to the other morning, when I found myself chopping banana peels. I often buy bunches of bananas. I eat them fresh, but once they are too ripe for my taste, I peel the remaining fruit, break it into pieces and freeze them in baggies. Perfect smoothie ingredient.

I was left with a pile of peels. But the thing is, my worms like their bites small. As in, minced. Makes sense, as they are pretty darn small themselves.

So instead of tossing that mountain of banana peels into the waste bin, I chopped them. I went to the basement. I opened my worm compost bin and checked on my red wigglers living their wormy life. And I fed them the kitchen scraps that in this household, used to end up wasted.

13 thoughts on “Chopping Banana Peels

  1. So I was just on the phone with YOUR sister planning a Sunday bike ride (it turned into a spinning class as we are both terrified of city streets). I get off the phone to find a text message from MY sister that reads, “Liz Reis’s blog is amazing!”. I guess I was late to the game as I hadn’t checked it out yet, but now I have. I am loving it! The guy around the corner has chickens. Fresh eggs in downtown Chicago! We pick up a dozen from him every other week, its the best. He just got a beehive. Maybe that can be your next mission once you have conquered chicks! Keep it up!

  2. So exciting to read about your worms… (what are things I thought I’d never type.)
    Welcome to the blogging world!

  3. I love reading your blog and never miss T C L. The whole worm thing is really interesting, but I don’t understand how you get the compost out without getting the worms with it? Maybe others are wondering too. i used to watch the Martha Stewart show and she had those red worms but she didn’t keep them in her basement, she kept them right under her kitchen sink.

  4. Do you have a problem with fruit flies with the compost? My in-laws have such a problem with their compost bucket system with them. Makes me not want to try it.

  5. Saw you at the Garlic Festival in Hutchinson and was so impressed I checked out your blog and jumped in the boat and ordered my Worm Factory 360. Figured if a city girl can do this, so can a small town gardener of many years. I will be reading up on chickens this winter. Had some one summer, but our Golden Retriever ate them, so never had to figure out how to make a coop or winter them. I will be following your experience. I tell everyone about you. Most haven’t seen TCL, so it’s a plug for the show too!

  6. So I know this is an old blog post but hopefully you will see this comment. I am going to start composting and saw this blog post and am wondering if you like the compost bin that you bought and also if you have any tips?


    • Hi! Yes, I love the compost bin I bought! Super easy to use, especially for a beginning composter like I was! I now have a tri-fold composting program — the chickens get veggie and fruit trimmings and leftovers, the worms get things the chickens won’t want (coffee grounds, onion and garlic papers, shredded mail, etc.) and the weeds from the garden go in the rotating bins outside. The system is working great and we are really cutting down on how much stuff we toss in the trash! Happy composting and thanks for reading! 🙂

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