Wednesday, April 28, 2010


hu·mus (n) In soil science, humus refers to any organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further. In agriculture, humus is the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant and vegetable material by soil microorganisms.

chickens in compost

We are a veritable worm factory these days! As Travis and I worked the compost pile, we found a stash of old straw from the chicken coop that was a mad house of red wiggler worms. I squatted low for a moment, and observed the silent, pervasive movement in every direction.

Apartment living was tough right after moving out of my parent's house, we have been composting for so long, it feel downright wrong to throw vegetable scraps into the garbage. I hear rumblings of testing compost collection in the city, hopefully that becomes available for people who don't have the space for a big pile of dirt.

Portland also provides many community gardens for apartment dwellers to get out and garden in the city. I recently read about some studies confirming the endorhpin boosting chemicals in dirt. Pretty much exactly what my mother has been saying for years... The article on Huffington Post puts it perfectly: "Have you ever seen an unhappy earthworm?"

granddaddy earthworm

We have found many a gigantic grandaddy worm,  which we should probably leave in the yard to propagate. But with the plethora of wormy friends, we can't help but indulge our hungry hens.

peaches on path

With all this dirt piling up, we decided to dig in and turn a couple mud pits into garden beds. The apple tree provides alot of shade in the backyard, which is perfect for an herb garden.

our new herb garden
Planted: oregano, thyme, cilantro, dill, basil, wildflowers, cuban oregano, nasturtium. After the wildflowers come up I plant to transplant them into blank spots in the yard, and plant more herbs! Any favorites??


  1. Gross! Who puts worms in their hummus? You're supposed to make it with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice.

    What? Ooooooooooh HUMUS!

    Nevermind. :P

  2. i think a wormy chickpea dip sounds packed full of protein! yumm!

  3. Wow. Those are big worms! We have tiny fellows here in my yard, even in this hard clay. I'm so impressed with what you guys have done! I love nasturtium!

  4. That is a big worm! We have a plot in a community garden close to our apartment but it's about as big as the bricked off area in your last image. It's nice to get outside and get your hands dirty once in a while :) Also I love your chickens!

  5. Ahhh, brilliant! Just the post I needed to see! So, now, tell me: You just compost in a giant, exposed heap? No container, barrel, grate, nothing? Do any animals and crazy insects (besides worms) get into it? And does it smell at all? I live with my parents (thus, can't be smelly) and near a forest preserve (thus, lots of raccoons and possums and whatnot), so I always figured an exposed pile is out of the question... I was about to go to Homedepot to buy some wood and make a box of sorts...But I think I'll wait till I hear back from you...!

    (ps: i kid you not, my captcha security word was "waste".)

  6. Nice! I've seen some blogs around that feature ironic captchas. love it.

    We saw some raccoons when we first moved in, but haven't had any trouble with them.

    We use the lasagna style method, with cardboard layers between green and food compost. Then, as it breaks down, we just dump food scraps on top, and try to turn it often, adding grass, leaves, etc. No bad smells. We do keep a plastic container near the back door for convenient kitchen waste which does smell with the lid off, but that's an optional step.

    I've seen those tumblers that close securely for fresh kitchen waste, breaking food down to ready-for compost matter, but haven't looked into it.

    Its been just a free-for-all trial by error type of thing (minimal money and effort!) Good luck!

  7. We'll definitely get some hot peppers soon! Probably from starts... I like instant gratification :)