Anna is 80% princess and 20% mad scientist/marine biologist. I think that generally sums up a 4 year old girl. A couple of days ago she came up to me to say "you know what we could do together that would make a kid happy?"
I was guessing the answer would involve ice-cream, TV, dressing up as a princess, or possibly all three combined. I was wrong.
"We could make a wormery". Wasn't expecting that one.
Thanks PBS! As luck would have it, one too many mornings spent watching TV and battling the excesses of the previous evening had made me a bit guilt-ridden about slacker parenting. I was ripe for a project. Plus, I've just celebrated a birthday and one of my gifts was a huge display of truly horrible flowers from my office (orange, brown and yellowy-green with a purple bow). LK took one look at them and said "wow, sorry your husband just died". Anyway, the point about the flowers - their only redeeming feature was a large rectangular vase (I say varze, you can say vace if you prefer). Perfect for a wormery! We were off to a good start. I told Anna that as soon as the flowers died we could begin. That wasn't soon enough apparently. She eyed the florid display and started pulling off petals. Some battles just aren't worth fighting, and faced with a flower massacre, we made several small bouquets out of the huge display and freed up the wormery.
Thunderbirds are go!
Step #1: Make Your Child Eat A Banana
Apparently worms don't just need soil and sand, they need food. This could be accomplished by sticking a few leaves and sundry mulchy items in there - but, what a perfect excuse to get your child to eat an entire fruit. Anna set to work, and was rapidly overwhelmed by the enormity of the task;
Step#2: Fill Wormery With Layers of Sand, Dirt, Leaves & Banana Peel
This started off a little too slowly for my liking:
Her ladyship filled the varze at a glacial pace, but I couldn't really criticize as she was skipping with joy between each teaspoon full of sand. I merely shoveled like hell whenever her back was turned. "Way to go Mom" she cried, "we're such a great team. A girl team! This is going to be the best wormery ever". She was a one woman pep rally, thanks to her endless hours of watching preschooler TV.
Eventually we were done - a worm des res:
Step #3: Find Some Chuffing Worms
I was more than a little worried about this bit quite frankly. We don't live in rural Shropshire after all. We live in an urban area in Southern California. A very arid area where it hasn't rained since April (except that week when my Aunt and Uncle visited - thanks California!).
We tried our best. We dug hard, in multiple locations. We tried to put ourselves in the mindset of an earthworm. Where would we be most likely to live? Not in your chuffing back garden seemed to be the answer. Anna was crushed:
Not a sausage. Then, a brainwave! Seeing LK and Lucy watering the garden made me remember the crappy leaky hosepipe which I constantly blame for our astronomical water bills. Eureka! An oasis in a desert of concrete and sand. Worm central! Well, not exactly, we found five, and quite frankly I think it was only five because #4 was chopped in half by some overly enthusiastic troweling.
Step #4: Transfer The Worms To Their New Home And Watch Them 'Thrive'
Lucy could barely contain her excitement:
Go worms, go!
Several hours later and I have noticed a couple of worms 'resting' on the top of the wormery, clearly not enamoured with their new home. I may have to make some convincing worm tunnels with a plastic drinking straw, but it won't really matter, because for a few short hours at least I did manage to make my kid really chuffing happy.