Sunday, May 26, 2013

Farmers' market and worm compost

One thing that's often overlooked in kindergarten with the push for more and more academic rigor is time for pretend play! Kindergarteners learn so much from role playing and interacting with their peers. (Teachers also learn a lot about how their students are developing when they observe these social interactions.) It's easy with a few props to set up different pretend-play activities. The latest in our classroom is a farmers' market! We read several books about the market (my favorite is Market Day by Lois Ehlert because of the folk art illustrations) and then got started. Here are a few photos. The "farmers" wear sunglasses and take money from customers, who present them with the card of which vegetable or fruit they want to purchase.

We also have a new worm compost in our classroom! After our worm unit and discussions on Earth Day about reusing and recycling, I really wanted to emphasize worms' ability to turn food waste into compost. The kids have started bringing in food scraps from home to give to the worms, but I had to nix that idea since toting banana peels to school probably isn't making a lot of parents happy. :) Here are some kindergarteners checking out the process of decomposition...

1 comment:

  1. Hello thank you for the great article! I really love your idea to teach the children already the value of earthworms and their activities :-)!

    I would like to share some of my experiences with worm farming with you hope you can use some of them for your future projects.

    I want to explain the difference between worm compost and worm castings which might be beneficial for your your readers!

    Worm compost is by many people wrongly referred to as worm castings.

    Although both products are similar and have lots of benefits for garden soil and plants, they are not exactly the same.

    Worm castings are pure worm poop, while worm compost or vermicompost is worm poop mixed with decomposing organic material.

    Both products form an integral part of fertile soil.

    Without them the rejuvenation of garden and farm soil would be greatly hampered.

    Earthworms like Lumbricus terrestris as well as the domesticated red wigglers (Eisenia Fetida / Eisenina Foetida, Eisenia Andrei and the European night crawler (Eisenia Hortensis) are some of the best known earthworm species worldwide.

    All of the above mentioned are omnivorous and able to convert large amounts of decomposing organic materials into nutrient rich worm castings.

    They will eat anything that has ever been alive and is now dead. The worms are not interested in fresh organic materials but rather those that have already started to decompose.

    As the worms move through the soil their mouth works like a vacuum cleaner.

    They don’t have teeth and virtually suck their way through their environment.

    While doing so they don’t differentiate between soil particles with or without nutritious value.

    They swallow it all, digging their way forward through the upper layers of their living space.

    The food moves down to the gizzard, a special kind of stomach that grinds down the food particles before they move further down the digestive tract of the earthworms.

    During the digestion process the soil and nutritious parts of the food mix will get combined into a sticky moist solution.

    The earthworms absorb the nutrient content of this mix and deposit the remaining soil particles as worm castings on the soil surface.

    Many gardeners have seen the small dark hills of worm castings on their lawn.

    These small hills might look initially disturbing to the eye of the avid gardener but they help to ensure a continuously healthy lush green lawn.

    Worm castings are a slow release organic fertilizer that contain all the nutrients and trace elements that plants need.

    It will only release its nutrients when the plants need them.

    Worm castings are infinitely richer in nutrients and trace elements than any regular top soil.

    Many worm farmers who want to harvest their worm bin don't want to wait for the worms to finish of all the worm food completely.

    They make use of all the produced worm castings as well as the remaining decomposing organic material and add them to their garden soil.

    This mix of worm castings and unfinished worm food is the actual worm compost.

    Like worm castings vermicompost has the ability to hold large amounts of moisture for the benefit of the surrounding plants.

    In my own earthworm intensive gardening experiments I experienced a single tomato plant that bore more than 500 tomatoes in a period of 3 month and Swiss chard plants that grew tasty green leaves up to half a meter / 20 inches in size.


    Vermicompost is as well very useful when you want to transplant your small seedlings. Visit my friend Juanita's page "Vegetable Gardening Made Easier" where she will tell you all you need to know to successfully transplanting your flowers, trees and vegetable plants.


    Worm compost is a fantastic soil conditioner that is available free

    of charge for those who are involved in worm composting.

    One of the advantages of adding vermicompost to the soil is that it offers plenty of food for the earthworms living in the soil.

    And over a period of time they will convert the worm compost into worm castings.

    Kind regards and happy worming