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It was a colorful scene as crowds of visitors, young and old flocked to the Sama Jaya Forest Reserve in Tabuan Jaya to attend the "Earth Day Festival". This annual event, which took place on May 1 and 2 this year, was spearheaded y the National Environmental Movement. This year's two-day event was bigger than ever before, with 40 volunteers serving as facilitators. Local businesses and industries generously donated T-shirts and refreshments to promote this good cause; and various organizations held exhibits, talks and other activities.

One of the stalls that drew the most attention had a big signboard reading "My Best Friends are Worms." Waving handfuls of big red, wriggling worms, Petula Palmer and her team danced on a small stage, singing the Worm Song: "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me: Guess I'll go and eat worms ! Slu-u-urp! Slu-u-urp!

When a giggling crowd had gathered, the roly-poly, jolly lady started explaining how worms, which were disliked by many people, were really very useful creatures. Showing the crowds some very healthy-looking vegetables, she explained that these vegetables were grown on soils enriched with compost created by worms. "The worms get rid of your household trash and turn it into rich compost. The main material that is used is waste paper, which is the bedding for the worms. The worms eat it along with the other materials. you could use any kind of paper, but worms will consume newspaper, cardboard, paper towels, and other coarse papers faster than fine printing and writing papers." she said.

"A little soil or fine sand should be added tot he paper. Leaves and other yard trimmings can also be used as part of the bedding. Then, almost any fruit, grain, or vegetable material other than oil, can be added on as the food for the worms, including egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea bags."

"Live-stock manure is also excellent food for worms, but preferably in outdoor bins ... But you can use it in your indoor containers if you enjoy the fragrance of Eau de Dung!" she said, jokingly. She then pointed out that decaying meat, fish, oil, and other animal products can also produce odors and attract pests.

Palmer then related how to create the worm compost bin in detail. Bringing out some large plastic containers, she demonstrated how to punch 1/8-inch holes in the sides of the containers for ventilation for the worms. "Worms, like all living creatures, need to breathe. A poorly ventilated plastic container will not let enough air get in and will not let excess moisture get out," she explained.

Then, she touched on preparing the material. "Tear the newspaper or cardboard into strips. Soak it in water, and let it drain. Add this paper bedding to a bin until it is 1/3 full. Mix in a little soil or fine sand. Now, put in the worms. Start with a kilo of worms for each kilo of food scraps you plan to compost each week. You must always handle your worms gently, with your hands, and never, never dig a spade into them ... unless you want to make worm burgers!" she said. "Add a thin layer of food scraps on top of the worms, and cover everything with at least 1 inch of shredded paper."

"Leave your bin alone for two days or longer. Then, as materials are available, add on more paper and food scraps. When the worm bin is full, scoop out the undigested food scraps and the waste paper at the top, which will usually contain all the worms. Use the digested material as compost. Put the remaining material and worms back into the bin, with fresh bedding, and food scraps."

At the end of the talk, Petula Palmer's team brought out cartons of worms which they offered for sale at specially-discounted prices. To my utter amazement, I saw my wife, who refuses to bait her own hook, lining up to purchase a few boxes of the red wriggly creatures !

 
  1.

From paragraph 1 :

(a) What even was held during the two days ?

From paragraph 2:

(b) Why were the crowds attracted to Palmer's stall ?

  2.

Which word in paragraph 3 suggests that the crowd found Palmer's team's performance amusing ?

  3.

From paragraph 5 :

(a) What do you think Palmer meant when she said "You can use it in your indoor containers if you enjoy the fragrance of Eau de Dung "?

From paragraph 6 :

(b) Why is it important to punch holes into the sides of the container ?

    From paragraph 7 :
  4.

(a) What must be done to the paper before you put it into the composting bin ?

(b) How do we decide how many worms we need for our worm composting bin ?

(c) What does the word it refer to ?

  5.

In your opinion, why was the writer surprised that his wife wanted to buy the worms ? Answer in your own words.

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Answers
 

1.

(a) Earth Day Festival

(b) Palmer and her team waved worms as they sang and danced.

 

2.

Giggling

 

3.

(a) She was joking. She actually meant that you should not use it indoors as you will have to suffer the foul odor of the manure.

(b) To let the air in so the worms can breathe and let the excess moisture out.

 

4.

(a) You must tear it into strips, soak it and let it drain.

(b) We will need a kilo of worms for each kilo of food scraps we plan to put into the bin each week.

(c) The bin

 

5.

It was surprising that she would want to start a worm compost project as she used to be too squeamish to handle the worms when baiting her hook for fishing.

 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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