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
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
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 !