Quarantine & Sustainability

I’m sure that I don’t need to tell anybody about how miserable quarantine can be.  Whether you’re stuck inside with other people, just yourself, or maybe your pets, quarantine can be challenging.  I, for one, have been going stir-crazy with online classes and being in lock-down. Although many people have been spending their free-time enjoying the outdoors, my family is particularly susceptible to coronavirus, and so I haven’t had the opportunity to be able to get in touch with nature.  As many people already know, humans have a natural affinity for being in touch with nature, which is referred to as biophilia. For me, being in nature is extremely important, and my connection to nature is a reminder for why sustainability is important. Being home at quarantine because of the pandemic, I needed some way to incorporate more nature into my daily life for my own sanity.    


I started off by trying to build a terrarium.  The concept I had would be that I could mix some potting soil and dirt together, throw in some moss that I found in my backyard, and seal it all in a glass jar with some distilled water, and I would be good to go.  The goal was to create a closed-loop ecosystem with its own water cycle that would be able to be sealed and self-sustaining. Unfortunately, projects are rarely that easy. After trying this without doing any research with little success, I went back and watched a couple youtube videos about terrariums and tried again.  (Check out SerpaDesign on youtube if you want to build your own) This time, I started by putting down a layer of gravel with a cutout window-screen on top followed by a mixture of crushed charcoal, potting soil, clay, sand, and dried spanish moss as a substrate. Then I placed some chunks of moss that I found in my backyard and this volcanic rock elephant sculpture.  This setup seemed to work for a couple days, until I discovered mold growing in it. Suddenly this project seemed like a lot more work than I had initially planned. I figured that there was probably too much water in it, so I left it unsealed for a day and that seemed to fix the problem. I also ordered some springtails, which are these little white isopods that eat mold, off ebay (I’ll talk about these more later) and put some in.  



The other project I started was a vermicomposter.  Vermicomposting is the same concept as regular compost, but it uses worms, which means that it does not smell, and you can keep it inside.  I followed this Instructable to create this a bag that basically holds worms and lets you harvest the castings for your garden at the bottom.  I also added a space to put a bottle of water to keep the environment moist and a place to hang a bag full of shredded paper that would be placed in there.  I ordered some worms on ebay along with springtails that I used in the terrarium project, and added both to the bag. My vermicompost is just starting and the worms are still getting acclimated, but I feel pretty good about the project so far.  This is what it looks like: 




Vermicomposters work just like any other composters.  You can put almost any sort of fruit or vegetable except citrus, potatoes, and onions and the worms will process all of it.  You can also put in grass clippings, dried leaves, ground-up egg shells, coffee grinds, and shredded paper/cardboard.


All those small little white things are springtails.


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