The Sanborn Sun February - May 2000
Al's Vermi-Composting
article by Jessie R. 
website by Jimmy K.

     A wet musty smell filled the basement. Plastic tubs filled with dirt were stacked to the ceiling.  Al Magnusson was wearing a brown shirt with blue suspenders. He held his hands up for us to see. 
Baby Worm     "Baby worms hatch from eggs. They are almost microscopic. They are actually transparent. If you looked under a microscope you could see the blood racing through their bodies. That is why they’re called red wigglers."

     The tiny worm in Al’s hand was only one of the millions he has raised in Al Magnusson's  vermi-composts. The word vermi is Italian for worm.  Al uses worms for composting. These worms are kept in systems, plastic tubs filled with bedding material such as leaves and newspapers. He feeds the worms apple cores, banana peels, pizza crusts and other table scraps. The worms grow, reproduce, and digest the Magnusson’s leftovers through the winter. In the spring a rich fertilizer of worm waste is ready for use in their garden.

     It doesn’t smell like cow manure and is organic,  unlike store bought fertilizers. The fertilizer helps the garden grow.

     "Every year we get these huge tomatoes." As Al describes them they are more the size of grapefruits than your average garden tomato.  Once started a system requires about tenAl minutes a week to clean. Vermi-composting is environmentally friendly and educational. Al started vermi-composting back in 1990.

     "I got this thing in the mail from the Governor’s Recycling Council of New Hampshire. They were trying to get teachers involved in  classroom recycling and conservation."  Al explained.

     Al explained that they offered him a starting kit for vermi-composting that  contained a tub for the worms to live in and a handful of worms(about a thousand). Ten years later, Bucket 'o' Worm Al has had over 55 systems and has sold and given away systems, including the one he gave us. Once he had a "worm party", and everyone who came went away with worms of their own. He also sacrifices some of his worms to neighborhood kids when they go fishing. 

     Al is enthusiastic about vermi-composting and impressed us with his knowledge of worms.

     He raises two types of worms:Red wigglers and earthworms. Red wigglers’ scientific name is Eisnia foetida. Earthworms are Lumbricus rubellus. Worms hate light. They like damp, dark places. They need air, a common temperature, and food. Red wigglers suck their food in. Earth worms scoop food in with their upper lip. Worms can’t see so they depend heavily on their hearing.Worms are hermaphrodites but they need to mate to reproduce. All in all, worms Worms are fascinating creatures. 

     Al has other environmental hobbies. He does outdoor composting along with  the vermi-composting. He has organic vegetable gardens and several flower beds. He also enjoys many outdoor activities. He camps and hikes. Al is Sanborn high school's varsity soccer coach and each year he  takes his team rock climbing. 

     Al is a Sanborn alumni and teaches seventh grade science in Hampton. He writes a comic strip for the Carriage Town  News. Al lives in Kingston with his wife, Mary, and two children, Hannah and Jed.

     Oh yeah- he does great worm impressions.