"Marching Papers and Plowshares"
Everyone in the Lacuna worked
to identify ways of using and reusing
the resources that they already had,
because it was so difficult to get anything
new shipped from the Galactic Arms,
to survive against all odds.
They had some paper, although not
a great deal of it -- certain official documents
had to be printed instead of sent electronically,
and paper was more secure thus popular for
the espionage that had once been
the Lacuna's main activity.
They also had quite a lot of plant fluff
used as shipping material, which when
combined with lint made rather good paper.
Sam the Gardener laid claim to the paper
after it had been put to its original use,
for there were many things that could
be done with paper in a garden.
It was almost pure carbon, which was
one of the main organic elements that
went into making biomolecules, and it
balanced out the nitrogen necessary
for turning waste into compost.
That compost, especially when mixed
with pulverized comets and asteroids,
would allow him to grow things that
did not suit hydroponic gardening.
Sam asked the trader Astin
to bring back some worms
suitable for vermicomposting,
and meticulously wrote out
their names: Eisenia foetida
and Lumbricus rubellus.
Meanwhile he experimented
with other uses for paper.
Thin sheets could be rolled into
pots for seedlings, which minimized
the shock of transplanting them.
They could also be layered
to form mulch, although Sam
found that he preferred to use
thicker cardboard for that.
When the worms arrived,
he made them a large bin
by stacking drawers together
and filling them with wet paper.
Once they established themselves,
he began feeding them plant scraps,
and before long he was able to start
harvesting the dark fluid that drained
from the trays, and then the castings.
Further research revealed that,
in addition to making excellent compost,
the worms themselves were edible --
almost pure protein, in fact.
Case and Port were downright horrified
when they found Sam the Gardener
in the galley boiling a pound of worms.
He explained that it was something
they could grow and eat that required
very little space and actually fed on garbage.
Besides, it was a nice change from the tins
and freeze-dried food and whatever
could be gotten from an algae-whiz.
Router double-checked his research
and then made soothing noises.
Case and Port both refused to try
the earthworm patties that Sam made,
but those turned out quite well.
Backup sampled them and
declared the patties better than
having no fresh meat at all.
When Astin returned,
Sam's gift to the trader was
a box of quarter-pound cans
filled with earthworm protein powder.
Sam also included instructions
for making a worm farm in case
anyone else wanted to try it --
they had already distributed
a variety of live plants around
the Lacuna to interested parties.
It might not have been the life
that Sam had imagined for himself,
but he had his marching papers
and his plowshares, and that
was good enough for him.
Against all odds,
they were doing well.
* * *
Composting is a good way to use up waste paper. Pay attention to your carbon-nitrogen ratio.
Vermicomposting uses worms to make humus. Learn how to set up for worm farming. You can buy a worm farm -- or make one from trays, tubs, or buckets -- and then start it.
Organic elements include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.
Gardening with paper features newspaper pots, paper mulch, and cardboard mulch.
Yes, earthworms really are edible. Here are some recipes.