Wiggly Worm Woes Whipped!!!

It’s been quite on the gardening front around here because what can you do when there’s snow on the ground and it’s too early to start planting your seedlings?  You visit other peoples’ blogs, you think about getting back out into the yard, you start looking at new things to try that will make next season’s garden better…which leads me to the fact that I do believe I’m ready to start worm composting.

compost worms

I’m ready for my next little endeavor in the world of organic gardening. Vermicomposting. That’s the process by which you use worms, specifically ensenia fetida, to recycle your organic waste into “the world’s best fertilizer.” I feel a little like a mom preparing for the arrival of her adopted child…or her adopted decuplets to the 100th power.

Like all good parents to be, I’ve selected a bedroom for my new arrivals, a/k/a a plastic bin.  For the new worm adoptees, you need to put a few holes in the bottom of the bin so excess moisture can drain out, and around the top edge to allow oxygen to come in.  You need to select a dark colored bin because the worms don’t like light.  They don’t like light for a good reason…the ultraviolet rays can kill them.

I’m also getting new furniture for the newcomers, a/k/a bedding for the bin.  I started with the idea of using leaves because you find worms hiding out under leaves in the warm weather, but after researching, the most common bedding materials consist of shredded black and white print newspaper, shredded computer paper, shredded cardboard, saw dust, peat, coconut coir fibers.  Bedding consisting of all leaves is not suggested because they may mat down, so I’ll use a portion of leaves in the mix.

I want them to be happy in their new home, so I’ll keep their bedding wrung-out sponge moist.  I’ll keep them in their ideal temperature in the 50 to 70 degree range. 

As far as the menu plans for the new additions to the family, that part is easy.  I don’t even have to spend extra money to buy their food.  They’ll get fed vegetable waste, coffee grounds, used tea bags.   Not too much citrus and never, ever any meat or greasy products.   When I feed them their meals, I’ll cover their food with a couple inches of bedding to help keep uninvited guests from munching down on their dinner.  And since they don’t have teeth, I’ll crush some egg shells that they can use as grit to help them digest their food.

In exchange for all the accommodations I’m providing for the little wormies, they’ll do their fair share by providing castings for the vegetable garden, an 100 percent organic fertilizer free of pathogens because the pathogens are killed as the organic materials filter through the worms’ bodies.

They might even provide me with a cup of tea now and then with the drainage from the bottom of the bin, although there’s controversy as to whether this drainage is compost tea or undesirable leachate.  But your nose will tell you if you should use it or not.  If it smells bad, don’t use it.  If it smells okay, dilute it and use it to water your plants or vegetable garden.

And if they’re really happy in their new home, they’ll be making a lot of wormie love and producing eggs as often as once a week which will hatch from one to four baby worms (eggs hatch at temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees).  Those new babies will reach sexual maturity in three to five months and start the process all over. 

So, we have a win/win situation here.  They’ll get a nice new home with all the accoutrements of the well cared for worm, free from fear of being breakfast for the birds or bait for a fishing hook….well, I’m not sure about that one.  I do like to fish.  And I get to use their castings to boost the production in the veggie garden.

I’m looking forward to this next endeavor, and I’ve heard there may be a family up for adoption.  We’ll see how it goes.

Happy Gardening



  1. engineeredgarden said,

    January 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Cheryl – I researched vermicomposting a few months ago, myself. Although i’m sure the castings are excellent, I just decided to not pursue it. To me, it’s kinda freaky! Hee Hee….I would be very interested in seeing your adventure with it, perhaps you can educate me…..Anyway, we all can’t compost the same way….that would be boring! 🙂


  2. January 9, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Good luck with the new children! I’ve thought about doing the same, but I doubt Mr. H would be receptive to transporting a bin of worms to AZ each winter and back in the spring, so I’ll just have to depend on the multitude of night crawlers we have in our yard to do their thing naturally.


  3. gardengoodies said,

    January 9, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    EG-I agree, it’s a little unusual. Some may consider it just plain weird, but I’m pretty sure I want to try it. My grandmother kept a bin of worms in their basement and always had fishing bait. We never questioned it. I don’t even know for sure if she used the castings in her garden, but they always had a good crop of vegetables. Come to think of it, I never saw a regular compost pile in their gardens.

    Granny-Husbands and wives have to agree on things like this. You might find the next post interesting.

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