Adventures With Worms

One of my worm friends

For those of you who didn’t know, worm composting- aka vermicomposting – is hot, hot hot! Fearless trend-setter that I am, I took the plunge about three months ago and bought a worm bin and a bag of red wigglers. These Eisenia fetida are the worms of choice, because they do well in bins and consume vast quantities of rotting produce.

The bin came with some coir for the bottom, and several rotting apples and leaves, courtesy of The Worm Ladies of Charlestown, RI. These women are deep-end “wormophiles” who think the world (or at least Rhode Island) would be a far better place if people composted their vegetable scraps instead of throwing them away. I agree.

So I came home with my new friends and even gathered up some fallen maple leaves and put them in a bag, so I’d have some over the winter. I started adding veggie scraps to the bin, and I gave them other things the Worm Ladies suggested, such as dryer lint, and – this is my favorite – shredded credit card offers!

At first, my bin resided in our guest room, and yes, I was prepared to move it out of there if we had guests. The worms seemed content. Apparently if they’re not, they try to escape, and mine weren’t doing that. I could also see the tiny white threads that are red wiggler babies. So they were reproducing. This was exciting! (Cut to shot of husband rolling eyes.)

My worm bin

Then we started getting fruit flies. Every time I would lift the lid of the bin, clouds of them would come out. They took up residence in every room of the house, and all this happened, of course, just before I was to give a dinner party for 14 people. I moved the worms down to the basement, and began a week-long campaign of fruit fly eradication, which consisted mainly of me running around flailing at them with a dish towel. Finally, the flies went away – where, I don’t know or care.

I left the worms in the basement and continued to keep them supplied with produce remnants. A couple of weeks ago, however, I had a feeling things weren’t too happy in wormland. I know they are “just worms,” but I still feel responsible for their welfare, so I brought the bin back to the Worm Ladies for a check-up. To my great relief, everything was fine – a little on the wet side, but fine. There were lots of plump adults and babies at different stages of development. I was astonished to see that the banana peels I had put in there about a week before had vanished! They really seem to like those. Cabbage – not so much.

Soon I will be harvesting my first worm castings – the big payoff for vermicomposting. They make the best darned fertilizer ever. I’ll keep you posted on my continuing adventure.

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About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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9 Responses to Adventures With Worms

  1. HerbDoc says:

    I have 2 big worm bins in huge Rubbermaid storage containers. I started my first one out with donated worms from a friend, but my worms were so darn happy and had so many babies, I needed a second container. The friend who gave them to me insisted they survive on benevolent neglect, and I think she’s right. 🙂 I’ve never had a fruit fly problem around the bins, but I take my old newspapers and tear them into strips (ala papier mache), dampen them and lay them over the worms and scraps. They need replacing every month or so as the worms eat the paper too! I also keep the scraps in a covered container.

    Here’s a remedy for fruit flies: take a small glass tumbler, half fill it with water and some apple cider vinegar along with a drop of dishwashing liquid. Those silly little flies jump right in and are trapped by the surfacant (dishwashing liquid) and drown. Dump and refill as necessary!

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  2. Chris says:

    I know how it feels to have all sorts of flying insects every time you open the bin. I bought a nifty racket like electric swatter a few months ago. That really works; I think much better than chasing them all over the house 😉

    I’m not sure what it’s called, but it zaps insects.

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    • dirtynailz says:

      That sounds like not only an effective, but also a fun gadget. I will keep my eyes peeled for one here.
      BTW I just checked out your blog, and I am going to link to it. It’s really interesting!

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  3. HerbDoc says:

    Job Lot had the bug zapper tennis rackets last year for a few bucks; I bought 4 of them and they are great for zapping pesty flies of any kind!

    As for harvesting the castings, I do it about twice a year. At first I spread the whole thing out on a tarp to carefully remove the worms from the castings. The worms want to be in the dark so they head back to the pile. This was so time consuming that I found if I didn’t feed the worms a few days before harvest and then put 2 partially scooped out canteloupe halves in the bottom of the bin, they all climbed in. Viola! Most of the worms removed form the castings.

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  4. HerbDoc says:

    That’s me…the queen of laze! 🙂

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  5. gardenpest says:

    Witty educational tale and comments. I have nothing technological (fly swatters) nor methodological to add about worms – merely a personal comment. A few years ago our large MG Conference (think Newport monsoon setting) offered a fab program plus 150 raffle items. Yeah, OK, you can guess where I’m heading.

    I was the lucky winner of a bag of red wigglers from the Worm Ladies. I know that I was supposed to start a worm farm and follow DirtyNailz’s example but I didn’t. Please don’t send me to hell for breaking worm regulations.

    I planted them in our compost piles and they did a bang up job on jump starting decomposition. Years later I continue to find red wigglers as I dig around my yard. I still feel a connection to those little guys.

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    • dirtynailz says:

      They are amazing, aren’t they? And they certainly do prefer some “foods” over others.
      Don’t worry, I won’t banish you from Wormland.

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