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Vermiculture and Our Friends the Worms

In the coat closet of my tiny one-bedroom apartment, next to a suitcase and my winter boots, is my blue plastic worm bin. I have been composting with worms for about a year, and cannot imagine going back.

I am still in awe of the efficiency with which my worms work, and I'm always amazed to open the bin and find almost no evidence of the food scraps and coffee grounds I fed them only a week earlier. I am not an expert in biology, agronomy, or even vermiculture, but right in my closet, I have managed to maintain a thriving little ecosystem, and produce a continuous supply of rich, dark compost.

I’m sure I've made mistakes along the way, but worms are very hardy, and very forgiving. I've done some background reading but for the most part, I take my cues from them – when the compost is wet, I add more dry bedding; when it smells (never overpoweringly, don’t worry), I hold off on feeding and let my worms get caught up. From the moment I introduced them to their new home, these worms knew just what to do. They've allowed me to learn the process as I go.

My worms have also helped me dramatically reduce my waste. They are a great conversation starter and - in a strange way - their presence can be good company. My worms have even shaped my worldview; I shop at farmers markets, believe strongly in knowing where my food comes from, and even have a career in the environmental world, but I am still very much entrenched in a fast-paced urban lifestyle, and admit that I can lose focus of the values that drive me. The worms in my closet, however, give me a chance to pause everyday, and be reminded (in a small but very tangible, hands-in-the dirt way) of the complex and invaluable connections between living beings, our food, and the earth.

If you’re ready for worms of your own, there are tons of resources available, from Eureka Recycling’s website to Mary Applehof’s classic “Worms Eat My Garbage." These resources can help you figure out how to build your own bin, feed your worms, construct the proper bedding, and do just about anything else you need. Worms can be mail-ordered, or (sometimes) found at bait or gardening stores. Or just ask around - one of the great things about worms is how quickly they multiply, and vermiculturalists often have some to spare. In fact, my worm operations have now outgrown my closet - they now occupy several basements and even in the storage area at my office. If you're interested in adopting some of them, leave your email address in the comments below and I'll hook you up.

Georgia Rubenstein is Simple, Good, and Tasty's newest contributor and resident worm expert. We're lucky - and thrilled - to have her.

This post was proudly submitted to Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays.

Comments

What a great article! You really have me thinking about another way to help the earth!

S

I would love some of your worms.
I have a bin ready to go and no worms yet.
Thanks

Yay for composting! I would love to adopt some of your worms, let me know!

Hi friends, thanks for posting. Georiga will get right back to you, assuming she's got your contact information... :-)

-Lee

Hi Susan, Rebecca, and Katie! Thanks for reading and your comments -- if you are interested in doing some worm exchanging, you can email me -- geo_rube@hotmail.com.

Awesome!! First of all, I'm super proud and second I want some worms! I have been thinking about it and I am going for it. Thanks Georgia.

Thanks Jimmy, you have reason to be proud!

This reminds me of the Oprah episode about worm composting. Julia Roberts was on to celebrate Earth Day, and she was talking up the virtues of composting with worms. Apparently, the composter was rattled during shipment --when she opened the lid to show the audience, the worms were everywhere. She threw the lid across the set and the worms went flying. I don't think a lot of Oprah viewers were convinced that composting with worms is such a good idea.

You have your worms in a closet? Awesome!

I do like that the worms are forgiving. :-) I have sometimes fed them something that was not quite right, or worse, forgot to feed them for a week or two! But I find them such a convenient way to compost.

Thanks Gudrun, what happens when you forget to feed them for 2 weeks? Do they just hang out? Do you know long they can survive without food?

do the worms ever get out and bite you?

I got worms not even two weeks ago, just 4 dozen at a bait shop, and there's quite a few eggs already, and I'm so proud of my worms and was wondering if I was like a weirdo or something so seeing this article I feel better.

We started vermicomposting last year and love it. It's not really a difficult process, as long as you stick to the basics. Keep the bin damp but not wet, and make sure the worms have enough, but not too much, to eat.

The compost is super rich and great for our garden. I look forward to setting up some more worm bins in the future. Here are the details of our first experience with worm bins:

http://backacrehomestead.com/category/projects/vermicomposting

Best wishes!

Chris

 

Never had any good results using worms in my compost, but I should give another try soon! Thanks for the article!

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