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I have Worms!! Yes, you read that right.

March 26, 2012

Don’t worry, it’s the good kind of worms. Red wigglers to be exact. They eat pretty much everything that I would compost the traditional way. Onion pieces, radish greens, carrot tops, pea shells, bread, etc. You get the idea. Pretty much everything that isn’t meat. A red worm can eat half its weight a day, so if you have 5 lbs of worms, they can take down about 2 1/2 lbs of compostables a day. I have found this number fluctuates with temperature, what they have been fed, and moisture. When I started my system, I had one pound of worms and we were making more food than they could eat so I had to start some compost buckets for the extra stuff. Now that the system has been going for a little over a year, I rarely have more than they can eat. I have no idea how many I have now, but the maker of my system says it can easily hold 5 lbs of worms so I am guessing it’s somewhere around there.
What to use
I am using a system called the worm inn. It’s basically a bag where you put food and bedding in the top and get worm castings out of the bottom. The worms naturally move up as they eat the lower food and new food is added. Open the drawstrings at the bottom of the system and PRESTO! Worm castings!


I like this system much better than plastic or wood bins because it breathes and doesn’t get overly soggy. The problem I have with plastic systems is that unless they have a lot of drainage holes, you are creating a worm swamp and if it’s too wet, you’ll have just a swamp with no worms. Same thing can apply to wood. I’ve also read that it can be a bit messy harvesting worm castings so that seems like a drawback to me.
Why compost with worms?
I already convinced you to compost, right? Good! That was easy. But why in the world would anyone want to keep worms? They are all wriggly and slimy looking! Space considerations aside, worms are good bacteria machines! I read a study done by The Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada in which they compared vermicompost to traditional compost. They found that the levels of beneficial microorganisms were up to 1000 times greater in vermicompost! Since we are trying to bring our soil to life, this is a big help! They also found that the nutrients were more accessible to plants. This resulted in bigger, healthier plants and a better yield. Other researchers found that vermicompost also stimulates further plant growth even when they are already receiving optimal nutrition! If you are a plant nerd like me, that’s more exciting than a new Star Trek movie! My apologies to all the Star Trek nerds out there, I needed an analogy.
What does it all mean?
For me, it means it’s a no brainer. I get better compost, in a shorter time, and in a less space. Compost any way you can, but I suggest giving worms a shot. They aren’t as goss as you think and i have definitely grown to appreciate them more than I did before, which also makes me think more about the overall health of my soil since I have some new friends to look out for.


So I’ve convinced you, right? Good! What’s that you say? Worms are your new best friends? Awesome! Just don’t carry them around in your pocket. Besides being a bit creepy, I don’t think they’ll live long.
Happy gardening!


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