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January 07, 2006

I'm a Vermiculturist

I finally got my worms. I've been wanting to do worm kitchen composting for several years. While we had an ideal place for a worm bin in Ukraine, we were already weird Americans and I didn't want to further freak out my Ukrainian neighbors.

The past couple of months here in Florida, I've been looking into it again. Today I stopped at Mr. B's Bait Shop and asked if they had any red wigglers. They did! And Penny (who is the type of woman who obviously enjoys fishing) was very tolerant of my non-fishing request, and gave me a few pointers she'd picked up from other worm composters who had bought their red wigglers from her.

I already had a plastic bin that I had sized for under the sink. A couple of weeks ago I prepared bedding of corrogated cardboard squares and newspaper strips. But my plastic container wasn't quite ready. Worms need lots of oxygen--they breathe through their skin. And the compost needs it, too--otherwise it will start anaerobic and smelly decay. So, I stopped at Target and bought myself a small and girly hand-held drill. My first worms AND my first power tool! We are so not power tool people. I drilled bunches of holes in my container.

Then I gently dumped my two styrofoam containers of worms onto the top of the damp bedding. At first I thought about half were already dead. Laying there still and wormie. But they were just in shock. After about a minute most of them had wiggled deep into their new home. A couple were still on top and still. But when I went to take them out, they all started wiggling. Not a dead worm in the bunch!

But then I committed vermicide. Unitentional worm slaughter. Well, maybe slaughter is too big a word, since I killed only about 10. I drilled air holes into my container below the bedding line (I thought I read it was okay) and several escaped and shrivelled up overnight. Hubby said he heard little wormy voices chanting "Attica, attica!" before they made their break. So, I taped up those holes, and checked and saw I still had live worms, and we'll go from here.

More resources on vermiculture:
The Burrow Presents. . .
Worm Digest
Worms Eat My Garbage
Composting with Red Wigglers
Worm Bins, Illustrated
Easy Worm Bin


Posted by TulipGirl  |  11:01 AM|  TrackBack (0)  |   Words

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Gross at first thought...but oh so fun to read.

What will one do with this worm haven?

Posted by: Nate from PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS at January 8, 2006 04:14 PM

It sounds fascinating, and a lot of fun! I'm weird, I like worms, I think they're pretty cool. I'd love to try this when I get a bigger house- I can't think of a kitty-safe place to store them that isn't storing something else. (I assume my cats would like them too, lol.)

Posted by: Elizabeth at January 8, 2006 04:22 PM

Wellll. . . since I have a orange thumb (as Hubby says--orange for toxic) I won't be using my worm castings for gardening. I'm hoping to reduce the amount of waste we put out for the dump, and turn our coffee grounds and kitchen scraps into worm casting compost. Then, I can take it too the weekly farmer's market and hopefully trade it for fresh produce.

At least, that's the plan. Right now I'm just trying not to kill 'em.

Posted by: TulipGirl at January 8, 2006 04:22 PM

All our worms are sleeping under two feet of snow (and some earth).

Posted by: Carol at January 8, 2006 05:34 PM

I'm a special ed teacher here in SC. Last year, a colleague down the hall did an entire year's worth of a worm compost project with her class, teaching it as a life skill.

It was interesting to watch, but I can't say it is something I would enjoy... hats off to you! =)

Posted by: angela at January 8, 2006 09:28 PM

never heard of doing it in the kitchen.. all the friends i know with vermicomposters have them outside by the compost bin/veggie garden so i'll be interested to hear if any crawlers end up in the bolognese sauce.. sounds a bit like roald dahl's *the twits* http://www.roalddahlfans.com/books/twitrev1.php
it's one of our family favourites
happy days

Posted by: kate5kiwis at January 9, 2006 12:16 AM

We did worm composting for a couple years. The key is to keep them very moist and well-fed in the beginning. Otherwise, they go searching for greener pasture. Our initial 100 worms mulitiplied into the thousands (maybe even hundred thousands). We kept adding 40 gallon tupperware bins to the collection and separating them. Soon, we were not producing enough food waste to feed the critters.

I used them in the garden, but found that FL fire ants loved them as a treat. So you have to bury them well.

In the end, when we left on a six-month trip, we had to let the hobby go. Who is going to "pet sit" worms? I don't have any friends that love me that well.

Posted by: Amy Scott at January 9, 2006 10:27 AM

ive never heard of actually keeping it in your kitchen. this is the first year we are composting- we had always been told it didnt work in alaska, but weve met so many people who are pulling it off that we are going for it.
how fabulous.

Posted by: meggan at January 9, 2006 01:30 PM

Good! Now I can come to you for tips. Vermiculture is on my list of things to do at our new place.

Posted by: sparrow at January 9, 2006 04:29 PM

Oooh, I'm jealous! I've wanted to try vermicomposting for a while. We travel too much in the summer to do the project justice, though. Good luck!

Posted by: serina at January 10, 2006 10:28 AM

I'm speechless. I've never read a story about worms before. And the story was wonderful. Of course, the "attica" tie-in was priceless. This so sounds like something I would be into when I was in my 20's. I'm good about recycling, but not composting.

Posted by: TK at January 10, 2006 11:42 PM

DH said, "Cool!" DS13 said, "Cool!" I said, "Eeeewww! Not under my sink!" LOL! I might be able to do it outside, but not right in my kitchen. I'd imagine our kittens would love it, though....

Posted by: chewymom at January 11, 2006 11:25 AM

Wow, an Orange thumb.
Does that mean you are good at growing fruit trees?
Very cool.
My mom lives in AL and she has an orange tree in her front yard.
It is pretty crazy cause it gets full of oranges:)

Posted by: Anna at January 12, 2006 01:31 AM

You know, I'm a gardener and fully appreciate the role that worms play in the cycle of life but I've still got issues with them. As long as they're crawling around in my garden doing their thing it's all good. But hanging out in my kitchen is not an option for me. I wish I weren't so squeamish about worms I could really use the compost and the reduction in trash to put out. I think I was traumatized as a child.

Posted by: Samantha at January 12, 2006 01:54 PM

You would enjoy Amy Stewart's book, From the Ground Up. She blogs:


Posted by: Julana at January 21, 2006 07:56 PM

love it....

Posted by: maureen at January 30, 2006 06:37 PM

wow.... i'll be watching you with interest... :) i've been wanting to compost, never heard of worm composting, though! my kids would love it! :)

Posted by: jen at April 21, 2007 02:33 AM

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