Friday, November 13, 2009


After many years of talking myself out of vermiculture, I took the plunge and ordered a pound of red wrigglers for winter composting. I set the worms in a thick plastic bin I found for $1.99 at a local store. I drilled a few holes, added some wet newspaper and voila!

I was underwhelmed by the amount of worms when they arrived, but according to the seller, worms can lose 70% of their body water during shipping. I gave them a good drink in their bedding, and hopefully they will plump up.

I have already identified two challenges of worm composting for my family. First, my curious toddler wants to see the worms every few minutes. Clearly, these critters want to be snuggled down deep in their bedding, and my little guy wants to have them sit at the breakfast table with him. This is likely a function of natural curiosity and our pet-deprived home. These are the first non-human creatures we have (intentionally) hosted in our home. Fortunately, feeding the worms is almost as good as seeing them, so my son's job will be to carefully place scraps in the bin. If it takes him an hour, so be it. The second issue is the sheer amount of vegetable matter our family of three produces. Websites give various ratios for amount of scraps per square foot or per pound of worms, but the basic message is not to overwhelm the worms, especially not in new bins. Last night, as I stared at the mountain of compostables from our vegetable pad thai and fruit salad dinner, I realized that unless I dedicated some serious square footage to vermiculture, I was still going to be making the cold trip out to our regular composter.

We'll see what comes of this experiment, but I am embarrassed at my years of delay after seeing the low cost and ease of this project. If anything, it has inspired me to look at some other simple gardening projects I have been eying with trepidation for years. The worm bin has let loose the flood gates, and this winter, my son and I are going to have a new basement project: building cold frames for an early spring harvest!

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