Wriggly Worms

I'VE GOT WORMS!

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That's the text I sent Mike when I picked up my red wrigglers. Apparently, he had to sheepishly explain to a coworker who saw the text that no, they're not that kind of worms. They're for gardening.

I had worms while I was in law school. They even made the trek with me across the country. And then, they all died in what Mike refers to as "The Purge." We were in a tiny apartment, I brought them in from the balcony for the winter, and kept them under the sink. Lots of resources say that's a great spot for red wrigglers, but not my sink. It was just too hot and humid for them, and they all decomposed into a pile of goo. It was horrible.

Once they were all laid to rest as the ultimate compost, I was a little relieved that I didn't have to fuss over where to put them in our tiny apartment. But when we moved to a rental house earlier this year, I started to ache for my little wiggly buddies again. Our soil was so poor, and vermicompost (that's worm poop) would be just the thing to amend it. And I was getting sick of throwing out kitchen scraps. What a waste, when some happy little worms could chow down on the carrot peels I didn't want. 


Finally, after months of looking for them, I found some. I left work early to get there before they closed, and then waited while the lady carefully coaxed my worms into a little paper cup.

The Worm Hotel - I usually leave the lid cracked for ventilation
When I got them home, I set about fixing up their home. I used my worm bin from my last worm adventure - two stacking plastic boxes, with holes drilled in the bottom of the top one. The worms live on top, in the penthouse apartment, and the bottom level is there to catch any excess liquid.

Red Wrigglers get to work on some cucumber peelings in their new home
Worms like a moist environment and moderate temperatures, but they don't like it too wet. So giving them drainage is a good idea - plus you can use that liquid as compost too.

Shredded paper makes great bedding - just be sure to sprinkle it with water so it's moist for the worms - but not soggy!
I give my worms a fluffy bedding of shredded paper, either from paper grocery bags or newspapers. I feed them a steady diet of carrot peels, cucumbers, and coffee grounds. Really you can feed them just about any raw vegetable matter, as long as it doesn't have oil on it. However, I've learned there are some things worms don't really care for, such as broccoli stems (too woody), citrus fruits, and onions. Apparently, pre-composted veggies are a bit much too, so it's best to feed them fresh raw veggies, not ones that are starting to rot.

Once they get going, composting worms like red wrigglers can go through an amazing amount of food in a short period of time - something like half their weight each day! They'll also reproduce like crazy, as long as there's enough food and space for them. All that means lots of great compost for the garden!







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