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Worms, Worms, Bionic Poop, Worms and Spam

I've been curious about raising worms since I was introduced to it at the Green Building Expo in Scottsdale in late 2007. It seemed really complicated and foreign at the time. Bags and boxes of worms and scraps....I wasn't sure I was up to it. But I've always liked to watch interesting creatures up close, especially insects, worms, birds and lizards.

I got started on worm composting about a month ago. I bought some red wiggler worms near my sister's house in California. I set them up in a luxury sterlite container, drilled some holes, layed down what was recommended - damp newspaper, a couple of handfuls of dirt, dumped them in and covered them with a little more dirt. The poor guys got really overheated in the car on the way back, so I was a little worried about them and watched them obsessively.

I'm happy to say they are thriving. Plump as you please. They have feasted on strawberries, bread, cheerios, rice, tortillas, tomatoes, coffee grounds, mushrooms, lettuce, cilantro, newspaper, and most recently shredded mail. Frankly, I think I'm probably spoiling them like a nana - "Eat! You look so skinny! Are you feeling okay? Here, let me make you something." They are putting up with me.

Now - the last week or so, I've been getting a little obsessive about my new pets. I've been reading up and it's made me all the more excited and interested in the process, moreso than the resulting black gold for my yet-to-be-manifested garden. Listening to a podcast from Austrailia today, I was reschooled on the huge variety of household waste that worms can reprocess into a real bounty. Instead of paper and cardboard into recycling, using more energy, and producing yet more consumer goods, I can actually put these items through my worms and let all of this stuff return back to the earth - better, stronger, faster (okay, maybe not faster), like some six-million-dollar-bionic-pizza-box-fertilizer. And there is a bunch of stuff they can eat that can't really be recycled well, like hair from the hairbrush, or dog, tissues and even animal waste (no people-poop please). I'll bet Steve Austen couldn't do that.

I was so excited about this podcast, I got to listen to it again on my way home, many thanks to Heather who sent me the link and supplied the mp3 player to listen to as we carpooled home. We got to talking about it, how easy it really is to set up, how addictive it is, and how I want to set up mini farms throughout the house. I think she's caught the bug...she wants to try her hand at it too.

So inspired was I about this day of worm contemplation that I whipped together a new worm farm from an empty kitty-litter bucket. Worms have now taken up residence in the master bathroom where they will undoubtedly be treated to many a toilet paper roll and Q-tip. Don't worry. I'll be sure to play Nana to them, too! "Eat your vegetables!"

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Comment by JuliaWestfall on April 18, 2009 at 8:47am
I'm really glad you have this blog out here. I started my worm farm last week..saturday, so worms are one week exactly in their new home. I bought one of those worm condo's..put in the bedding and garbage, and until Thursday of this week, day 5, they seems wiggly healthy and happy....then, it's almost as if they have stopped moving, I think some are actually dead. there are babies, lots, but my 'adult' worms do not look as fat as they did, so I am thinking they aren't eating, and they sure are not moving around....other than the initial bedding, that coconut stuff, shreded paper, and some ground up vegtable garbage, the only thing I have done is spritzed with a bit of water. They are in my laundry room, which is right around 70 degrees, and there is some few drops of tea producing every day.
Also, where can I buy more of that coconut stuff or should I just forget it and use newspaper?
Thanks!!! Julia
Comment by Melissa Carlson on July 25, 2008 at 8:33pm
Hi, Anne. Yes, I've had a small "issue" with little tiny pin-prick sized bugs, but no real infestations of any other kind. I keep my worm bin in the bottom of the pantry, which may be the difference. Outside there are just a lot more pests to venture by and get curious. Sorry to hear your worm farm didn't make it - or didn't it? Worm eggs can live up to 8 years, I'm told. Just add water to the old vermicast, if you have it, and see if anything starts to revive. I have read that worms aren't too keen on temps above 80 degrees and won't survive past 90, so unless you're really conservative with your AC, your best bet is bringing them inside.

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