Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A worm update

Although they are not nearly so exciting to watch as the bees, the worms are also performing a very important task in our home. We started out with 3 lbs of worms in the vermicomposter and every morning for a week we would get up and find that another 50-100 had "wandered" out of their carefully constructed bedding and onto the garage floor where they dried up and died. We initially thought that 3000 worms in one little bin was too many, so we quickly put another bin on the top, but that didn't help too much. Soon we had worms crawling out of two bins instead of just one.
I had to do a little extra research on suicidal worms and found that in the initial days of starting a vermicomposter, unless you have a well established bed of compost, worms get stressed and tend to vacate the premises rather than adjust to their new home. I had to go out to the garden and grab a couple of shovelfuls of composted topsoil to mix into their bedding. Once that was in there, the worms have been quite content to stay in the bin. I also left them under a fluorescent spotlight for about 48 hours to deter them from seeking greener pastures outside of the bin. Red Wigglers hate the light, so the spotlight was like my very own anti worm-wander security system.
I am sure it was a combination of the topsoil and the nightlight that got them to stay, but now they are eating the kitchen scraps and making castings. We have been stockpiling kitchen scraps for several days and the worms have their work cut out for them for a while. Hopefully we can get caught up and achieve some sort of balance between the waste we generate and what the worms can process.

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