Some people have rose gardens. I inherited a worm “garden” from a friend of a friend and have stuck with it out of curiosity.
The basic premise of worm gardening is simple: Worms are fed compostable kitchen and yard waste (and in my case, lots of coffee grinds) and their castings, excrement basically, are used as a rich (and in my case, highly caffeinated) soil amendment.
The castings are so “nutritious” for plants that people make worm tea out of them. WikiHow says “worm tea lets you fertilize without adding bulk to your soil.”
The downside of worm gardening is only the gross factor. My mom won’t touch the worms, though she did take the photos in the slideshow above.
The worms don’t bother me. In fact, my beef with this “hobby” is the technical difficulty in actually collecting the castings without also inadvertently gathering worms.
My other challenge is figuring out what to do with my growing population of wigglers. I’ve read that they can double their numbers every 90 days, and it seems like they are.
If anyone wants to try worm gardening, all you need is a giant, lidded tub with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. Collect your veggie and fruit scraps, dead leaves and coffee grinds (everything but citrus rinds); dump them in the tub and add worms. I can give you some!
Like composting in general, I’ve been told that the worms need a source of carbon and that adding shredded paper or dead leaves will do the trick.
The rest should be pretty intuitive. You want to make sure liquid can drain out the bottom. Otherwise, you will nourish a low-oxygen muck that smells like rotten eggs. You’ll find out fast the worms migrate to the top of the bin and that their castings are in the bottom of the tub.
Worms love water, so make sure the lid stays on and the bin is sprayed with water regularly to keep them from drying out. They also love watermelon rinds cut up in little pieces. I think they have a sweet tooth, which is a metaphor because worms don’t have teeth. I’ve been told they gum their way through our refuse and appreciate a sprinkling of dirt on their meal to help them grind up their food.
But, that is getting way too technical for a fun, personal blog post.