March 3rd – Worm Moon (Vermicomposting revisited)

Years ago while visiting my children’s middle school, I was shown a vermicomposting project that the science teacher had set up for her students. Vermicomposting is the process of using worms (Eisenia foetida) to eat food scraps and produce rich compost.

After ordering a pound of worms from Plains Georgia, I received a package label “live worms”. Preparation was simple, I prepared a bedding of shredded newspaper, some soil, coffee grounds and some crushed eggshells, and dumped in the box of worms. The worms have been thriving every since. The are easily the most trouble free creatures I have encountered, they are much less problematic than the cats (who produce unusable compost). All they need is an occasional melon rind or some corn cobs and they happily munch away. You can actually hear them eat!

The only issue I face is the separation of the worms from the compost. Placing newer material on one side of the bin is supposed to produce a “worm migration” from the old to the new, but not for these worms (I can only assume that these are sedendary worms that have grown fat and lazy on melon rinds).

I was under the impression that I was being a good steward of the earth by raising these creatures, but today I was made aware of a darker more sinister side of worm-wrangling. Apparently introducing non-native worm species to the environment can be damaging. I can’t imagine what damage I’m doing growing high-altitude cactus in the front yard.

Headlines:

“Worms may be responsible for destroying foliage in forests in northern United States and Canada”

http://www.acfnewsource.org/science/killer_worms.html

Worm Photographs courtesy of Paul Romagna (Feb 19 2007)

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