This column is probably of most interest to yardeners with kids five to ten years old. I’m going to talk about worms; red wiggly squirmy worms. I just set up my second worm composting system. Called “The Worm Factory” (www.northwestredworms.com, $100), it is a very well designed worm composting device that works outside and inside the home; usually outside during the summer and inside during the winter.
The technical term for this activity is vermicomposting, but when you are a seven year old kid, it’s a box of worms, his or her worms. Years ago I had a worm farm called the “Can O Worms” ( ) originally invented in New Zealand. I produced worm castings ( a nice way to describe worm poop) for about five years. When the son went to high school, worm farming was not cool so the worm farm was replaced by some other crazy idea.
I am trying the Worm Factory because it has many improvements to the design features of the Can O Worms, perhaps the most important being that it is odorless. We kept the Can O Worms in the basement because sometimes it did smell a little bit, but I’ve got my Worm Factory in the pantry beside the kitchen; very convenient.
The primary reason to have a worm farm, besides being a fun project for kids, is to recycle kitchen waste making incredibly valuable compost that when spread on the garden or mixed in with potting soil for container plants good things happen to those plants. It does magic, just like any quality compost. Worm farming even fits into the Green Revolution that is becoming so popular.
The farm has stackable trays about 16 inches square and 4 inches deep. Working one tray at a time, you add “bedding” material such as shredded newspaper, peat moss, chopped leaves or the like. The bedding material acts as a home for the worms and eventually they will consume it along with the food scraps you add each day or two. Usually you start with a pound of red worms which are attractive for this job because they reproduce so fast. A pound of red worms has from 1000 to 2000 worms. Their population expands every month according to how much food (scraps) you give them. As they fill one tray with castings, you add trays. At the end of one year you may be host to over 30,000 worms and they don’t make a sound.
Moisture is produced in the process of turning scraps into compost. That liquid is caught at the bottom of the farm and can be removed using a handy spigot. Compost tea, as it is called, is a wonderful tonic for houseplants and container plants any time of the year.
We refer to our worms as “our girls” but we have not yet tried to name each worm.