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Connecting You with Your Food, Farmers and Community

Winter Workers - Worms!

As the snow and cold continue, I find myself dreaming about ways to stay connected to the outdoors, the garden & living things! I know plant life outside is just dormant but tending to a worm farm in the winter can be a fun activity for all ages. Besides, they don't require the attention of other household pets – no walking or training required or risk of household destruction.

Did you know one pound of worms (roughly 1000) can consume up to 3 cups of food scraps a week? A 10,000-12,000 worm vermiculture system (a.k.a. worm farm) can take consume 5-8 pounds of food scraps a week! Why throw away that which can be converted into nutrients for your garden?

A brief overview of how a vermiculture system works:

  • You provide red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) with a suitable living environment. (Nightcrawlers won't do)
  • Serve up their choice menu item such as fruit & vegetable scraps – they aren't exactly picky but there are some rules to keep in mind. Worms are not meat eaters for example.
  • They eat your food scraps – converting them into worm castings - a polite way to say worm poop.
  • You harvest the castings that can then be used to add nutrients to your garden, outdoor containers or houseplants.
  • Extra moisture from the system will create worm tea that can be collected and used to water houseplants or the garden.
  • The worms stay in your compost system and continue working for you even after you've harvested their castings.

A well-managed system can go virtually unnoticed. I have a small system right in my kitchen and I have yet to scare anyone away.  It has even been a source of entertainment form time-to-time.  Spring is coming and green things will grow again but for now I will continue to tend to my worm farm – inside were it is warm!

Come learn more about the wonderful work of worms at the Bringing Back the Basics: a DIY Approach to Living - Little Livestock class, Tuesday, March 17! You can come just to learn more or you can choose to build your own system to take home and get started as a new worm farmer.

Photo credit: Clemson Extension Service

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