Vermiculture: or, we love worms!

Our Aunt Beryl, a hardy gardener transplanted from the north of England to the north of Canada, turned me on to worms. In one of her guises she ran a daycare centre and composted organic waste from lunches using vermiculture, or worm composting. The kids just loved the worms.

“How do you do it?” I asked. “Dead easy,” was her characteristic reply. “You put down some bedding, add worms, and bury your food scraps. The worms eat them, and you get all this lovely worm poo.” Then a big, Aunty Beryl-type laugh.

The Worm Factory we saw at Canada Blooms. (The post covergirl is an updated shot of my own much-used version.)

I did try it. The old-style worm bin was like a blue box with a lid. The idea was to bury the scraps in the bedding, the worms would stampede over, eat the grub. Next time, you’d dump your scraps in a new area, eventually zigzagging across the bin. However, our family of five made way too many scraps for one bin. Plus, my zigging was never so methodical.

Then there was the issue of the (let’s call it) worm juice. Beryl ingeniously drilled holes in the bottom of her bins and placed each on a deep boot tray to catch the constant trickle, which she sucked out with a turkey baster. Terrific stuff for watering potted plants.

I kept meaning to do this. Not to say my worms lived in a waterworld, but I did occasionally see them practicing synchronized swimming.

Sadly, I became a vermiculture drop-out. Yet, despite my failure, or because of it, I retained my hankering for pet worms.

At Canada Blooms in a playground garden sponsored by Toyota and created by Gardens for Living, I saw the answer to my wormy dreams. Like my previous model, it’s called a Worm Factory. This one isn’t a single bin; it has a stack of trays to deal with my zigging impairment, plus a spigot for the drips.

I emailed the Toronto Botanical Garden who had provided the children’s programming for exhibit. Very speedily I got a reply from Liz Hood, Children’s Program Supervisor at the TBG, who sent me this link to All Things Organic. Wow, there it was.

More than a worm factory; it’s a highrise worm condo that makes use of height on a very small footprint. The worms simply stampede to a higher level, making it easy to harvest the castings, the polite term for worm poo. Now I have to figure out how many trays to get.

[Update: I ordered the 5-tray version, but rarely used more than three. Although worms do tend to thrive on a certain amount of neglect, sadly they don’t like as much as I gave them the last time I went on vacation. My worms have gone to the Great Beyond. But I will try again.]

In addition to being a product source, the All Things Organic site is an encyclopedic resource for worm ranching information. I commend them.

Aunty Beryl, this one’s for you.

1 comment

  1. Love it… I have one of her worm empires in my garbage room… alas, I forgot to feed the residents for a bit and they all perished. Little feet pointed to the heavens. I feel like a murderer…. I keep meaning to figure out a source for more pets. Ideas?


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