It’s Alive!!!

It is more accurately “They’re Alive!!”

After turning over my compost pile last week, I had created a space between the pile and the concrete blocks at the back.   The plan is for me to use up a lot of the older compost in my beds this year.  This space was to add newer items so the older stuff would not be mixed with the newer, not-yet-broken-down additions.

Earlier this week I gathered up some scraps to take out there. I have gotten out of the habit, but figured that I would need to start again soon to create more wonderful compost.  In addition to the scraps, I figured I would take out the container that my worms had lived in.  There were some castings and old bedding left.  It is good stuff, so adding it to the compost pile would have been great.

Once I got out to the compost pile, however, I ran into a problem with my plan.  There were worms in there!  I was shocked.  Last fall, the environment in the box was not so great.  I moved them to the garage, hoping the less humid environment would be good for them.  Some left me.  Okay, it was more than a couple.  It was a mass exodus.  Then it got cold.  I checked in the box and found what I thought I would.  There were no worms in there.  Then I became side tracked and just let it sit for a few months.  I did not feed them … well, there were no worms, right?  I did not change or add bedding.  Again, because there were no worms.  So I was very surprised to see worms in the box.  Some were on the lid and others near where the lid sat on the box.  There were a few in the bedding, but not a lot.  When I saw them, I turned right around and came back inside.  Instead of adding to the compost pile, I fed the worms.  I will probably wait till what I fed them is pretty much gone.  Otherwise I will create the same environment that I had when they all left me.  I had fed them too much and it was too moist in there.

My thought is that the worms who were there had laid eggs.  After the adults left or died, the eggs hatched.  It has happened to others, and is a potentially nice benefit to worms.  It does not happen this way with cows or pigs.  Chickens, maybe, if someone keeps the eggs warm.

After moving them back inside a couple days ago, this is what the inside of the container looks like.

Nothing exciting.  Just bedding.  Except, remember the worms were crawling or laying on the upper lip of the container when I went to dump it.  They are no longer there.  So where did they go?

They burrowed down into the bedding.  Look in the lower left corner of the picture.

Here is another try to see them, but they are camera shy.  They do not like light and a flash is very bright, so they quickly hid.

In this one, all but two or three have burrowed down.  They are still in the corner of the container, among the grayish stuff.  It is actually brown, but the flash has bleached everything.  They are among their castings.  Castings are … well, food goes in and castings come out.  These particular worms are just breaking down the bedding.  In this case, that is shredded paper I did not want to put out in the trash.

This will give you an idea of what their food it.  I partially covered it, but you can still see some of it.  Apples, egg shells, left over potatoes, and something else I can not remember right now.  I placed all of this in a corner and slightly covered it.  Though it is not necessary to cover it, I was bringing it inside.  To help cut down on other insects I prefer to bury it a bit.  Not too much, though, my particular worms are not the burrowing kind.

Today, I was teasing my husband that, “we may not have a dog, but we have worms … and they don’t need to be walked.”  He was not exactly thrilled when I first mentioned worms to him, but he soon forgot about them.

I am going to try to keep better track of them this go around.  The ones I originally obtained did multiply, but not like I had hoped.  I am pretty sure it had to do with the environment being too wet and me feeding them too much.  This time I plan on waiting longer between feedings and not feeding them as much.

My long term hope is to move them outside and create an outdoor bed of worms to replace my compost pile.  The lady I obtained these worms from does this, though she is in a different part of the country than I am.

Have you tried vermiculture or vermicomposting?  Did you do it inside or out?