The Unexpected Joys of Having 2000 Worms in Your Pantry

I love getting packages in the mail. Who doesn’t? The forceful knock at the door that tells you either a serial killer or the UPS guy is on your porch. The suspense of not knowing what awaits you for a split second before you remember you ordered vitamins or diapers in bulk. The enticing thrill of a brown package waiting to be ravaged. The blissful moments of distraction while the kids fight over popping bubble wrap, leaving you alone with your prize. I love getting packages. This was the first time I ever received live freight. It was even more exciting.

Before this day my pantry was a sanctuary. I control who goes in and what goes out. There are mouse traps in the back for any rodent who dares intrude. The goodies are up high so the kids can’t reach them. And the most excellent goodies (dark chocolate and bubblegum, I like to think I am both sophisticated and youthful) go way, way, way up high behind some bran cereal so my hubby won’t find them. But on this day, my pantry opened its doors to welcome some new tenants. In fact, so many beings entered that I could perhaps deem them a nation. Yes, my pantry opened to welcome a new nation.

So what was in this package marked perishable? A writhing mass of slimy, entangled, Eisenia Fetida…red worms. The UPS guy delivered a whole little wiggly world that day. That’s hot.

All rise and pay tribute to the newly inaugurated nation of Wormania. A communist nation, red to the core. It is a blissful little land with its own self-contained ecosystem and hermaphroditic supremacy. It exports but one commodity: black gold. Not the global-warming, planet-choking, economy-enslaving addictive poison we call oil. Better. This little nation pumps out castings, also called vermicompost, also known as WORM POOP.  Awesome.

People pay hundreds of dollars for what I have in my pantry, tucked behind my garbage can. I made my own little worm farm. I used a simple design you can find online. A leftover tote (Charity, that’s what you do with your boxes between moves!!) and some shredded newspaper and you are in business. Balance the moisture with the oxygen and food levels, and you have a perfect little habitat.

Next you pay a visit to good ole Uncle Jim. Seriously, check him out. This guy was featured on Oprah and has built an empire selling worms. How cool is that? Hats off to Uncle Jim. He even had a special running, which is why I ordered 2,000 of the little guys. They are called red wigglers, the best kind of worms for composting. Plus, we gingers need to stick together. We have more in common than just our coloring, red wigglers will eat half their weight in food every day. If I met the right sushi bar, I am convinced I could do the same! What I can’t do, though, is turn that food into a nutrient rich compost guaranteed to make your garden sing.

Am I insane for keeping worms in my pantry? They eat my kitchen scraps and organic waste and quickly convert it into Miraculous Grow (my name for the cheap, organic, sustainable fertilizer that has nothing to do with any similar trademarked brand name you may think to compare it with). These tiny guys even eat cardboard and newspapers. Not only have I substantially decreased the mass of garbage I put out on the curb, but I am actually enriching the planet at the same time! Furthermore, the worm farm takes up such a small space, that the trend is for people to keep them under their sinks in their apartments (this is not a shameless hint directed at Charity or any other city dwellers looking to minimize their environmental impact.) :) Some people ask me if it smells….a little. I won’t lie. My pantry now has a slight earthy smell, like walking downwind of a garden center. Not a bad deal, I say. I have had stronger odors emanating from my shoe closet. The question is not why do I have worms, but why doesn’t everyone?!

Not the cuddliest, but maybe the most profitable of pets

Okay, I am getting carried away again. If Erika knew how many books I have read about worm poop and other fun facts (yes, I know how worms “do it”!!) she would ban me from any book club in the same time zone as her! Like I have mentioned before, I never thought I would be this worm loving farm girl. I am getting excited about all different things now. I actually sold a gift card to a lingerie and novelty shop that I had tucked away to finance my little worm nation! That’s it, I am crazy. I am lucky that Shea is on board with me. We are fascinated by the idea of minimizing our impact on the planet and producing our own food (and eventually power.) I will take my enthusiasm down a notch; you do not all have to run out and start worm farms and study vermiculture. But should you stop by for a visit, you might just have to pay tribute to the hard-working population tucked behind the garbage can, in a dark corner of my pantry. Long live Wormania!


9 comments on “The Unexpected Joys of Having 2000 Worms in Your Pantry

  1. I might just stop by. I’ve been wanting to create a compost, but I wasn’t planning on keeping it in my house. Could I keep that in the garage?

    • Kristin on said:

      Stop by! I would love to have you over! Give me a call or drop me a line when you have time! Kids are off track now til the 21st so we are always looking for people to play with.

  2. Kristin on said:

    You can keep them in the garage. The more convenient they are to get to, the more likely you are to keep feeding them. Just don’t let them freeze. They die if they freeze and slow down production below 50º. In the summer, be sure they don’t go over 85º. Fun stuff!

  3. I’ve always wanted to have more culture in my home, I’m just not sure vermiculture is what I had in mind…

  4. That Catherine Girl on said:

    Thanks for letting Tabi and me visit your backyard petting zoo. While we didn’t actually meet any citizens of Wormania, I would like to remind you that there may be worm food in your microwave.

    • Kristin on said:

      I appreciate the reminder. Shea wondered what that mass of goo in the microwave was. Luckily I fed it to the worms before he started eating it. You know, he would probably thrive in a little box behind the garbage in my pantry.

  5. Lisa on said:

    How do you sort the worms from the fertilizer when you’re ready to put it in your garden?

    • Kristin on said:

      Good question! You stop feeding the worms for about a week so they get hundgry. Then you push all the bedding to one side and put fresh new bedding (shredded, damp newspaper) with food on the other side. In about a day all the worms will move themselves to the food, leaving the composted side vacant. There are also stackable wormbins where you put a new bin on top and use the same technique so they migrate up. If you have money to spend on worms (and who does?!) you can buy manufactured bins with several trays. But I will stick with my cheap homemade method until such time I have money to spoil my little friends with fancies like that!

  6. Pingback: Learning the Birds and Bees from Bunnies | whereverthere

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