Hope The Worms Don’t Turn

Shakespeare wrote,

“To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.”

I have firsthand knowledge that worms are too little (and slimy) to fight back against attackers.

You just have to flick them back with a stick.

Or paint them with salt.  They don’t like that.

If you do tread on them, they stay tread on.  Or dead on.  And squished.  I know because I stepped on them in bare feet.

We have to be careful around the worms.  They are more than just our new pets…they’re Zombiegirl’s science project.

When I was in school, it was always a chore to figure out what type of project to do for the Science Fair.  There was always the potato-acting-like-a-battery project and the music-affecting-plant-growth project.  One year I measured how fast carnations and celery sucked up blue water.  Another year Kathy, Caroline and I did fruit fly gestation and genetics.  The following year, Caroline and I raised and kept mosquitoes.  THAT was fun at feeding time…

It seemed we (I) weren’t too smart back then.

When the girls had to pick their projects, it was the same chore.  I remember one year Beena wanted to experiment on the effect temperature had on worms.  Her teacher nixed the idea- it was cruel to freeze worms.  Their projects were so uninspiring I can’t for the life of me remember any of them.

I dread Science Fair time.

Z-girl came home a few weeks ago and said she had to pick her topic for the fair.  My stomach clenched until she told me there was an online survey she had to do to see what topic was “right” for her.  She filled out about 30 questions and they gave her five suggestions, one of which was vermicomposting.  She was intrigued.

Wow.  I guess my ecological ways have rubbed off on the little one.

My friend Soulspeak did vermicomposting awhile ago, and I was intrigued about it back then.  Zombiegirl and I googled “worm composting” and watched a video on Youtube from the Compost Guy.  Yes, this would be doable.

I had to sign a waiver to Z-girl’s science teacher that stated I would pay for all materials and that my family wouldn’t mind the presence of living things in our house.  Hey- it’s all for science, right?  Bonus points because now I wouldn’t have to trek all my compostable waste out back behind the “barn” each morning.  I signed happily.

Once the teacher approved her topic, we set out looking for worms.  Seems the best worms are red wigglers and there are HUNDREDS of places you can buy a pound of worms on the internet.  Who knew there was money in worm farming?

A pound of worms, by the way, is approximately 1,000 wigglers.

We found the best price at Worms Etc.  Matt also has an excellent blog and is available to answer any questions.  His forum is up-to-date with questions asked by other newbie worms handlers.  I paid my $19.95 and we waited for the big day. 

In the meantime, Z-girl drilled holes in bins, tore up newspaper, broke down egg cartons (not the horrible styrofoam ones) and started weighing our kitchen scraps.  Her science question is: How much waste can 1,000 worms consume in two months?  She sprayed the bedding and the food with water and made the bins nice for her worms to move in.

Our guest arrived about four days later (they have to ship promptly so the worms don’t get hung up at post offices and dry out). MR and Z-girl introduced these little guys into their shiny, smelly new home.  Z-girl was promptly grossed out.  This is a kid that would pick up any bug and study it for hours but these little guys were way beyond her gross-out level.  She wouldn’t (and still won’t) touch them- she flicks them back when they try to escape with a stick MR gave her.  They dubbed it the “Science Stick”.  She “paints” a line of salt water around the rim just under the holes so they don’t cross it to escape.  But they’re quick, these guys.  We’ve lost about 20 of them trying to make a jailbreak.  Zombiegirl was concerned about the numbers, but I told her the pound of worms MAY have had more than 1,000 in it, so not to worry. 

Who’s going to count them?

They’re now munching away on all the leftovers we used to feed the dogs (except for the meat and milk products) and Z-girl keeps track of how much she throws in the bins.  Right before the science fair, the plan is to take everything out of the bin that wasn’t digested and weigh that to determine how much these worms pigged out on. 

We’re going to need more science sticks.

Update: MR just sent me a picture in an email.  Subject: Wrms.  This word really doesn’t need vowels, does it?

Gross.

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3 thoughts on “Hope The Worms Don’t Turn

  1. Don’t forget to throw some ground up de-membranized eggshells in there every once in a while to keep the ph levels proper. And yep, the science stick is about all you can do to keep the little suckers in there. You will have a nice happy garden next year!
    Good luck!

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