Earth worms are incredible. They have existed on Earth over 120 million years. They are nature’s farmers: they aerate and nourish the soil by feeding on various materials, breaking them down and returning the nutrients to the soil. And many worms contain both sexes! Many areas are now harnessing the power of worms to break down various organic materials on a large scale, but living in a city without access to an outdoor composting space, we do it in our house. I love science and nature and when my dear friend, Andrea, introduced my daughters to her worm bins, it was just the bait they needed to pique their interest in the ecological and scientific benefits of vermiculture.
Ready to try it with your family? Here’s what you’ll need: Composting bin (purchased or home made); 1lb. Red Wigglers (surface dwelling worms); bedding- consisting of egg cartons, paper grocery bags, various cardboards, newspaper-slightly dampened (add water slowly); and appropriate leftovers-banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells (rinsed), etc. (Temperatures should range from 50-85 F/ 10-30 C with optimum temps between 59-77 F/15-25 C.)
It is possible to create your own bins, but I opted for an easy set up.
We purchased our worm house and worms from Urban Worm Girl, a local small business with solid detail on their site (including what to feed your worms) but you can purchase everything you need on Amazon (you will need both the worm composter and worms). Assembling our worm bin was an excellent rainy day activity as the girls laughed their way through the process from ripping paper up to make worm bedding (start with just one tray – worms migrate down as they consume each layer):
to distributing the squirming worms in the dampened bedding:
to converting our family’s appropriate left over meal scraps to worm food.
The worms work fairly quickly through scraps: 1 pound of worms will eat 1/4 to 1/2 pound of waste a day (and in case you’re wondering, we keep our compost bin in our kitchen, and it doesn’t smell at all). Instead of contributing to landfills, you end up with black gold: Which makes our plants very happy!
Looking for more worm info and activities?
Read: Yucky Worms: Read and Wonder by Vivian French + Jessica Ahling. A boy learns from his grandma just why “yucky worms” are so great for her garden. The underground view of the worms’ world and their thought bubbles were popular with our crowd.