Dirty Confession

26 Mar

I have no worms. They’re gone. Every last one of them. At least until Thursday.

It’s a long, sad story. OK, it’s actually pretty short, but still sad. Last Fall I was harvesting worm compost, which means I was separating the Red Wigglers who eat our kitchens scraps from their poop, which makes one heckuva compost for the garden or house plants. The process is fairly simple: coax the little guys into one corner of the box with some tasty treat, then remove the big gooey glob of worms into a new starter box I’ve prepared. Then it’s just some careful sifting through the compost to find the stragglers. When I finished, I put the fresh worm poop compost around the base of a few baby trees in my yard, and covered the new starter box and put it away in the garage.

At least that’s what I thought I did. Till about a week later when I went out to add some food scraps to the freshly started worm box. (Because I got a little carried away helping lots of friends and workshop attendees get started with their own worm farm, I had combined my four boxes down to one.) I lifted the lid, and thought it was strange they hadn’t turned the sweet potatoes I fed them into dirt. Then I sifted through a bit, and found nada. Not even a trace of one little wiggly worm. It was a complete mystery–they just vanished.

I had had an issue once before when I let the box get too wet, and the worms started high tailing it out of there. But the box was perfect moisture, and there were no signs of escapees. I was baffled. And I kept it quiet, because I didn’t want Uncle Carl to be sad about his worms’ babies kicking the can, or any of my vermicomposting fans to be disappointed.

My lovely and brilliant wife is convinced I grabbed the wrong box to fertilize the baby trees, and accidentally set those Wigglers free. She’s probably right. But on Thursday, maybe sooner, balance in the universe will be restored.  2 pounds of prime Red Wigglers are on their way to Montrose from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. I promise I’ll be more careful this time.

There is a silver lining in all this, if you are my wife and you hate it every winter when your husband sneaks several boxes of live worms, and their poop, into your basement for a few cold months. And Uncle Carl, find peace in the idea that your worm descendants are spread out in boxes and kitchens and garages all over South Dakota, and even into Minnesota, thanks to my over-generous vermicoposting-starter-streak last Summer and Fall.

There’s magic in that there dirt.


Posted by on March 26, 2011 in compost, worms


Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “Dirty Confession

  1. reluctantretiree

    March 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    You must have grabbed the wrong box. I can never get all of the stragglers out of the castings when I sift. I feel bad, but my back gets tired.

  2. Pam

    March 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Last year all of ours seemed to have disappeared in a little over a week. We never figured out what happened, and haven’t started our boxes again. I think we’ll give it another go since that was the best compost we’ve been able to make. Good luck!

  3. Chris

    March 27, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Good luck with the new worms. Try leaving some cardboard out in your garden. I hear it attracts worms. You might find some descendents there within a few days. If there are lots of organic matter in your garden, then might just have survived.


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