Well, because I just love them!
My good friend has been keeping a vermicompost on and off for years. Her worms, kept in a series of light proof plastic bins (worms are photosensitive) in her living room, has been an endless source of fascination for Smootch. All last summer Smootch begged me for a bucket of worms of our own.
'Please, mama, just let me have worms! I'll never ask you for another thing ever again!'
My friend had promised Smootch some worms, though I will admit, I was not particularly thrilled about it. Stall tactics on my part held us off for quite some time.
This past winter, however, I became increasingly interested in gardening and, learning through books and online all the lovely things that come from poop, I decided that I, too, needed some worms. Oh Canada, something about being buried in snow for eight months of the year makes me itch for warm soil and green plants.
As I read, keeping a personal garden is one great way to reduce your carbon footprint and keep healthy foods on the table. Plus Smootch is positively hooked on garden fresh foods (if you ask her her favorite foods she'll tell you all sorts of vegetables with the rider that they must be directly from the garden) and both kids tend to, if they have access, stand around food bearing plants and munch until they almost explode. Being in favor of fresh vegetables and fruits and also slightly lazy, I approve whole heartedly of dining among the garden rows.
Thus it was fortuitous for us when my friend, now pregnant with her sixth child, called me up and said, 'Take my worms, please! I just can't take care of them right now!'
I am considering myself a worm foster parent until the time when my friend is feeling back on top of things. Considering six children, homeschooled nonetheless, I am prepared to keep caring for the worms for some time to come. Okay by me, because, ohmygoodness, worms are most excellent and their poop is even better.
This is me cuddling some worms when I was separating the castings (worm poop) and compost from the worms in order to start a fresh new bin. These worms are a particular type that lives and eats decaying matter, unlike your garden and lawn worms that eat dirt (think earthworms). Before you use the nutrient dense soil-like compost they make, you need to take the worms out if you do not want them to die once away from their dark, funky waste pile. I want all the worms I can get to help break down my kitchen scraps and make more compost so I took an afternoon about three weeks ago to do the admittedly labour intensive yet oddly fun task of separating worms from compost.
Once the worms are removed and transferred to fresh bedding, what is left is a dark humus that makes an excellent fertilizer for houseplants and the garden. I put the compost into a couple of open topped plastic lined boxes to dry out a bit. I plan to give a portion to my friend and I have used some in my plants already. Surprisingly, the boxes of compost have jumped ahead of us on the fertilizing/growing cycle and has already began sprouting plants of its own.
The above picture has just a couple sprouts showing, but - I just checked - the whole box is a mess of green right now. I think that all the seeds that went into the bin to feed the worms over the past year - squash, tomato, apples, oranges, grains and so forth - have been laying dormant until now when the light was finally allowed to penetrate the compost. Conditions must be exactly right because all sorts of things are now growing in the compost boxes.
I had been content to just let them fade away but a big fat guy with what looks to be a squash hull stuck on the top came up in one of the boxes. I have a hard time ignoring squash volunteers in the garden (composts usually bring them up the next year after a squash-y fall), even though most squash volunteers grow mainly unpalatable fruits. Usually they turn out hard and tasteless, nothing you want to roast with a bit of basil and olive oil. There is some sort of horiculturally intensive explanation for all this but all I know is that if you didn't plant if from a breeder's seed, it probably won't taste good. Actually, it may be this tendency to produce duds that makes me want to cultivate every volunteer to see if I can accidentally hit upon that magic combination that produces a truly tasty squash. It's that part of me that has a hard time resisting a challenge.
Still, I was disappointed to see only one squash sprout in the box - can't play squash roulette with only one plant - and considered letting this one go but when I looked in the other box, lo and behold, another squash sprout!
Transferred out of the boxes, their roots deeply encrusted with vermicompost, here they are in their new home. The one is just shucking the last of the hull.
Both squash sprouts just came through a bit of a storm and look like they are going to like it just fine outside. Can't wait to see what comes of them.
Hope you liked this meandering little story about my worms and volunteer sprouts because I have a hundred of them now that I am the proud (foster) parent of tens of thousands of worms. Rot, I am finding, is incredibly interesting. Be forewarned, I plan on sharing what I am learning.