Runaway worms

August 22nd, 2012
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Here's something I never thought I'd say: my worms ran away from home.

Here is the full saga of the red wriggler composting worms I bought off Craigslist: first, the dog tried to eat them. I picked them up with Inca, and the man gave them to me in a sealed re-used sour cream container. I put them in the trunk with the dog.

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In the very short ride home, the dog stepped on the container to open it and started to eat them. When I opened the trunk, I was aghast to see the "black gold" and some worms wriggling around the back.

"Inca!" I yelled. "That is not good! That is the opposite of good! Get out!" I'm pretty sure she understood every word I said and felt bad about it. {burp}

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I salvaged the rest of the worms and put them in a homemade pen. I have been feeding them and eagerly awaiting the vermicastings.

I have a small yard and it isn't ideal for gardening, try as I might. I had the worms in a couple locations as I tried out different areas. The first location was too wet. The second was too hot. It got a couple hours of direct sunlight every day and I think the worms tried to escape the heat.

One day I came out and found five worms had committed suicide on the concrete pavers. I have a teensy little front lawn that's about 5' x 7' and I put in cinder blocks with the grass growing in between.

The worms were on the blocks and hadn't figured out where the grass margins were, probably because it was high noon and they were freaked out to be in broad daylight. They just dried up and died there. Sad.

I then moved the dwindling population of worms to yet another spot, which I believe to be both dry and cool. I think this'll work. I hope so for their sake. They have had a very hard life since coming to live with me.

If you know anything about composting worms, I'd like to hear your take on the worm escapees!

6 Responses to “Runaway worms”

  1. Kage:

    I have been composting with worms for a while now.
    I had my share of suicidal worms as well.
    You would be surprised how resilient the worms are. I did not feed mine for a long time once because of circumstance. I thought they were all dead. I bought new ones and when I went to create a new bed for them, I found the original ones in there surviving.


  2. Kage:

    Oh, very important.
    Papaya seeds make the worms sterile. They can eat the fruit, just the seeds should not be put into the bed.
    I wondered why the population was dwindling until I found out this fact.


  3. lowtone123:

    I received a kit from my mom who thought it would be a fun project for my kids but as it turned out it is a project of one (me) except for the kids feeding them occasionally. There is a website called kokua worms that has info on composting but from my experience the worms like an environment that is damp, dark and cool. We have a plastic bin with holes on the sides for air and drainage. The worms are fed vegetable scraps like cabbage and lettuce leaves and the peelings from the carrots and potatoes. I also place a wet newspaper covering on top to keep the area dark, damp & cool. The worms also feed on the paper when the food is gone so they can survive a while between "meals". I water the bin twice a week to keep it damp. It's been three years and I use the compost to feed my new starter plants at home.


  4. Kokua Worms:

    Hi new worm parent! Gasp! What an introduction to worms. Sounds like the Craigslist seller didn't give you much background. Kage is correct: papaya seeds are #1 on the short "Do Not Feed" list. Lowtone's advice of a cool, damp, dark location is spot on. Paper is an important part of a worms world- food, bedding, moisture, mating, ventilation....and ODOR Control! I'd love to help you with some more tips to keep your worms alive and create a happy habitat for them to thrive in. Come by the store someday. Aloha Leslie- kokuaworms.com


  5. Gavan Imamura:

    Diane-
    Try Bokashi instead. Its microbes that breakdown waste and the compost produced is high in nutrients and can be used in gardening.

    Much, much, much, better than worms!!!


  6. zzzzzz:

    We don't have cinder blocks in Hawai'i. We have hollow tile.


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