18 February 2009

Um, we're missing something

Aside from getting a vermicomposter (and there are many kinds), I also had to find worms. This is an easy task, but you need to get the right worms.

And to me, all worms look alike, right? My girls took insect investigation summer camps but although I've been a gardener for years, I don't look closely at the worms I find in my soil. Basically, there are tons of different earthworms, some of which are soil workers, and some of which are composting worms, who don't like living in soil but prefer heaps of organic matter. We love earthworms for everything they do in our soil -- especially those of us with heavy clay soil that needs an earthworm's tender aeration -- but they wouldn't do diddly in a heap of organic waste.

(Quick aside: worked on a conservation project at the Botanic Garden with a soil ecologist who told me the earthworms we so treasure in our soil aren't actually native to our country. At some point, they were brought over here, probably in an agriculture shipment as a stowaway. Who knew? Gardeners in this country act like the earthworm was always here and have a god-given right to infect our soil, blah blah -- I'm just glad they're here now.)

So I needed some composting worms -- red wigglers, redworms, stink worms or tiger worms (all referring to the very same beast). They're not something I could go outside to find. Luckily, there are worm supply farms all over the internet (you might say the internet is crawling with them, but I'm not partial to easy puns).

My supplier of choice was GardenWorms because they were one of the least expensive options with ready stock. I imagine that hunting for reg wigglers in a time other than the dead of winter might reveal more sites with stock to ship.

The worms arrived in a bag with some bedding. Usually the box will say "live" or "perishable," but our postal guy, Eric, was so freaked out by the combination of "GardenWorms" and "perishable" on my box that he rang the doorbell to hand me the package personally and to verify that I wouldn't be eating what was inside.

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