Ten minutes later I was sheepishly explaining to him that I was afraid to open my box. It had never even crossed my mind that I might be squeamish about this, but there I was, warily circling the package and completely unable to bring myself to touch it. I suppose it's somewhat understandable. It did, in fact, contain 1,000...wiggling...worms.
I've had an urge to try my hand at vermicomposting for a few years now. It started out as a concept when I lived on 2.5 acres with my family, and is a reality now that I have an adorable little apartment balcony in the city.
Vermicomposting is pretty simple and can be modified to work anywhere. Your kitchen, your balcony, a corner of the garden. It's basically composting with worms. Because the Red Wiggler can consume it's own weight each day, it's much faster than regular composting. The castings left behind create a highly productive fertilizer, which has been referred to as the "richest compost ever known." Compared to average topsoil, worm castings have five times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium. The pH is also a perfect balance of 7.
I did finally open the box. After my husband informed me that they were merely tiny princes a long way from home with a mind to get some fresh air, I felt much calmer about the whole affair and dumped them into their new home. "Home" consisted of a small Rubbermaid tub with ventilation, bedding, and food scraps I'd buried in there the previous week.
Though I researched like crazy before I even ordered my little colony of worms, I've discovered that the application of my hastily gotten wisdom is a teeny bit more complicated in real life.
For one thing, I could hardly contain my curiosity about everything that was happening in there, so I ended up mixing the system more than I should have. At least, it looks messier than I would like. I may also have over fed them a bit, because my bin has a slight odor and it's a bit too damp in there. Theoretically your bin will be odorless if maintained properly.
As long as I let them be for awhile, without disturbing or feeding them, hopefully everything will be fine. To remind myself not to peek when I have the urge, I've made a sign to hang over the worm bin.
Eventually if I get the system going pretty well, I might try to turn this into a mini business. The finished product is sometimes referred to as "Black Gold" and can be sold at farmer's markets and garden nurseries around the area. This first run is just my little experiment. They're more like pets than resources at this point. It might just turn out to be a crazy idea, but I'm going to have alot of fun in the meantime.
Manual of On-Farm Vermicomposting and Vermiculture By Glenn Munroe