Squirm Wrangling 101


Jen UbelakerIt started innocently enough with a text that read “Would you like some worms for your compost?” I replied yes and instantly thought of one of those Styrofoam cups full of nightcrawlers that you get when you go fishing. I could dump them in my compost bin and have a great addition to our pile. When I went to see my friend, she tells her husband: “Help her carry it out to the car, please?” It was only then that I realized a teeny cup of worms was not in my future. I was gifted a ginormous worm pagoda/condo thing that was already teeming with worms and compost. What a fantastic gift!

worm bin

Worms are amazingly tolerant houseguests. Since we live in a climate where sub-freezing temps are possible, we put the worm bin in our basement pantry. It stays a pretty regular temperature down there, and I don't have to worry about freezing or over-heating. You don't need to have a fancy set-up to house worms. The worm factories run around $100 online, and have a really neat set-up, but honestly, worms aren't house proud. You can raise a small squirm (bed, bunch, clew, clat and squirm are all names for a group of worms. I like squirm best.) in a modest plastic flat or bucket that you can often get for less than $10. Really, all you need to keep in mind is to get a container that will adequately hold the amount of scraps you have to give them, and that worms live shallow. They only need about 6 inches of depth to be happy. A plastic bucket under your kitchen sink will do them just fine.


Some common types of worms found in vermicomposting are Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida) and Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis). These are the beauties that are currently eating my scraps. The Wigglers are a small worm, only about 2 inches long, that like cool, moist places. The cool thing about these guys/gals (worms are hemaphroditic too!) is that they can eat up to half their body weight in food each day. They chow down.

The Nighcrawlers like warmer weather, and don't tolerate handling as well. They take a deeper worm bed, and they tend to not like vibrations or cold weather. I have a feeling these were included in my gift because the previous owner used them for fishing. I placed the worm bin in a place that doesn't get a lot of traffic out of respect for their needs.

12/27/2014 3:13:46 PM

Jen, nice, I like it. When I first started gardening Terra Nova Gardens, I couldn't find a single worm in the soil. It was a very black rich soil but a little wet and sticky. After about 1500 bags of yard mulch over the course of two years, the worms have invaded the garden big time. They were just naturally attracted to the deep mulch that composted into the soil. It was a nice side effect from the mulching. ***** Have a great worm raising day.

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