~ Did you know?

~ Keep worms inside your own home! Yes, really!

buy book Imagine a magic box into which you can place your garbage, where it won't smell bad and where you can keep adding to it for months or years without it filling up. That's a worm bin. No, the worms won't escape. No, they don't need dirt, just shredded newspaper; redworms are a kind of worm that naturally lives in organic material.

You can get step-by-step instructions in building your own worm bin in the informative and fun book Worms Eat My Garbage. It will tell you how to build your own worm bin and where to find worms, if you want to do it all yourself and save money. Or, you can order both a durable plastic worm bin and a box of worms online. Mine have lasted nine years (both the bin and the worm population.)

~ Where to buy worms and bins:

Check the Open Directory categories below for more information and for suppliers.
  1. Science: Agriculture: Animals: Invertebrates: Worm Farming
  2. Science: Biology: Flora and Fauna: Animalia: Annelida: Oligochaeta
  3. For kids, the Worm Acres Composting Kit looks like a good starter kit.

~ My own observations:

  1. Why do earthworms crawl onto the sidewalk when it rains? Most people think it's to keep from drowning. There are two problems with this theory: (1) Worms don't have lungs for the water to get into; they breathe through their skins, and can absorb oxygen from fresh water just as easily as from fresh air. (2a) Worms were around for millions of years before sidewalks were invented, and somehow managed to get by. (2b) What do worms do in open space and in rural areas that have no sidewalks? Pile up onto the nearest rock whenever it rains? My theory is that they cross sidewalks and roads when they're wet because that's the only time they can. They can't tunnel underneath because the dirt is compacted and doused with oil for half a meter underneath; below that, no oxygen gets through. In terms of passing on its genes, a worm that has had hundreds of children already has a real advantage in risking a crossing. If it dies trying to find a new world to colonize on the other side, its children will live on. If it happens to reach some organically rich dirt where no worm has gone before, then a few years later it will have thousands of descendants. It helps that each worm can produce both sperm and eggs. If it doesn't find a partner and isn't already carrying eggs, it can always fertilize itself.
  2. How to get rid of gnats in a worm bin: The author of Worms Eat My Garbage (see above) is right. Fruit flies, or in my case their cousins fungus gnats, are the most annoying thing about worm bins. Not odors or mess or any other problems people expect when they haven't tried it. I found that the simplest thing that helps control them is soap. Soaping any airhole opening on the inside of the lid that they might crawl through seems to help, and the easiest way to get rid of them when that fails is to pick up mating pairs by touching them with soapy fingers. But the only thing that eradicated them entirely, in my experience, was mixing gnat-specific Bt into the bedding. The brand name is Gnatrol, and you can order it online from GHA Organics if you ever experience the problem.

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