Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Wormy Reflection on 2010

As we say good bye to 2010 I can’t help but reflect on our first year in business. We met a lot of new people that were very very cool. There were some rather unusual folks, like the lady that suggested that mucus from worms was good for the skin… um… ya… interesting. But with very few exceptions the people we met were either gardeners after the ‘Black Gold’ or people looking to live greener. There were lots of parents with their kids starting the next generation on composting and we got to see lots of kids in class rooms totally excited about having worms at school. We loved working with the Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento Utilities, Cal EPA and the many green teams out there looking to make a difference in their work place, home and school.

Worm Fancy has been working with Sacramento Utilities doing vermicomposting education at their FREE composting seminars and one of the facts we learned was that about 45% of residential waste is food waste. I was interested in knowing was how many pounds of food waste we (our Worm Fancy clients) helped to divert from the landfill in 2010. Now I know that not all of our worms survived but if I assume that the number of worms that multiplied replaced the number of worms that were sacrificed I could come up with a ball park figure. So, not including the herd that lives in my garage and eats about four 5-gallon buckets of food a week, I estimated that our new Worm Fancy worm parents diverted close to 15,000 pounds of food from the landfill. I think we have made a decent start.
I would like to share with you a few of the most common mistakes that I have seen new vermicomposters make so perhaps anyone that reads this will have a head start and miss some of the pit falls.

Most Common Vermicomposting Mistakes:
  • By far the biggest error that new worm mommies and daddies make is over feeding. It is difficult to underfeed your bin but SO easy to over feed, particularly when you are first getting your bin started. Rule of thumb is that if the food you fed hasn’t been mostly consumed (covered with worms or castings) then hold off on more food. There are many factors that affect the productivity of your bin, temperature and moisture being big ones, so don’t just assume your bin will process a set volume of food. Your worm population will grow to meet the demand but until then be mindful of the volume of food you feed.
  • Not enough drainage is the number two thing that we have seen. If you are using a manufactured bin they generally have plenty of drainage… this challenge is more for the Do-It-Yourself bin made out of Rubbermaid type of containers. These containers are great, we use them very successfully, but the design is important. Not enough holes in the bottom is the most common mistake. These rubber bins hold a lot of moisture so if you don’t have enough drainage you will have a swamp in your bin. If you need a copy of our DIY bin instructions please email us at and we will be happy to get you started on the right foot.
  • Finally the ultimate misconception…. do NOT fill your bin with dirt. When people order worms I like to ask what kind of bin they are using. This has saved countless worms from their being sent to their doom. If someone mentions dirt I know it is time for an intervention. Composting worms are not soil worms. I understand people have seen worm bins that are mature and it looks like they are full of dirt… but what they are seeing are lots of castings which look and smell like soil so the confusion is understandable. People have asked if they can add worms to their compost pile... This is fine if it is a ‘cold’ pile, but DO NOT add them to a tumbling composter or stackable composter. It will get too hot and the worms that don’t escape will die.

From all of here at Worm Fancy we wish you a happy and prosperous 2011... And keep on composting!
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Brenda says...

Worm Fancy is the greatest place to get your worms in the Sacramento area. They have the best customer service!

Doug and Tammy, Yuba City

Tammy and I would just like to thank you for your professionalism and patience in answering all our questions about vermiculture. We are very interested in the difference it will make in our garden this year. Even our son will be using the new Worm Factory 360 in his science fair project that compares plants with and without worm castings. We're already noticing the better health with it. Our time with you was pleasant and we will be sure to return! Thank you again and we'll keep you posted. composted. :D

Scott R. from Sacramento

I picked my worms today and it sure looks like a lot more than 2 pounds worth. I ordered a pound from another vendor and you gave me 5 times more than they did.