The Extra, Unexpected Benefits of Worm Ranching

By , March 22, 2010

I’m sorely tempted to title this post “We’ve got worms!” but I won’t. We do have worms now, a whipped cream container full of red wigglers, paper shreds and compost.

When we went to town Saturday for Aly’s library class, Michelle and I visited an acquaintance who practices vermiculture, to learn a bit about it and to receive a handful of “starter” worms. Today we’ll set them up in a container that will make them happy, and collect/control their castings.

We had been debating the idea, since the preferred worms for the job aren’t our local earthworms. Apparently, in some areas, if these red wigglers escape, they can upset the environment. I didn’t want risk that, feeling that a little less casting output from earthworms would be better than introducing “alien” worms to the peninsula. Our friend, a biology teacher, allayed our fears; wigglers can’t survive our temperatures long enough to cause problems.

So, now we’re worm ranchers. We look forward to more and better compost for the plants.

I’d tried to bow out of the visit, but Michelle convinced me to come along and express my concerns. I’m glad I did. Michelle had met the woman at a community gardening meeting; I’d met her briefly a couple of years ago while acting as “bag man” for Michelle, handing off some wild iris starts to the woman at (you guessed it) the library. When we arrived at her home, we met her husband, who, like her, is a person of great warmth and humor. We also met their two cats, beautiful and shamelessly friendly.

When we left, they gave us a big bag of frozen seafood—halibut, shrimp, and crab! He loves to fish, but she won’t let him go out again until their freezer is empty, so they told us we’d be doing him a favor, and we let them convince us. We crab in the summer, but halibut and shrimp are a rare treat for us, especially at this time of year!

We had a dinner date with friends, but no solid dinner plan, so we called and said we’d bring halibut. We had enough to feed our two families and enough left to make my mother’s beloved halibut recipe, which unfortunately exceeded our host family’s health restrictions. We’ll be eating like royalty for the next few days.

Small town life is full of these kinds of pleasant surprises! We’ll be watching for an opportunity to do something good for these new friends, when they least suspect it.

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