[from Mare’s Dec 2012 Newsletter]
In my inaugural e-newsletter last month, it seemed that many were impressed or at least intrigued with my Worm Herder title.
Well, to share more, this past weekend I donned my Worm Herding Stetson and gently herded my worms upstairs to the kitchen pantry closet for warmer climes for the winter. Don’t worry. I did not force them to crawl across the basement floor and up the stairs from their cooler summer spot down there. Nor did I use a teeny tiny lasso. They were carried in the composting system trays. Closer to the wood stove in the far corner of the kitchen, they will be more active all winter digesting all the lovely compost and shredded paper that I plan to give them.
I love my worms. They remind me to cherish the cycles of life as they digest what is waste to me but food for them—to turn it all into beautiful fertilizer and compost. I think about the brilliance of Earth Mother and the diligent, consistent efforts of the worms in my beloved worm composting system.
I think everyone should have a household worm composting system inside. This approach to composting is a far more intimate way to interact with the worms since much of the time they are squirming on the top eating the most recent additions on their cafeteria menu. Worms in outdoor compost piles generally munch beneath the surface to evade predators. In the winter they burrow down at the very bottom to avoid the frozen soil temperatures above. They are far more elusive and harder to appreciate outside
These Red Wiggler composting worms are just as important a species on the Earth as we are, in my view. They may not have opposable thumbs and the capacity to create nuclear bombs. Instead they contentedly digest organic matter all over the globe to enrich and aerate soil. Worm castings, which are the little mounds of balled up soil outside worm holes, are quite microbially active and high in plant growth hormones along with exchangeable calcium, potassium and available phosphorus. Adding earthworm castings to plants has been shown to double the yield of the plants while controlling insects.
But I don’t want to get too far afield, or ‘adirt’, with my waxing poetic about worms. What worms offer me inside this cosy house during the winter is a connection to the innate wisdom of Earth Mother. All of the food that I’ll be eating this winter will come packaged from a store. Or perhaps a farm where the animals are raised—I’m fortunate to have a nearby farm with a store onsite that is open on weekends and has the most delicious fresh eggs, ground beef, apples, etc., most of which are grown right there.
But outside of that farm, I’ll be rather disconnected. I need my worms to help me remember and keep me humble. They are as much a part of the web of life as I am, and more positive in many respects. They are not burning fossil fuels, nor supporting the production of plastics or persistent human-made chemicals.
I aspire to the simple wisdom of these worms. And their work ethic. May they be a good teacher for me in the coming months.