Worm rescue day

It was warm enough today to work outside on the deck, so I finally tackled the last of the summer clean-up chores and planted 75 tulips, 75 daffodils, and 50 crocus’ in the planter boxes.

The next chore was to deal with the two worm bins, which I’ve been putting off for, oh, months. I was gung ho when I first got them, and loved the idea of generating my very own worm castings as fertilizer. However, the thought of extracting worms from castings was somewhat less…appealing.

I’d read somewhere that you’re supposed to add clean bedding (in this case, ripped-up and dampened newspaper) in one corner of the bin, and all the worms will go for that, at which point it’s just a matter of removing the bundled worms all in one lump and leaving the castings free and clear to spread on the plants. Well, I did that. The bedding part, that is. Then I never quite got around to the rest of the job. So the bins sat in the middle of the deck, neglected, until the newspaper had been transformed into castings and it was back to square one. I figured (hoped?) the cold weather had killed them all off and settled the problem for me anyway.
Imagine my surprise when I turned one of the bins upside down in a planter today, and saw plenty of red worms wriggling, quite alive. Aren’t they supposed to die when it gets cold? Aren’t these tropical worms of some type?

“Well”, I pondered. “There’s just not enough of them to worry about.” I paused for a moment. That’s wasn’t quite right — there were plenty. “C’mon. Those little buggers are expensive”, I scolded myself, “you might as well salvage what’s left”. I stared at the heap of dirt in front of me and thought, nah.

After fighting with myself for a few moments, my practical side won and with a big sigh, I went to the garbage and retrieved the bag full of shredded paper that I’d brought home from the office. My original intention was to use it as bedding for the worms, but it too sat in the back shed for several weeks before I decided to throw it out last night. So, I dropped the shredded paper into one of the now empty bins, and turned the hose on it to dampen it down (we wouldn’t want the worms to get paper cuts, now would we?). Then I dragged the whole bin up beside the planter, grabbed a chair, and put myself to work fishing out worms.

After a while, it wasn’t so bad. I picked them out one at a time with a trowel and a small fork, and occasionally I’d come across a big clump of them, which seemed almost exciting. I made up little songs in my head to pass the time.

“Looks like we made it!” I sang to myself. The melody got stuck in my head.

“Every worm is precious”. Not a song, but it popped into my thoughts and became a silly little mantra as I transported squirming little red things with my fork.
An hour later (!), I was finally satisfied that the vast majority of the worms were back in the bin (together with about 25% of the worm castings I had been trying to remove from it in the first place). I put the bin in a nice warm spot indoors and promised not to neglect them again.

I sure hope no one asks me about my weekend when I go back to work on Monday.