So I had this dream

Here I am, with the soon-to-be-forgotten worms and a fantastic class of Waldorf kids

Mrs. Homegrown here:

So last night I had this dream that I was sitting at a kitchen table with someone (don’t know who it was) and I noticed something that looked like a dried out worm coiled on the edge of one of the dishes. I pointed it out to this other person, and she reached out and crushed it with her fingertip. It crumbled to pieces on the tabletop. I laughed and said, “I sure hope that’s not one of my worms!” She laughed, too, and mischievously blew the crumbs in my direction.

And thus does one’s subconscious work. I woke with a start, remembering that, after showing off my worms to class of visiting school kids, I’d left the bin out on the back porch for a night, and day, and half of another night. Usually the worms live in the kitchen. I jumped out of bed and brought them back in.

The problem with worms is that they’re so darn quiet.

The worms are fine. They’re tough, and our weather is mild. But I was a little worried about them  because they are house-worms, acclimated to room temperature, and I’d left them out in the open, on concrete, and in a shallow bin.

See, worms can take care of themselves just fine if given the room and resources they need to cool themselves down, warm themselves up, and regulate their moisture. However, when they’re in a shallow little bin, they just don’t have much latitude for adjustment. It’s our responsibility as worm keepers to regulate their environment.

Luckily for us and our forgotten worms, even though it was unseasonably warm yesterday,  the sun is low on the horizon, so our back porch wasn’t baking in the western sun, like it does most of the year. Otherwise, the worms, being unable to hide deep in the soil, might have steam cooked in the bin during that long, forgotten day. 

Of course, worms can be kept outdoors in all but the most extreme temperatures, but their bins need to be sited correctly–kept in nice shady spots, protected from the rain, and elevated from cold-conducting cement surfaces. (Maybe some of you folks who live in snow country could chime in on what you do with your worms when it’s freezing out?)


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13 Comments

  1. Most (actually all) of the worm bins that I know of here in Michigan are kept indoors year ’round, usually in the basement. They seem to do very nicely that way. I think the worms quite like it as the basement usually stays pretty much the same temperature all of the time, and of course it is nice and dark.

  2. I just wanted to clarify that keeping worms indoors all the time is probably the easiest thing to do no matter what your climate is. No fuss, no worry.

    We’ve always had ours indoors. We will be trying them outdoors soon, because I want a really big bin. I have heard of people who keep their worms out most of the year, only moving them to the basement or garage in the winter.

  3. I had some worm bins for a couple of months and my worms kept wanting to escape. I just couldn’t keep them happy. They would escape from their bin and just dry out on the floor and die. It was really sad.

    One time though, one type of worms invaded worms in a nearby bin and took over. I don’t even know if this is possible, but I swear they made little hybrid worm babies. They were like worm vikings.

  4. My worms are in the garage. In October I meant to harvest some compost, clean the bin out, and move them to the basement. I forgot. I feel terrible. I peeked at them the other day and I don’t see any signs of life…we are hoping they may just be hibernating…but it’s cold…and I live in NH…I feel so bad…bad worm mommy…

  5. I totally want an indoor worm bin but my husband is afraid that it will attract mice and other rodents. We heard from our previous owner that there was mice in the basement. Any thoughts on this?

  6. Sara: I’m still laughing at “worm vikings.”

    Melissa: Oh no!!! Oh the guilt! But the worm gods are forgiving.

    Meems: We keep ours in a rubbermaid type bin with a lid. There’s no way mice are getting in there. Personally I don’t think rodents would be all that interested, anyway. I would try it and see.

  7. “House worms”…funny, like I have “house chickens.”They wish. Escaping worms are the only part that stops me from getting worms. Wouldn’t mice come for the things that the worms eat to turn into worm manure?

  8. I didn’t realize, when winter came, that I would need to constantly moisten the bin (in the summer the thing was always too wet) and I thought all of my worms had died, but I put in some scraps anyway and sure enough after a few days they were gone. Now I’m waiting for the few worms that survived to make more worms so they can handle more food. My compost bins are all full to the top and frozen solid.

  9. Really? Your worms escape? Creepy. Up here is Canada – super cold – we keep them in the garage which is heated, but below room temp. We need to keep it moist like a damp sponge with shreaded newpaper as the bedding. If they die we get red mites so I know something is off. One thing I learned was to keep them out of living areas because of mold spores. My eldest is allergic to mold so out to the garage it went.

  10. I am the teacher of those children in the picture above, surrounding Mrs. Homegrown. She says, “soon to be forgotten” worm box…I assure you that my children will long remember those healthy worms in wiggling in your hand–as well as all the other precious moments of our short visit. thank you thank you for sharing with us your “Urban Paradise.” Ms. Beatrice of Valley Waldorf School

  11. Last year I packed a TON of dry leaves into my large plastic worm bin.. and they survived a blizzard outside! I didn’t open the bin for the entire winter (I had another compost bin in the kitchen with spare worms just in case.) In April I opened up the outside worm bin, and the little wrigglies were coming back to life, happy as could be! Photos of last year’s Baltimore blizzard are posted here for the curious: http://www.baltimorediy.org/2010/02/blizzard-2010.html

  12. My worms are very happy in the spare bedroom. Given our brutal summers in Austin, they’ll stay there all year. There’s a lump of oatmeal in the bin right now. They seem to adore cooked oatmeal, forming a slithering mass around it. I find that they do make noise. Its a snap-crackle-pop sound as they feed and especially when they’re moving away from the light. I can’t say enough about how great their castings are for starting veggies. I’ve observed that scraps and seeds I throw in the bin begin to grow. I love my worms.

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