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My Worm Composting Story To Date: The Somewhat Abbreviated Version

It All Began With a Simple Search Using Google and YouTube

When I started vermicomposting (composting using worms) I was uneducated on the topic and honestly completely clueless as to what I was doing.  I was researching indoor/outdoor gardening how-to’s when I came across some YouTube videos on worm composting as a supplement to organic gardening methods.  I was enthralled but left with lots of questions.  How had I never heard of this?  This sounds kind of gross.  What weirdos bring pounds and pounds of worms into their house?  How could this benefit me?  I ended up watching these videos for hours (I don’t even want to admit how many) and I figured if I wanted the healthiest plants, composting seemed like a good way to go.  Why start a garden and use chemical fertilizers to make the plants grow?  That can’t be healthy and quite honestly my health wasn’t the greatest.  I wanted to go organic, no excuses.

I purchased a commercial system, the Worm Factory 360 and 1,000 red wiggler composting worms the very same day.  Next thing you know, I had worms in a bin with some peat moss and watermelon.  I was squeamish to touch them but oddly enthralled.  I was poking in multiple times a day and I was so amazed at how these guys could smash through food quicker than a football player at a buffet.  I soon came to realize that I had way more scraps than my worms could handle.  It was summer, I was eating a diet very high in fruits and vegetables and I had a backlog of food piling up in my freezer that I just couldn’t justify throwing away anymore.

I went back down the rabbit-hole of YouTube and researched making a DIY worm bin using a Rubbermaid tote.  I swear it seemed like overnight, my small Worm Factory turned into an arsenal of systems.  Saying I was hooked would be an understatement.  I was diligent in my research although I was still convinced I was going to kill these worms and it would have all been for nothing.  I lacked confidence despite how well things were going.  That fateful day of quitting never came…

How My Goals Shifted to Even Bigger Things

October of 2017 I decided to start a YouTube channel of my own.  I was so obsessed with watching and learning from these “experienced pros” and I was running out of content. So I decided to make my own.  I had a huge learning curve, not only with YouTubing, but with my hobby that was just beginning to truly take off.  I ran into many roadblocks, made lots of mistakes, discovered that more than just worms live in compost and my eyes were opening to just how much I still had to learn.

To this day (over 2 years later) I still feel amateur.  I still feel like I am clueless at times.  I experiment on anything and everything I can think of.  Worms are cool and I like to share just how amazing these little workers can be.  To date I have only bought worms on 4 occasions.  When I started, when I expanded to European Night Crawlers, when I decided to add African Night Crawlers to the mix and when I realized my “red wiggler” purchase had actually been blue worms and I just had to get the “real deal” reds.  I think my total investment to date is roughly $400 but in retrospect, it could have been 100% free and a lot of that cost was for larger commercial systems that are totally unnecessary if they aren’t within your budget.  I don’t feel bad about that investment at all however because it was the most amazing investment I ever made.  That being said, I have also been able to help four local gardeners start their own worm bins by giving away worms when I can, so being able to reduce the startup cost for others is pretty cool payback as well.

The Amazing Community of Worm Nerds and Growing the Interest to Others

Even on vacation, I am always reading and researching new and cool worm stuff.

Since starting my YouTube Channel I have found a community unlike any other.  The people who do this “weird” hobby are some of the kindest, most generous and helpful people around.  I have never felt like any question I had is dumb.  I have always gotten amazing feedback from others, I have connected with people who make commercial systems, sell worms, write blogs and/or just do this for fun.  I have been humbled by the support I am getting and the kind words coming from even the biggest gurus in the worm world.  I am often told that my opinion gives a fresh face to a hobby that is somewhat obscure and misunderstood.  How cool is that?  Those comments, those people who thank me for helping them make it all the more rewarding.

All the fluffy fun aside, I can honestly say that many people don’t get it (I am working on them though).  I oftentimes hesitate to discuss my hobby for fear of judgment.  I am happy to report that no one to date has actually been critical in any way whatsoever.  When I get the courage to bring up my hobby in casual conversation I am always shocked at how receptive people are.  People are supportive and curious and that is more than I could ever hope for.

I was at an acupuncture appointment the other night and my acupuncturist is well abreast of my worm hobby but she has taken an apprentice under her wings.  My acupuncturist casually asked “how are the worms” and thus a long conversation ensued as her apprentice had never heard of vermicomposting.  I can proudly admit that I had diarrhea of the mouth.  I was spewing my excitement and knowledge about worms and super happy to answer all of her questions.  I felt a little silly because it sounded like I was talking about my pets (well they sort of are…) but the biggest reward for me was when we were leaving the office (I was the last appointment of the day) her apprentice said she totally wants to research worm composting further.  She was amazed when I said that I have fed as much as 16 pounds of food waste in a single week.

My biggest eaters: the African Night Crawlers.

I had a “worm nerd” moment, no shame.  This is the reason I keep doing what I do.  Even people who have not jumped on the bandwagon for whatever reason often contribute their waste to me or learn something from our interactions.  I have coworkers, family, friends and the local Starbucks to thank for that.  Even if I can’t sell the idea of worm bins to everyone I meet, for each person that I impact I have a strong sense of accomplishment.  My garden thanks me (although I still fail more than succeed with gardening) by giving me healthy plants.  I have pride in reducing my carbon footprint and turning “trash into treasure” and I have built some amazing friendships with people across the world (quite literally) that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for worms.

Start a worm bin and see how much your life changes, perspectives change and your appreciation for our planet flourishes.

8 thoughts on “My Worm Composting Story To Date: The Somewhat Abbreviated Version

  1. Emily,
    I started with fishing worms in a can as a kid. I collected them from the yard at night or after thunderstorms. I didn’t worry about keeping them for long as fishing was in the near future. “Composting” didn’t exist. But “Take this stuff and throw it out somewhere in the garden-,it’ll bring earth worms in,” did! Years later, I decided to garden in a very unique way, growing food in homemade bales of grass clippings. My success at that prompted me towards research that steered me towards Vermicompost.
    YOU, and others like you got under my skin and peaked my interest enough to take the plunge. Now, my small worm bin hobby is part of my daily existence.
    Truly, I thank you for sharing with me… May God Bless. <

    1. God bless Wayne! Happy to have found this awesome community. I love hearing everyone’s back story. It all starts a little different but ends in the same way– all out worm madness!

  2. I loved reading your experiences with composting worms. I got interested about ten years ago and bought some worms but fed them to death. Bought more but they turned out to be blue worms and they abandon their bin one night in a storm. Tried a third time but fed them to death again. Now I am super cautious about over feeding and with the groups on Facebook, I am learning lots. My garden is beyond my wildest dreams this year due to the worm compost. It’s amazing stuff. I enjoy your videos and especially your experiments. Best wishes and thanks for all you do to help everybody learn more about worm craft.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am obsessed if you haven’t figured that out already.

  3. Wow, I am at my beginning experience with worms. I just can’t get enough information! I’ve purchased worms now on 3 occasions, now going on 4. All your videos on YouTube have been a tool I use for all issues I’ve come across thus far! I can’t thank you enough…finally someone who gets my new adventure!!!

    1. It definitely becomes an obsession for many of us. It’s so much fun, PLUS good for the garden and environment. Win win win!!

  4. Your are a wonderfull worm girl who i have already seen. Big fan of your youtube channal. A lot of experiment just help me ( a newbie about ANC ) Thank you !!! Glad ur heathy and happy .

  5. HI Emily,
    I stumbled upon your site because of reason #5 on your blog. I started veri-composting last year so the wife and I would have worms to fish with. Well now it has become another hobby of mine. I enjoy feeding and taking care of them I like to see the progress they make on the food that I process for them. I put everything in a food processor because I think it makes it easier for them to eat the food. I’m splitting my one worm bin into two this weekend and will be sorting out the cocoons as best I can when I do this.
    Keep on enjoying your new found passion!

    Best, Paul

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