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7 Things That “Prove” You Have Worm Fever

 

The Crazy Worm Lady and Family

Okay a little light-hearted post today… I was having a conversation with my family tonight over dinner (sorry Mom!) about my worms.  My Dad admitted that he totally doesn’t “get it”, but in his defense, he saves newspapers, corn cobs and various other scraps for me.  I had made dinner tonight for my mom as it is her birthday and I said, “you’ll never guess the secret ingredient”… I was met with “NO NO DON’T TELL ME” and my father chimed in, “worms, worms are the secret”.  That’s how I know I have it bad.  I have invaded my families thoughts with worms and they don’t even vermicompost.

For the record, the secret ingredient was Dr. Pepper.  No worms were harmed in the writing of this post.  As I get more and more engrossed in my worm adventures, I am more aware of some of the oddities that have invaded my everyday.  I no longer chat about the weather or recent political events (although they are abundant these days).  I find a way to weave my worms into almost ANY conversation I have.  I enjoy the hobby, maybe a little too much, but is there really such a thing?

I thought I would share with you the top 7 reasons that prove you have worm fever BIG TIME.

1. You Are Always Thinking Bigger and Planning the Next Worm or Bin

Now, just for some cocktails and worms…

Okay, so I remember vividly about a month after I started my Worm Factory… I was already hooked and I couldn’t wait for the bin to take off.  I had a stockpile of food that could feed a family of four through an apocalypse.  I was so eager for my little babies to increase in numbers and start eating more.  I couldn’t bear it.  I was already dreaming big, of running a huge worm empire and raising thousands and thousands of worms in a warehouse for distribution.  I was dreaming of quitting my job to drink cocktails and play with worms all day.  You think I am playing, you are sorely mistaken.  I had it THAT bad, I still do.

I decided to start a Rubbermaid tote and found some local worms to get started with.  Another two thousand worms added to my thousand (and growing) population.  I was insatiable.  It was only about six months in that I decided to order some European Night Crawlers in addition to my red wiggler/blue worm mix.  The rest is history…

2. You Dream About Your Worms– No Really

Okay, so in the early days I didn’t dream about the worms so much, but the potential bugs.  I was a little bit squeamish and completely paranoid, but regardless I was dreaming about my worms from day one.  A few weeks into my worming adventures, I made the huge mistake of adding frozen food to my bin (without thawing first) and we ran out shortly after this for some errands.  It hit me like a freight train about 30 minutes after we left that perhaps I was stressing my worms out.

In a sheer panic I begged my boyfriend to turn around and take me home.  He was humoring me only mildly at this point and insisted we finish what we needed to do first.  I needed a paper bag to get through that trip as I was hyperventilating just thinking of the carnage I may discover when I got home.  I could feel the mass exodus in my veins.  When we pulled into the driveway I hopped out of the car and quite possibly ran faster than I ever have in my life to the door.  I fumbled with the stupid lock and opened the door and ran to my Worm Factory.  I lifted the lid and sure as shit (pun not intended) my worms were all gathered around the rim of the feeding tray about to make their great escape.

Since that awful night, I have frequently dreamed about my worms in various different scenarios… not limited to them climbing through my bed, dying off, and attracting roaches into my house.  It’s traumatic at times but super fun other times.  The thing I have learned is that the more my waking brain thinks of worms my sleeping brain thinks about them about a hundred times over.  How far into the lunacy are you?

3. You Play With Your Worms More Than You Focus on House Chores

My African Night Crawlers

Hear me out before you start judging away… I work weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and I have off Monday-Thursday.  That’s a decent amount of time at home.  Plenty of time to take care of household chores, right?  WRONG.  If you have worm fever, choosing between worms and dishes is a no-brainer.  Worms or grocery shopping, no competition.  Thursdays are my normal “filming days” for my YouTube channel.  Guess what?  A good six hours are spent doing my weekly updates.  As amateur as my channel is, I spend so much time messing around with the worms, turning the bins, preparing the food, responding to messages and brainstorming new ideas.  I easily waste a full day a week devoting my time and attention to the worms, blogs and forums.  It’s a passion and I find satisfaction in being able to provide education, fun and valuable resources to new worm farmers.  My boyfriend can attest to the fact that worms always trump anything else that needs to be done!

We have had more than one disagreement regarding the amount of time I spend with the worms in comparison to “us” time.  Oops! I love the worms and unfortunately they can’t curl up with me at night so I have to give them my waking time.  In all honesty though, Thursday’s might as well be called Thrilling, Therapeutic Worm Day!  I have been known to spend sun up to sun down on my worms on Thursdays and as funny as it may seem, I love every minute of it.  I have been known to meal prep for my weekend of work at 3am because I just couldn’t step away from my worm bins.

4. You Start Searching Out Like-Minded People Who Won’t be Grossed Out by “Worm Conversation”

So this might not be true for everyone, but in my case, I never stop searching for new forums, Facebook groups, local events and people that I may be able to talk about my worms with.  If you are reading this, my guess is that you too enjoy the “worm community”.  Finding the Facebook and YouTube worm “world” was a game-changer for me.  I have met so many amazing people that totally “get me”, they are just as excited as I am to talk about worms 24/7.  I have made friends near and far.  I have had lunch with local worm nerds (I say that with love), given worms away to local friends and even mailed worms across the country to help people get started in their worm journey. The beauty of social media is that you can get hooked up with people around the world, perhaps never meet in person but still have lots of engaging conversations with.  How cool is that?

I have made some amazing friends.  I got hooked up with my mentor in all things “worm biz”, Larry The Blue Worm Bin from Canada, a fellow female worm nut in Utah, Tori Anarchy Worm Bin YouTube, Lilia from California Lilia Kogan YouTube and one of the founding members of our Facebook group Experimental Worm Fun, Wayne.  The list goes on and on.  My YouTube channel really picked up after being shouted out on a YouTube channel London Worms & Garden and another channel out of Pennsylvania My Hillside Garden.  It has just grown from there.  I have collaborated with the developers of the Urban Worm Bag (Steve Churchill who has also shouted me out, thanks Steve!) Shop Urban Worm Bags Here and the VermiBag (Tom Perkins) View Products Here.  I have teamed up with a commercial worm farm courtesy of Tom in Texas and I continue to meet new people everyday.  I chat with fellow worm nerds, experiment with all things controversial with worms and do my best to add value to the community.

5. Enjoying Worm Videos and Worm Books More Than Netflix

When I started worm composting, I utilized YouTube as my primary educational resource.  I quickly discovered that there were very few worm channels that were active and still putting out fresh content.  I will admit right now, I watched hundreds of hours of worm videos.  I continually searched and watched just about every resource I could find.  Channels like London Worms and Gardens, World CompostingMumbai Balcony Gardener and Down to the Roots were some of my early favorites.

I quickly ran out of material and was frustrated that I couldn’t find answers to all of my questions in the videos available.  That led me to creating my own worm YouTube The Crazy Worm Lady in October of 2017.  Do I have all of the answers?  Absolutely not.  What I think I have to offer is an honest and experimental way of running my worm bins that allows my watchers to learn with me.  Many of my viewers have years and years more experience than I do, but that makes it even more fun.  I can learn from them and they may just learn a thing or two from me.  I attribute my success (in not killing my worms) to all of the wonderful videos I watched in those early days.  I hope my channel can do the same for others.

I continue to watch worm videos daily.  I go through what I like to call “worm porn withdrawal” if I can’t find a new video to watch each day.  That’s how I know I have it bad.  I beg my fellow worm friends to get their videos up STAT (nurse lingo for you).  It seems extreme, but gosh there is nothing more satisfying than watching a video with  “worm balls”, cocoons and gorgeous castings.  Forget reading the newspaper or watching Netflix, give me some worm videos, good books, like Worm Farming Revolution and I am set for life!

6. You Eat According to What Your Worms Like, Not What You Like

I swear to you, this isn’t even a slight exaggeration.  When I discovered how much my worms loved watermelon I started buying it weekly at the grocery store and even growing it in my own garden… more for them than me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love some watermelon, but my diet doesn’t typically allow for lots of fruit.  I resorted to cutting up watermelon and taking it to work to share so that I would have tons of rinds to give to my babies.  Similarly, I find myself eating a lot more green leafy veggies and making my own soup stock… simply because I know my worms will love the remnants.  My health probably benefits as well… we can all use more produce in our diets, right?

I heard that worms love pumpkin and last year, my boyfriend threw out our Jack-o-Lanterns before I snatched them up.  I was legitimately depressed that I missed out on that opportunity.  No worries– we have a local ALDI grocery store (if you have one locally and have never been, do yourself a favor and check it out, prices are insanely low) and I found canned pumpkin for $0.66.  I snatched up 10+ cans.  I mean, the worms deserve dessert too, right?  Forget saving my own waste, I want my worms to be spoiled!  I accept judgment!  I have absolutely bought foods just for my worms (sort of defeats the purpose, but hey I can’t help myself). Do you do anything similar?

7. You Have a Stockpile of Food for the Worms and Your Freezer Has More Worm Food Than People Food

This is funny because starting day one, I had this obsession with not throwing out food waste.  Previously to starting, I honestly didn’t compost much at all.  After reading, watching videos and talking to other vermicomposters, all of a sudden I couldn’t handle the thought of putting another ounce of food in my garbage can.  Before my worms arrived, I had already stockpiled roughly 8 freezer bags of food.  My worms eat much more these days, but I still never pass up the opportunity to collect scraps from friends, grab produce waste out of the trash at work or collect coffee from Starbucks when I go through the drive-thru near my house.

My freezer goes through phases depending on how much I feed my worms, but I always have at least 5 bags on reserve.  I know I have it bad because I have been stalking the Facebook Marketplace for used deep freezers so that I can have even more space to keep all of my scraps.  Forget using it to store our fish, deer, pheasant meat (hunting family) or bulk buys from Costco… worms win out every time.

Peas I grew in my indoor garden last year.

Silly little post for today however everything I mentioned is 100% true in my personal experience.  Of course we all know I am a special breed of worm nut, but I don’t even care!  Way too much fun, relaxing and absolutely the most environmentally friendly thing I have ever done in my life.  Did I miss any of the worm fever traits?  My guest bedroom is no longer usable due to worms…

I could go on and on.

 

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Another Way To Look at Trash and Waste: Vermicompost That Crap!

Have you ever looked at the United States food waste statistics?  It’s sickening.

When reviewing the *USDA statistics, you will find that 30-40% of our food supply ends up as garbage.  Without widespread recycling or composting programs, a lot of that food ends up in our landfills.  This is a problem that all of us should care about.  I am happy that more and more people are becoming aware of this problem and playing their part in trying to combat it.

The average American wastes over 600 pounds of food per year.  Before you say, “no, not me!” consider all the food you leave on your plate at a restaurant, the amount of chips and salsa, bread, or crackers you leave on the table at restaurant establishments.  Think about that produce that rots on your counter, the leftover food that doesn’t get eaten or that whole bag of spinach that somehow gets lost behind the condiments in the refrigerator.

I have found since starting vermcomposting that my home itself (a household of 2) easily generates 2 pounds of scraps a week and that isn’t even including waste we generate when we eat out OR the the non-compostable items (at least indoors) such as meat or dairy.

It has been eye-opening.  I realize how JUST a small home composting system can in fact make a huge impact.  I am collecting food waste from three friends in addition to my own waste at a rate of 4-8 pounds per week.  That’s up to 416 pounds of waste a year that I am personally keeping out of the landfill.

Did you know that the United States ships a lot of our garbage waste overseas because of the limited space our landfills have left?  This is completely unacceptable.

Let’s look at this from another perspective.  Have you ever been to a Farmer’s Market?  A ballgame?  A buffet?  What do you think happens to all that uneaten or unpurchased food?  It spoils and in many cases is thrown away.

Walking out of a baseball game earlier this week, my friends and I were commenting on how all of the homeless people begging for money outside of the ballpark could benefit greatly from some of the food that will be thrown out after the game.  We can naively think that all of these establishments donate to food kitchens, but lets be real… most of that food will hit a dumpster tonight and those homeless individuals will go to their park benches or tents hungry.

Another conversation I had not that long ago was with a friend who works in a grocery store.  I inquired as to whether or not I could take some produce that was past its prime off of their hands to compost.  Do you know what he said?  Policy doesn’t permit it.  Liability issues demand that they throw it all away.

How can we fix any of this?  I wish I had the power to sway company policies all on my own but I know that isn’t realistic.  So, to all the companies who donate to food kitchens or have waste programs: I commend you!  To those that don’t… I encourage as many people as possible to write to their local grocers and encourage them to reconsider their policies.

After learning all of these things, I have found a side of myself that I didn’t realize I had.  I never considered myself a tree-hugger or environmentalist but I assure you I am reformed in my mindset and priorities.  I no longer have any guilt about produce that turns… I know that it is going to good use.  I now have organically grown vegetables indoors AND out.  I am helping to reduce my carbon footprint.  I am helping HEAL the environment by rebuilding the soil structure on my modest property.  Composting is the coolest thing that I have ever started.  Hands down.

Did you know that a portion of carbon emissions are actually produced by the process of treating our garbage waste?  How?  Well, it takes trucks to haul, it takes water to process, it takes space to store.  Methane gasses are released in this process further harming the environment.

Consider this… if each one of us could get five people to start composting, even a pound a week, that would be 1,825 pounds of waste WE personally helped to save from hitting the garbage.  If I can convince five of you to do that, over 9,000 pounds of waste will stay out of the landfill.  Consider that when you think that small composting projects don’t make an impact.

What’s the benefit of vermicomposting in this equation?

Vermicomposting speeds up the composting process exponentially.  Let’s be honest, how many of us keep up with the lawn-waste compost pile?  To work ideally, you have to keep a very calculated carbon: nitrogen (bedding to food) ratio in order for it to work the way we hope.  The beauty of indoor (or outdoor) vermicomposting is that the worms help the process work much faster.  I create several gallons of compost each month with ease and NO downtime during the winter months.  No measuring my carbon:nitrogen ratios, just listening to my worms based on the health of their bins and it’s pretty darn easy at that.

If I fed my 10 gallon bins aggressively, I could easily handle a pound of food per week.  Due to the multitude of systems that I run, I tend to run fairly conservative on how much I feed, but I know my systems could handle more in most cases.

I challenge each of you to run even a single 10 gallon tote and see how much waste you can keep from hitting the garbage.  I bet once you get started you will be just as addicted as me and be searching out additional food sources to compost before long!  Let’s be a part of the solution.  Let’s lead the revolution… let’s be the change that our environment needs so much!  I hope that my children one day will be able to enjoy a healthy planet, so I will continue to do my part as long as possible!

Some small changes make a huge impact:

1. Save all of your scraps and compost them in whatever method you have available.  Worm composting (vermicomposting), the outdoor compost pile, bokashi, etc.

2. Drink tap water- use a Brita filter or something similar, but avoid buying plastic water bottles on a regular basis.

3. Recycle whatever items possible.  Be it newspapers, plastic bottles, metal cans, or food… do what you can!  No amount is too small.  Reuse glass containers.  Be creative!

4. Buy worms!  My worms are the greatest investment I ever made.  Better yet, find someone local who will sell you sone worms or even give you some to start out… this eliminates the need to utilize the mail system.

5. Bypass the straws, plastic silverware, paper plates and styrofoam. Try buying bamboo silverware to take to work instead of the plastics, use reusable metal or glass tumblers.  Use your own plates, glasses and reusable straws.

6. Grow your own food.  Part of the methane and greenhouse gas emissions are created by the trucks, planes, trains, boats, etc. that transport our food.  Have some space on the side of the house?  A balcony that gets sun?  Try your hand at gardening and bypass the middle-man and know where your food is coming from!

With just a few small changes and creative ways to utilize your waste, you too can be a part of reducing the stress on the environment while repairing the soil and creating the best organic fertilizer on the planet!

 

*Statistics from the USDA that are discussed in this post can be found at: https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm