I never knew why God made worms. I suppose I thought they were for fishing. As a child my dad took my sisters and me fishing with worms for bait. On the night he announced a fishing expedition to commence the following morning, I was usually eager to participate. However, the next morning when he awakened me before the sun was up, I usually wanted to just snuggle back under the covers. There were specific musts on these trips – like Vienna sausages and crackers. We never ate them anywhere except on these trips. And we always had worms along for bait. Daddy raised his own because he thought it was outrageous to purchase worms he was going to feed to the fish. He created his own worm farm using an old boat to house them. I have no idea what he fed them or if he fed them at all. I just know he visited the boat (worm farm) before every fishing trip and came home with dinner.
So how did I make the shift from worm bait to vermicomposting? It was a single sentence spoken by my nephew, an organic farmer. After several seasons of sporadically successful gardening I asked for help. Jason (organic farming nephew) told me that if I would take care of the soil, the soil would take care of the plants. What a simple but profound statement. I was so focused on trying to keep my plants from being eaten by bugs or diseases or whatever else was attacking them, I’d never considered what they were planted in. Jason shared that insects and diseases attack weak plants and weak plants are the byproduct of soil that is low in nutrients.
Once I had my soil tested I went out and bought bags of these nutrients (like phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium) and there was definite improvement. But I wanted a more natural (and less expensive) way to give my plants what they needed to stay healthy and grow. After watching dozens of YouTube videos on starting a worm farm, maintaining a worm farm, and removing castings from the worm farm, I was ready to start my own. I ordered 150 red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) and they arrived by mail in a burlap sack. I had my shredded paper, cardboard, a little soil, and food scrapes ready in their new home (housed in a large plastic container in which I’d drilled holes in the lid as well as around the sides and bottom of the container). They multiplied quickly and provide the most beautiful, dark, nutrient-rich fertilizer you've ever seen.
While I hang out with worms for the purpose of fertilizing my garden, my fishing experiences with Daddy will always be associated with these wiggly creatures. And if he was here now, well, I'd give him all the worms he could use!