Even in hard times, business is booming for the Worm Girl


Wormgirl400 It was standing room only for the Green Festival‘s vermicomposting demonstration
last month and I’m sure I wasn’t the only attendee to leave determined to get my very own little
crappers.  But where to find them?  Some quick Googling yielded mostly bad links but I finally
found a working website for a supplier in Missouri, ordered up 1,000 red wigglers, and began fretting about them freezing on my doorstep. Calls and emails about the
delivery date went unresponded to.  Hmm.  Finally I called
my credit card company to inquire about canceling the order and learned
that – aha! – my card was never charged.  Despite the email
order confirmation I’d immediately received after placing the order. 

At least after all that fuss I could stop worrying about frozen worms and buy locally from the Worm Girl, recently recommended to the DC Urban Gardener Yahoo group.  And isn’t she cute?  This sixth grader is super-enthusiastic
about worm composting, has worms AND bins, and lives just 3 miles from me.  How much cooler is buying from young Kathleen here
than from some outfit halfway across the continent, anyway?

Asked what got her started in the worm and compost-bin biz, Kathleen
credits a school science project (yay, science teachers!).  And she
tells me that since her name’s been circulated via Yahoo group, her
supply can’t keep up with the demand.  The wigglers eat and procreate
as fast as possible but still, it takes a lot to start a new bin this
size, ya know. 

Seems the market’s big enough for lots more young green entrepreneurs.  Know a kid who’d like to "help nature", to quote the Worm Girl’s compost bin label, and make money doing it?


  1. One word of warning on alien worms: Don’t release them into your garden. Hold the compost for a few weeks to make sure all the worm eggs have hatched and remove all the worms from the finished compost.

    In researching my book, I found that some places have too many worms chomping up the humus and some forested areas are suffering. Normally the native bacteria, fungi, and native worms take 3 – 5 years to decay a year’s worth of leaf litter. Large populations of non-native worms (mostly night crawlers) digest the layer of decaying forest floor litter too quickly–less than a season. This leaves areas of the forest floor essentially bare, which changes the ecological balance with this rapid digestion creating a rapid infusion of nutrients and makes the soil more vulnerable to erosion. Scientists are also trying to determine if this increase in nutrients changes in the concentration of mycorrhizae. Preliminary research indicates that when there are too many worms in an area, there are fewer the number of plant species, which may indicate fewer mycorrhizae.

    Here’s a link to an article by Anne Raver with more details: http://www.wormdigest.org/content/view/378/2/

    The oft-repeated opinion that you can never have too many worms and that worm populations are self-regulating pertains only to closed systems. My advice is that if you’re composting outside in an open bin or pile, use only worms that you’ve found on your property.

  2. Ginny, I bet you can clear up some confusion about these composting worms. I’ve been told more than once that if released in the garden, the cold will kill these red wigglers. So that’s wrong?

  3. This is really interesting. I’ll be keen to get to the bottom of whether worm composting is safe or not for our native worms. The results are sure awesome!

    This seems like a good day to read Amy’s worm book…

  4. When I install a woodland style garden I usually incorporate a log or two of wood to encourage the natural bacteria & fungi in the soil. A good candidate for a log is one that is procured locally and is already rotting and has some moss or lichens growing on it.

    Now because of the possibility of carpenter ants and other critters I don’t place logs in beds near houses or other wooden structures. But in an open site this is a good way encourage natural occuring bacteria & fungi.

  5. I have a friend who travels to grade schools teaching about recyling and other fun environmental stuff. When she takes the worm composting bin things always get interesting because kids just love to talk about poop, worm or whossevers and there is always one wiseguy in the class (the boy with older brothers) who always wants to know how worms reproduce.

  6. And to Susan T. I can understand the dh not wanting chickens and bees. Sounds like he could be involved in some of the work. But a worm bin? You can slip that in and he would never even know you had one, at least in my house there are places the dh never goes or cares to go.

  7. I agree with tibs (“…a worm bin? You can slip that in and he would never even know you had one”). Mine’s tucked under a bookcase in my kitchen about 18 inches from my feet right now. No one ever notices it, and those sweet little worms just silently go about their business. No sounds, no smells, no fuss. But damn they’re slow.

  8. There are good worms and bad worms like the ones that infect my computer. Computer worms are thief’s and I wish they would stop it. I’d buy some earth worms from the kid if I didn’t have any. But every time I dig into the dirt to weed or plant I’ve got worms. I even use glysophate.
    My 4 year old hen runs when she she see’s me digging.

  9. They won’t be killed here in Florida where we have mild winters. Many of the alien worms released into the wild farther north would have been fish food.

    It’s the unintended consequences of well-meaning actions that we need to worry about. I think it’s our collective responsibility to be careful with aliens of any kind.

  10. great idea and thanks for buying locally. I have to ad my support about not releasing these red warriors into the garden………..

    They make terrrible fish bait too as they are so very brittle

    The( glow little glow worm wiggle wiggle) TROLL

  11. I was impressed with the worm compost farm I visited while in Argentina back in ’04 where friends of mine had used this for their potatoes, strawberries and other rows of crops… Nature’s Best!

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