I’ve Got Worms

I’ve had worms for just over a year now. Okay, that doesn’t sound right. What I mean to say is that a year ago my sister gave me worms. Wait, that doesn’t sound right neither.

The worms I have are red wigglers and they live in my coat closet.

There. That sounds much better.

I think.

When we first moved from the country into our apartment, friends joked about how I was going to keep goats, chickens and bees on our balcony. I laughed, but there was a small part of me that tried to work out the logistics in my head.

Okay, obviously goats were out of the question…though Strata rules do allow for one small pet. But keeping a goat in an apartment would just be cruel. And not just for the goat. Chickens wouldn’t be any kinder. Or less messy.

But bees…a hive of bees could be very happy on a balcony. For several weeks plans buzzed about in my head. Plans that would have given the Strata Council a collective stroke had they known about them. I figured I could conceal at least one hive in the corner of our balcony and no one would even notice. You see rooftop hives in cities all the time. A hive on a rooftop, a hive on a balcony…tomato tomahto, right?

After harvest, I would show up at a council meeting bearing a basket filled with jars of honey as a thank you for the bees no one even knew were there. With a jar of fresh honey in hand and perhaps a few candles, my future as an apartment dwelling beekeeper would be ensured. Or so the fantasy went.

In the end I settled on a hive of worms in our coat closet, otherwise known as a worm factory. Far less likelihood of controversy or lawsuits.

I comforted myself with the fact there are a lot of similarities between a worm factory and a beehive.

Here are some of the hives I had when we were in the country.


And here is the worm compost “hive” aka Worm Factory that I have stowed in the closet.

See what I mean? Of course the harvest is used for different purposes and comes from opposite ends. Bees fill a little pouch inside with nectar and then cough up the golden, gooey product we know and love as honey. So yes, essentially honey is bee vomit. Sort of.

Worms, on the other hand, digest kitchen scraps and squeeze out a black, tarry, substance we know and love as worm compost. Which is just fancy speak for worm poop. No sort of. That is exactly what it is. Black poop.

Both are lovely products. Both are great for tea. Honey for sweetening and compost for growing a bumper crop of tea herbs. See? Same thing, only different.

As bees fill the frames in their hives you add on another super of frames as needed.

As worms fill each layer of their worm factory you add on another frame as needed.

Again, exactly the same, only different.

Both bees and worms are equally fascinating. I loved having the bees around as much for watching as for the honey they produced.

I feel the same fascination working with the worms.

Without a compost bin to take my table scraps out to, I appreciate being able to recycle table scraps into valuable soil for my houseplants and balcony garden rather than adding to the landfill. Watching the speed with which the worms consume a cantaloupe is amazing.  Last year I even got enough of a harvest to add a healthy scoop of their black gold to the transplanting holes at my Community Garden. A little goes a very long way.

You can buy a great looking worm factory from Veseys in PEI or on Amazon or you can take in a few YouTube videos and learn how to make your own out of plastic totes. The worms themselves can be a bit more difficult to source. I was lucky enough to get a small margarine tub of “starter worms” from my sister who has been keeping her own Worm Factory going for years. For a successful worm farm you want red wigglers that thrive in the top few inches of soil and have voracious appetites suitable for creating worm compost; not the earthworms that are native to the Peace.

Unlike bees that hibernate over winter, an indoor worm farm will keep you entertained all year round. Depending, of course, on your idea of entertainment.

Cute worm cartoon