The Worm Factory 360 and The Earth Moved (With Video!)

When I first bought my own home years ago, there was one fact that made me particularly happy: as a responsible grownup and a homeowner, I was now allowed to get any pets that I darn well wanted, so long as I could take good care of them. No landlords or reluctant parents to tell me I couldn’t!

Chickens were an easy sell to my other half, since we love eggs, as were a couple of kittens. But after that, I started hitting a wall. “Guinea pigs!” I suggested. “Bunnies!” “Geckos!” Each of these brilliant suggestions was met with a dubious stare. Perhaps there were still some limitations on the pet front.

But when I read about vermicomposting, I realized that here was a pet that was useful, quiet, didn’t need their litter box changed, and wouldn’t get snippy with me if I went on vacation. There was still a doubtful eyebrow raise about the relative awesomeness of worms as pets, but there was hardly any reasonable objection to be made. I was to become a proud keeper of worms.

Figuring I’d better learn a little more about my new choice of pet, I picked up a copy of Amy Stewart’s The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms. Even setting aside my new enthusiasm about worms, the book kept me rapt until the wee hours of the night, learning about the relatives of my new pets. Amy has a knack of finding the story in anything, and the curious tales of worms, and the scientists and business people who work with them, read like a thrilling bit of fiction. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up!

And I discovered that worms made me very popular at cocktail parties (at least at the type of cocktail parties I go to). Nothing like  bit of worm trivia, delivered with a cheerful grin, to perk up a boring conversation. Fern Richardson apparently agrees; she started the Twitter hashtag #WormFact to share her favorite tidbits. The fact I can’t get over? There is a type of worm, I believe in Oregon, with lily-scented slime. LILY-scented! I wish I could keep them as pets.

Anyway, we all know the benefits of worm castings: great for seed starting (helps prevent damping-off), helps retain moisture for hanging baskets or container plants, and generally full of good stuff for the soil. Being able to grab a handful of castings anytime is a great way of giving plants a boost.

worm factory 360 (4)And this is why I’ve been using a proper worm bin, the Worm Factory 360, instead of some manner of DIY setup – the castings are super-easy to harvest. My first boss as a gardener had a DIY worm bin in a large tupperware, and on the first rainy day of the year, she had us spend a very long few hours harvesting the castings. It went like this: pick out worms, one by one by one, and after two hours of tedious worm-picking, my boss was able to use the harvested castings in her containers. I am tired just thinking about it.

But a proper worm bin has three or four levels, so as the lower levels fill up with worm castings, you just start adding your vegetable scraps to a higher level to lure the worms up out of the old castings so you can use them. If you’re impatient, something like melon or pumpkin guts will draw them up very fast, and you’ll feel like a rock star when you see how happy the worms are wallowing in their melon bits. It’s not too hard to be a good worm parent, as long as you eat your vegetables and have some occasional peelings, guts or rinds to share.

The Worm Factory 360 is easily the nicest bin I have tried. It is small and square, so it fits under a sink or among a container garden with relative ease, and the flat, sturdy top means you can set a cute pot on top to disguise it. It comes in black, green, or terra cotta, and it kind of looks like a modern little table of some kind once you get it set up. It’s certainly not an eyesore, which is more than I can say about the cats’ litterbox!

Would you like to try your hand at vermicomposting? Amy Stewart and the Worm Factory have teamed up to offer an amazingly awesome giveaway: A copy of The Earth Moved to get you inspired, and a Worm Factory 360 to get you started! Just leave a comment to enter and I’ll pick the lucky winner on Wednesday the 28th. US only. Good luck!

Congrats to Karen of Le Jardinet, who has won! And if you’d like a special discount on The Worm Factory, visit this link until April 30th 2012.

Comments

  1. Christina says

    What a wonderful post! I have been looking at starting vermicomposting this year. I would love to be entered in this drawing.

  2. says

    Nice clear, to the point post. I would like to enter the contest. I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping worms so if I win, I’ll take that as a clear sign to do it!

  3. Mary says

    Great post! My DIY worm bin was a bust when all the wiggly worms escaped. I like the ease this small bin appears to provide and would like to enter the drawing.

  4. Chris N says

    I see Amy is following in famous footsteps. In 1881, twenty two years after his more famous “On the Origin of Species” Charles Darwin published his book “The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms”. It was a culmination of forty years of study. Darwin showed that, instead of being a pest, which was the common view at the time, worms were responsible for all of the arable land in Great Britain.

    I know Amy refers to Darwin’s book in hers. Darwin’s genius was to look at a common creature which everyone took for granted and discover it’s true nature. I think some current lawn chemical companies ought to read both books.

  5. Sarah says

    I’ve taken a class on it through my local extension office, but I just moved out of my apartment to a house. This would be a lovely way to enrich the dozens of basil seedlings my husband has under grow lights!

  6. Jen. says

    As if a home with 2 dogs, a cat, two young boys, & a husband isn’t enough, I’d love to add a few 100 worms to the mix! It would help with the composting in the winter, most certainly!

  7. says

    Count me in the drawing, please. I love worms, I’ve been hankering for a composting setup for years, and this “worm factory” looks incredible. (And I am just as excited about the chance to win Amy Stewart’s book!)

  8. says

    I would love to win the book and bin. My husband teaches science at an inner city elementary school and this would be an awesome addition to his science kits.

  9. Erin says

    Thank you for a really enticing giveaway! I’d love to be entered, and already am using a big sheetrock bucket to keep worms below my kitchen sink–I’d love to upgrade to something I don’t have to pick worms from by hand when I want to use the castings!

  10. Humboldtjen says

    I’ve been using a DYI worm bin for a couple of years now…started as a recycled dresser drawer, now I’m using a big plastic bin…but I would love a proper bin, that would be so handy!

  11. Salud Garcia says

    I would love to have a proper bin! The worm bin in the basement isn’t quite up to the challenge of a vegan household and it’s a little too interesting to my dog!

  12. says

    I love hearing how you got started with your pets and worms – lol haven’t we all been there? I want one of this and one of that… :) I am so excited to try my hand at raising earthworms. My dad had them in an old discarded bathtub in the woods by our garden in Georgia for years. A piece of old carpet on top protected them from predators. Pretty old school but it worked! I’ll have to try something indoors myself as we live in Colorado where it is arid and we have a lot of weather extremes. Can’t wait though!

  13. Anne Murphy says

    I have loved Amy’s book, The Earth Moved, since I first encountered it some years back. I keep meaning to create a worm composting bin, but . . . To win one would be simply frabjous.

  14. Deb says

    I’ve been lobbying for pet worms for a while now — your description of the bin set among containers with a plant on top has won over the nay-sayers!

  15. Dave says

    Great description, have been using a compost bin for most kitchen waste but old bread pieces i cant as its too attractive to our local critters so hoping t start a worm bin at some point to make use of stuff i can’t put through my compost bins.

  16. Terry says

    Oooh! I have always wanted to have a worm bin. Gave up trying to get my husband to make me one, so winning this would really get me started right.

  17. Vicky says

    I don’t have the space (or energy) for a traditional compost pile, and I hate seeing all those veggie peelings go in the garbage. This sounds like a great solution.

  18. Kristine says

    I would love to win! I have a traditional compost bin but I still need more compost than it can produce. Thank you for the chance.

  19. roc_phd says

    Oh, I love my worms. My mother-in-law has recently expressed interest and I’d love to help her get started with one of these. Our worms live happily in our basement. Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. Terry says

    My family raised and sold worms when I was a child. I’ve always had a fondness for worms and would love to have a bin to get started.

  21. Debbie says

    This thing is AWESOME! Please enter me in the contest. I can’t wait to become a “worm parent”!

    Thanks!

  22. says

    With a brand new yard to plant, a raised garden to cultivate, and a North Carolina native crop garden/bed going in this season, worms would do nicely!

  23. Wendy says

    I lost my business and home due to the recession…..it turned out to be great for me because it has simplified my life and given me more time where my heart is (with my children) and able to pursue things I enjoy like nature and worms! I have the 360 worm factory on my “wish list” due to finances and would love to possibly sell worm castings at a local farmer’s market to make extra money. My boyfriend says he will be so embarrassed to say his girlfriend peddles worm poo…..let’s test him and see what happens! Thanks for the chance!

  24. says

    Would I like a worm bin ? YES! Please ! It’s not for me, you see (I have one at home that’s busy & thriving). It’s for the gardening/environmental program at my kids’ school. We’ve got a garden going, tiny though it may be. And being the frugalista that I am, we’ve made it work remarkably cheaply. Free seeds, free compost, free labor … Our science teacher extraordinaire & staff garden coordinator is thrilled at the idea of keeping a worm bin in the cafeteria as a way to teach the kids a few things about worms, about soil & decomposition. The school cook is excited, too, at the prospect of having even a small compost bin. But worm bins don’t come cheap, and our program doesn’t even have a shoestring to run on. It would be so wonderful if I could present this to the school with some of my homegrown worms. Oh – I hope, I hope, I hope !

  25. Terri Price says

    Would love to win the worm bin! It would live in my basement and be very, very happy! Red wrigglers ROCK!

  26. Mike Sheaffer says

    Great article!.
    As a long-time composter myself, I have just recently become interested in Vermicomposting and have been trying to learn all I can about how to raise worms and reap the benefits of their compost-making abilities.
    Is it true that you can have them in the house-that the worm factory does not stink?
    In any event-I am hoping to be picked to win the Worm Factory and find out for myself/ I want to get started as soon as possible-could sure use the compost for the spring planting…:)
    Mike

  27. says

    We’re the go-to house for composting, chickens, and other outdoorsy endeavors, and I’d love to add worms to the mix! What a great resource for my garden AND a great teaching tool for my neighbors and their (very inquisitive) children! Plus, it would help nourish our garden which will be making a front-yard roaring appearance this summer in addition to the already-exisiting backyard garden! So please– pick us!

  28. Janet Kensicki says

    A friend forwarded an article about worm composting to me a few days ago and I was enthralled and immediately showed the Worm Factory to my husband. Was very excited about buying one, but hope to win one instead. Thanks to Terry, who guided me to worm composting.

  29. Annie says

    My wormies have been living in a couple of old recycling bins for a few years…but I’m not sure they’re happy there. I think they would like an upgrade!

  30. says

    I would love to start worm composting! I was just talking to my 4 year old about worms today when we were planting seeds. I’ll be taking a Master Composter course in a few weeks and had been wanting to get into worms, so this would be great!

  31. Susan W. says

    I’ve been composting for a few years and I have been researching vermicomposting the last few weeks. This would definitely get me started on my own pet worms!

  32. Gmarieb says

    What a great wedding present for my niece. She’s 28 years old, recently married and is realizing all the virtuous moments in life relate to good old fashion hard work and love of the land. Let’s see, do I give her the book or the bin? (LOL)

  33. says

    As long as hubby doesn’t have to touch it, he doesn’t mind what I raise. LOL. But this is definitely a much better idea than the one I had planned to build.

    I’d love to win this if only for the sparkling dinner conversation I’d create with it. :)

  34. Kelly says

    I have been composting for years and have two large compost bins for my horse manure & kitchen scraps but have never tried composting with worms – I would love to try!

  35. Amanda says

    Right now I am doing ‘rat composting’ in one of those Darth Vader head composters which provides my cat with hours of entertainment, and in honesty they turn the compost like you wouldn’t believe, however, in the interests of being a good urban citizen, I need to switch to a species that never carries the plague. Good plan Y/Y?

  36. Crystal says

    I just LOVE worms! What a silly thing to say, but it’s true! I would really enjoy owning Amy’s wonderful book and that facinating worm bin!

  37. Lisa says

    I have been using worm castings on my plants for a couple of years now. Nothing can compare to them, nothing. I would love to be able to use my own worm castings. Hope I’m lucky enough to win!

  38. Lauren A. says

    I’ve always wanted a better method of composting my food scraps than I have now and this would get me moving on it. Plus it would give the cats something new to inspect and jump on while I read up on worms.

  39. says

    I have been picking every single little itty bitty baby worm OUT of the compost bin so I can make worm tea without losing (or drowning) my babies and it is SO FREAKING TEDIOUS! I love my widdle worms, and I’ll love them even more when they wiggle their little butts out of the castings on their own.

  40. Denise says

    I also get blank stares when I suggest a pet. My kids love to play with worms in the garden, the book and bin would give us a new appreciation for all worms do.

  41. Debra Lacy says

    Having a relatively small urban lot area to garden in, I’ve been wanting to try a worm bin for awhile. This system sounds really convenient and easy to use. Best of all, it can go in your kitchen or near it in the yard.

  42. Karen Tandy says

    Thank you so much for this chance to win the book and the worm composting. I have never tried this and it sounds so much better than my compost pile. Altho I couldnt do with out it!! It isn’t called Black Gold for nothing. I garden organically and always need more compost to feed my graden friends. I am anxious to learn more about this.

  43. Roseology says

    I use worm casting on my Roses and it does amazing things for them. Also worm tea as a folier food. I would love to add a Worm Factory 360 to my worm composting tools and I know ‘The Earth Moved’ will be just the right addition to my every growing library of Rose and Organic Gardening books.
    Organic Roses is not an oxymoron.

  44. Marie W says

    This article was great. I have been wanting to compost for years. Since I don’t have much space for regular composting, I have wanted to worm compost. This would get me started.

  45. tropaeolum says

    Oh lord, now you’ve sold me on WORMS!

    I mean, I’ve always loved worms, but now I want to nurture and cultivate worms. We gardeners are a crazy bunch.

    I’m moving to Delaware in June and this might be the perfect thing for rental house/apartment living. Landlords don’t usually like piles of compost, so a worm bin sounds fantastic. And easy to use to boot. Doesn’t get better than that!

  46. Karen says

    Worms, my cats hunt worms, they dig for them and carry the poor little wrigglers into the house. I usually discover this with my bare feet. yuch. A worm bin would be wonderful as I could appreciate worms and know they are safe from kitty worm-predators. And I promise to read “The Earth Moved” to the cats so they will respect their wriggly neighbors and not play with them.

  47. Karin Steinhauer says

    I would Sooo love to get a worm bin and finally learn how to use one! Now that I’ve started a vegetable garden I have more veggie waste that I could feed to the little buggers.
    Thanks for the info

  48. Sandy says

    Amy’s book sounds amazing and winning a real worm bin would shorten my long standing wish list, have been interested in vermiculture for many years.

  49. Lisa D. says

    I buy worm castings for my backyard garden and the results are amazing. I would love to be able to make my own. Thank you for this opportunity!

  50. Claudia says

    About 15 years ago a friend at work gave me some of her worm castings. What an amazing gift! Now I’ve retired and have more time to devote to my favorite pastime, gardening. I would love to get started with this worm factory and teach my little grandsons all about it.

  51. Melanie says

    I love worms! My five-year-old daughter builds “worm houses” in the garden and lavishes them with “special dirt” when she unearths them. She definitely got her affinity for worms from her mother.

  52. Betty Jo says

    I would love to win the book and bin. I’ve always bought worm castings for my soil and would love the chance to get this start on some great soil.

  53. Susan Bulger says

    I try to save every worm I see. Early in the morning after a rain I walk certain streets in my neighborhood where numerous worms get stranded in the street gutters. A credit card-like plastic piece helps in picking them up. Last rainstorm I got a 16 oz. container 3/4 full. They get a nice home in my compost pile where they multiply like crazy. I really appreciate the work they do and regret the tons of them that must get washed miles to the ocean. Help yourself folks.

  54. Li says

    A worm bin that fits in a container garden? I NEED it! I’ve tried using worm castings to prevent damping off of my tomato seedlings this year, and it really worked. Who woulda thought?

  55. Maxine says

    I’ve been about to do worm composting for a couple years now, but I could never find a worm bin that was just right. I think the 360 is it. It meets all my needs, and if worms love melons and vegetable parts, they’ll be ecstatic to live in a mine.

  56. Sarah Z says

    I’ve been using a DIY bin for awhile, but would absolutely LOVE a “proper” bin. Thanks for the giveaway!

  57. Patricia says

    Like Genevieve I also spent an afternoon removing worms from their casings but on the beautiful island of Kauai! Oh, the things I could have been doing instead … swimming, snorkeling, hiking, sitting on a beach watching the glory of the ocean…ah well. I provided free labor to help a friend and left with misconception of how miserable keeping worms could be.

    I would love to have my own little pets and to do so without such great labor would be a joy. Please enter me into your drawing and thank you for this delightful opportunity!

    Patricia

  58. Alexander says

    I’ve just really started gardening and this would be an amazing thing to get into really full swing of it all. Plus worms are cool.

  59. Manette Gutterman says

    I have started a compost and need some worms! This bin would be much better than what I’ve got!

  60. says

    We have the perfect spot for worm composting!

    We share the backyard of our four-unit apartment building. I do most of the gardening but we all are friends and spend time together in the back yard hanging out, cooking and working on projects.

    We live in Washington, DC, surrounded by lush yard gardens and balcony hideaways with container gardens at all heights. We live across the street from a community garden and urban farm. I’ve shared our spring gardening progress on twitter (@TheSoilToil) and tumblr (same name). We’re assembling DIY projects on thesoiltoil.com to encourage beginner gardeners to get out there and grow!

    Vermiculture makes urban gardening even easier by making your fertilizer right were you garden.

  61. Jennie says

    I must have a fondness for worms. who’da thunk it? Last weekend I was edging my front walk using a squared off shovel. it hasn’t been done in a while so I had pretty big chunks of grass/dirt. before I threw it all in the trash I delicately crumbled the earth to be sure I saved the worms for my yard.
    thank you for this winning opportunity.

  62. Breanna Freeman says

    I am in the early stages of developing a non-profit of cultivating low-income and/or at-risk youth thru “hands on” urban farming. This book and bin would be greatly appreciated as it will teach the youth another aspect of farming.

  63. Carla says

    oh we have been planning to start a worm compost this year! my kids adore collecting worms so it seems the perfect mix for them and my garden :) thanks for the contest!

  64. Tina McElhattan says

    I always wanted to try this. I already raise mealworms in a bin for the bluebirds. Good luck everyone.

  65. Kirsten G. says

    I say YES to worm poo!!!! Haven’t started my own worm bin yet, but this would give me just the nudge I need to finally get to it!!

  66. Julie Irwin says

    Great post! My twins love helping with the garden and LOVE worms! We have been talking about setting up a compost site in our yard~ this would be perfect!

  67. says

    I am itching to get a ‘proper’ bin! I have a tub right now and it is a mess to deal with. My sister is actually going to start her worm farm too–so we could certainly use some worms to get her started too….mine have not gotten to the right population level yet.

    Thanks!

  68. Heather Hotaling says

    What a great idea and a show of teamwork—Amy and the Worm Factory! I have a DIY one and it is horrible and A LOT of work BUT it is great for showing kids! Worms are a pet that one can have almost EVERYWHERE and pretty much take care of themselves unlike the dog or cat that soon become “old news” LOL I have 3 rescue cats and 2 are very fond of the worms—they like to see the food go in and if I am not careful they like to see if THEY can get in to play with the worms! YUCK

  69. Tomoyo says

    How exciting!!! Worm Factory?! I’ve never heard there is such a thing!
    Sure I’d love to enter the draw.
    I’ve started my own vegetable garden several years ago, and noticed that some areas have NO worms, which make me and veggies sad. I’m crossing fingers.

  70. Frederique Lavoipierre says

    This would be SO great to add to the ‘composting methods’ demo area we are adding to the Garden Classroom at SSU! We offer hands-on school gardening and resources for university students (and credential program students), K-12 teachers and school garden coordinators, and the local community.
    It would be wonderful to have a new copy of ‘The Earth Moved’. My signed first edition disappeared – I hope it went to a worthy worm enthusiast!
    p.s. Maybe you have seen this article on earthworms – if not:
    http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/garden-allies/70/1/
    Frederique

  71. says

    i’ve been meaning to start a worm composting bin… and read amy’s book! lord knows the rodents in our garden have gourmet tastes… i’m sure the worms will be more welcome and discreet.

  72. Lynne Cody says

    I have always picked the worms up off of the sidewalks after a rain. I did not know that there was a book such as this on worms. I will probably go ahead and buy the book if I do not win it as worms have always facinated me.

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