Why worms?

Written by Matthew on January 16th, 2010

Ok so I when I tell people that I am into worms I never know what to expect. Some people don’t question it at all or say something like “Yeah, I have heard of people doing that,” but other times I get these weird looks, blank stares, head scratching responses that say, “I don’t get it.” Those are actually my favorite, because then I get to tell them “Why worms?”

Garbage disposal


Food scraps about to become compost

They are many reasons why different people keep worms. One of the most common reasons today would be vermicomposting’s (composting with worms) ability to dispose of garbage in an efficient and compact way. People have been composting their garbage for years. It is a natural process and composting simply means the breakdown of once living materials into the components from which they came. “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” However for many people traditional composting of their garbage is not an option because of any one of many reasons including: a lack of the space that is required, complaints from the neighbors, maybe animals in the area would dig into their pile, and on and on. However now with vermicomposting their is another option. Composting with worms has been around for a while, but it is just in the past few years that it has become somewhat mainstream. With its rise in popularity there have been many improvement and refinement in vermicomposting bins and techniques. Also the availability of information on the subject is amazing compared to just a few years back. What all this means is that anyone can now compost there garbage. Yes, that is right anyone! Even apartment dwellers. A book that I strongly recommend for beginners is Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof. In it Mary details how to vermicompost in an apartment setting. With concern for the environment and the demand for limited landfill space on the rise, vermicomposting on a small and individual household level is sure to become very popular.

Garden growing

really large strawberries

large strawberries from my garden

People also may keep worms because they love of gardening or want to become more self-sufficient. Either way if an individual loves gardening then one of the best things they could do is to get some worms. Why? Because worm poop is an amazing plant growth stimulator! What’s more is that worms eat your garbage problem away and poop out your free gardening solution. Farmers all over are now starting to realize the incredibly important role that worms and their poop play in plant growth. So much so that a revolution is taking place where the traditional practice of “tilling the soil into submission” is no longer the standard practice. This practice is being replaced with a no or low till approach that places an emphasis on increasing the density of soil life and especially worms. Also with the increasing price of petrol synthetic fertilizers have seen an equally huge rise in price. Also synthetic fertilizers do nothing to increase the tilth of a soil and there effect is short lived because they are washed away with any rain or irrigation. This fertilizer run off can have serious repercussions upon the environment and the government is now taking measure to prevent fertilizer run off. Organic fertilizers, including worm castings (poop), are much less likely to leach and cause environmental damage. This is because the nutrients are bound to carbon containing molecules and are released gradually when needed. Not only does this mean that less nutrients are wasted, but the sudden and unnatural flush of growth caused by synthetics, which often leave plants vulnerable to disease and insect damage, does not occur. Castings strengthen plant in a sustained manner over time increasing their resistance to disease and insects. Yes, plants do have natural defenses against insect damage, but these can be weakened by sudden and unnatural growth. Also synthetics can cause permanent damage to a soil when overused. This is because all fertilizers contain salts but synthetics are an extremely concentrated source. Ok really I could go on nearly forever on how great worm castings are where gardening is concerned, but I will write more on this coming up in spring. In fact I am planning on writing a lot of articles on gardening sustainably with worms.


fishing for bass and crappy at santee cooper south carolina

My uncle and a friend fishing
Santee Cooper, SC

Most people provably only think of worms as being used for fishing bait, and indeed that is a great use. I have so many fond memories of going down to the lake and catching blue gills by the dozen and crappys by the basket fulls out of the lake. On some warm summer days they would be hitting the worms as fast as you could get a new one on the hook and back into the water! On occasion me or a friend would get a total surprize when a huge large mouth bass would nearly take the rod and real out of our hand. However when it comes to worms fishing bait is just the tip of the iceberg.

Or just because

They are so many countless other reason why people may choose to keep worms. Science fair projects, out of pure curiosity, exotic pet food, kids love them, companionship (ok thats a joke), cause they don’t want an ant farm, or just to be different.

I need your help

If you liked this article leave a comment. Maybe tell us why you have or are thinking of getting worms. Know of a use for worms that I did not cover? Tell us about it. Maybe leave a suggestion on another article, or just say hey. Thanks for your help.

Matthew Wilson


20 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jean Kruse says:

    Hey Matthew -very nice site – I like all the pictures and your informal style and that you tell about problems like fruit flies and protein poisoning not just all hype. Honesty is so refreshing! I’m still not successfully dealing with fungus gnats -tried covering with manure and paper but still they pour out – my sticky traps look like something from a horror movie and my vinegar traps have an inch of dead bodies on the bottom. Any suggestions?

  2. Matthew says:

    Thanks Jean,

    Photography is a passion of mine and I once thought of making a living of it but decided that for me it should remain a hobby.

    Thanks Jean,

    Photography is a passion of mine and I once thought of making a living of it but decided that for me it should remain a hobby.

    As far as dealing with pest such as the pesky fungus gnat see my new post here

  3. Zachariah says:

    I really like your site, and the ‘christian’ approach. I really appreciate seeing that, its getting to be less and less often.

    I am planning on order worms from you soon for my gardening. I am all into gardening and I know this will boost it!!!

    I hope to do business with you soon!

  4. Matthew says:

    Thanks, I appreciate that. I do try and get across in my writing the awe that I have for God and His creation that never ceases to amaze me.

    For example, the other day I was looking for pictures of springtails when I come across this guy’s flickr page and was amazed at what I saw. (see the picture here) Here was this tiny creature, so insignificant by most standards. Thousands may exist in a single square foot of forest floor, yet no one would notice. However, not a single piece of art ever produced by mankind can even come close to equaling its beauty nor any machine rival its complexity. Not a detail left out of order even though no one would ever notice. That is what i call extravagant.

  5. Vince Tran says:

    Great job on the website! I was reading about your solar heater item on ebay and next thing I was reading about worms, which I know nothing about… very interesting and good information. I am temping to buy your solar heater but not sure how operate its, so still continuing on browsing through your site at the moment. Anyways, great job on the website and keep up the good work.

  6. Matthew says:

    The solar controller just makes controlling an existing solar system easier. I will try and provide more info on it soon.

  7. Mitch Bennett says:

    I use a black plastic composter and kept adding all kinds of stuff last year. It seemed to compost pretty well and I was hoping to find some worms when I emptied it this spring, but only saw one worm. Flies hatched out maggots several times, but they always died from heat and was additional compost. Why were there no worms??

  8. Matthew says:

    Worms are sensitive to heat and need a non heating compost pile to grow. To accomplish this the compost system must be started slowly and food added to the top of the compost pile only after the old has been consumed. This may be slower than the traditional hot composting but as your worm population grows it becomes much faster. Also the compost end product is a much denser source of plant nutrients than compost produced through hot composting.

    If you have fly maggots you have a problem whether you are hot or worm composting. With worm composting the problems is overfeeding high protein scraps. With hot composting you provably need to add more carbon materials to the top of the pile.

  9. brooklyn Diane says:


    I ordered worms from you a while ago for a classroom composting project(i teach kindergarten.

    The children LOVE the worms. they love feeding them and learning about them and even looking at the castings. I split the order between my classroom and home and now the home bin has been very successful(its not as hot at home as it is at school). Now, my sons school is offering to ask me to teach parents about worm composting!

  10. Matthew says:

    That’s great! I am glad that it has been a success. If you need any help at all let me know. Thanks for the update.

  11. Sally says:

    Great site, thanks for the helpful information. Do you have any data concerning using Spanish Moss for bedding. I definitely have lots of moss in my yard.

  12. Matthew says:

    I have never tried using it, but I should think that it should work ok. Just try a little and see how the worms take to it.

    Let us know how it goes for you.

  13. Doyle says:

    Matt, For some reason my posts are not reaching you. Hope this one does.

  14. Doyle says:

    I think this one did so I’ll as a previous question again. I have some very large earth worms in my yard here in N E Texas. They are growing to about a foot long and a round as a lead pencil. they leave little mounds of castings on the surface. My ground is pretty hard packed. Can you give me some info on this worn? It looks kike a very large red wiggler. Also if you know, can they be raised in a bin?

  15. Ray Felix says:

    I’m getting into worms for gardening, fishing and maybe making a few dollars with the castings. Right now I have neither a phone or internet and I survive on a tight fixed income, so I use the local library’s puter.
    What I’m planing is an aquaponics greenhouse and what worms I don’t sell, I can feed to the fish. I’ll visit again soon.

  16. George says:

    So, I just placed my first order for some worms! Thanks for the great site, I look forward to getting my shipment…

    My reason for raising worms is to add to my self-sufficiency… I just got 5 chickens and am in the process of raising tilapia in tanks, both of which love to eat worms! While the worms can be fish and chicken food supplements, the chickens give us eggs (the shells can go to the worms) and the fish obviously give us fish, but their waste also gets pumped into hydroponic grow-beds to fertilize vegetables (the scraps of which go back to the worms!), and the vegetables filter out the water and then drain back to the fish. We will also use the worm castings to fertilize our apple trees, cherry trees, and blueberry bushes. For me it is less about being “green” than it is about food insurance and cutting back on the grocery bill! With rising food prices, the more self-sustaining we can be, the better for my tummy and my wallet!

  17. Anna Matsen says:

    I started a worm bin in my apartment in May of 2011. It’s been fascinating so far, and I love that it’s a “green” hobby. I just started a Facebook page for anybody interested in home or apartment vermiculture. Do you know of any worm bin forums already in existence?

  18. robert monk says:

    i need to know do worm reproduce

  19. Rebecca says:

    I have a questions… How do you gather the “poop” to use in the garden and not disturb the worm home too much. We have 2 very large gardens this year and are composting but I stumbled on your ebay listing and I’m very interested in trying this.

  20. Matthew says:

    The worm “poop”, called castings, is easily removed from the worm bin. The worm castings always end up in the bottom of the container, and since you feed them on top, the worms move up into the new food and bedding. When you want to collect the poop, by the way it doesn’t smell at all like poop, you simply set the top layer off. This top layer is the worms and new food. After it is set off then the castings will be left of bottom. There shouldn’t be many worms left in these castings and they will be ready to add to your plants.

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