Monday, October 31, 2005

Why Waste Your Waste?

For those of you in the UK...a new book on worm composting. Check it out here.

From the creator of the Waste Buster Wormery. (that's what they call worm bins in the UK. Wormeries. Charming, yes?)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wiggly Wigglers is podcasting

There's not much going on, podcast-wise, in the world of worms, but UK supplier of composting gear and much more, Wiggly Worms, has just launched a podcast. You can check it out here:

Wiggly Wigglers

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm

Here's a great story about an earthworm farm--oh, and they happened to raise, chickens, cows, goats, pigs, corn, fruit, and more.

My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm

How's this for a springtime farm ritual?

"When spring arrived, the season of the annual ploughing, the top layer of the heap would be stripped back, revealing the perfect work of the worms. What had originally been an ill-smelling mixture of manure, urine, and litter, was now a dark, fertile, crumbly soil, with the odour of fresh-turned earth. This material was not handled with forks, but with shovels. There were no dense cakes of burned, half-decomposed manure. My grandfather would take a handful of the material and smell it before pronouncing it ready for the fields. The 'smell test' was a sure way of judging the quality. When perfect transformation had taken place, all odour of manure had disappeared and the material had the clean smell of new earth."

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Always something new about worms from the Phillipines:

Organic movement gains ground -

"Over at the Earthworm Sanctuary booth, proprietor Antonio de Castro talked about the "Angels of the Earth," the earthworms considered among the lowest of God's creatures. And yet, they are a farmer's biggest helpers. Found almost anywhere, they are easy to care for and their castings make one of the best--if not the best--fertilizers one can find anywhere."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Worms Go To Fourth Grade

The Rodale Institute (publishers of Organic Gardening magazine) did a little worm project with some fourth graders--if you're looking for ideas for classroom worm projects (and who isn't, really?) check it out.

Green Thumbs Around the World, USA

Friday, October 14, 2005

Worm Observations

A few words Living Deliberately, who is out there blogging about worms tonight:

"These two earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) jumped into my basement when I opened the door to the yard this morning...The worm is a muscle surrounding a digestive tract, mostly protein to the hungry robin. I released these individuals back into the yard. They both tried to twist away from my fingers when I reached for them on the steps. They did not realize that I was trying to help."

Living Deliberately: Builders

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pickled Snails

Brilliant, brilliant. I've been following along with Circus of the Spineless, a traveling blog circus all about slimy spineless creatures of all kinds, and I've learned that you can in fact preserve snails in alcohol. It even preserves their DNA.

Somehow I thought the snail would simply melt in alcohol, the way it would if you poured salt on it. But no. They are pickled, put in jars, and stored in museums so generations to come can study them.

What a world we live in.

SNAIL'S TALES: Gastropods for posterity

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Delusions of Grandeur

This just in from another Amy.

Animals Have Problems Too

Compost to benefit Hurricane Victims

A university researcher in Pennsylvania is giving away earthworms and vermicompost free to anyone who makes a Red Cross donation. This is all leftover stuff from his many research projects involving worms and dirt. If you're in the area (he can't ship), check it out.

Compost to benefit Hurricane Victims

Earthworm Dissection

Whoa. Cool photo of an earthworm dissection from Ravi, who appears to be using his blog to administer quizzes for his zoology class.

I never could bring myself to dissect an earthworm--not as a kid, not as an adult. As a student I always managed to talk my lab partner into doing it, and we're still friends to this day. (Thanks, Annette) Hey, she was already planning to be a shrink at that point, which is kind of like med school, so she'd need to know this stuff, right?

Anyway, you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about cutting open an earthworm by following along with Ravi's class.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Better Than Disneyland

Leisure Farms

A new theme park devoted to farming--yes, farming!--features worms:

"The area also has a section on permission, or using earthworms to make fertilizers that are needed to sustain organic farming. The vermicomposing pits allow visitors to see up close what earthworms called African night crawlers, look like.

'The earthworms are imported from Iloilo as they are more prolific and can make the fertilizers faster than the garden variety earthworms,' said Dexter Banzali, general manager of Leisure Farms."

I went to their website, which is all written in the future tense, as if none of this is actually happening yet, but they do promise "agritainment" (which apparently refers to two other terms I'd never heard of, "agritourism" and "entertainment farming")--and this will be part of a larger "exclusive residential farm resort with an agro-tourism community." You can learn how to farm, you can bring your livestock (but no pigs) and you can build yourself a little house.

Next time you're in the Phillipines, please check this out and report back. I have so many questions, I hardly know where to begin.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

As the Worms Turn

So as I said yesterday, you'll be hearing more from me about Circus of the Spineless in the coming days. It's a three-ring blog circus that shines a spotline on all kinds of invertebrate-related blogging going on out there. Today, pay a visit to Bootstrap Analysis (Chronicles and Musings of a Field Biologist), where you'll learn all about the non-native species of earthworms that are transforming some of our Northern forests.

Why only forests in the North? Because those areas were covered by a glacier during the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. The ice wiped out whatever native worms were there. The forests that grew after the glaciers receeded were earthworm-free. As non-native worms moved into the area (and most worms in your backyard, including red wigglers and nightcrawlers, are actually European worms), they gobbled up all the leaves that covered the forest floor--called the duff layer--and that changed what plants could grow in the forest.

Does this mean that non-native worms are an unmitigated evil? Not necessarily. We don't know whether they cause harm in other forests, mostly because earthworm science is an underfunded field and it just hasn't been studied. And if you grow non-native plants in your garden, and bring in non-native soil--well, you already have a somewhat artificial environment. A worm population migrates very slowly--only a few yards a year--so it's not as if worms in your backyard are going to end up in a forest miles away anytime soon anyway.

When I dug up different species of earthworms in my own backyard and sent them to a taxonomist to be identified, they all turned out to be non-native European species.

As the Worms Turn

Monday, October 03, 2005

Circus of the Spineless

You'll be hearing much more from me about this in the coming days. Meanwhile, satisfy your curiosity here:

Circus of the Spineless

Do Earthworms Glow in the Dark?

Why, yes. There are some that do glow softly. Earthworms secrete a slimy fluid that they use for locomotion, among other things. This coelomic fluid, in certain species, gives off a distinct blue or orange glow.

To find out more than you ever wanted to know about glow-in-the-dark worms, check out:

Earthworm Bioluminescence