Tom Sawyer had it right

Some nights I crawl into bed feeling utterly defeated by one of Earth's simplest creatures. Other bedtimes I am too pumped with a sense of superiority to fall asleep. It's pretty pathetic that I'm doing an endzone victory dance to celebrate rounding up some red wigglers to move them to a new bin.

I've spent a ridiculous number of hours studying websites, blogs, and county extension pamphlets to learn the best methods for separating worms from dirt. I've joined an online community of vermicomposters, for heavens' sake! How much more serious must I be to get the worms out of the awesome dirt they created?

A worm and his dirt are not soon parted.

That doesn't sound right. Maybe a boy and his dog are too soon parted. No, no, no! That sounds like a bad episode of "Lassie".

A fool and his money are soon parted. Is that Aesop or P. T. Barnum?

I've tried so far:

  1. Herding worms by placing all the food at one end of the worm bin.

  2. Putting spoonfuls from the worm bin onto sheets of black plastic to encourage the worms to dive down holes to richer new colonies below.

  3. Creating a hedonistic fruitopia in a bin within the bin hoping young worms would be upwardly mobile and self-motivated.

  4. Luring worms down through a plastic colander like errant spaghetti.

  5. Shining a bright light to encourage worms to hurry under the nearest shady beach umbrella.

So far, the only time-efficient method is sitting down, stirring the compost with a garden fork, and pulling out the worms by hand. It's not disgusting. It's pretty amazing realizing how many thousands of living creatures can occupy such a small place. Probably I could let you have a turn if you paid me a nickel.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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