Ginny Walker holds a handful of squirmy little darlings. Photo by Dauna Ditson

Thousands of helpful pets

A wiggly squiggly look at worm composting

Ginny Walker has so many pets that besides her dog, named Kitty, she can’t begin to count them.

“I’d introduce you to them all, but there’s so many that I can’t,” she says with a laugh.

Thousands of worms from the length of a fingernail to the length of a finger live in her home in two structures, one like a condo tower and the other like a canvas tent. She recently unearthed her outdoor worms and moved them inside to be cosy and warm for the winter.

A handful of pearly-white babies writhe as she scoops them up. They’ve just hatched, she says, adding that she saw the cocoons when she carried the worms inside.

A cocoon that looks like a pea rests in her palm about to split open to allow the babies inside to break free, eat a lifetime worth of her leftover veggies and graciously turn them into super-charged compost.

“They like things like eggshells and toilet paper rolls … Sometimes you can pick them up and they’ll all be squirming around inside an eggshell,” Ms. Walker says. “I just think they’re really cute.”

She also finds her red wrigglers endlessly fascinating. Once her bin went mouldy when the family added more food than the worms were able to eat before it spoiled. But it wasn’t a problem: her unfinicky eaters gobbled up the mould too.

Worms are such efficient composters that she’s been inviting them into her home off and on for the past 25 years.

“Bob (her husband) is a vegan, so there’s a lot of vegetable waste in the house,” she says. “We make dinner, then we’ve got this pile of vegetable waste and then it goes into our compost bin.”

Once a week, she opens the lids on the worm homes, digs a hole in the dirt and fills it with kitchen scraps. From there, the worms do the rest, digesting the waste and turning it into compost.

“You get good soil from it, and we do like to garden,” she says. “It’s like the best recycling you can do.”

This summer she collected around 40 litres of compost from her little helpers and credits their castings with helping her plants grow.

Worm composting is easy, she says, adding that “you really just need a handful to start.”

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