Worms in Winter


Last year, my composting worms spent the winter in two Kindergarten classrooms at the Lyme Elementary School, thanks to Lyme’s Farm to School Coordinator, Rima Nichols.
I had told Rima about my friend Judi, a teacher who was disturbed by the junk food her students brought to school for snacks. Judi brought her composting worms to school and shared her own healthy food with the worms at snack time; the students were intrigued and wanted to share their snacks, but Judi said the worms could only eat “healthy snacks”: the students started bringing healthy snacks to school so they could share! Rima hoped to have the same impact in her school and also liked the idea of generating compost for the Lyme School garden.
It was a great plan: I could keep the worms in the community garden in summer and use their compost on my garden, and Lyme students would maintain the worms through the winter, using their compost when spring came.

Unfortunately, Rima moved away and I was left with a dilemma: how does a person living in a tiny 2nd-floor apartment, keep composting worms alive through winter? I was already having trouble with fruit flies around
my kitchen compost container . . would bringing in my worm bin be a disaster?!

I found a little floor space in a hall closet and set down newspapers to absorb any liquid that might leak through the drain holes of the worm bin (drainage has not been a problem.) I vowed to only give the worms coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells which are less likely to attract fruit flies. (As time has gone by without a major fruit fly problem, I’ve grown more confident and have added potato and squash peels and a few apple cores.) I have hundreds if not thousands of wrigglers that seemed to be doing fine and I am so eager for spring when I can spread their nutrient-rich compost on my garden!

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