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A Worm Farm is a Digestive System

All living things love to eat. There is joy in putting a favorite meal down your gullet. Getting those nutritious bits through our system takes basically the same steps for microbes, worms, humans, or elephants. I’d like to describe the worm bin as it mirrors my own digestive tract. Take a bite and chew. That first step splits big chunks into little bits with lots of edges available for breaking down. We human farmers are the teeth for our worm bins. We use knives and blenders and tearing hands to bust up the bedding and food scraps. The finer we can mince those bits is the better our worm bin can process them. We are the incisors that cut and the molars that grind for the wormy herd. A good swallow sends my snack down. For each bin I pull back some bedding to stir in their meal. It seems best to mix the dollop of food into the bedding rather than leaving it in a lump. That mixing means every bit can quickly get engulfed by the microbial mob in the bin. A covering of bedding helps to hold in the moisture and keep out the flies.

Your stomach and intestines have micro-villi which are like tiny fingers prodding and moving the food along. Likewise, the worms wiggle and stir as the work their magic. They take mouthfuls of tasty bits, but also stir the mass, allowing even more access for the mighty microbes.

Our digestive enzymes dissolve our meals. Those microbial bacteria and fungi do the same in the bins. We absorb amino acids and carbs after proteins and starches have been dissolved. Likewise, the worms hunt for and eat those well grown microbes. The microbes are the breakdown product of dissolved worm foods. By the way, after the stomach, your digestive system includes a very healthy menagerie of microbes.

We absorb these nutrients through our stomach and intestinal lining. The herd of worms performs that function in the bin. Worms are the apex predator and top of the food chain in a well run bin. They eat and absorb the microbial crop. Like in any jungle of eat or be eaten, the worms hunt the slower and weaker microbes, keeping their prey strong and controlled. It is an ecosystem in each bin. The tasty bits of bacteria and fungi get turned into a growing number of voracious worms. The worms multiply much like my own gut grows fat! The worms then poop out their fertile vermicasts. Gardeners call this ‘black gold’. It is one of the best fertilizers for any garden.