That’s right, a clew! And, for those without a clue: clew is the collective noun for a group of earthworms. It just so happens that a clew of Red Wigglers, or Eisenia fetida as they’re known in the scientific world, has made its way into SR1’s science lab!
While they’re typically used in fishing as live bait, these worms are also used for composting, and that is what SR1 is using them for. Composting is the act of decomposing organic materials in soil to enrich the soil with natural fertilizers that are beneficial to growing plants. Composting can be done in a variety of ways, with or without worms.
The worms thrive in a substrate of moist garden soil, and are fed with produce and specialized worm food. It seems our worms have quite a sweet tooth as well, with their favorite foods being cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes!
As the worms consume their food, it breaks down in their intestinal tracts and is converted into excrement that contains a variety of nutrients that plants love. Our food leftovers get turned into food for the worms, which gets turned into food for plants, which gets turned into food for us–isn’t that cycle amazing?
Our worms have been with us for just a few weeks, but Red Wigglers can live up to five years if cared for properly! This means they’ll be creating lots of rich soil to use for gardening, since each worm can create their weight in plant nutrients every day, and we have lots of little worms wiggling about and eating food in our compost bin.
Worm Composting is an eco-friendly way to create fertilizer for crops and gardens, and can be done on a large or small scale. The relationship between us and our clew of worms can be described as mutualism: we get nice, nutrient-rich soil to use in our garden, and the worms get a safe, comfortable home away from birds and other predators and get to eat delicious decomposing produce whenever they want! It’s a win-win.
All of us at SR1 are learning a lot from our wormy friends, and we hope to learn more as the weeks go on!