As I have mentioned in the Composting thread, in the spring I have been buying composting worms, which are earthworms like red nightcrawlers (fishing worms), only not as large. They are good for vermicomposting because they hang out in the first few inches of soil, eating whatever vegetation, like food scraps, that are placed there. Although regular earthworms do find their way into my outdoor compost pile, I have found that adding a couple of thousand of them each spring speeds things up a little. This year, I decided to raise my own. It's not gross, as you might otherwise believe. They are earthworms, not maggots, and as long as I don't feed them more than they can eat, there is no more of a smell than there might be from any other bucket of soil. They also behave themselves very well. After the first few days, when they were still trying to figure out where they were, they stay put as long as the light is on. They don't like light so they stay underneath the surface as long as a light is on. At night, I cover the bins. The covers, of course, are vented, with a screen to prevent escapes. There have been no escapes. The advantages? It's kind of fun. It's not difficult. I don't have to buy worms anymore. Some composting can take place throughout the winter. I have three worm bins, in all. Only two are active. The third is empty. Every couple of months, during the spring, summer, and fall, I place some fresh bedding (either peat moss or ground coconut husk) in the empty bin. I could use regular soil but that would come with whatever outdoor creatures might be in the soil. Then I take one of the worm bins and screen out the worms, the eggs, and the old bedding, now compost. I add the compost to my garden and place about half the worms, and half of the eggs, in my outdoor compost bin. Then, any uncomposted food can go on top of the fresh bedding in the formerly empty bin, along with the other half of the worms and eggs. I cover that with an inch or so of damp shredded newspaper, and place a damp piece of burlap over the top of that, and that bin is ready for worm farming. I clean out the now empty bin and set it aside for a month when I rotate the second worm bin. I thought I'd try it, and if I found that it stunk, was gross in any way, or was more trouble than it was worth, I'd just dump them all into the outdoor compost pile. However, it's been a few months now and none of that has occurred. I only feed them vegetable matter so, unless I were to greatly overfeed them, and something started fermenting or something, there is no odor problem. I don't even have to touch them. When I add food, I just have to lift up the burlap and a couple of inches of the shredded newspaper, to place it beneath, but I have a glove for that. Being fairly new at it, I do lift up some other sections from time to time, just to check on them, but it's actually better to just leave them alone. During the long Maine winter, when I won't be able to add any of them to the outdoor compost pile, there are two options. I can start a third or a fourth bin, and then add a larger number of worms to the compost pile in the spring, or I can feed them less. They lay eggs proportionate to the amount of food they have so, I am told, if I feed them less during the winter, the number of worms will increase at a slower rate. On the other hand, if I elected to start a couple of new worm bins, I'd have plenty of compost for spring planting. Here is a photo of each of the bins, plus another with the cover on one of them. One of them is about ready to be harvested so it's looking a little ugly right now. There wouldn't ordinarily be plants growing in the bins but I planted a few of the beans that I had left over after planting the garden. They will be pulled up soon and become worm food.