5 Fall Treats for Worms
By: Susan Flenniken
As the long summer days give way to cool, crisp Autumn nights, many farmers are anticipating the coming harvest of apples, yams, and prized pumpkins. Unlike summer crops, the fruits of their labor usher in a season of excitement with young and old alike eagerly awaiting the caramel apples and the apple bobbing contests, carving jack o lanterns and roasting pumpkin seeds, and making yummy pies for holiday guests.
But after the festivals fade like bonfire smoke in the night, and the falling leaves give way to visions of sugar plums, many people are left with rotting porch pumpkins and other produce that look more like a horror story than a tasty treat unless, of course, you are a composting worm.
For Red Wigglers, Indian Blues, and Night Crawlers, fruits and veggies in advanced stages of decay are at the top of their list. These captains of composting have no teeth and instead have to absorb their food with their tiny mouths in a sucking motion like slurping with a straw.
So, before you put on your biohazard gear and remove the tainted trimmings in the darkest corner of your fridge, consider these five fall treats that will have your worms squirming for more.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who can’t get enough of candied yams with brown sugar sauce and those who would rather listen to Aunt Myrtle ramble on about bingo before they would touch an orange, oozing sweet potato.
Fortunately, worms hold no bias and never seem to get their fill of savory sweet potatoes. In fact, many breeding programs involve a sweet potato mash to encourage the worms to come to the surface to dine, and while there, they will often find a friend to snuggle with, so it’s like dinner and dessert!
When it comes to apples, the varieties are as numerous as the worm species that eat them. Granny Smith is often used for baking tart apple pies, and McIntosh finds their way into fruit salads and candied treats. The Golden Delicious apple is an excellent choice for harvest games due to its size, and Gala’s have been spicing up cider for many generations.
The worms do not seem to have a preference; however, take care when adding apples so that you do not cause a spike in PH levels. Every part of the apple is edible for worms, but you may consider cutting or peeling them so they can get at the meaty center easier than waiting for the peel to soften. They will also dig tunnels through the core, and many worms have been observed using the core to aid in sliding cocoons off the worms’ bodies after mating.
Although salads are traditionally considered a summer side, there is still no shortage of Garden or Caesar salads as a first course paring with soup or the dreaded fruit salad substitute for something more desirable like buttermilk pie.
Once your dinner guests have gorged on turkey and stuffing to avoid another bowl of Ambrosia, the worm farm will be ready for their feast! Like a kid in a candy store, worms love the sugar rush they get from fruit, and the water content is an added bonus. Lettuce, kale, and spinach leaves also have a high-water ratio, and they are loaded with vitamins that are just as good for worms as they are for humans.
Much like their sweet potato cousins, mashed potatoes are a human and worm fan favorite. The main difference between the two is that mashed potatoes are often made from russet potatoes and are not as sweet as their candied counterparts. In addition, Russets offer more protein and B-6, whereas the sweet potato has more fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium.
Unless you are a worm farmer or perhaps a nutritionist, humans and worms alike couldn’t care less about the previous facts. Around the dinner table, even the tiniest tots can enjoy the creamy goodness of a pile of potatoes, and the worms love that they can dive into a starchy pile of goodness without waiting for the dish to disintegrate.
No fun fall treat list would be complete without the addition of pumpkins. In fact, in some communities, it is standard to recognize the official start to the season, not when the calendar says so or the temperatures change, but when the first Pumpkin Spice Lattes, candles, air fresheners, and colognes hit the store shelves.
People walking around in a pumpkin haze like zombies in an apocalypse is the perfect opportunity for retailers to set up those hundred-foot bins of fresh gourds at every entrance, exit, and bathroom door in their stores, knowing that people will leave with a minimum of fifty-seven pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
Once the rot sets in and people opt for inflatable Santa’s and sleighbells, worms get the ultimate feast. If a worm could ask for one holiday wish, it would be to eat itself into oblivion inside the world’s largest pumpkin. Aside from being a dark and moist place to hide while they dine, it is also the ultimate breeding ground. The temperature is perfect inside the gourd, and the worms don’t have far to crawl to find a willing mate.
The pumpkins get sweeter as they age, and the skin contains worm-enhancing vitamins. If the seeds are left inside, they will also sprout some micro greens, and the worms get pumpkin salad, too.
The foods we mentioned for a worm feast are not the only things your squirming vermin will enjoy for a treat, but rather, their top five choices if they had a wish list. Other goodies you may consider would be mixed nuts (try to use only unsalted), cranberry sauce, or veggies like corn, peas, and steamed broccoli.
If you remember your worms during your fall festivities, they will remember you in the spring when you harvest not only a multitude of new cocoons and baby worms but also the highly sought-after black gold vermicompost, and the cycle will start again.
Susan Flenniken is an author, blogger, and content creator. She specializes in healthy living, organic gardening, and homesteading content. She has a degree in web design and has dabbled in internet and social media marketing. As if that weren’t enough, Susan is a farmer, ordained minister, homeschool teacher extraordinaire, small business owner, and wife to a retired Army veteran. In her free time, she…. sleeps.
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