story by Natalie Hope McDonaldEd Mullock loves worms so much he’s thinking about sending out holiday cards adorned with Red Wigglers—wearing little Santa hats. Often referred to as “The Worm Guy,” Mullock has become the go-to voice on composting at the Big Green Earth Store, hosting regular presentations at the South Street shop.
“I started reading up on composting about two years ago,” says Mullock, an avid gardener. The idea of using worms to compost is nothing new—Charles Darwin wrote a book about it in 1881. “It produces a terrific byproduct and plant food,” he explains. “It also helps fight diseases in plants and keeps insects away.”
At his home in King of Prussia, Mullock keeps a Worm Factory, a multi-tiered box made of interlocking trays, that allows him to turn everything from banana peels to vegetable scraps to cardboard and junk mail into enriched compost. Thousands of microbes thrive in each teaspoonful.
“Worms do the mixing for you,” says Mullock, proud owner of anywhere between 15 and 20,000 worms. “They reproduce very quickly but they also self-regulate their population.”
As Wigglers—who double their population every 90 days—eat and excrete their way through garbage that might otherwise end up in landfills, they produce something better than any plant food he’s ever used. “It actually smells nice,” he says, “like a walk in the woods.”
When Mullock’s not getting his hands dirty in his own garden, he’s working with schools to teach kids about reducing waste naturally. He’s also looking into providing commercial pickup of food waste for restaurants, businesses and schools.
The erstwhile corporate accountant credits the worms for doing the hard work. “Their tunneling and eating mixes, aerates and adds life to food waste,” he says. “They do all the work and don’t complain.”