Posts Tagged ‘vermicomposter

31
Mar
08

Entente

Some time ago I wrote about the arrival of worms in my life, a moment of unanticipated but therefore not less rueful buyer’s remorse on my part. We were off to a rocky start, those worms and I, with me on the cusp of an intense and unhappy ambivalence and the worms presumably shell-shocked out of their usual complacency by unaccustomed travel. (Check out Dilemma for the original story.)

I can now happily report that we’ve worked out some form of peaceful coexistence. I add some scraps to the bin and watch the lid go down slowly, at which point I add some more scraps. Other than that, nothing happens. Whether the worms are happy or disgusted, they haven’t chosen to let me know. They are very discreet, silently chomping away at the goodies. They accept the edges of the bin as the far reaches of the universe and haven’t given any evidence of a desire to explore the world, light out for the territories, or otherwise emancipate themselves from the family circle. So the whole thing, it seems, works out on both sides.

“Seems” because I confess that I have not performed a census of the population, either by counting or weighing my critters, to see how they stack up now against the original pound. I’m heedful of Annie Dillard, who, in Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek, creeped herself out by looking too closely at the writhing, swirling, pullulating abomination of hatching insect eggs. Not to follow her example, I have avoided too careful an examination and all I know for certain is that my wrigglers are in their bin and that they do in my leftovers, very, very slowly.

My worms are modest eaters, which is a good thing as well as a disappointment. The literature suggested that a pound of worms make short shrift with half a pound of scraps a day. Either this is a sales pitch or the population took a serious hit during the transition into my household. Anyhow, their modest appetite means I can leave them for a fortnight without a minder. It also means they aren’t making much of a dent in the overall volume of my trash. It also means that, until now at least, they aren’t really worth the effort.

20
Jan
08

Dilemma

This past week I inadvertently acquired a pound of pet. That is to say, the acquisition itself was entirely intentional: I made the purchase upon mature reflection. It was the pet part I hadn’t counted on.

What I had in mind was a practical solution to the unfortunate fact that the county I live in does not collect compostibles separately from the garbage destined for landfill. I was looking for a way to stop padding the trash with my apple cores, tea bags, and broccoli skins. However, I’m acquainted with the drawbacks of a compost heap, not the least of which is the fact that you have to start gardening to get rid of your own product. So I ordered a worm bin instead, worms included, figuring I could probably get my friends and my land-lady to take the less voluminous castings off my hands.

I set up my bin—all good. I prepare the bedding and add some food—still good But the moment I start opening the worm package, a rather ponderous little cube delivered into my hands by the USPS, it hits me. What if they are dead? They could all have died in transit. Something extremely unpleasant could be waiting to waft up to me when I snip the plastic snag that holds the bag shut.

When I think about it, sending wrigglers in the mail doesn’t seem right. Does the postal service even approve of it? Do the little creatures not need air? And what if some postal employee plays football with the package?

As a matter of fact, even if they haven’t died, something extremely unpleasant could be waiting to waft up to me when I snip the plastic snag that holds the bag shut. I have never yet beheld a pound of red wrigglers in a bag, but it is beginning to dawn on me it won’t be nearly as cute as a litter of puppies, say. Even in the best of circumstances, opening the bag is not an extremely appealing prospect.

Come to think of it, what if they are alive? That would mean they can die any time afterwards and then whatever they shed—blood? ichor? goo?—will be on my hands. I consult the instructions and find that many things can go wrong with worms. Too much food. Too much moisture. Not enough moisture. Too much trauma, even, because, according to my helpful booklet, worms don’t actually like to be in the mail.

I flash on the high school genetics project, many years ago, in which my fruit flies, also arriving in the mail, promptly mired themselves in the sky-blue cereal I had carefully prepared for them, according to instructions. Under my care, they died a miserable death despite their notorious ability to survive all efforts to eradicate them. Things don’t necessarily bode well for a pound of live worms.

Here I am, then, on the horns of a dilemma, on the cusp of a new life as a worm owner. I am definitely hoping they are alive. Or am I? If they are alive, then I will have to make arrangements to have them taken care of next time I go on a trip. I didn’t think of that beforehand. When doing well, I read in my helpful booklet, the population doubles in size in about a month’s time. I didn’t think of that either. Maybe I am actually hoping they are dead.

Anyhow, I take a deep breath, snip, peek in the bag, and stare at nothing. Just a bunch of dirt. No wrigglers. No odor. I gingerly overturn the whole thing on the bedding, and a giant ball of wrigglers, wriggling furiously, reveal themselves to my horrified eyes and promptly roll, en masse, to the very edge of the bin and start to topple over.They are most definitely not dead. Whatever else it is I may be hoping, I certainly hope not to have to pick the wrigglers off my living-room floor one by one. I intervene with my serving spoon and get them back into bed. I try to spread them around a little, so they can’t repeat their caper.

Apart from spooning them into place, it seems there’s little I can do for them at the moment. I am advised to lift up the lid in three day’s time to see if all is well. That leaves me still on the horns of my dilemma: does “all is well” mean dead or alive?




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