Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Great Worm Escape of 2007

Like all councils mine have been doing what they can to encourage us to throw less stuff away. Every week there's considerably more in my recycling than there is in my rubbish but the goal really is to reduce them both. It's not just about recycling more, it's about consuming less.

As part of their efforts they have offered local residents a cheap deal on a wormery. I guess it must be worth them picking up some of the cost if it means people end up throwing less stuff away each week.

A wormery seems like a very good idea to me. You put in your kitchen waste and some worms. The worms get to feast on the rotten vegetables, tea bags and banana skins you throw their way and by doing their wormy thang they turn it into liquid fertiliser and compost. It's a win-win situation.

So I called the council and took them up on the offer. a few days later a man turned up at my door with said wormery. It's a green bin. With a tap to run off the liquid fertiliser. And some other bits that you have to assemble yourself. Which I did. The one thing they don't give you straight away are the worms. Instead you get a worm voucher. You send it off to the wormery people in Devon and they send you your worms in the post.

I thought sending worms in the post was a bit weird but sure enough, another few days later a small brown envelope arrived and inside it was a small plastic bag with some earth. And lots of wriggling little worms. They're Tiger Worms apparently and the wormery people reckon they're the best breed for the job so don't go trying to cut corners and using any old worms you find in your garden. Oh no.

So, I'd already constructed the wormery according to the instructions and now I could add the worms. And a small layer of kitchen waste. And because I'd read the instructions I knew that I was supposed to leave it all alone for a number of days.

The wormery people had explained that the worms would want to explore their new home and that they'd crawl all over the walls and roof of the wormery for a while before deciding that they really preferred the warm, dank, moist, rotten stuff.

Which is fine... except that with my wormery the rubber seal that's supposed to keep the lid tight and wormproof was all thin and almost worn away. Of course, not having another wormery to compare it to, I didn't know that until it was too late.

I wasn't aware that they were escaping for a while because I wasn't really paying the wormery a great deal of attention. But then a few days in I spied one of the worms on the outside. I picked up the wormery and another was nestling underneath. I thought it was odd but lifted the lid and flipped them inside.

It hadn't really occurred to me that it was especially important to have a tight seal because I couldn't imagine them wanting to leave. After all, the conditions inside are surely perfect for them.

But then I noticed there were a few strange marks on my kitchen floor. On closer inspection, they weren't just marks... they were dried up, shrivelled tiger worms. Hm. They don't cope well in a dry environment that's for sure. The biggest one had travelled maybe three metres from the wormery before the moisture free tiled floor proved too much for him but most of them were within a metre or two.

What were they thinking? Why didn't they turn back? Where did they think they were heading? They should have stayed in the wormery for crying out loud! It was built for them. It's a worm nirvana. A wormana. It contains everything a discerning worm could possibly desire. I mean, it's not called a wormery for nothing. How much more obvious could they make it?

I contacted the wormery people and they were brilliant. They've sent me some new sealant for the lid and another batch of worms. So I fixed (I think) the lid and put the new worms inside this evening.

But now I'm worried. Maybe the wormery people are lying to me. Maybe the worms hate it in there. Maybe that's why the lid has to be wormproof. If it was genuinely a worm-idyll would that be necessary? Am I making these noble beasts work for me against their will? Are they unwilling slaves in my compost and fertiliser factory? What if my fix isn't good enough and this new lot escape and perish as well? I don't want another batch of worm suicides on my conscience. Or on my floor.


Hennell said...

This will probably appear weird, but I was bored and so drew a Dave Gorworm.

Anonymous said...

free the worms!

Ian Walker said...

Surely you're worrying unnecessarily here. Rather than seeing this as a problem, you should see it as an opportunity - the opportunity to become the Worm Overlord! Frequent reminders of what happened to the first batch when they tried to rebel and leave the wormery (e.g., establishing a memorial day) should be enough to keep the second batch in fear of you. This way you can control and make them do your bidding. Neighbour stealing your milk? Set the worms on them! They'll know nothing about it until that first little wriggly sensation in the night...

Anonymous said...

You may have read the instructions, but did the worms? I think this is where you went wrong.

Unknown said...

This is so weird. Only last night did I watch your Googlewhacking programme repeat (the second or third time i've watched it) on the Paramount Comedy Channel!

I'm Liam Martin and I'm a Director of the company that manufacture and sell those Wormeries. Original Organics. I get "Google Alerts" to people blogging the word "Wormery" in case I can pop by and offer any advice :-)

In this case, I can! The reality is that, once established, and as long as the Wormery is working well as per the instructions (i.e. not too wet or acidic) - the worms won't want to be anywhere else. Tiger Worms thrive on organic matter and food waste and the proof will be in their continual breeding once established.

However, new worms will always 'explore' their new environment and as part of that they may explore their way out! Once out, if they fall onto the kitchen floor or outside or similar - the harsh conditions often make their survival difficult so they can't find their way back.

I'm very glad to hear that our staff were helpful and I've passed on your comment to the person you spoke to (my Mum) who hasn't a clue what a 'blog' is but is thrilled nonetheless. It sounds like your council had the bin in stock for some time and possibly not kept in ideal conditions hence resulting in a poor quality lid seal.

If you wish to validate who I am - email


Liam Martin
Original Organics Ltd.

Stephen said...

Clearly Dave read "Free Worms" and misunderstood.

Wormeries are great. We have one, but we keep it in the garden. (I think ours is designed to go outside, and is too big and dirty to go inside.)

Not sure if the extra compost and fertilizer makes a wormery a goof investment in financial terms (though maybe if subsidised) but I'd certainly recommend it as an interesting way to make good use of waste.

Good on the director of the company for posting a comment too!

BadAlbert said...

There is a far more frightening possibility. Your wormery is successful. Too successful. Your worms, dining on a veritable king's banquet of tea bags and rotting veg night after night, grow large and powerful. So powerful that they rise up against you and take over your kitchen. Then the house. Next they recruit other worms to their cause and they make a move on our green and pleasant land street by street. You hadn't thought of that had you, you irresponsible bastard!

Anonymous said...

Original Organics wormeries are great! I got the larger version last year, and it produces so much liquid feed I have trouble giving it all away. Top bit of kit.

BadAlbert said...

For a split second there I thought mike weavers' comment began 'olympic wormeries'. Now that would be amazing. Maybe once the rogue worms are captured and their armies destroyed we could put them to use in track and field events.

Anonymous said...

Is there any way of converting a car to run on the output of one of these?

(semi-serious question)

Incidentally, if they don't qualify for Genius I don't know what does.

Jayne said...

Hahaha oh that's a giggle. Nice the director of the company popped by to leave a comment! Is the wormery kitchen bin sized? As I have a tiny kitchen but am interested in becoming an Overlord.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, 1 question does spring to mind. Where the worms actually dead or where they just old skins on your kitchen floor that they had simply grown out of? If that's the case then you could potentially be sharing your home with some real big worms. I'm no worm expert you understand but the name sounds like they could be man eaters, just be careful mate. Cheers, Steve.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave. This is interesting..I have tried making my own wormery a few times using common old garden worms in a composting bin, but it always fails. It sounds like these Tiger Worms do the job much more efficiently.

I ordered a batch of nematodes last spring, to help keep my veggie patch slug free. It did feel weird, receiving a little packet of parasites by mail order.

You've given me a great idea for the 'Secret Santa' at work..I'm sure one of my colleagues would enjoy the unique and exclusive gift of 'worm vouchers' this year.


Anonymous said...

I think i once saw a worm smile.

Anonymous said...

I've tried, but I can't think of any worm gags.

Good on you though. I invested in two compost bins (aka "the daleks") this year, but no wormery as of yet. My neighbours have one that is going great guns, but someone else I know just couldn't persuade the blighters to stay inside hers, so fingers crossed that you've solved the problem.

Life Mod said...

i wonder if you added any seating or soft music, worms dont like heavy rock.. sounds too much like birds stomimong on the ground. maybe if you put some of the nicer things in life into the wormary they will stay for a while, and be your unwitting slave army

Matt said...

Hey Dave,

Did you know that if you type "Gorman" and "Minogue" into Google, you get this rather misleading statement from the New York Times?

"Dave Gorman is an inspiration to lazy writers everywhere, ... a single-minded creationist and a closeted gay man who might be Kylie Minogue's biggest fan. ..."

Anonymous said...

Wormeries are great fun, I bought an Ecowormery from Wormcity - after seeing Toby Buckland using one, and its fabulous. My kids love feeding their pets.
I think everyone should have a wormery

Stuart said...

I've got worms! Or I should say, I gave my missus worms for her birthday this year. It was great. It is much fun keeping the little critters, and we recently harvested our first load of compost. I really was amazed at the quality of the stuff.

In the early days we also had a mass breakout. There were worms escaping daily, but as more and more built up in the bin, they decided to stay put. I think the six foot wall with razor wire, guard towers and spot lights probably made a difference too!

Anonymous said...

worm wander only usually happens in the first few days, once your wormery has some 'good bacteria' the worms are generally happy to stay put

Anonymous said...

Kids love wormeries - anything to do with dirt .....

Anonymous said...

Just got a wormery from my Council, and am seeking to solve the Worm Wander phenomenon. Lots of encouraging comments here, thanks!

Through some extra experimentation I've performed since it arrived, it also turns out that your fiancee is likely to freak out when you tell her what the new green bin in the lobby really is...