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.