I think it's official: I am now a granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging back-to-nature gal. Today I became a vermicomposter... or, for my English-speaking readers, a worm farmer.
My sister-in-law, who's been an avid worm composter for a year or so, set me up with a little compost bin and a bunch of red wigglers. ("How many of them are there?" I asked. Dawn shrugged. "You don't measure them in numbers," she said. "It's by weight." Looks like I have a herd of about a pound of worms.) They eat stuff like vegetable peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, and fruit gone bad. Dawn even mashed up a stale hamburger bun with the veggies when she was giving me my farming lesson. The worms live in their dark little bin with a bunch of shredded newspaper, and all they do is eat, poop, and make little worms. The poop is black gold, as I described it to Howard -- gardeners will pay big bucks for a few ounces of worm castings, which is the best fertilizer in the world, and now I'm going to get it for free. Anyway, the little buggers have been in my possession for about 3 hours now and haven't died yet -- so far, so good.
I've been composting green waste for about five years in a wonderful "rolling" compost bin that Sean gave me one Christmas. I toss in some leaves and kitchen scraps, give the bin a spin on its stationary base, and everything inside gets mixed and aerated. The problem is, I don't spin it often enough so it can take the stuff inside a very long time to decompose -- I only get a nice, rotted batch of compost once or twice a year. Tossing some worm castings in the bin every once in a while should help break things down a little more quickly.
Worms don't make great pets, but they're interesting little creatures. If you don't believe me, you should read The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart, an entertaining look at the world of worms. It was reading this book a few years ago that made me contemplate becoming a worm farmer, and today's the day it finally happened.