As the worm turns – but not in our kitchen, please

Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our columnist has vacated the premises for a week – with everyone’s approval – so we’re filling the space this week with this previous effort.

There’s something wiggly growing in our kitchen.

The only good thing is, it’s not on the menu — at least, it better not be.

Terry has taken to growing worms again and she’s been keeping them in the kitchen, close to their food — table scraps, coffee grounds and other nutritious delicacies.

The only thing I can say at this point is that they’re not eating better than I am — so far.

Her intention is to use the worm manure as compost for her garden. It’s a process that’s called vermicomposting — the word is longer than the worms she’s growing. It’s supposed to be an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner — at least, that’s what she wants me to believe.

It’s a bit hard to believe that something that’s eating coffee grounds, carrot peelings, egg shells and old newsprint is going to make for bigger and better vegetables from the garden next summer and fall, but that’s Terry’s story and she — and her worms — are sticking to it.

It’s not the first time Terry’s tried growing her own worms, but in the past she’s kept their home — a Styrofoam container in the past, a plastic storage container this time — in the garage or out on the front porch.

Apparently, it seems that frozen worms don’t do a very good job of producing vermicompost — or whatever the stuff they’re creating is called — so she had to bring them inside for the winter.

“Inside” wound up being in the kitchen for a while, so they could be closer to the source of their meals.

Granted, they were inside a large plastic container that was less than half-full of worms, dirt and other detritus, which should render it impossible for even the most ambitious of worms to wriggle their way free of the box, but it still seemed a bit incongruous to me to have a box full of worms in the kitchen.

Besides, if they do their job right and eat well enough, they might just get big enough — and smart enough — to figure a way out of their plastic home.

Over the years, we’ve had various creatures just about everywhere in the house, it seems.

There was a period when we had a turtle living in our bathtub. It wasn’t a snapping turtle, but it did provide motivation to keep baths short — although the turtle was slow enough that, by the time it realized anyone was invading its home, the invader was usually clean and out of the tub.

We’ve had cats and dogs that have thought they should share our bed with us. With the dogs, especially, I was able to put an end to that madness, since my wife is perfectly capable of pushing me out of bed most nights without any four-legged help.

That has forced me to fight the dogs for the living room couch — and you can guess whose side Terry usually takes in that dispute.

I haven’t had to battle with the worms for any sleeping, sitting or other space thus far, but their box in the middle of the kitchen did create a bit of an obstacle course in there at times.

Terry finally relented and moved the worm container out of the kitchen — which, as in most homes, is one of the more heavily trafficked rooms.

The worms are now residing in an out-of-the-way corner of the dining room, where they at least are not in the middle of any of the main thoroughfares.

The bad thing about that is, now they’re closer to the dining room table. You can be sure I’ll be checking every time we have spaghetti from here on out to make sure the noodles aren’t brown and moving.

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