(This is the view on our roof in the South Bronx, we have a small garden out here already but I dream of covering it with plants. The worms are helping me generate the soil that I need. Dirt is expensive!)
Earthworms like the common "red wriggler" composting worm can live for up to 6 years. They reproduce every 7 days laying a "pod" with 3-6 baby worms. Hence, a long-lived worm that's highly reproductive can produce 1,000-2,000 babies. That seems like a small number after all of those ads about the danger of un-spayed and un-neutered cats, but those ads use the trick of counting up all of the offspring of the offspring-- I'm not even going to go there with worms. Use your imagination! They are surging with life!
An indoor composting system that is 1'x1'x4' can house 4,000-6,000 worms. Once, the food supply is balanced with the population worms naturally stop having so many babies. Either that or worm college is just more expensive in large thriving worm societies, so who wants 6 kids in the big city?
1,000 worms can eat half a pound of garbage (junk mail, newspaper, kitchen scraps) every day turning it in to worm castings which can be sold to desparte gardeners at surprisingly high prices at your local farmer's market! Or just hoard it yourself and grow freakishly large plants!
(24 hours of growth. Mixed greens in old potting soil mixed with vermicompost.)
Worms can be sold too they don't mind as long as it's not to a fisherperson. They are easy to trick, though, (since they don't have eyes) so you can sell them to fisherpeople anyway, just tell them they are going to a nice garden.
Think of all the pounds of trash we could keep out of landfills if everyone had worms? You would not get as much for selling them, then, so maybe it's not as nice of an idea as I first thought. Hmm.
All of the dirt that you see in the world everywhere just about all of it was made by worms!
Oh-- you can go on vacation for up to two months and the worms need no feeding or care. Easier than cats. The perfect pet for lazy people! Are they much fun? Well, more than you expect, it's fun to watch them making their way through the bin, eating this and that, mating laying "pods" and being born. You come to like them.
And then walking around town it hits you: All of the dirt that you see in the world everywhere just about all of it was made by worms! Without them we'd have much less pleasant forest floors and parks. Darwin was one of the first to make note of this fact. He wrote a paper about the way that old ruins are slowly enveloped by dirt through the action of worms. Worms over time can move move great stone monuments by digging holes underneath, they slowly sink into the earth.
They are a quiet and powerful force.
There is a learning curve for getting set up with your own worms. But it is worth it. The easiest way is to buy an overpriced "worm farm" but a farm can also be made much more cheaply, but it won't look as good, and you're not that handy anyway, right? You can dig your own starter worms or buy them as well. (just buy them, who are you kidding here?) Either way it's very satisfying to feed the worms bills, campaign funds solicitation notices, and bad news articles -- though they refused to touch the one from Anthony Wiener. I wonder why? I guess even worms draw the line somewhere.
(Hard-working worm devouring some junk mail and wilted spring onion from the garden.)
Of course, they like kitchen scraps too-- though, one must be careful not to give them too much of one thing at once.
They smell divine, you know the smell of fresh dirt after the rain, well if you get close to the worms after they've worked through your scraps and unwanted mail you can smell nature in all her glory-- maybe that's why their castings are so valued?
eau de earth
Worms! I'm not obsessed at all!