This particular Can O' Worms has recently arrived at the Maison Des Girrafes, our old el cheapo wormery having gone the way of all inferior products: though not before I got a tray full of the juiciest, spiciest, raciest, damn-it-all sexiest compost I've ever had the pleasure of handling, and had penned a paean to the former inhabitants (all since liberated).
Setting up a wormery is damned complicated.
Considered at its simplest, a wormery is a stack of garden sieves, placed one on top of the other. You place the worms in the bottom sieve, and add kitchen scraps to the one above. The worms wriggle upward into the kitchen scraps, recycling it into compost. When they've done this, you add a third sieve, filling that with scraps - and then a fourth. By that time (it can take several months) all the worms will have vacated the bottom layer. You can then remove the compost, adding the now-empty sieve to the top.
Lost? You will be. It's more complicated than that, because there's a lowermost layer, below the bottom sieve - you can see it in the photo above - which acts as a sump, collecting a liquid that forms a potent plant fertilizer. What's more, when you add the worms, you have to bed them down in some special coir bedding, which has to be moistened just so, and give them a sprinkle of special worm food every now and then, and if the ongoing mix gets too acid, you add some special lime mixture, being sure all the time to keep a special coir mat on top, and ensuring that the worms are neither too wet nor too dry, too warm or too cold, and being sure always to tuck them in at night, but only after you've read them the right kind of bedtime story (all references to Early Birds having been excised).
What's the point of a wormery, I hear you cry? Haven't we got enough pets already? What worms do is recycle the very nastiest and yuckiest of your rubbish - the cooked food scraps off the side of your plate. You can't put cooked food in the regular compost heap, because it attracts rats, but worms love it. The wormery thus relieves your bins of a load of stinky stuff, and landfill of a lot of methane-generating yuck. Worms like lots of fibre, too, such as egg boxes, shredded bank-statements, back numbers of the Daily Beast and, bless 'em, golden retriever hair - which currently rolls around the house like tumbleweed.
The Can O' Worms comes supplied with all the parts: a block of bedding, bags of worm food and lime, and the coir mat - everything except the worms themselves. To get these you have to mail the supplied voucher and the worms will arrive by return.
In their own chauffered limo, no doubt.
And no, we won't be giving them all names. Not immediately, at any rate. Not until we see the emergence of any worms of exceptional character or intelligence (more than a guinea pig, say). Until then we'll be catching up on our background reading.