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ecology

Worms ate my garbage

Worms Eat My Garbage

Mary Appelhof's Worms Eat My Garbage is one of my all-time favorite gar­den­ing books. Not only does it con­tain the first prin­ci­ples of worm com­post­ing; not only is writ­ten in an engag­ing, warm and yet prac­ti­cal voice; it's one of those spe­cial books that says a lot about the per­son who dis­plays it on his or her book­shelf, a freak flag rep­re­sent­ing all sorts of affil­i­a­tions, opin­ions and predilec­tions. I was think­ing about Mary after I read a strange tid­bit about worm com­post­ing in today's Wall Street Jour­nal Informed Read­er blog. It linked to an arti­cle in Britain's Dai­ly Tele­graph called "Wormeries 'may add to green­house gas­es.'" Hmmm.

In fact, the green­house gas­es emit­ted by a large com­mer­cial worm com­post­ing plant may be com­pa­ra­ble to the glob­al warm­ing poten­tial of a land­fill site of the same scale, accord­ing to the Open Uni­ver­si­ty. This is because worms used in com­post­ing emit nitrous oxide — a green­house gas 296 times more pow­er­ful, mol­e­cule for mol­e­cule, than car­bon diox­ide. Land­fill sites pro­duce methane which is 23 times more pow­er­ful a green­house gas than car­bon diox­ide.

What is this Open Uni­ver­si­ty? (Appar­ent­ly, it is a "dis­tance learn­ing" pro­gram in the UK). And how much nitrous oxide do worms emit as they con­sume garbage? Is it com­pa­ra­ble to the amount that the garbage would emit if it sat in a land­fill? Is it less? More?(Mary's web­site? www.wormwoman.com, nat­u­ral­ly.)

One reply on “Worms ate my garbage”

Hey Doug. I've had a worm bin for almost a year now and I have to
admit, it's a lot of fun. They're almost my pets, although I haven't
named each one yet. Been feed­ing them my food scraps, etc. The soil is
now pure gold.