There are worms living in our basement.

They have been living there for more than a year now.

I'm shocked and appalled.

But no, I'm not shocked and appalled at the worms living in our basement. I'm shocked and appalled that it has taken this long for me to share them with you.

So here you go. Meet my worms.

(You'll have to look closely to see them. I didn't say I had giant mutant worms in the basement. They're just regular-size red wigglers.)

You're probably wondering how the worms got in our basement in the first place and what they're doing there. It's your lucky day, because I'm about to tell you.

You see, as part of my job, I help plan and host the Central Illinois Composting Symposium. It's an event that has been going on for years, but last year was the first year the college where I work was involved.

The last event of the day was a "Build Your Own Bin" workshop, where participants built very basic vermicompost bins to take home—worms and all.

Vermicomposting is, as you may have guessed by now, worm composting. It's particularly great for people who don't have a place for a large outdoor compost pile. The worms love chowing down on food scraps, coffee grounds, and such.

So I built a bin, took it home, and proceeded to dump the contents of my compost crock into the bin on occasion.

By some miracle, after more than a year of infrequent visits and more than a little bit of neglect, my worms are going strong. In fact, I recently had to harvest all the compost from my bin because it was getting too full. That compost (and more than a few worms, admittedly) is now mixed in with the soil in our big stone planter box in the front yard. Hopefully this will make for some stellar flowers this summer.

All the upkeep the little wigglers require is an occasional handful of dry shredded newspaper added to the bin to soak up moisture. As long as I do that, the bin doesn't smell. And as long as I occasionally bring them some food, the worms don't attempt to escape.

They have even taken a few road trips to Springfield to visit elementary classrooms and are none the worse for wear. (Kids think it's pretty cool to see worms eating garbage, by the way. Then again, so do some adults—like me.)

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