Worms can adapt to a variety of conditions, they can even freeze and revive, but they are quite sensitive to chemicals in the soil and air. Adequate ventilation is essential for worms raised indoors if they are to survive at all. Healthy worms reproduce every two months, and 50,000 of them can digest a cubic yard of soil per month. A large bed of worm castings grows a dynamite garden.
Some worm enthusiasts are beginning to see soil and worms as one and the same and are developing techniques for growing vegetables in beds of pure worms. Outside Lawrence, Kansas, Turner’s Worm Farm produces enough melons, tomatoes, beans and peas, all grown in 1/4 acre of worm bed, to fully stock Turner’s Produce Market. Turner grows his plants in pure worms, with trellises for the vines to climb up ouf of the slimey masses. The best of the yield is picked for the store, the rest fall off the vines to rot and be digested by the worms, with seeds of the rotting vegetables sprouting anew. Turner feeds the worms newspaper, cardboard and garbage and sells sacks of the worm casings in his store.
Turner’s friends see various applications for his dramatic model. “Closed soil gardening systems,” and “solid waste disposal through earthworms” are their catch-phrases for some interesting possibilities. For instance, small city composting programs can partially support themselves by selling compost. Raising worms would speed the composting process and create another saleable commodity for gardeners and fishermen and gradually enrich the soil of the city.
Worm bed gardens make more sense than hydroponics: the worms themselves are a rooting medium so no pebbles or synthetics are needed; and you throw in paper and garbage instead of expensive chemicals. It’s a case of high tech versus slime and shit, with the latter producing the more nutritious vegetables.
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