Attack of the Red Worms


(Image from

It was a simple, humble plan. Last year, because our compost pile was not cooking as fast during the chilly Tokyo winter, ever-resourceful husband decided to start a vermiculture bin. He was quite pleased to discover that the red worms already propagating in our existing compost pile were the correct type of worm to inhabit a thriving bin.  While turning the pile, he found many healthy and eager helpers and quickly settled them into a small container on the kitchen window sill. They had a pile of dirt, yummy leftovers to burrow through and a comforting cover of wet cardboard. He tucked his little buddies into their new home and we trudged up the stairs to bed.

For whatever reason, I did not sleep well that night. I flipped and flopped under the covers and only succeeded in getting to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. So, when the alarm woke me a couple of hours later, I felt nauseatingly fatigued. Down the stairs I stumbled to make some breakfast.

The attack was unexpected, to say the least. A wriggling wave of red and pink undulated its way towards the kitchen sink and along the crack towards the dark corner behind the microwave. Those worms were everywhere. Luckily there was nothing in my stomach to  come up. Back up the stairs I ran. “Your friends have taken over the kitchen,” I explained to my bleary-eyed man. “I am not feeling like breakfast this morning.” I left him to worm-wrangle while I quickly left the horror movie playing out in our kitchen and biked to work on an empty stomach.

And on the way to work, of course, I got a flat tire. Sigh.

When I got home that night, there was a new container in place with a tight lid. And it was nowhere near the kitchen counter. The worms’ new home was in hubby’s office next to the computer where nothing at all could ever happen….

The “Attack of the Red Worms” has put so much into perspective. When I wake up in the morning and come down to the kitchen to fix breakfast, I think what a wonderful day it is, to not have worms on the counter in the morning. And every day, even a Monday, is wonderful, because, as you know, it could always be worse.

Now, we have a change of plans. We do have a compost bin in the kitchen, crowded in next to the compartmentalized recycling bin and the bread maker in the narrow, dark aisle that pretends to be a kitchen. (Too many cooks in this kitchen can use up all the air.) But this compost bin uses friendly, aromatic, beneficial “good” bacteria to help speed up the decomposition process. (See EMRO website.) No worms, no wafting fumes; just a good source of compost. Oh, and they are anaerobic… they don’t need air. Good thing  ‘cause there’s no extra oxygen in this claustrophobic corridor of a kitchen.

I breathe a sigh of relief.