“Only Very Small Numbers Of Businesses Have Worms”

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Which most people would be relieved to hear. But in California, the government is encouraging businesses to get their very own worm infestations as soon as possible. No, really. We're not making this up.

Always on the cutting edge of all things environmental, California is encouraging public and private-sector employees to bring worms to work so that the creatures can chew up apple cores, sandwich scraps and other lunch leftovers and produce compost.

The employees are then invited to take the stuff home and use the all-natural fertilizer in their gardens and on their houseplants.

The state's Integrated Waste Management Board is so serious about this that it has posted on its Web site a list of top 10 ways to recycle on the job, and No. 2 is: "Keep worms in your office."

Supporters of the idea say that once you get over the ick factor, it's not so bad. Open up a bin and it looks like a box of odorless, wet coffee grounds.

"Worms are the most forgiving pets you'll ever own," said Carol Parker, the "worm lady" who cares for the worms at the public works office. "You can go away for two weeks and ignore them and they're fine."

Tips for keeping happy worms are available on the state's Web site. Among other things, it suggests buying your worms from a worm supplier, to make sure you get the right kind. ("Unless you are pretty well brushed up on oligochaetology, do not try to dig up worms from your backyard.")

The site provides a long list of suppliers across the state to choose from, including As the Worm Turns, Live Nude Worms, and the Happy D. Ranch Worm Farm, which sells a three-tray "worm factory," which for $117 includes a bed of shredded coconut fiber and two pounds of worms.

To start a homemade bin, experts recommend putting down a little dirt and shredded damp cardboard or newspaper. Be sure to poke holes in the bin — air flow is necessary to promote decomposition and keep odors down — and make absolutely certain you've bought the right kind of worms. Apparently if they are not red worms, they may try to escape en masse.

We can't wait to hear about the first case where someone got the wrong worms. That will be a hoot. So remember, get your worms from Live Nude Worms! (GREAT name.)

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