It was the cruellest prank ever played in the Tame household.

Mum and Dad, having resisted years of begging and pleading, called their brood into the lounge for a special family announcement.

"You kids have been so good this year," Dad started. "Mum and I have been really impressed. We think it's time we acknowledged all the chores you've been doing.

"We've decided to get a pet."


My 12-year-old mind was a mess of possibility.

What would we choose? An English sheepdog? A border collie?

A cute little terrier whom I'd train to get the newspaper and fetch my slippers in the morning?

As my sisters embraced, my dad continued, the smile spreading across his face.

"Why don't you all head into the backyard and meet the newest members of the Tame family? "

'Members?!' I thought. PLURAL? Wait, we're getting TWO puppies?!

Dad split into hysterics.

"Who's gonna open the compost bin and meet our new pet WORMS!"


That was the first time I knew heartbreak.

And the first time I learned that actually, yes, you can purchase over-the-counter worms.

But as I poured a container of slops into my new worm composter this week, and saw a proteinous little slugger dig back into the soil, I had to admit to a feeling of coming full circle.

I've become my dad.

And sure, they're not a scratch on a border collie, but maybe a compost bucket full of pet worms isn't a half-bad compromise.

The worm juice is perfect for the microgreens.

Fancy lettuce leaves splay out from their buckets, competing with the nearby chives and reaching for the sun.

I'm hoping it won't be too long before our tomato vines and the sweet peas take. The lavender should bring bees, and the swan plant will attract monarchs.

The basil is doing well. The oregano is lush. We'll need a combine harvester to get through our parsley patch.

I'm really not a green thumb. But my slippery little mates and the plants they benefit have provided me an important lesson this week.

We're in a high rise with a 5sq m balcony in the middle of the city.

Worms, herbs, and veges: You can do a lot with not much space.

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9-noon.