I love books and collect as many as I can get on my wall to ceiling bookcase. There is much wisdom to be gained from books written years ago on the topic of gardening.
I think not everyone will be as excited about this topic as I am, but here goes. Nothing thrills me quite so much as seeing worms in the garden. Our recent drought relief rains have brought many benefits – green grass, 12-inch tall garlic and earthworms.
Finding earthworms in the soil as I work diligently to suppress the weeds that have thrived in our recent rains makes my heart leap. There are many ways to healthy soil, but seeing earthworms every time you put a trowel into the earth is a good sign. Having an abundance of worms in your garden help to recycle old roots, litter, etc., into much-needed nutrients. Earthworms also act as aerators tunneling their way to and fro.
Fishing aside, earthworms have two big jobs in your garden. Smaller worms live close to the soil's surface or around the roots of plants and don't mind the summer's warmer temps. And unlike my husband, these little worms don't mind my garden's crowded plantings. They eat organic matter. Like the left-over leaves from the fall, decomposing cardboard or newspaper mulch or anything left on the soil's surface that eventually becomes compost with the help of worms. Once that organic matter passes through the worm, it becomes richer in the form of worm poop – commonly referred to as "castings." You can purchase castings.
Fishermen dive deeper in search of nightcrawlers. My former brick bungalow in Mandan was constructed in the 1930s on a lot that the early settlers used to dump their grass clippings. The result was an uneven lawn filled with nightcrawlers. One evening I spotted a light moving across my yard and found some trespassing fisherman searching for nightcrawlers after the rain. I chased him off.
These larger relatives of the surface worms do not compost organic matter but rather aerate the soil and prefer the cooler temps and less crowding deeper in your soil. Rain brings them to the surface.
Whether you fish or grow food, everyone should welcome worms to their garden. Here are several ways to encourage worms:
It's been challenging to get the garden planted this month due to the sporadic rain showers and freezing temps of late. But, I welcome the worms, and eventually, we have to have summer. Here's rooting for the garden.
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Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.