Unsung heroes of the Earth
When I first started invading Bill’s lawn, it was tough. The soil was very packed and depleted of nutrients wherever I dug it up. It was very labor intensive. Every square foot I turned into flower plot, I had to dig at least a foot deep, take small stones out as well as grubs-a lot of grubs. I put the grubs in a plastic tray for the birds. I guessed the Robins hung around when I worked the garden for the reason that they will get fresh grubs without having to look too hard for them. (Editorial note from Bill: the Robins actually followed her around as she dug, pulling grubs out as she went). I hardly saw any earthworms. I put the soil in the wheelbarrow and mixed it with compost, one to one ratio and add a little store-bought chicken crap in before I put it back in the plot.
There was a pre-existing compost pile at the corner of the property. Not much, but at least something, after I picked out the stones, plastic bags, rubber bands, and whatever else that got tossed in over the years. I guess the previous owners used it as a garbage dump more than a compost pile. Bill just dumped leaves on top of it, without knowing that. The compost in the pile had never been used until I started to amend the soil, so it’s been aged for years like a good whiskey. Bill made a screen for me to screen the unwanted debris out. I cleaned out the whole pile, but it still didn’t produce enough for that year’s garden. The good news is that I didn’t find the previous owner’s Grandma’ or anyone else at the bottom of the pile. Now, we have a clean compost pile with just leaves and clippings from our garden, and scrap from the kitchen. Nothing worthy of forensics anyway.
Earthworms moved into the compost pile in no time and I transported them along with each wheelbarrow of compost I used for the garden. The garden soil is much looser now and everywhere I dig there are earthworms. They’re so plentiful that one morning when I stepped into one of the flower plots to get my camera in close, I felt something wriggling in my croc. If I were in the tropics, I would have jumped. But there are no wriggling poisonous critters at this latitude so I took my croc off and shook it. An earthworm fell out and promptly crept back under a plant. They are that plentiful now!
The plants are healthier and the birds have fresh food too. The only downside of this is that the worms and grubs also draw in moles, yes the little gray guy who I broke my ankle running after last year. But, the moles do not eat our plants so we can co-exist in our little garden.