Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Showers

It's another 'April Showers' type day today – rain has been coming down all day with no signs of stopping. Worms are making their way onto the roads and side walks to the delight of the robins (who don't need to get up early to get a worm around here). I like worms, they represent healthy soil to me. Since I'm someone who is trying to grow tasty food in my back yard (step 1: grow vegetables, step 2: save planet), healthy soil is a good thing. I agree with what Charles Darwin said about worms:

“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly organized creatures.”

When I lived in various apartments, I tried indoor worm composters (always of my own construction). Generally, my worms did well but, so did fruit flies. I tried at least three times, each time abandoning the idea because of the fruit fly swarms that emerged. Maybe there was some trick I needed to know about, but now that I have outside space for a proper compost, I'm not going to worry about it.

There are all sorts of different types of worms but, the common earthworm or Lumbricus terrestis is the one I see in my garden. These guys usually hang out in burrows close to the surface and recycle organic debris. Leaves, grass clippings, even carrot peels can all be turned into great soil by worms. Their bodies are divided into linked, somewhat independent segments. Each segment is pressurized with fluid to give the worm shape and has muscles that can act independently to allow it to move. The mouth is at one end and along the whole body is the gut and waste is pushed out the other end. This waste (that is, poo) is what makes good soil.

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