“I’ve been getting a lot more into earthworms lately.”
Odds are very good that only a few short years ago, this was a phrase I would never have thought to utter. Possibly I would have thought it a sign of impending mental illness. But these days, it is the truth. These are pretty remarkable little organisms, and I find that I am having some success rearing them.
Why would I do that, you ask? Well, for starters, they are great consumers of our kitchen wastes. They break down our waste, turn it into soil, and them are released with their castings into the vegetable or rose garden. Of course, many get snatched up by our ever vigilant flock of hens, meaning some made their way (indirectly of course) to my plate this morning. When prepared in this fashion, I can heartily recommend worms for breakfast.
The other reason I’m raising them is for my “vermidrainage” project. At our Saticoy ranch, we have a compacted clay soil in our Block A, familiar by now to my handful of regular readers. We have been maintaining a cover crop to help break up the soils, and in the next couple of weeks, when we replant, we will attempt to create some natural drains in the clay pan. Basic concept is simple: Use the PTO auger to bore through the pan, then refill it with a mixture of active vermicompost, mulch, and a little of the original soil. A cap of mustard cover on top should add some deep roots, and make it easy to spot the sites. The hope is that this column of active soil will allow water to drain, and serve as a colony for earthworms to spread through the covercrop rootsystems that surround them. Three 30 gallon barrels are serving as my hatchery. Of course a little vermicompost will go into each new tree’s hole as well.
I’m not alone in this new found interest. Friend and pathfinder Rose H-S alerted me to a blog piece from a young farmer named Devin Foote. If I was concerned for my sanity, then I am now doubly worried for Devin, since his thoughtful and detailed article suggests that he has given this much more thought than I.