Friday, April 13, 2012

In the spring, a young worm's fancy turns to thoughts of love...

It is apparently mating season for earthworms.  Nothing like traipsing through a field of fornicating worms to get the critters put away.  Personally, I think worms are FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!  They aerate the soil, fertilize it, and are just darn cute little boogers.

My entire family thinks I'm nuts. 

 The pics show only a fraction of the worms I saw. 
 Most of them popped back into their holes as soon as the light hit them.  
They move surprisingly fast for things with no legs.

Everyone else is just grossed out by all those worms.  Me, I'm thinking I have some awesome soil out here in my garden!!  The USDA National Resources Conservation Service says that earthworms are a sign of healthy soil.  Heck, even most garden books suggest a worm census; hundreds of earthworms can't be wrong!

The worms were thickest in places the poultry pooped.  I could say "places we'd kept chickens, guineas, ducks, etc", but really, the worms are in it for the poop.  Must be like caviar or Domino's pizza for them. 

But could earthworms ever be considered pests?  Yes, according to an article from the University of North Texas, earthworms are bad news for golf greens and lawns, with their unsightly mounds of earth and squishy bodies that make most mama's boys run for cover, lest someone drop a worm down their shorts.  Ok, I added the last part, but still, who cares about golf or smooth lawns?  I can't eat grass and I don't play golf.  I noticed the article was from 1928, but golf is still around, and so are ridiculously manicured lawns...will we ever learn?

Surprisingly, though, there are legitimate arguments that earthworms are invasive species and are bad for forests.  Personally, I always thought earthworms were everywhere, including forests.  I just assumed they were under the leaf mulch, doing what worms do on a warm summer evening, maybe going out to dinner and a movie (Finding Nemo being a favorite horror flick of the worm population).  Turns out that most North American forests, especially sugar maple forests, evolved without the help of our wormy little friends.  And now those celebrities of the gardening world are being blamed for something called "Forest Decline Syndrome", as they wiggle their way into the forests of North America.  Check out the article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The article says that earthworms move only five yards per year.  They must be just plain lazy, because I've seen them move when caught by surprise above ground, and like I said, those buggers are quick!

I'm thrilled to have them in the garden, and they'll always be my little, squiggly, wiggly, squishy heroes!

Not just my hero, I see.

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