Garden Quest #6 – Worm Hunting and Making Soil

Goblin Gamma, perhaps a stereotypical 4 year old boy, loves earthworms. I’m beginning to suspect he was a robin in a previous life, because not only does he love finding them in the garden, he has eyes like a hawk – spotting tiny, millimeters-long worms the instant I flip over new dirt.

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Today I worked on the non-edible yard, edging the walks back. In many places the grass had grown over three inches. We also unearthed a long-buried flagstone path between the sidewalk and the street. It’s easy to knock the disutility of grass, but composted sod can make decent garden soil with patience.

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Nearly every linear foot of overgrown sod turned up worms. Gamma helped me spot them, capture them, and put them to work in the productive garden. There’s a lot of rotting organic matter for them to feed on and unlock the nutrients for our plants. Some worms, like the one above, were so ensconced in the roots that we had to coax them out carefully to avoid ripping them in half. Most were quite small, but we did nab quite a monster, almost ten inches. He’s burrowing his way around what’s left of the spinach.

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Poking a hole for the worm’s “home”

Give it a year and the rotted sod will be useful too. This bed is almost 100% derived from the last time I edged the walks, and look at the plants grow!

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Green beans on the left two-thirds, cucumbers on the right.

I’m not saying this is the best garden dirt ever, but just a reminder that you can make usable dirt from what’s normally considered yard waste. I typically layer some of this material into my kitchen compost to keep the insects down and add a microbial boost. Between the rich organic matter in the food and the rotted sod, the finished product is a good planting base. The rest goes in an open yard waste pile to slowly break down and attract birds seeking nest material. Come fall, I’m going to nab a lot of the leaf piles from my street to get more carbon-rich material.

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