Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Worms at Work

Before I show you the worm photos I will start with a more colorful image --the yellow fence we are putting up around the patio and butterfly/bee garden.  The pollinator garden fence, 12  8-foot sections, was a Craigslist find for just $50 last fall!  Rog took it down from the previous owners' yard  and stored it in the barn all winter. It needed to be re-painted, and after such a long dreary winter, I was resolved to paint the house and fence colorfully this spring. Close up it looks a bit more subdued, more ochre;  I hope I don't regret choosing such a vivid hue! Once it is partially obscured by  flowers and bushes and vines, I think it will be fine,  a fun foil for magenta, voilet, orange and blue flowers. I am not so successful with a carefully planned color scheme in the flower gardens - I always end up with an impulsive riot of color.
We are staining the cedar picket fence around the patio the same color as the paint on the  flower garden fence. We sort of hate staining the no-maintenence fence; now it will need periodic re-staining, but I like looking out the window at the vibrant golden fence. All these fences...I never realized how critical fences are to this kind of small-scale, diverse farming--as much to protect the  plants from the livestock as the livestock from predators.

Last Saturday, a crew of nine college  students and their teacher Lynn Guenette  came out for a volunteer weekend.  Since it was too wet to till or plant,  they mostly painted the fence, Tom Sawyer style, and got it nearly halfway done. We cannot express our appreciation enough, although we did  attempt to by making them wood-fired pizza!
It has been raining and greening up the past couple days, and in the morning you can see that the night crawlers have come up to the surface, leaving zillions of evenly-spaced holes all over the yard and pasture!  It is probably more holes than if I had taken the lawn aerator out behind the garden tractor (which I still plant to do, despite the worms' help.)  Our soil is so heavy and clay-like, it is invaluable to have the worms  aerating the soil,  allowing the rain to penetrate.
A closer-up photo where the ground is bare, near the chicken coop.  Worms must be unbelievably strong to push through our dense soil!
As long as I am praising the outdoor worms, I should mention the indoor worms - in Rog's vermicomposting bin in the basement. These worms  are thriving and creating lots of black gold for the plants from whatever  kitchen scraps the chickens don't get! The worms are Rog's livestock project -- he tends them and I tend all the other critters.

Our garbage sorting is rather detailed:  Large veggie scraps (like broccoli and cabbage ends) for the cows; table scraps sorted for poultry and worms - and occasionally dogs and cats; the organic stuff that no critters really  like (e.g citrus peels)  for the outdoor compost piles; then various recycling and reuse sorts; and finally garbage, which is usually a pretty minimal amount! The garbage gets the kitty-litter, a few greasy/meat scraps we don't want in our compost, and unrecyclable packaging (which we attempt to avoid), plastic-y feed sacks and baling twine.  We still have a ways to go to get to our goal of zero-waste, though.

1 comment:

Gardeningbren said...

I love the yellow/ochre stained won't regret it at all.