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I Like Worms

You know what makes me really, really happy? When I dig into the ground in my garden and the soil comes up just wiggling with lots and lots of worms. That just tickles me pink. You see, I come from a family of worm connoisseurs. My grandma and grandpa used to have a long-standing argument over which were best: red wigglers or night crawlers. They each had separate bins where they raised their own particular breed of worms. Grandpa had an old buried sink that he kept full of coffee grounds, cabbage leafs, kitchen scraps and of course oodles of obscenely fat, slimy night crawlers. Grandma, on the other hand, built a quite large above-ground structure where she kept her smaller, but equally glutinous red wigglers well fed on grapefruit halves, egg shells and torn up newspapers. It was a much-competed for honor among us grandkids to be the one who got to go out and get the worms before a fishing trip. We’d take out two old coffee cans with little holes in the lid and fill one with a squirming shovelful of night crawlers, while the other would be packed full of wriggling wigglers. One small scoop from either bin would provide enough bait for a day of fishing for several people. My grandparents knew how to grow worms. The worm wars carried over into the fishing boat as well. Grandma swore that trout found her red wigglers irresistible, while grandpa would have testified in a court of law that night crawlers guarantee a better catch.

Anyway, back to worms in general. I just like them all. If I turn over my compost and see a giant night crawler, I’m in worm heaven. But if I dig into my rose garden and my shovel contains several bright red wigglers, I’m also a happy gardener. I’ve realized that I judge the success of my garden not so much as by the output of tasty vegetables or by how pretty it looks, but by the number of annelids contained in an average shovel of dirt. Worms on the brain, you might say? I think not.

Charles Darwin, naturalist extraordinaire, had this to say about my crawly friends; "It may be doubted whether there are many other creatures which have played so important a part in the history of the world." See????? Worms are great. Worms turn leaves and waste and old dead grass and stuff into nice dark fertile soil. In a worm rich environment, the lowly earthworm can make 18 tons per acre of nutrient-rich soil. Well, ok, most of it is worm poop, but hey! It grows great tomatoes! I have a fairly large lawn and lots of plants around that create quite a pile of garden waste each year. I just stack all that yard trash up, set the squiggly wigglies loose on it, and every spring I have a truck load of perfect dirt. Now to most gardeners, that would mean great soil for growing vegetables and flowers, but to me it means more soil to grow MORE WORMS!

It’s the perfect cycle. I pile up extra vegetation, the worms eat it and make worm poop, I plant seeds in the worm poop and more vegetation grows to become piled up. And all the time my wiggles per scoop ratio gets higher.

So my point? Worms are the perfect hobby. They don’t cost much, they don’t bark or tip over the neighbor’s garbage can, and you don’t have to clean up their pen or litter box. You don’t have to buy expensive shoes or protective gear to have fun with worms. Enjoying worms is one of those rare pastimes that doesn’t cost money, can be enjoyed by everyone and makes the world a better place. Worms may not be very cuddly, and the thrill level of raising worms is pretty low, but once one gets over the silly aversion to slimy crawly things, growing worms is a simple, productive pastime. Adopt a worm today!

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