Monday, July 11, 2011

Hooray for Worms!

Well, there it is, my pile of "quality topsoil."  Doesn't it look oh so impressive, with its crown of sprouted weeds?  Weeds are about the only thing growing well in in.  With the lack of rain we've had, the "topsoil" is a hard, crusty pile of clay and sand, no better than the hardpan in which my garden is laid out.

So, I took the advice of the garden educator at work and went to Brooklyn for worm dirt.  That's Brooklyn, Michigan, not NYC.  For $1.99/bag, one can take home some quality worm castings, and might even get a few worms to boot.

I bought ten bags. I figured the garden needed all the help it could get.  The first eight bags were loaded with gigantic worms - I think the girls who sort the worms out of the "dirt" were having an off day.  The worms are raised for fish bait, and the business sells the castings on the side.  Must be they were tired of sorting worms, or it was the end of the day, for I must've had several dozen nightcrawlers in my bags.  Not that I'm complaining!  My soil can use all the help it can get!  Although I do feel a bit badly for the worms - they have gone from posh accommodations to the Bowery.

Each bed got a topcoat of worm dirt,

while the squash and sweet potatoes got an extra dose.  I figured anything that is a heavy feeder was going to need all the help I could provide.

My joy at having beautiful, CPB-free potatoes was short-lived.  I found a couple potato beetles a couple weeks ago, and now my spuds are COVERED with the larvae.  >sigh<  So, every night now I don my gloves and attack, squishing larvae left and right.  I don't mind the little ones, but the large larvae, well, they are just disgusting to squish.  My gloves are soon soaked with larvae innards.  Still, this is probably the only way to combat these insects.  According to Lisa, the garden educator at work, it does work over time.  She was telling me this weekend how after three years of squishing larvae daily, she's gone from potatoes totally covered with the vile things to potatoes with only a smattering of 'em.  

Saturday morning I spent some time at the community gardens, putting up the rest of my trellising and picking my harvest (more on that in a moment).  The previous week I'd trellised the peas (which, thanks to the lack of rain, really didn't need it) and put black plastic down on the remaining half of my plot that I never planted (no time).  This day I trellised the pole beans.

My plot, however, is not worth photographing - not unless one is doing an expose on horrid veg gardens.  The other gardeners, however, have done some truly lovely work.  Many of the plots are regular works of art, and full of veg already.

And here is my harvest:

 Yep - there may be a whole dozen pea pods there.  The largest of them is about the size of my pinky finger.  Got a whole quarter-cup of peas out of 'em.  Toby enjoyed them for yesterday's breakfast.