Posted by: Ross Gardner | November 10, 2011

Feed the Worms

We have a modest sized garden, perhaps what some might regard as small.  Needless to say, the naturalist that I am has endeavoured to make good use of the space, as regards to attracting wildlife into it.  Every garden should have a pond.  Ours, with its resident Odonata and thriving population of Smooth Newts arriving each spring, gives us much pleasure.  Nectar is in good supply throughout and our Silver Birch is maturing into the graceful tree that we hoped for when we planted it.

Our garden is a wonderful little space, which we are very grateful for indeed.  But ask me for one of my favourite features within it and giving the pond a good run for its money would be the compost bin, with its encumbent Brandling Worms.  These are worms that I am assuming (not being a worm expert or anything) to be the species Eisenia fetida.  They are amazing little creatures.  I can open the lid in the warmth of spring and summer to find the surface inside to be a writhing mass of pinky-orange-brown bodies.  They are active it seems at all times, except the colder days of the year.

Brandling Worms (Eisena fetida). Ross Gardner 2011

They are amazing because I never put them there, or had even seen them before, yet there they are in considerable abundance.  They are amazing because they eat potato peel and apple peel, egg shells, tea bags, dead leaves and grass cuttings, brocolli stalks, carrot tops, the stringy bits of runner beans and the tough pods of broad beans and even the odd bit of newspaper (and all this just for starters), before turning it into rich black soil.  Fertile compost that helps us grow the next crop of spuds and runners.  We all know that there are creatures that eat leftovers and poo compost.  This indeed, is what in many respects makes the world go round.  But when you really think about it and see it going on before your own eyes in your own garden, you are reminded that it is actually, well… amazing.  And they can do other amazing things as can be seen in this excellent video: FEED YOUR COMPOST, made by Louise Swain and starring worms from our very own compost bin.

Some of you may well be thinking I’m slightly barmy, but there you go.


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