Worms in the garden

I’m sure I mentioned somewhere along the line that Nephew found a compost bin on the property – the kind that is supposed to keep kitchen vegetal wastes out of the landfill and returning to your garden. These black monoliths are supposed to keep rats and other foragers out of the food scrap pile.

I keep an old gallon ice cream pail with fitted lid underneath the kitchen sink and throw in my ends of green pepper, lettuce, radish, pear and apple peelings, carrot and green bean tops and bottoms, bread gone mouldy, spaghetti leftover from someone’s plate – well, you know – everything but the meat and fat scraps.

Usually taking the scraps out was either Hugh or Ron’s job, but occasionaly I would take pity on them (or get entirely frustrated by an overflowing scrap pail) that I would take it out myself. So one fine sunny Saturday morning, I took an overflowing pail out to the back of the yard by the cedar fence where the compost bin stood.
I could hear a rustling movement within. Cautiously I took the lid off and peered in only to have a very well fed grey rat leap out of there, just missing my nosy nose by an inch. He fled so fast he was gone in a nanosecond. I don’t know who was more startled, me or the rat!

After my trembling calmed down, I inspected the box to see how he had gotten in. It seemed tightly fitted. But upon inspection, I saw that the trap door at the bottom only fitted loosely now that the rims were encrusted with decomposing vegetable matter that had become finer dirt. I scraped this rim and fitted the trap door back in snuggly. Those rats! They are very clever.

I often wonder about the fauna that has chosen to live out their lives in that dark interior without a window on the rest of the world. It is teeming with life. There are beetles, slugs, wasps, white fly and several kinds of worms, not to mention all the bacterial life one cannot see.

Sometimes when we have had a feast of one kind or another – Easter, a birthday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, an anniversary or promotion or special guests in for dinner – I gleefully think of treating my worms to something very special and wonder if they even notice the change in their daily diets. Do they send up a worm like cheer when I bring them asparagus ends? Can they taste what they eat?

Or do they say a special prayer for the days when fennel is our vegetable of choice? Do they get high on peach and plum peelings that have gone to alcohol? Do they call out “Party!” when birthday cake scraps arrive? Do they know the difference?

A few days ago, I was at the Maple Market getting vegetables. Of all the produce stores in the community, they have the freshest and largest selection of fruits and vegetables. I prefer to shop there. Usually they have some bags of mixed vegetables at very reasonable price and I, never having forgotten my week with my last five centimes in France, shop economically and frugally when I can.

So for one shiny Loonie, the stalwart Canadian dollar, along with my other produce purchases, I brought home a bag containing two long English cucumbers, four green peppers with slightly wrinkly skin just perfect for soup, two carrots that had been snapped in half during harvest, two onions that were perfectly fine and these accompanied the peppers and carrots into the soup.

But that was not all. There were three very small thin green peppers that I suspected might just be so spicy that I needed to respect their bite. I’m not an aficionado of spicy hot food. I sliced the tip off of one of these fiesty peppers and touched my finger to the juicy flesh and then, gingerly, to my tongue. Hot tamale!

“So, dear worms, you have a very special treat today. On today’s the menu in the compost pail, we have a lively medley of green jalapeno peppers, cucumber skins, carrot tops and onions peels. Happy fiesta, mes amigos! Dinner is on the house!”


One Response to “Worms in the garden”

  1. bluedragonfly Says:

    I hope they enjoy the spicy feast! It is an interesting thought. I wonder how different the decomposition of a jalapeno is from an eggplant etc. etc. I’m sure regardless that the worms are just so happy for all that wonderful rich soil.

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