A worm farmer admits his mistakes.
|Okay, so I have a few bad habits – who doesn’t?
No one should criticize another person. Isn’t that the rule – the golden one or maybe the one that says: “Don’t throw rocks when you live in a glass house?”
Last summer my neighbors started complaining. Big time. Something about flies buzzing all around. Like that was my fault.
Right after they started nagging back in August, I stopped spreading steer manure across the garden plots. I declined the chicken poop I used to use on my rhubarb. I canceled my monthly pickup load of used riding stable straw -- even though it was wonderful for my strawberry plants.
But did that stop the neighbors' bellyaching? No, siree. The sour looks, the shaking heads, the wagging fingers, that irritating cater wallowing they did whenever they peeked through the fence board holes.
I can hear them, though they probably think I can’t. “Did you see what he’s doing now? He’s at it again! Garbage, garbage, garbage strewn everywhere.”
Mostly I ignore my neighbors, try to pretend I don’t see or hear them. I even wear earphones and listen to Vivaldi on my I-pod. It’s not my fault if I often hum along. They don’t have to stay in their backyard and listen.
It’s probably that the Johnsons are just jealous. My tomatoes are big as melons. The eggplants look like they’ve been buffed they’re so shiny.
So, even though I know the Johnsons are on the other side of the fence making faces and discussing me, I shut it out and spend my time contemplating the length and number of cucumbers hanging like jewels on their supports. I measure my corn stalks, pick some green beans, or squish the occasional fat speckled caterpillar that’s decided he could dine on newly sprouted leaves.
Yep, jealous, that’s what the Johnsons are. They aren’t gardeners. They planted a few scrawny-looking petunias, but the poor things died a few weeks later. Maybe the couple didn’t water enough or watered too much, but I bet it’s cause they don’t have good dirt.
I take care of my dirt, make sure it’s rich as black gold. I tend it like a rancher with his herd. Only my beasts aren’t four-legged. They’ve got no legs at all.
Everyday I feed my herd with egg shells, avocado skins, slightly fuzzy cut-up banana peels, limp lettuce, brussel sprout leaves, ends and pieces of unwanted vegetable excess, and sprinklings of coffee grounds. And because of that, my herd of beasts gives back to me a soil so full of nutrients, it’s almost as if they’ve served up a Starbucks double latte.
I’d do anything to please my dirt-grinding critters, cause earthworms are like miniature machines that push and shove, rotate and aerate, each of them slurping up my leftovers just so they can excrete it back.
I tried to explain about the process with the Johnsons. I gave them a tour of my raised garden beds, but the couple’s faces greened almost organically when I talked about earthworm excretion and how good it made the lettuces.
When I said that, Ben Johnson’s face churned from green pepper to parsnip white, and both of them lickety-splitted back through the gate that adjoins our yards. I didn’t seem them for the rest of the day. They even forgot to take their pile of vegetables I’d given them.
Since then the neighbors have declined to take any veggies, and now all they do is glare at me whenever I step out through the kitchen door. It squeaks, you know, so they always look out into my yard. And scowl.
Well, no matter. Got my earphones on and a handful of kitchen waste – potato peelings from supper, left over oatmeal that turned hard, a couple of pieces of stale bread. Time to feed my little pink wigglies.
The door creaks as I step out. The morning’s crisp, my breath frosts the air, and . . . what’s that . . . rats?
I screech, back up, then turn to take another look. Rats, rats in my garden -- eating my cucumbers, my melons, my plump, juicy tomatoes . . . and all the kitchen waste.
Bad habits. Okay, I admit I got em. Didn’t dig the compost in, didn’t bury the trash. Maybe the neighbors were right all along.