Monday, March 16, 2009

Worm Castings

If you've been reading this blog you know I'd been on pins and needles waiting for the clearance to attend a gardening class with Tara of Silver Lake Farms a week or so ago. Lucky me made the cut and today was the day.

And oh what a great day it was!

I motored through the quiet morning streets on my way to the Silver Lake Farms beginner's vegetable garden class in of all places - Silver Lake! Although it took me over an hour - the shortest most direct route found on Mapquest to get 15 miles in LA - I didn't mind at all. I was in areas of the city that I only find myself in while skirting them at 60 miles an hour or so on the freeway. It was interesting to take in the neighborhoods as they changed from Asian, to Hispanic, to Armenian - each one having its own quiet way of coming alive on a quiet Sunday morning. I thought about the different foods, and ingredients used to make those foods. Yes, all relating to my much anticipated class.

I meandered down Franklin Blvd until I reached the gorgeous Franklin Bridge. My directions said once over the bridge, look for St. George Street and the famous Franklin Blvd steps. Ah, 'the steps.' Well, I figured I could get down them, I was more worried about getting back up. Although I found comfort in the fact that I had on sensible shoes.

I made my way down the steps and to the community garden. There wasn't a sound in the air. The lesson this morning was being taught on the grounds of the Francias Elysee. Better known to anyone not bilingual as the French/American School. Sitting high up in the clouds overlooking the city I took a moment to wonder why I had to learn French in an all American school in the middle of a hay field. Some kids have all the luck, I guess.

There were only ten of us -all a good bunch. We talked about setting up seedling, great organic seed sources, planting, crop rotation, watering, container gardening and pest control. We meandered in the garden, I discovered that one of my classmates lived just three block from me, and I finally understood the difference between compost and mulch. Then came my 'aha' moment.

You see, I have a thing about worms. I know they're good for the soil and that in turn is good for the plant which is in turn good for me. I get all that on some level. But I could never get past the fact that a worm is a worm is a worm. There've been times while gardening that if I overturned a worm I took that as a sign that it was time for me to put my shovel away and wait till that worm was no longer in my way. Like maybe the next day. I've even had nightmares about worms. Maybe it goes back to my childhood and the crazy, tow-headed boy that lived next door to us. He use to come out into his mothers garden with a paper plate and a spoon, find worms and then just eat them! I kid you not. Looking back I'm sure it was his passive aggressive way of getting out of tending the garden as a chore. He didn't want to pull weeds, his mother didn't want him eating worms. She won. He had to stay out of the yard. Whatever the catalyst for my phobia, it wasn't going away with age.

During the compost talk of course the worm bin came up. I squirmed. No pun intended. But then, from behind the compost bin, Tara pulled out a bag of - you guessed it - worm castings! Yeah! I could buy the worm poop in a bag! For ten bucks I could throw the darn stuff all over the yard and never have to be a worm farmer! Woo hoo! I almost did a flip. Gardening all of a sudden seemed brighter and lighter. And then she dropped the bomb. Interspersed with the castings were eggs. Worm eggs. Yes, so little baby worms would hatch in your garden. Oh well, I guess one moment of euphoria alone was worth the price of admission.

PS. I came home and planted 50 seedlings and saw only two worms. Stay tuned to see what happens.


  1. I don't know which is funnier-- the MapQuest 15 minute versus 60 minute drive estimate for LA, the boy eating worms, a bag of worm poop or the anticipation of worms hatching in your garden. Girl, you are living large! Keep us posted!