It's not much, but I have my own garden this year.  My husband, with a mixture of reluctance to give up any of his precious yard, and a strong desire to have tomatoes that he can pick off the vine himself, decided to build a plot for me.  I had been making trips to a community garden where I've been keeping a plot for the past few summers.  This year, though, we decided to take advantage of having something in our own yard that can be tended at our convenience without having to plan a trip.

My husband purchased a few railroad ties and lugged them over to the designated space, but tired after carrying and placing three of them--he simply couldn't manage to carry one more.  To be fair, he already lugged several ties to another part of the yard where he's trying to keep our rose bushes from sliding into the road--it's no light work.  I have a "C" shaped garden with three of those those ties.  He took some scrap wood to fill in the last line of the square.  He promises to screw them together so that they won't come loose.  He then filled the space with what he promises is good, quality dirt.  While I'm by no means a Master Gardener, I did my best to plan my little garden to get as much out of the small space as I can.

My garden is smaller than what I had at the community center, but if it does well, my husband has promised to give up more of his cherished lawn to make a larger garden next year.  I have a strong incentive, then, to make this the most productive little garden that I can.  Toward that effort, I made a trip to Ace Hardware last weekend to purchase 250lbs of Black Cow Manure, and several tomato and pepper plants.  I managed those sacs of manure by myself and mixed it in with the fill dirt.  I still have seeds left over from my old garden, so I carefully planned how to plant between the tomato plants a few rows of lettuce.  I added some squash seeds in three of the four corners, and made a few small rows for bush beans. 

After all of this, it occurred to me that my little organic garden would be missing an important element--worms.  Now, I'm sure that with enough time, some worms would make their way to this plot, but who has time when planting season is NOW?  I sent my daughters on a mission to check under every landscaping rock in our yard to look for those wriggly critters.  They came up with nothing.  I don't know why.  It seems that my younger daughter, at least, can find any sort of creepy creature at any other time, but when my garden depends on it?  Bust.

Where does one find worms if not in her own yard?  The obvious answer:  Walmart.  As much as I despise the store and what it stands for, there is one undeniable truth about the place.  No matter what it is you need, you are very likely to find it at one of their "superstores".  After work this week, I made a stop at our local Walmart, walked in the door and was almost overwhelmed with that disorientation that I always feel when I have to shop there.  After a few moments, though, I was able to gather my senses and deduce that the best place to find worms in Walmart would be in the sports department.  Voila!  There was a lovely assortment of worms.  I had to resist the urge to purchase all of them--and the crickets who were chirping loudly in a nearby cage (crickets?  for what?) to save them from whatever doom they face.

I chose Trout worms from the cooler, after much self-debate over which variety would be best for squash and tomatoes, then went to the grocery section to get a Stouffer's Cheese Lasagna from the freezer, planning for a quick and easy weekend dinner, and proceeded to the checkout.  I joked with the cashier that there is nowhere else in the world where one could purchase live worms and a frozen entree at the same time.  He gave me a very confused look.  Ah, well, never mind.  I got what I came for, and if the person at the check-out can't appreciate my humor, entertaining him wasn't on my list, anyway.

I got home in time to greet my older daughter, who was just arriving home from school.  My younger daughter would be home in another 45 minutes.  I wanted to wait until they were both home before we released the worms into the wild--er, that is, the garden.  It's funny to see the level of excitement a small container of worms can raise.  They were both thrilled at the prospect of helping me drop them in our garden.  I regret that I didn't take pictures of this event--I would have cherished those photos. 

We gathered around the garden, and I doled out the worms into their eager hands, one squiggly worm by one squiggly worm, and we scattered them around the plot.  I think the worms were surprised by their new freedom, and a bit shocked to have been freed from their little compostable jail.  They squirmed and writhed for a few moments, then stretched and tentatively inspected their new environment.  I found that some of them were lacking the basic worm skills and needed to have a hole started for them, so I patiently poked some holes in the dirt and guided the worms to them.  Worms, by the way, don't like to be guided.  They are very independent creatures, it seems, and will go to the holes when they're good and ready.  I wasn't about to leave them until every last one had disappeared into the ground--I love birds, but they can find their own food.  I'm not putting out a buffet for them, not in my garden, anyway.

Now, I feel that I've spared those little creatures from certain doom, and I expect a little gratitude in return.  After all, they could have been gored on a fishing hook to be devoured by a fish, but instead, I've given them a new lease on life.  They get to live wild and free--in the confines of my garden, that is, where I expect them to tend the soil and help my plants grow.  It's a fair trade, I think.  I hope they appreciate what I've done for them.

Here's my little infantile garden (picture taken after a very heavy rainfall)--you'll just have to imagine the worms working industriously underground--they didn't want to pop up for a photo op today:

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Apr. 16, 2011 at 5:33 PM

I wish we could've been there to help release the worms to the wild. I'm hearing "Born Free" in my mind.

I love the garden.  Things like this make me really, really wish I weren't so far south. Our planting season is kaput. It's too late to put out much of anything.  I live vicariously through you.

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Apr. 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM

They should definetly send you a thank you note.  Oh wait, they don't have hands.  Well, they need to thank you somehow. 

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Apr. 16, 2011 at 7:26 PM

the wormys like scraps of vegatation too   to eat

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Apr. 16, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Thakns for the story, I enjoyed that. We just planted a garden a few weeks ago, and I totally didn't think of worms.

Best of luck!

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Apr. 16, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Good Luck!

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Apr. 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM

I hope that your garden does well this season, but a word to the wise, RR ties are not a good choice for bordering a food garden if you want it to be an organic garden.  The creosote used to preserve the RR ties is a petroleum product & will leach into your beds, contaminating your garden.  RR ties also tend to attract termites (we found this out the hard way), so check them frequently for infestation (we're replacing 2 retaining walls this year with stone b/c the termites ate them).  Have fun with your garden, I really do hope that it produces bumper crops for you!! 

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Apr. 17, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Oh, mom2aspspclboy, I did not want to know that. 

Okay, I need to know that. . . but I wish I'd known that before I let the husband-who-knows-everything border my garden with them.  I saw something on the Gardener's Supply website that I liked, but he said he could do it better, for cheaper.  I think I have a Tim Allen character on my hands. . .

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Apr. 17, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I loved reading this, Jackie. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for planting. I'm sure I'll enjoy the tomatoes when they're ripe as a healthy snack whilst stalking you :)

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Apr. 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Well, everyone and their brothers too use RR ties, just check them frequently, too cold for termites here so we don't think about them...

Can't wait to read further gardening adventures as you and the girls and Tim the Toolman watch it grow!

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Apr. 17, 2011 at 8:08 PM

I'm happy to report that I spotted the first lettuce sprouts today.  My "Tim the Toolman" and I assembled a composting device, so we're on our way to having our very own Green Acres (make that our very own Green 3/4 Acre)!

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