Friday, June 10, 2011

Introducing Nigel

The vermi-family has grown: I have African Nightcrawlers now. Actually, have had for a couple of months, though not many to speak of at I didn't. But now Nigel's a definite presence.

The image above, from, is nothing at all like the material I started from. Local bokashi-and-beyond purveyor Microbial Earth offers an "African Nightcrawlers & humified compost mix"--according to the label, approximately 200 to 300 cocoons packaged with coir and compost for direct-to-garden application.

My vermigardening's mostly containerized, so I potted some herbs with a little of this mix added in, and set up a planter tower after my usual practice but without any actual worms, just the cocoon-and-compost stuff.

Well, in the interest of accuracy I should mention the two or three thread-thin hatchlings I found in the bag. But no breeding populations, you understand.

So at first, I assumed the worms I saw in the new tower were volunteers from the established colonies. But African Night Crawlers (ANC) are larger than the others. Much larger. When, on lifting the tops off two worm-homes, I saw worms in one that were twice as large as those in the other, I knew Nigel had established.

Still not quite as impressive a tangle as that image, but he's expanding quickly enough that I'm planning to divide him this weekend--probably a little soon for that, but he's just so big. It looks like he's cramped for space.

Haven't yet found any in the olla pots, so he may be brighter than Verne (EF). Or maybe it's the size thing again, or age; it tends to be larger, presumably older, iterations of Verne who move comparative mountains to get into the damp, cool clay containers between waterings.

So far, no vermi-battles have been observed. Verne mostly stays in his containers; Cousin Clem (Indian Blue) wanders a bit, but Repulsive (BSFL) has claimed all the good spots, so he retreats to the undersides of saucers. George the earthworm (no idea, possibly more than one species), sniffs around wherever any excess bokashi juice or Repulsive effluent has been diluted and applied, and sometimes finds his way into a recently wetted planter to become the worm equivalent of the crotchety old man in the corner house. "Hey, kids! Stay out of my burrows!" Or so I assume from the occasional vertical airspace in some of the less-tended and more populated units.

Nigel has yet to make his way out into the larger world. Which, you understand, is just fine with me! Worms that large disturb me a bit; I'll be just as happy never to encounter one without advance warning.

Though he's certainly welcome in the garden.

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