I rent these fields from Our John’s uncle. And when I first took them over they had been cropped in corn or beans or wheat for at least fifty or sixty years. Since the 70’s chemicals have taken over as the main source of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides ( the suffix cide means to kill so you get the picture) even synthetic fertilisers (often made from oil) that ultimately draw goodness out of the soil, not add to the soil, rendered this ground inert.
Not one living thing, certainly not any earthworms could be found and the ground actually smelt like the underside of a road – you know that smell when they scrape the tarmac off a road — when there are roadworks in town?
The rain water pooled, did not drain properly and the soil was silty.
From October to May the ag land is quite bare to the elements, awaiting its new crop. You have seen our surrounding fields – you will never find an earthworm out there. None of this is natural. To heal land into rich pasture is a long, long process. Most of it conducted by nature.
Imagine my delight – after seven years of growing pastures in this soil – I have found numerous earth worms. And in large numbers too. The soil has begun to heal.
Some interesting facts about earthworms.
And it is all thanks to this stuff. Manure. (Though this is destined for the compost heaps down the back.)
Here is a patch of pasture that shows the amazing fertilising power of a dollop of manure.
See how rich the surroundings are. And if I were to dig down under there I would find many precious earthworms. This is quite the best news.
Thank you, cows.
And pigs of course. All my pigs are vegetarian so their manure is also easily digested into the soil.
To jump from manure to carrots and parsnips is a wild one. But I love mashed parsnips and carrots. It is the best way to use up the old root vegetables while the new ones grow. The manure I use in the gardens has to be composted for a year first. Though my Dad swears that if you plant a tomato into a cow pat you will get the best fruit ever!
Actually he said his mother used to keep a tin bucket and shovel by the gate in the old days and if a horse in town was seen to poop in the street the Mums would send their kids out to scoop up the steaming piles and add it to the compost down the back by the vegetable garden.
Worms in the soil means the natural underground cycle of composting organic matter is now intact and working. Long live the worms!!
I hope you have a lovely day.