I planted 190 tulip and hyacinth bulbs this morning for an elderly friend and all I could think about was Amy Stewart’s book The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms. (This is what comes of reading WAY too many books!)
I must have seen FIVE earthworms for every bulb I planted. Multiply that figure by 190 and you can only imagine. I’ve never seen so many worms in one place in my life! In the past, I ignored worms while gardening and was a little grossed out by them. But then I kept hearing about this book, The Earth Moved, how I just HAD to read it, and I’m like…seriously? This book is about earthworms. Why in the world would I be interested in something like that? Why would anyone write a book about earthworms in the first place? My favorite librarian kept on me. She said this is one of her favorite non-fiction books of all time. So I read it out of curiosity (and peer pressure) and I have to say, this is one of my favorite books, too.
Amy Stewart’s style of writing is humorous and easy to read. Honestly, this book doesn’t read like your typical non-fiction. It’s more of a cozy read, something you might pick up when you’re sick or feeling bad and you just can’t handle anything stressful or controversial. It’s fascinating. It’s informative. It’s a good book to curl up with, even if it doesn’t seem like it would be. Honestly, I recommended to all my friends and family after I finished it, and of course, they looked at me like I was crazy, but now I understand why my favorite librarian pushed my to read it in the first place.
By the way, earthworms are NOT dirty. I never noticed that before reading this book. They may live in the soil, but they stay clean. Which is quite remarkable when you think about it. Also, they can take on some interesting colors, depending on their diets. Some of the ones I saw today had an iridescent sheen when seen in the sun. Their skins gleamed with beautiful shades of turquoise, pinks, and purples. I never bothered to look, so I never noticed before.
And here’s an important fact I learned: Earthworms are NOT native to most of North America. They traveled here as immigrants when human immigrants migrated to North America from Europe. Consequently, while they’re wonderful in the garden and in the yard, earthworms should be treated as an invasive species elsewhere. The woods of North America adapted without earthworms. Earthworms do an amazing job of cleaning up and decomposing leaf litter. However, birch trees need leaf litter for their seeds to grow. There are places in Michigan and Wisconsin that are unable to grow new birch seedlings because earthworms have invaded and cleaned up the leaf litter. In time, the birch trees may become extinct because that can’t grow new seeds.
What can you do to help? Since earthworms really can’t migrate on their own, the easiest thing to do is to NEVER dump your leftover bait in the woods when you go fishing. If you have leftover worms, go ahead and take them home. Dump them in your yard where they can do some good. They really are good for the garden—but not for areas with birch trees or redwood forests.
You learn something new every day!