Flying in from everwhere
Escaping flooded fields
Fleeing bird’s beaks
Zooming through vent holes of compost bins
The top of the food chain.
The orange flows Directs the food chain
Of flyers and crawlers.
With the Beetles
It’s only poop for so long.
(from The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales, by Mark U. Sturges)*
The microcosm of organisms that Mimi has been cultivating inside the old dairy tank experienced a population explosion over the winter, fueled by all those sacks of leftover vegetables that people keep leaving on her desk.
Oblivious to freezing winter temperatures, the red worms have become a mass of squirming spaghetti. (These are the eisenia fetida worms that are sold live at $45.95 per 1000 in home gardening catalogues, credited with eating half their weight in organic matter every day.) The tiny threadlike white worms and fat little grubs have been just as prolific, and one can only assume the invisible microorganisms have been no less busy.
In spite of all this prolific life, Mimi has been fretting about the absence of beetles, so imagine the thrill when she opened the lid last week and found they had finally arrived …
The Argytids look
over the pumpkin supply
and then they breed their way
into proper numbers
to accomplish the job.*
is an old friend of Bethel Heights. A extraordinarily effective wine salesman in his day job, Mark is now almost entirely devoted to growing compost, which for Mark is a poetic activity. It was Mark who inspired Mimi’s worm farm project, taught her how to brew compost tea, and provided her starter set of bugs and worms to get it going. Mark’s farm, Chili Nervanos in Bandon, Oregon, ships organic compost and nematodes and dung beetles to thirty states. Rather than concentrating on thermal composting or composting with worms, as many composters do, Mark encourages the greatest number of creatures possible to inhabit his compost. He wants “the whole neighborhood.”