Posts Tagged ‘Mark Sturges’

Predatory Beetles

Flying in from everwhere

Escaping   flooded fields

Fleeing bird’s beaks

Zooming   through vent holes   of compost bins

Feeling safe

Suddenly becoming

The top   of the food chain.

A congress    of beetles

Skating across

The orange flows     Directs the food chain

Of flyers and crawlers.

With the Beetles

In charge

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.*

* Mark Sturges, author of 

The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales,


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.”

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