A third grade boy with big brown eyes and freckles raised his hand in reflection circle to share an observation from the day's work. We had spent the class moving rocks and clipping back invasive grass. In the process, we uncovered plenty worms; worms half the length of a spaghetti noodle and the circumference of an electric wire flopping around in their always fascinating Exposed Dance.
He said, "I noticed lots of FBI (Fungus, Bacteria, Invertibrates). And I noticed that worms help us dig. I was finding worm tunnels to get my hand in and help get out the rocks."
"What effect do you think worm holes have on the roots of plants?" I asked?
His eye brows shot up and he said, "I know! The roots can use the holes to grow!"
And poof, just like that these brilliant young gardeners put together something I had to study to know. I read that worms help aerate the soil and provide paths for stretching roots in a book somewhere when I was learning about worms so I could teach about them in garden class just seven years ago. And this boy just taught himself, from his own hands in the soil, at nine.
We dug out our biggest load of compost yet; dank-smelling, black, fluffy soil teaming with life and wiggly with worms. Students couldn't believe what could happen when we trap biodegradable school waste and let FBI go to work.
Last year's lessons on amending nutrients to soil turns out to be spot on. We reviewed how various classes had gathered and added human hair, cow manure, ash, cooked and crushed chicken bone, shredded paper, molassas, egg shells, and banana stalks in purposeful attempts to put all those needed nutrients back into the soil. Maybe weird to humans, but for microorganisms that stuff is a treat! We ammended compost so microorganisms could go to town eating plenty and recycling waste.
We are talking about about microorganisms this year in terms of FBI - fungus, bacteria, invertibrates. Fungus = mushrooms; Bacteria = microscopic worm food. Seeing worms means biodegrading bacteria is present. I = Invertibrates; visible bugs like cockroaches, roly polies, springtails, and the critters that eat them like spiders and centipedes. The wheelbarrow compost had diverse FBI for miles. It was an FBI party in there.
Gardeners carefully scooped compost and surrounded their favorite plant's soil area with compost. To tuck-in nicely the FBI, they covered the compost with a scoop of mulch. Worms and vital microorganisms were spread everywhere! The garden was sparkling with good vibes sprinkled in every corner. "Oh little worm!" "You are so cute." "Look! This worm's dancing!"
How can a garden keep from glowing with all this compost and love?
Ms Krista says:
Everyday encounters with real garden sprites; tortuous panorama of the surf; old-growth collards; machete lessons; mantis rehab; pesto pasta. Days as a public school garden teacher on the Big Island are filled with unexpected gems of wisdom and infinite inspirations. Introducing my life as a school garden teacher...