Slimy Tunnels

Why are there worms in the soil? One of the many questions I have asked myself in the course of a day. Everything in the natural world usually has a function. Worms create tunnels in the soil. These tunnels act as a pathway for roots to travel. Worms ingest decomposed leaves and organic matter. This is probably why they stay within one foot or so of the earth’s surface. We very seldom find worms in clay or very sandy soil; places roots don’t like to hang out. Worms also aerate the soil. Their travels create small air tunnels just under the soil surface. Our native earthworms are small one inch creatures; very narrow and delicate. Large earthworms or night crawlers are slimy worms from other continents. They accompanied the soil from roots of plants brought from other lands. When trees, shrubs and perennial roots use these earthworm holes to wander through the soil, there is an air transfer at work that’s keeps our landscape healthier. Soil that has been compacted through super saturation can choke plants and create an unhealthy environment. I mention all these factors because I am seeing some very strange plant phenomenon in the woods.

Since mid-August we have had almost thirty inches of rain. The unusually heavy rain occurring this time of year has stressed many trees and is drowning many plants in the landscape. I’m seeing yellowing and browning on leaves and leaf tips on some maples are turning that characteristic black when plants get too much water. These conditions are most pronounced in heavier soils that tend to drain much slower. It’s all a function of climate change. What’s next? I don’t believe any one knows, but stay tuned as I plan on following these changes very closely.

Don’t fret, it’s October, one of our favorite times of the year. It’s the season to put away the mower and get ready to compost the leaves. October begins green and ends gray; but in between, we have some of the greatest color on the planet. October is the time of year to relax and smell the apple punk. October is long hikes in the deep woods to enjoy the maple, hickory and birch hues. October is our first frost. October is the beginning of the fall rainy season….uh-oh! October is stacking up the wood pile. October is windy. October is the hunter’s moon. October is geese flying south before winter sets in. October is the night sky full of stars. October is good eats. October is getting out the long johns and feety pajamas. October is grrrrrrrrrreat!


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