After sitting at the computer for most of last week, I was more than ready to head back to the garden. Tasks have multiplied like weeds ever since the weather warmed up. Hot peppers need to be started. Tomato seedlings require misting. Chard and broccoli seedlings are ready to transplant. Most pressing of all was that the earthworm castings had to be tended to.

The backstory here is that last month I filled a twelve-gallon plastic bin to the brim with half-composted material plus all of the worms from our green cone, then shut the lid. It was my latest attempt to solve the dilemma of the green cone, which was filling with vegetable scraps faster than it could turn out new soil. The previous solution had involved burying half-digested material around the yard before it was really ready. Mostly effective, but not terribly elegant.

Just recently I checked on progress in the bin. The organic material had condensed by about half and much of it had already turned into wonderfully black, crumbly castings. But separating the worms from the castings called for some trickery; I tried taking advantage of their aversion to sunlight, with modest success. More challenging was picking out cocoons, the honey-colored beads in the picture below. Cocoons are said to expel between two and twenty baby earthworms apiece, meaning that a scant tablespoon could pretty well generate worm castings for life, I calculated.

Faithful readers may recall my fondness for free earthworms and so understand just why I sat in the afternoon sun yesterday and picked out cocoons until my eyes hurt. This new generation went right into the green cone, where they can get to work on our kitchen’s freshest scraps.

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