- Sunday, November 03, 2013
From A Way to Garden.com suggested by Susan Thornbury
PERHAPS THE CREATURE the gardener knows best is the earthworm, but how deep does that knowledge go? Lately readers have been emailing me sensational headlines about “bad” earthworms, asking: Aren’t all earthworms “good”? To get an earthworm 101, I invited Ryan Hueffmeier, an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Director of Great Lakes Worm Watch, to join me on the radio this week. Our Q&A includes some surprises:
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THE TOPIC WAS EARTHWORMS on this week’s public-radio show. It’s a must-listen, and you can do so anywhere, anytime: Locally, in my Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) region, “A Way to Garden” airs on Robin Hood Radio’s three stations on Monday at 8:30 AM Eastern, with a rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. It is available free on iTunes, the Stitcher app, or streaming from RobinHoodRadio.com or via its RSS feed. The October 21, 2013 show can be streamed here now. Robin Hood is the smallest NPR station in the nation; our garden show marked the start of its fourth year in March, and is syndicated via PRX.
First, some background: Great Lakes Worm Watch is a citizen-science outreach organization, working to map the state of the earthworms—and the habitats they’re living in.
“We want to know where earthworms are across the landscape,” says Ryan—and that means even beyond the Great Lakes area, where the project began. (There is a Canada Worm Watch, too, for those across the border; researchers at the University of Vermont, at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, New York, and elsewhere are likewise studying earthworm invasion.)
Individuals, schools or garden groups can sign on help collect data on what worms are found when and where. That last bit—the habitat, or “where” aspect–is key, because earthworms are neither good nor bad. The role they play, and whether it’s helpful or harmful, depends on the environment they make their way into.