Last year, Sister Judy came home and announced that she was suffering from dirt envy. When we all looked at her with confused faces, she told us that a guy up the holler had just cleared off his hillside and the dirt was “so beautiful” she wanted me to call up my friend Trudy who is related to the guy and get him to give us a truck load. “That old dirt we have in the garden is all used up” she proclaimed.
Well I have to admit that I was a bit put off because I had been working on that old dirt for two years by then and it was coming back around. When I first put trowel to dirt in 2011 nothing was living in it-not even chick weed. But I have been adding organic matter and using cover crops and even transplanting worms that I would find in other places. But truth be told, it was still a long way from healthy.
Last week while working in the Big Sandy Community and Technical College garden I suffered a severe attack of dirt envy myself. There were entire worm clans gathered together in that wonderful soil waking to the warmth of the spring sun and ready to get to work. I was sorely tempted to ‘transplant” some of those college educated worms to the monastery but in the spirit of “do not steal” I left them to their work.
This past Friday, I took advantage of the sunny afternoon and worked on prepping two more of the monastery’s raised beds. I was using the hand cultivator and savoring the aroma of the dark, moist soil when wonder of wonders, I turned up my own clump of sleepy earthworms. They were smaller and fewer in number than their college counterparts but they were there. “Praise the Lord!” I shouted as I did a little dance. “We got worms!!” Our used up old dirt has become, as our friend Chad Brock just told us, soil for growing food.