Spring is here at last. The baseball seasons starts tomorrow, the local birds are melodiously yelling at each other, Friday 5pm cocktail hour in the neighbor's side yard could happen any day now. Ahhh...
But one thing will be missing. This year there will be no Garden Club Plant Sale.
This worthy fundraising endeavor has been around for a long time, and the last few years we have hosted the "after sale". That means once the good stuff has been sold at the well advertised down town location all the leftovers get hauled up the hill to our front yard. A few cardboard signs go up. It gets mentioned on social media. And for the rest of the weekend we are running a botanical used car lot. Why I even get to make "crazy deals, 'cause the boss is away", when my wife turns the watch over to me for a few hours. In the end almost everything gets sold.
This year.........no. The sale is cancelled. The villain in this little tragedy is:
The Jumping Worm.
As the Department of Natural Resources link says, they are an invasive species that has caused no end of trouble. Frankly there is not that much positive you can say about any worms, but even those few things don't apply to the Jumpers. Let's see:
Food for birds? Nope, seem to taste bad. And their tendency to violently thrash and hop about is likely off putting.
Use them to go fishing? Bad idea, not just bad tasting but if you drop one somewhere these very modern critters are parthenogenic. Meaning, no need for two genders, each worm is quite capable of starting a family all on its own.
Good for your lawn and garden? Oh my no. Earthworms in general are not that great, you just think they are. Who knew that they had such effective public relations? At least the normal kind aerated the soil a bit and leave worm dropping that enrich the soil a little. Jumping worms strip all the nutrients clean away and absorb them so efficiently that their droppings are sterile, worthless slag. A serious infestation will give you dead plants clinging to the ground by shallow damaged roots.
And they are sneaky. Jumping worm eggs look like specks of dirt. The main reason the plant sale is off - and not just here but soon in lots of places - is that purchased plants have been a major means of spread. I mean, yes, if you knock all the dirt off the roots and dip them in bleach you might be OK. But the labor involved is ridiculous.
So short term the Garden Club is taking on a tree sale. The effort involved in making sure saplings are worm free being manageable.
And on the long term front? As with any organization the Garden Club needs to parlay its strengths into tangible assets. They are a swell bunch, mostly sweet older ladies. They know how to grow all kinds of plants and in general can bake up a mean batch of brownies.
So, when Wisconsin goes the way of Colorado and legalizes marijuana I figure we'll be in great shape. We'll get the downtown Sale space again. On the left will be rows of healthy looking plants with verdant green leaves. On the right - just in case any of the expected wave of new customers have the "munchies" - the most profitable bake sale in Wisconsin history.....
I could show you a video of the Jumping Worms. When disturbed they writhe around like crazed patrons of some nematode disco, even being able to hop clear off the ground. When you get a whole bunch of them all in one place it is very disturbing. I'll spare you that but if you really want to get creeped out go to Youtube and look up Jumping Worms Wisconsin. Ewww....