Gardeners of Somerset Valley

February 2007					Editor: Mitch Greenbaum

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, February 21, 2007
at the North Branch Reformed Church.

As avid gardeners, the lowly earthworm deserves at minimum a modicum of respect, perhaps even bordering on reverence. None other than Charles Darwin, who studied the earthworm for nearly forty years, validated this belief when he ‘doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world.” Tirelessly tilling the earth for thousands upon thousands of years, it’s actually a worm’s “poop” called a casting which creates the fertile topsoil layer, and as much as anything has allowed mankind to enjoy the delectable bounty of the earth and the beautiful hues of nature’s flowers. This excreted byproduct of digested debris contains water soluble nutrients, growth hormones and trace elements, while the strong cylindrical shape keeps the soil loose and nicely aerated. As for those who have an aversion to anything that slithers, worms are meek and quite harmless, and even their casting is odor free, loaded with beneficial bacteria and does not burn roots at any concentration unlike chemical fertilizers. If this introduction has peaked interest even slightly, you’ll want to attend next month’s meeting and listen to Merlin Coslick discuss the basics of earthworm farming. His Piscataway based start-up company, NJ Devil Organics, which houses nearly 500,000 worms, produces Wiggle Worm Soil Builder, supplies sport shops with bait, and sells cocoons or “eggs” that can give the backyard worm population an extra boost. Mr. Coslick, who has a diverse entrepreneurial background that includes teaching, real estate, and off-Broadway theater, is considered a local expert in this emerging field at a time when organics and environmentalism have started to take center stage in our national conscience. Though not confirmed at the time of this writing, he will also entice a big turnout by giving each attendee a free sample of this all- natural fertilizer.

Before moving on to some more gardening stuff, as soon as your done reading this newsletter, complete the attached membership form and write out a check in the amount of $35 for a family or $25 for a single membership, and either put aside for next week’s meeting or immediately address an envelope to Christine Feorino. Please do not procrastinate. Dues are due now and let’s get this critical chore out of the way so everyone can concentrate on gardening fun. Besides, it’s been said many times before and bears repeating, a GOSV membership still remains one of the few true bargains in all of New Jersey.

Word out on the street is that many members are gearing up for a challenging Amaryllis contest next week. By now, all the growers understand the key element to success is timing. As a way of stoking the competitive spirit, one can envision ultra-competitive Ray Hawkins coddling 20 or so bulbs feverishly coaxing just one to bloom right on cue. Don’t be intimidated, for this contest luck counts as much as skill.

The party planning duo of Gail Stroh and Pat Matson has booked the April 18th Charter Night Dinner at Vincent’s Restaurant in Warren, NJ. At one time known as the historic King George Inn, Vincent’s is fine Italian dining at its best. This year we get to select from five entrees that evening, and the price of $40 includes hot appetizers, wine and soft drinks. Catherine Mazauskas has already signed up a well known garden personality as the speaker with details to follow in a flyer coming out next month.

Get ready for an election in March. The recently formed nomination committee of Barry Weissman, Christine Feorino and Mitchell Greenbaum are working on presenting a slate of officer and trustee candidates at the February meeting. During previous elections, it’s not uncommon for many of the club’s leaders to repeat terms, but at minimum the club needs a new Secretary who mainly records the meeting minutes. If interested in running for a leadership position, please call a committee member or make your intentions known before the program or during the refreshment break.

Odds and Ends

Here’s a final membership dues motivator. No earthworm “poop” without a check.