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COLUMBIA-GREENE MEDIA • THE DAILY MAIL

A6 Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The worm has turned; some are trouble By Thomas Christopher For Columbia-Greene Media

There’s no species of wildlife more beloved of gardeners than the earthworm. Yet, as I’ve been learning recently, this creature can also spell trouble, both for the cultivator and for the local ecosystem. The earthworm has been an icon of a healthy garden ever since its cause was taken up by no less a figure than Charles Darwin. For more than 40 years, when he wasn’t working on his theory of evolution, Darwin was quite likely observing and experimenting on earthworms. The great scientist was deeply interested in geology and he was fascinated by the very slow yet powerful ways in which earthworms had transformed the British landscape. Darwin observed how earthworms consumed organic matter, passing it and soil through their guts to deposit the end product at the surface in little piles of finegrained, nutrient-rich “worm castings.” Although individually each pile of castings is insignificant, in the aggregate, their impact on the environment is huge. Using an estimate by a fellow scholar that the average acre of soil supported 53,767 worms,

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Food for thought: the earthworms and night crawlers that populate our gardens were introduced accidentally with ship ballast dumped on our shores and in plants brought by colonists.

Darwin calculated that this population cumulatively deposited more than 10 tons of castings on the soil surface every year, for a total of 320 million tons nationwide. “It may be doubted,” he wrote in the book about earthworms that he published in 1881 (the year before his

death), “whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures.” Ever since, gardeners have regarded earthworms as a principle source of topsoil, as well as, with their tunneling,

Helping children gain a ‘Running Start’ WEST COXSACKIE — The Greene County YMCA started a new program this year called “Running Start.” This program took 20 students back to school clothes shopping. With the help of 20 volunteers students enjoyed a “Pizza Party Meet and Greet” and then boarded a bus and went to the Kohl’s in Hudson to shop. Each volunteer was given a gift card with $125 for them to spend on their student and Kohl’s generously gave each student a 20 percent discount on the purchases. They were able to get new sneakers, pants, shirts, socks, etc. Both the children and the volunteers had a great time shopping. The Y also put together more than 100 backpacks with school supplies which were given to the EJ Arthur, Coxsackie, Scott Ellis and Catskill elementary schools. These programs and so much more are funded by the generous donations given by staff,

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Pictured are the volunteers who helped with the shopping.

members and our community to our Annual Campaign. The Capital District YMCA is a leading Captial Region charity. For more than 150 years, the Y has been building stronger communities. Through our childcare programs, we nurture the potential in every child. Through our health and wellness programs,

we improve the well-being of those in our communities. Through our scholarship program, we give back and help those in need. To learn more about the Capital District YMCA, call the Greene County YMCA at 518-731-7529 ext. 1611 or visit www.CDYMCA. org.

Rep. Delgado announces August Mobile Office hours KINGSTON — Each month, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) hosts mobile office hours for constituents to come meet with the Congressman’s staff and receive assistance with constituent services. This can include any type of support with federal services, from farmers applying for grants, to seniors having issues with their Social Security benefits, to veterans needing more information on VA services. In July, Delgado’s office held mobile office hours at locations in Dutchess, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Greene, and Ulster counties. “I’m deeply committed to

serving everyone in our district with accessibility and transparency. That’s why I have held 21 town halls in the district, opened a fifth district office in Hudson, in addition to our offices in Kingston, Delhi, Oneonta and Liberty, and established locally-based NY-19 Advisory Committees on Veterans, Agriculture, Health Care, and Small Business,” Delgado said. “There are a number of ways my office can help cut through red tape and resolve issues tied up in federal agencies. These mobile office hours are another great way to bring important information and services directly to

the communities I represent. My office is looking forward to meeting more folks in August — hope you’re able to come by!”

AUGUST MOBILE OFFICE HOURS Greenville Public Library, 11177 Route 32, Greenville, noon-2 p.m. Aug. 19. Plattekill Library, 2047 Route 32, Modena, 3:30–5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 SUNY University Cobleskill - Bouck Hall Ballroom, 103 Schenectady Ave., Cobleskill, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Aug. 26. Cherry Valley Memorial Library, 61 Main St., Cherry Valley, 2–4 p.m. Aug. 26.

Suminagashi and origami workshop art class with Ruby Silvious COXSACKIE — The Heermance Memorial Library, 1 Ely St., Coxsackie, will host a suminagashi and origami workshop art class at 6 p.m. Aug. 14, Aug, 22 and Aug. 29. With instruction by Ruby Silvious, students will learn the ancient art of Japanese marbling (Suminagashi), and the Japanese art of paper folding (Origami). Using special inks, students will have a blast learning how to marble paper in beautiful colors.

While the paper dries, students will make an origami owl from supplied papers.Materials will be supplied. Silvious is a graphic designer and visual artist. She is internationally recognized for her miniature paintings and collages on the used tea bag. The workshop will be held in three 90 minute sessions. The free program is for adults and teens. Registration is

required, registration opens at 8 a.m. July 29. Parking available in rear of building. To learn more visit www.heermancelibrary.org, or call 518-731-8084. This Art Class is made possible with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts, administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund.

aerators of the soil. I remember my mother — my first gardening instructor — teaching me that these creatures should be treated with something like reverence. Indeed, in Darwin’s England, where earthworms are native, their effect is all to the good. That isn’t necessarily so, however, in the northern United States, according to Dr. Josef Gorres, a professor of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont. Earthworms were largely eradicated from our area by the ice sheets of the last Ice Age, so there are only a couple of relatively rare species that are truly native here. The rest — the earthworms and night crawlers that populate our gardens — were introduced accidentally with ship ballast dumped on our shores and in plants brought by colonists. As these creatures spread, they profoundly affected the soil ecology, making it less hospitable to many wildflowers and other native plants, especially in forested areas. What’s of far more concern to Dr. Gorres, though, is some more recent arrivals. These are the “jumper” or “snake” worms that arrived from Asia and which are still colonizing the northern landscape. These

were first observed in the eastern United States in the 1920s in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area; one theory is that they arrived with the flowering cherry trees sent from Japan to adorn our nation’s capital. In any event, they have been moving north since then, distributed in nursery stock and plants traded among gardeners. Once introduced to an area, they may also be spread by municipal leaf composting programs, unless the leaves are hot composted. These worms differ physically in a number of respects from the earlier European arrivals, but are most easily distinguished by the violent way they thrash and jump when disturbed. The snake worms also differ in the more aggressive way they process organic litter. They can reduce a couple of inches of organic mulch or natural forest duff to something like a loose layer of coarse coffee grounds in a single summer. This transformation of the soil’s top layer can interfere with the growth of shallow-rooted plants. In a woodland, this has a number of impacts, including reducing deer browse, forcing the deer to focus on tree seedlings and so interfering with the forest’s ability to

regenerate. By thinning the vegetation on the forest floor, snake worm activity also exposes the nests of groundnesting birds, making them more vulnerable to predation. Once an area is infected with snake worms, the best that can be achieved is to reduce their numbers. This can be accomplished in the garden by hand-picking them and drowning them in a bucket of water. Reducing the numbers of worms will, over time, also reduce the number of their egg cases in the soil, decreasing their rate of reproduction and making the job of controlling them easier. I never thought, when my mother extolled the virtues of earthworms, that someday I might be contemplating their control. Be-a-Better-Gardener is a community service of Berkshire Botanical Garden, located in Stockbridge, Mass. Its mission to provide knowledge of gardening and the environment through 25 display gardens and a diverse range of classes informs and inspires thousands of students and visitors on horticultural topics every year. Thomas Christopher is the co-author of Garden Revolution and is a volunteer at Berkshire Botanical Garden.

The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall visits Catskill Aug. 22-25 CATSKILL — The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be open to the public Aug. 22 through Aug. 25 at the Historic Catskill Point, 1 Main St., Catskill. The exhibit is a 3/5 scale of the Memorial in Washington D.C., and features more than 58,000 names of military members who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. “We are honored to host the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall in Greene County,” said Greene County Tourism Director Heather Bagshaw. “It is an incredible exhibit that gives community members an opportunity to pay their respects locally with their families and friends.” The following is the schedule for the Vietnam Traveling

Memorial Wall: Aug. 21 – Motorcycle Escort Ride of the arrival of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall throughout Greene County. The escort route, starting at 9:30 a.m., begins in Coxsackie at the D.M. Hamilton Steamer Company 2, goes through several towns including Earlton, Greenville, Freehold and Cairo, among others, and ends in Catskill. Free light breakfast, sponsored by D.M. Hamilton Steamer Company, begins at 8 a.m. All are welcome to join the Escort Ride. Aug. 22 – Opening ceremony starting at 11 a.m. Aug. 22-25: Daily Reveille with Posting of the Colors at 8 a.m. and Daily Retreat at 4 p.m. Observance Days open

24 hours with service booths open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and name locator booth open from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Aug. 25 – Sunset closing ceremony at 7:30 p.m. including Retreat with Echo Taps. Parking for the general public is available at Dutchman’s Landing Park, with transportation to and from the venue. Veteran-only parking is available at Main Street Station and Ferro’s Point, located across the street from the venue. Catskill is the only scheduled location in New York state that the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be visiting in 2019. For additional information about the exhibit, visit www. GreatNorthernCatskills.com.

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