05 August 2013

In the Vineyard - July 2013

Back in March I wrote about the trial to build a worm farm by composting the must from the harvest under black plastic for a couple of months.  It's now been sitting quietly in a corner of the vineyard for the last four months, which was actually a mistake as it was tucked so far out of the way that I never go near it, and so haven't checked on it since it was put there.  But this week I finally remembered to go and see what it's doing.

My first observation was that my fear that a family of tiger snakes would take up residence under the plastic didn't happen, which made me very happy!

You can see in the photo above that the initial pile was covered with plastic (which is folded back in the photo) and then more was dumped on the right hand side of it afterwards.  The covered pile is much drier than the uncovered, and has broken down much more.  The photo below shows the extent of the breakdown by the covered pile, whereas the uncovered still clearly resembles the original form of the must.

But what I don't understand is that there didn't appear to be a single worm in it.    
So I'm wondering:
  • Did the breakdown occur in the first few weeks and then the worms got cooked in the hot weather we had at the end of Summer?
  • Did it just become too dry under there for the worms so they went off in search of damper conditions? (There were none in the uncovered must either, or in the ground under the pile.) 
  • Did the worms do their job and then head off to find other yummy things to eat?
  • Were there never any worms in the first place, and the breakdown occurred by other means?

It's really quite a mystery to me.  Any thoughts?


As an aside, on the way back from checking out the pile I saw a Spoonbill on one of the dams.  Not so rare I realised once I looked it up, but I can't recall seeing one before.  Apparently they use their bills to feel for food under the water, rather than looking for it, which is probably sensible on farm dams!

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