Yellow-Bellied Worms

From time to time I write for Organic Gardening magazine. The great thing about them is that they are so diligent about fact-checking. There is no possibility that an error or even a rumor about, say, the benefits of cow manure, or the best way to stake your tomatoes, will slip by them. When I send an article to them, I have to footnote every fact in the story and attach a photocopy of my source—a reputable book, article, or interview transcript. I write for a lot of gardening magazines and newspapers, and this is the only publication I’ve ever written for that does this.

So a couple months ago I sent them a story about earthworms, and included a stack of academic sources to back up my assertions. But apparently I wasn’t careful enough—a statement I made about the yellow bellies of red wigglers caught the attention of the fact-checker. She wrote to me and said, “I didn’t see this in the backup or anywhere else. Is it from personal experience? Can you send backup?”

Hee hee. Yes, I suppose you could say I know this from personal experience. Eisenia fetida, the red wiggler, has a yellowish belly. It just does. I have ten thousand or more of them in the composter outside the kitchen door, so I know a thing or two about their bellies. I ran downstairs with the camera, snapped a picture of an upturned E. fetida, and e-mailed it to OG as proof.

Here it is, then. Submitted for your consideration: the yellow belly of the red wiggler.