Many of us have heard that earthworms are a gardener’s’ best friends. But, is it true? How can an icky and slimy creature be helpful in any way?! Read more to learn about this.
Well, the fact is that these little crawlers and wigglers may be the key factor in the success of your garden. They help to such an extent that many people refer to them as “Nature’s Plough”, and rightly so.
As avid gardeners, we all know that the soil needs to be ploughed regularly so as to break the soil to allow a regular supply of air and water to the seeds and roots of plants. Without this supply, our plants would not nourish. This is where our tiny friends come to play. Earthworms push through the soil through their heads and form tiny tunnels which are interconnected to each other. These tunnels are several feet deep. Thus, the earthworms act like ploughs by naturally ploughing our soil and aerating it as well as letting in the necessary supply of air and water, helping plants to grow.
They even help by breaking down organic matter, like leaves and grass by converting them into things that plants can use. Since they live in the soil, they use organic material like dead leaves and dirt to eat and produce excrement (also called castings) which is extremely beneficial for the soil. They also help to “turn” the soil by bringing down organic matter from top and mixing it with the soil below. Another job of these creatures is that of making fertilizer, which helps the plants and soil all the more.
Soil everywhere has earthworms. In fact, the better the soil, the more the earthworms present. As many as 500,000 worms can be found in a single acre of cultivated land, making the soil amazing. These worms are so kind that the same 500,000 worms burrowing into the land can create a drainage system equal to 2,000 feet.
Amazed by all the jobs done by these little ones, the famous scientist Charles Darwin once said, “The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed, the land was in fact regularly ploughed and still continues to be thus ploughed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”
As you see, earthworms are surely your garden’s best friends and I am sure you’d want more of them to be present there. So here are a few ways to encourage earthworms into your gardens:
1. You can simply purchase them from any worm farm and add them to your soil.
- Letting the organic material accumulate, like dead leaves etc.
- By adding mulch to the surface.
- Burying kitchen scraps into your yard soil frequently.
3. Whilst watering your plants, make sure you water it above the soil and even water the soil too. (After all, even the little ones get thirsty)
4. The less you dig your garden, the better. Let the worms do their work whilst you sit back and enjoy.
5. Keep your garden organic. Avoid using pesticides or toxic substances and use natural methods instead.
6. When adding natural compost, make sure it is nitrogen rich as it helps the worms thrive.
However, little things to note about earthworms are that in cold weather, a soil search will turn up mature and young earthworms as well as eggs. By late spring, most worms are mature. As temperatures rise, activity slows; many lay eggs and then die. By midsummer, most worms are very young or protected by egg capsules. As the weather cools, young worms emerge. With wet weather, they grow active, making new burrows and eat extra food, resulting in more worm castings. Egg laying occurs again. Activity continues as long as soil stays damp.
Also, after a heavy rain, earthworms often appear on the surface. They haven’t drowned. Fresh water doesn’t disturb earthworms—they need ongoing skin moisture to breathe—but stagnant or contaminated water forces them from their burrows.
Thus friends, put your trust in these little ones and let their magic help your garden shine. Worm Up!