Benefits of Earthworms in the Garden

earthwormWorms are very beneficial to all gardener’s.  They fertilize, till and improve soil texture thus are a welcomed animal in the garden.  If you don’t find worms in your garden this can be a sign that something is wrong with your soil as worms aren’t finding it as a nice place to live.  When plants are able to increase their root structure because of better soil you will reap the benefits of higher quality and production of fruits and vegetables.

While you go about your day, worms are constantly shredding organic matter and breaking up hard soils as they tunnel through the land.  They are creating paths that will increase the soils water holding capacity as well as aerate the soil.  This provides a pristine environment for bacteria to grow, thus helping break down organic soil matter.  The worms excrete a waste known as castings that are a highly sought after fertilizer.

For the gardener who is trying to attract worms to their garden there are several options.  The obvious one is to go out and buy worms and let them loose in your garden.  However you could just as easily mulch your fall garden with some leaves and this decaying organic matter will attract the worms.  Feel free to mulch your garden in the spring as well to entice the worms to enter your garden.

Worms are not pets and you don’t need to feed them.  They will find all the organic matter they need in your garden and will feed themselves.  They are light sensitive so that is when they come to the surface looking for leaf litter to burrow and digest.  The acids in the worms stomachs are what makes nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, thus the castings are highly prized.  Worms have no sight so if they somehow get lost on a driveway or other area of pavement they may become dehydrated and die.

Birds are a natural predator to worms and thus in many instances are a secondary benefit.  Birds eat many garden insects, thus if they are attracted to the garden they will eat bugs that would normally harm your plants.

If you do decide you want to buy earthworms instead of attracting them with mulch make sure you are buying the correct type.  Many worms for sale are used in indoor worm composting which is known as vermiculture.    The worms used in vermiculture cannot survive outside because they are not used to the temperature.

One single earthworm can product over a quarter pound of fertilizer a year.  So if you have a garden loaded with worms you could have up to fifty pounds of natural fertilizer produced each year.  Since earthworms can live up to two miles below the surface they can bring minerals up that would otherwise not be made available.

If you aren’t already trying to attract worms to your garden now is the time to start.  They will be composting and tilling while you sleep thus reducing the need for fertilizers.  They are especially important to organic gardeners as this is definitely a method that will reduce the need for chemicals.

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