Do you want to know how to attract more earthworms into your garden? These little guys are truly the unsung heroes…Many times you don’t notice them as they are always burrowing into soil. They have to keep a low profile, lest they be seen by hungry predators like wild birds.
So you may find that you have to dig for them. Which is part of the fun (Just ask any kid!) That aside, The benefits for your garden, even small ones, are many. Such as…
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Benefits of Earthworms in Your Garden
When they burrow, they feast on decaying matter in the soil. Their gut contains a ton of microorganisms, which means that when they poop, for lack of a better word, it all comes back to our environment tenfold. You probably know that vermiculite or worm castings are highly sought after by gardeners. Don’t forget they make great fish bait too! Just had to throw that one out here….
Last fall, instead of chicken livers we just scooped up a handful of dirt underneath the bags of potting soil and voila, ready made bait to go at a moment’s notice. And because of their tunneling, they act as aerators for the soil, keeping the drainage going and in the right level.
Come a spell of heavy rain, you’ll probably catch sight of a few without any effort. . Looks like the dog has got one in his crosshairs….It was a nice big fat one, too, now it’s going into hiding.
So how do you get more of those little buggers in your garden at the ready? Here are five tips to do so…
Have adequate hiding places for them
They love cool, moist dark places, so be sure you’ve got that. I find them under our bags of topsoil and wood chips. Of course my laying hens love them so I always make sure to give them a snack every now and then, They hid for survival reasons, Whenever I catch sight of them, there are always rolly-pollies and sowbugs in the mix too, but I always have an adequate supply of worms in these locations.
Where I live, the weather is changeable…Right now, it’s 58 degrees today which is nice, and earthworms in general like an average temperature of around 50-60 degrees F. They are cold blooded, like reptiles. There’s usually more of them in the spring and summer, but I was always able to uncover a few of them at the moment.
Minimize use of chemicals and pesticides
That’s right, those noxious weed killers and other harmful toxins could be wreaking havoc on their habitat. So keep them to a minimum. If you’re an organic gardener this should be no problem. I always hand pick garden pests when I see them and feed them to my chickens.At the moment, I don’t have that many weeds to deal with, any I find I pull by the roots as I see them.
Make use of manure and compost
These organic matters will provide a great habitat for earthworms, as it is exactly what they like to reside in. Aged manure has the highest value, because I’m caring for backyard chickens, I have an adequate supply of it.
Tilling and digging can be disruptive to the habitats of our invertebrate friends after all they are nature’s tillers! So whenever possible try to cut down on these activities if you can. If you’re like me and primarily growing in elevated beds and containers you should have very little of this going on in the first place. We do have a rototiller but we haven’t used it much.
Use organic mulch
This is what they like to live under…If you’re already doing this for your garden, you’re on the right track so keep at it. Mulch can consist of broken twigs and stems, dried leaf scatter, tree bark, etc. I talk more about the concept of mulching here as well as the benefits of it. It’s a win-win for you, and the worms!
Fun Facts About Earthworms
- Earthworms have been in existence for over 300 million years….they kind you see in your backyard were probably brought over by settlers, inadvertently, during the 18th century,most likely.
- An earthworm cannot spend more than an hour out in the sun before drying out.
- Notice a lot of worms wriggling around after a rainy day? They do that to prevent drowning!
- Do not cut an earthworm in half thinking it will grow into 2 new ones. That is just an urban legend.
- Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary science, did a lot of studies about earthworms…..
You can always check your own soil manually. I did a little digging into my own beds and surprise…nope. Of course I only dug into one side of the bed, maybe there are some I haven’t seen yet. But if you’ve got them in your soil naturally you’ve already got a good idea of what they need. If not, you probably have one of these things going on…
- Sandy dry soil (they prefer a loamy texture)
- Soil below a ph of 5..they like neutral the best, but will adapt to 5-8 if necessary
- Lack of organic matter
- Lack of adequate moisture
If you’re concerned about the composition of your soil there are ways to get it tested first so you know exactly what to add to it to improve its quality and hospitality to worms. Obviously, I can’t just dig them out from under the soil bags and plop them into my beds. It’s not that simple. I need to do more of what will bring them over naturally in the first lace. So I may have a little work cut out for me. Perhaps you do as well?
But anyway, this is my rundown on how to attract more earthworms into your garden. It’s all about maintaining a healthy ecosystem in your backyard. May your crops live long and prosper. Good luck and happy worm hunting!