Earthworms – The Unseen Workers Of Vegetable Garden Soil

The next time you venture out into your vegetable garden, you might want to make a quick check of the health of your garden soil. One very easy way to do this is to see how many earthworms you find lurking in the soil. Take a garden fork, plunge it into the soil, wiggle it back and forth, and see if you can find any earthworms wiggling in the soil. You can also use a small shovel or post hole diggers, and take a small sample section of soil. Earthworms are usually found in the top 1 to 6 inches of the soil. They are often times seen laying on the ground after a rain, or at night with a flashlight.

earthworm

If you find some – good! This is an indication that you probably have healthy vegetable garden soil. If you can not find any earthworms, try another location. If you still do not see any after several attempts, then you could have soil that needs some attention.

Why Are Earthworms Important For My Soil?

Earthworms are important for healthy soils. They love to eat organic materials within the soil, so if you find them, this means you probably have a good amount of available organic materials.

Earthworms also help to maintain healthy soil, since they will migrate to healthy soils where organic materials are abundant. They will tunnel within the soil, devouring the organic materials, and leaving their castings (worm poo). Earthworm castings can contain as much as 10 times the amount of plant-available nutrients as the original soil.

There are also microorganisms that are generated inside the different chambers of the earthworm’s body. These microorganisms are then released into the soil adding more beneficial microorganisms.

The earthworm tunnels help to aerate and loosen the soil. This will help plant roots to grow deeper in the soil, and allow beneficial microorganisms to breathe. Earthworms will aid in loosening compacted soils. The loosened soil also helps water to reach plant roots much easier, and create better overall water drainage.

Earthworms_garden

How Do I Attract Earthworms To My Garden Soil?

The best way to get earthworms tunneling in your soil is to add organic materials to the soil in the form of nutrient-rich compost. Try to avoid over tilling your soil as this can damage the “mini” eco-system within the soil, and hamper earthworm effectiveness. Also avoid using fertilizers high in nitrogen, and chemical pesticides. Earthworms can reproduce fairly quickly if they are not wiped out by the poisonous pesticides.

Direct composting is a great way to attract earthworms to your garden soil. This methods works very well if you want to attract earthworms to a particular area of your vegetable garden.

Although I have never tried this myself, I have seen gardeners introduce purchased red wiggler worms
(the same worms used in worm composting) to their vegetable garden soil. They prepared the garden soil by spreading out compost or well-aged manure, and then release the worms to feast. Earthworms can be purchased at most fishing supply businesses, commonly called Nightcrawlers.

Earthworms are rarely ever seen, but are an important part of your soil’s health.


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4 Comments on Earthworms – The Unseen Workers Of Vegetable Garden Soil

  1. Wow! everything really has its purpose in this world. Glad to hear that earthworm is a good sign for a healthy soil, because there are a lot of worms in fathers garden. Thanks for the heads up about this and looking forward for more interesting post from you. Keep it up!

  2. I am Librarian for Davis Elementary, Irving, TX. I am working on a Boys Reading Club and we will be studying How to Eat Fried Worms. I am making a workbook for them and would like permission to use one of photos for the coversheet. It is the first photo on this site and is of the worm lying on the dirt. I will use the proper citation if that is okay with you.

    http://www.veggiegardener.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/earthworm-300×221.jpg

    Thanks,
    George Swan

  3. I recently read an article discussing “worm tubes” and was wondering what you thought of it. http://www.garden.org/regional/report/arch/inmygarden/3430
    I’m pretty new to gardening, and have a new raised vegetable garden in my backyard. This seemed the easiest way to compost small amounts. I wanted to get your take on cheap/easy composting.

    • Hi Eliza – I had never heard of worm tubes, but it looks like a fantastic idea! Thank you so much for sharing it.

      I believe this could be a great way to easily compost food scrapes (the right ones) and encourage more worms into your garden – like you said, perfect for small amounts.

      If you wanted to do large batches you can also try direct, or trench composting. You basically dis a deep hole or trench and bury the composting materials in it. This is great to do just before planting or along side your vegetables.

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