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Earthworms In The Garden / Earthworm Facts

Notice the lowly earthworm, squirming away, going about its everyday business. Simple creatures you may think but they have quite a important use in the garden. Did you know the earthworms are nature's first gardeners? They don't exist just for kids to eat and fishermen to use as bait :)

Some Basic Earthworm Facts

Earthworms are present in almost every type of soil but the healthier the soil the greater the numbers. A healthy soil permits lots of air and moisture, both of which are needed by the earthworm for a continued existence. Earthworms have no lungs like you or me but instead breathe through their skin. Their whole skin absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. They also need moisture to assist them in respiration but too much moisture is not good for them.

There are four types of earthworm that you may run into:

Nightcrawlers: 8 to 10 inches long and the fisherman's favourite.
Garden Worms: 5 to 7 inches long and found commonly in damp soils.
Manure Worms: 4 to 5 inches long and found in manure rich soils.
Red Worms: 3 to 4 inches long and the most commercially available.

Why Earthworms in the Garden?

A garden without earthworms would miss out on all of the great benefits that they bring to it. Their first job is to till the soil by tunneling through it. Tunnels created allow air and moisture to pass easily through the soil, creating a healthy environment for plants. Tunnels retain water that the plants can take up and also hold air to help bacteria break down organic matter within the soil.

After digestion earthworms produce excrement about the size of a pin head. This excrement is called "castings" or "vermicompost" and is an excellent soil conditioning material. It improves properties of the soil such as porosity and moisture retention, aids plant growth and helps in the fight against pests and diseases.

Earthworm



Increasing Earthworm Population in the Garden

How does one go about increasing the number of earthworms in their garden soil? Well the best way to do so is to add more organic matter to the soil. Earthworms cannot get enough of the stuff and will seek it out wherever they can find it.

Finally...

The earthworm is just as important to the garden as the gardener that maintains it because they till the soil and add a soil conditioner in the form of castings. They are as much a gardener as you are. The next time you see one wiggling on the ground in front of you bend down and say "got any good gardening tips?" You never know it may answer :)

I will leave the final word to a one Charles Darwin who once had this to say about the earthworm:

"The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed, the land was in fact regularly plowed and still continues to be thus plowed 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."

Grow Your Own Veg (RHS)

 

Grow Your Own Veg (RHS) by Carol Klein from Amazon.co.uk

"Ideal for the new vegetable gardener or someone who is thinking of expanding their range of veg."

About the Author:

Francis Kilkelly runs one of the fastest growing home and garden communities at http://www.gardenstew.com/ that has gardening forums and gardening blogs ( http://www.gardenstew.com/blogs.php ). Pop over to see what all the fuss is about. Original Article Location:
http://www.gardenstew.com/blog/e3-17-earthworms-in-the-garden--earthworm-facts.html

Comments

This website was very useful my younger sister wanted to know about worms because they are doing a gardening project at school. We found this website the most helpful, my sister will definitely get a sticker for all the facts she knows!!!

How many cm are worms under the soil?

hi - I've just been sorting out the garden, and as usual there are a load of earthworms under the logs, etc.  have had no problem all day with them until half an hour ago when I picked one up and got a sting to my finger.....now its quite stingy  - like a nettle sting. This has never happened to me before - have I been stung by an earth worm, or do you think it might be something in the earth?
I have some very large worms in my garden & wonder if they are the type mentioned in articles recently.  The worms are more than 8 inches long, more than 1 cm wide & are white on the underside.  If anyone knows if these are the 'foreign' worms that eat up the little worms in the garden, I'd be very grateful for a reply via my email, clare @ covermail.co.uk, & also any hints as how to dispose of them.  Urghhhh...  Many thanks.  Clare

 

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