When I was 3 years old, my mother was horrified to discover me sitting in the backyard eating worms. We rushed to the doctor where she learned that worms are not bad for you. On the contrary, they are actually a source of harmless protein. Personally, I’m glad I don’t remember…
Well, clearly, we don’t ave any 190-foot worms in our gardens. But what we do have is worth its weight in gold, horticulturally speaking. Terrestrial earthworms feed on dead and living organic matter. Their squiggly little bodies are basically organic matter processing machines. Food is sucked in through the mouth, coated with mucous, mixed with calcium and then mashed in the gizzard. Nutrients are absorbed and everything that’s left is excreted in a paste called casts. Casts contain valuable nutrients that are available to plants, so the more earthworms you have in your soil, the better.
Earthworms also help your soil as they burrow. Their tunnels create passages for air and water. This improves soil structure, aeration and percolation. A single earthworm can produce as much as 10-pounds of castings in a single year if there is enough organic matter available.
Garden shops and websites offer worms for sale but it's generally a waste of money. If your soil is inhospitable to worms, they won't stick around long enough to do your yard much good. Build a hospitable environment and they will come. So, how can you improve the odds of having worms in your garden?
Did you know that earthworms are hermaphrodites (both male and female)? Also, did you know that earthworms are born with all of there segments they will ever have?
Wikipedia provided this interesting bit of trivia about worms:
Darwin estimated that farmland contains up to 53,000 worms per acre, but more recent research has produced figures suggesting that poor soil may support 250,000/acre and rich fertile farmland may have up to 1,750,000/acre, meaning that the weight of earthworms beneath a farmer's soil could be greater than that of the livestock upon its surface. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm]
I spent the morning rescuing worms from my concrete patio and adding them to potted plants. I figure it beats being eaten by birds or drying to death...
Finally, there are some varieties of earthworm that can reach nearly 10-feet in length.
Let me know if you see one, okay?
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!