Facts About Worms That Gardeners Need To Know

Tilapia -BABY WORMTo some people worms in the garden can seem to be an unpleasant nuisance, but they are a sign that your wildlife garden is healthy and in great shape. They are actually vital in that they aerate the soil which maintains its structure and fertility. They also bring important nutrients to the surface and help with drainage, not forgetting that they are a vital food supply to all manner of bird species and other wildlife such as foxes, hedgehogs, moles and amphibians.

How Do Worms Improve The Health of My Garden?

Worms convert organic material into nutrients which plants can absorb. Because they loosen the soil, the roots of plants can grow more easily and it makes it easier for water and air to circulate within the soil which, in turn, enables the soil to retain any water it receives far more effectively.

How Worms Help With Composting

After digestion, a worm’s excrement (often called ‘castings’) acts as an excellent composting aid which, when added to the soil, helps to ward off pests and other diseases. Worm casts contain far higher amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus than soil which creates an optimum pH level and many gardeners prefer to keep a wormery – which is a compost bin with worms living in it – than a simple stand alone compost bin as their constant activity speeds up the entire composting process. And, worms are able to recycle almost any organic matter. To encourage more worms into your garden, it’s important to keep your garden well-watered.

Fun facts:

  • An earthworm can grow only so long. A well-fed adult will depend on what kind of worm it is, how many segments it has, how old it is and how well fed it is. An Lumbricus terrestris will be from 90-300 millimeters long.
  • A worm has no arms, legs or eyes.
  • There are approximately 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.
  • Worms live where there is food, moisture, oxygen and a favorable temperature. If they don’t have these things, thecompost_26754y go somewhere else.
  • In one acre of land, there can be more than a million earthworms.
  • The largest earthworm ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.
  • Worms tunnel deeply in the soil and bring subsoil closer to the surface mixing it with the topsoil. Slime, a secretion of earthworms, contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants. The sticky slime helps to hold clusters of soil particles together in formations called aggregates.
  • People have spent entire lifetimes studying earthworms more than 100 years ago.
  • Worms are cold-blooded animals.
  • Earthworms have the ability to replace or replicate lost segments. This ability varies greatly depending on the species of worm you have, the amount of damage to the worm and where it is cut. It may be easy for a worm to replace a lost tail, but may be very difficult or impossible to replace a lost head if things are not just right.
  • Baby worms are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.
  • The Australian Gippsland Earthworm grows to 12 feet long and can weigh 1-1/2 pounds.
  • Even though worms don’t have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their anterior (front end). They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long (approximately one hour).
  • If a worm’s skin dries out, it will die.
  • Worms are hermaphrodites. Each worm has both male and female organs. Worms mate by joining their clitella (swollen area near the head of a mature worm) and exchanging sperm. Then each worm forms an egg capsule in its clitellum.
  • Worms can eat their weight each day.

10 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Megntexasreply
August 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM

Wow! I never knew that worms were so great! Thanks for the info!

EricaGoodreply
August 21, 2009 at 03:08 PM

to think worms do all that.

EricaGoodreply
August 21, 2009 at 03:08 PM

I am going to add worms to my garden when i start it. thanks

Bill Burnsreply
August 21, 2009 at 06:08 PM

So much for trying to get rid of worms. Good information.

vitareply
August 21, 2009 at 11:08 PM

Had a competition in eating worms when I was a kid – until my grandma told some about the function of the earthworms, but how exactly that works? (Should it have known earlier! LOL) It is a very good description of the “must have a worm” in my garden!

Laurareply
August 22, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Who would’ve thought- worm “waste” is our friend!

JMusserreply
August 24, 2009 at 06:08 PM
– In reply to: Laura

Laura,

I read a book from the worm lady Mary Appelhop, she spent her entire life in the study of this subject. Leaders form around the world read her writings, basically she showes us that without worms and microbes (that we kill all the time with pesticides and over fertilization) the earth could not survive. Teachers report that a classroom worm composting bin excites children, they love to see how they convert coffee grounds, eggs shells etc., into nutrient-rich material, a super fertilizer for our plants and vegetables.

smreply
August 25, 2009 at 02:08 AM

Earthworms. God’s gift to dirt and to us. Seems like they can do a lot more than just be fish bait. I’ve heard for a long time that earthworms are a sign of healthy soil and grubs are a sign of sick soil. Is that so?

greenthumbreply
May 04, 2012 at 06:05 AM

I wasn’t fond of worms but I guess every gardener really needs to conquer their fear and treat worms as nature’s best friend.

greenthumbreply
May 04, 2012 at 07:05 AM

I believe worms typically live for about 3-4 years. If that’s indeed true, worm bins will benefit us for a long time.

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