To 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.
- 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, they 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.