Worms In the Garden

Garden WormsEveryone knows how great worms are for the garden. They increase your soil’s porous qualities by tunneling, they cluster around decaying matter consuming fungi, bacteria, and nematodes and excreting them as vermicompost or worm castings, one of the most potent soil amendments there is. You’ve gone to great lengths to attract earthworms to your garden by adding compost and other organic matter to your soil or maybe you purchased worms to add. (Garden worms are different than composting worms. If you do have a source of garden worms, make sure your soil is “worm-ready” with plenty of organic material or you’ll lose them). But what happens to worms in the garden as soils dry?

Worms, of course, need adequate moisture to survive. You’ve probably used mulch and kept your garden soil moist enough to sustain them. But what about your lawn, now that it’s dormant, and you’re doing what you can to save water? What about the worms?

Worms are known to burrow to depths of six feet or more to survive dry conditions. While this probably isn’t happening in your well-watered garden, your lawn may be a different story unless… you’ve done what every organic gardener needs to do to have a healthy, chemical-free lawn: added compost and other organic matter. The benefits of adding compost to your lawn are well known, and the best of them is what it will do for your lawn’s moisture retaining capability. So add another plus to providing your lawn compost: it encourages worm activity. And that’s a good thing for your lawn. It’s just another example of how the circular effects of organic practices have exponential benefits.

And consider this. If you practice worm composting or vermiculture — the practice of using redworms to convert kitchen wastes into quality compost — you’ll have an even larger supply of compost for your garden as well as a potent compost tea for plants, not to mention keeping you kitchen waste from the landfill. (Vermiculture bins make a great science project for kids.) And if you don’t have worms in your compost piles to speed the process and strengthen the final product, well, then what are you waiting for?

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