HOW EARTHWORMS BENEFIT OUR SOIL
Some people are freaked out when they see earthworms. Earthworms aren’t everybody’s favorite. I get that. But having earthworms in your soil is an excellent sign in many ways. Earthworms provide many benefits to healthy, productive soils, and wise gardeners do everything they can to maintain healthy populations of earthworms in the ground.
There are many different species of earthworms throughout the world. The “night crawler” is the most common species in Central Virginia. Did you know that our night crawlers are not native? It is thought that they were accidentally brought to North America by European settlers in the soil of plants they brought with them.
Smile and count your lucky stars if you see earthworms in your soil. Seeing earthworms is a sign that you have healthy soil. More worms mean more organic material being created in your soil.
HERE ARE TWO BENEFITS OF HAVING EARTHWORMS IN YOUR SOIL
- Worms eat plant debris and soil. Their “poop,” or worm castings, is full of nitrogen which is then available to plants.
- Worms channel through our soil, which loosens and aerates the soil and improves soil drainage.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE EARTHWORMS IN YOUR SOIL
- Keep the soil pH above 4.5. Earthworms do not like acid soils. Using lime to keep the pH from being too acidic is essential to encourage a healthy earthworm population.
- Here in Central Virginia, we tend to have compacted clay soil. Can worms live in and break up clay soil? The quick answer is No, not very well. To help encourage more worms in your soil, you need to start by incorporating organic compost into the clay. You need to keep clay soil moist and soft for worms to dig through the soil. Gypsum is an excellent product to encourage worms to live in clay soil.
- Worms need reasonably aerated soil with improved drainage. You need to reduce soil compaction.
Did you know that there are worm farms? These farms collect the worm “poop” from the soil and produce bags of earthworm castings. This product is readily available. We carry a good selection of worm castings. Worm castings are an excellent all-natural plant food that comes to you directly from Mother Nature. Worm castings are a non-burning, long-lasting organic fertilizer for all plants. It’s a soil builder! Start adding worm castings to your different gardens. And soon, you will have your own worms doing their magic to your soil and plants.
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