The lowly earthworms may not have the cute factor of pandas, tigers or elephants, but they take the top rank in being the most important species in the ecosystem. That box of worms you just got from Red Wiggler Supply to start worm composting in your own backyard contains Earth’s super soil engineers.
Earthworms and good soil keep plants healthy. It doesn’t take much to keep your soil workers happy, because these wrigglers like to eat what people throw away such as food leftovers, debris, manure and any waste that they can break down for food.
Get the wrigglers out and into your garden soil and find out what earthworms do to keep the plants healthy.
- Worms recycle nutrients for plant food
Earthworms make tunnels when they burrow underground, and while they do that, they eat waste and poop along the way. They break down organic matter and fertilise the soil with their poop also called castings. Worm cast is full of essential nutrients that help plants grow healthy. Soil with worm cast has about 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus and 1,000 times more beneficial bacteria than plain soil.
- Worms help soil structure
Studies show that soils without earthworms are less effective at soaking up water by up to 90%. Water that is not soaked into the soil causes runoff that leads to erosion, and in serious cases, flooding. When worms burrow, they create channels that loosen, mix and oxygenate the soil. The channels improve soil structure, making drainage for water from the surface into the soil.
Water infiltration is up to 6 times greater where worm populations are high because they drain water up to 10 times faster than soils without earthworms. The worm tunnels also act as passageways for lime and good earth materials that store moisture. Worms thrive in moist soils that contain enough organic waste for their food. You will notice their happy group when you dig up a bit of moist soil.
- Worms are an important food source for other species
In the long cycle of the food chain, these wrigglers are a staple food for predator creatures like birds, foxes, hedgehogs, turtles, slugs, beetles, snakes and leeches. And when the predators die, the worms break them down into bacteria back to the soil.
Create a better worm environment for healthy soil
Keep your wrigglers fat and happy with plenty of animal manure, leaves, roots and other leftover pants lying around all over your garden soil. Keep the grounds moist with decaying waste but don’t let water stagnate in puddles.
Don’t use artificial fertilizers and pesticides on your plants because the chemicals seep into the soil where the worms are. Also, keep humans and vehicles away from their habitat so they can freely move around and work on your soil.