13 July 2011
Earthworms for the Garden
Thanks to GardenStew @ http://www.gardenstew.com/
Some Basic Earthworm Facts:
Earthworms are present in almost every type of soil but the healthier the soil the greater the numbers. A healthy soil permits lots of air and moisture, both of which are needed by the earthworm for a continued existence. Earthworms have no lungs like you or me but instead breathe through their skin. Their whole skin absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. They also need moisture to assist them in respiration but too much moisture is not good for them.
There are four types of earthworm that you may run into:
Nightcrawlers: 8 to 10 inches long and the fisherman's favourite.
Garden Worms: 5 to 7 inches long and found commonly in damp soils.
Manure Worms: 4 to 5 inches long and found in manure rich soils.
Red Worms: 3 to 4 inches long and the most commercially available.
Why Earthworms in the Garden?
A garden without earthworms would miss out on all of the great benefits that they bring to it. Their first job is to till the soil by tunneling through it. Tunnels created allow air and moisture to pass easily through the soil, creating a healthy environment for plants. Tunnels retain water that the plants can take up and also hold air to help bacteria break down organic matter within the soil. After digestion earthworms produce excrement about the size of a pin head. This excrement is called "castings" or "vermicompost" and is an excellent soil conditioning material. It improves properties of the soil such as porosity and moisture retention, aids plant growth and helps in the fight against pests and diseases.
Lady K and I went worm hunting this morning as we walked to take her to BASE. We've been getting really nice rain the last week or so. Every afternoon the clouds roll in and the rain falls for twenty minutes or an hour or more. Last night's storm brought hewgah thunder and lightning and about 2.5 inches of rain.
I know, I know, not everyone gets it, but Lady K and I like worm hunting after a big rain. She's been bummin' as the wigglers have not been out much the last week of mornings or afternoons after the rains we've been having and worm hunting has been slim to none.
We scored big this AM, though. We headed out and immediately found a bunch in the cul-de-sac we live on. We tossed them onto the berm in our front lawn and started off again. And found more worms in a couple more steps. We decided it was worth our time to go back to get the 'worm kit' which consists of a plastic peanut butter jar and a wet cloth (those worms get sticky when getting picked up).
Good thing we did, we found a buncha buncha on the walk to school.
And, boy howdy, was Lady K the popular chickie upon arrival at BASE. Nothing like a jar full of earthworms to bring the kids a runnin' and hoverin'. Lady K said she felt like she had her own paparazzi. *grin*
Much as she wanted to keep the jar with her all day, I reminded her of the reason we picked them up in the first place and brought the jar back with me. Found more along the walk home and put them in the vegetable garden. They were a little shocky, so next time we need to remember the dirt in the bottom of the jar.
Yay for rain, Yay for worms!!