Yup, I said it. I am BFFs with worms. Ask any gardener and they will say the same. Worms are beneficial to the garden because they aerate and fertilize your garden. They break down plant and leaf matter and turn it into worm castings (worm poop doesn’t sound as cool) that fertilize your garden. They are nature’s best garden helper. Having worms in your garden is a sign of a healthy soil.
There are many different types of worms. Worms that live near the surface, worms that live in vertical burrows that descend several feet below the surface and worms that live in horizontal burrows just below the surface. With all these different and dissecting burrows, it’s no wonder the garden soil is aerated and the roots are watered so easily when you have worms in your garden.
As any gardener will tell you, the nutrients in your soil and the health of your soil is extremely important. All the minerals in your veggies come directly from your soil. Veggies just won’t grow properly in nutrient-depleted soil. So, how do we create nutrient-dense soil?
Encouraging worms to work their magic is definitely one way to do this. Worms love to eat decaying matter and turn it into castings that are very fertile – containing more iron, calcium, phosphorous and nitrogen than the soil around them. More organic and nutrient dense soil is everything a happy growing vegetable needs. So we need to create a worm garden….
The best way to create a happy and healthy worm garden is first to find some worms and then to make sure they are fed and not disturbed. The best way to find some great garden worms is to wait until a wet and rainy evening and then go out in the yard with a headlamp and a bucket….sounds like a funny situation, right? – I should know. My family has 4 fishermen in it so we know when to take advantage of a good spring rain. Nightcrawlers are the big fat worms that are great for the garden and for the end of a hook. It makes sense to keep a good supply of them for when needed while also creating a better garden!
Now, FEED them: Worms love their plant matter and leaf litter, so make sure to keep your garden full of compostable material. Do you remember The Magic School Bus? Ms. Frizzle taught us all about how much life is actually in dead and decaying matter (The Rot Squad – 1st season) and how important it is to so many other creatures in our circle of life. Don’t be afraid of a little light composting in the garden, it’s super easy. Even if you just put out your coffee grinds, a banana peel or some dried leaves for the worms, they will be happy and happy worms stay put.
Now, DO NOT DISTURB: Another important way to create a happy worm garden is to NOT till your soil. Just leave it be. Worms don’t like to be tilled (duh) but if you must dig, use a garden fork so you wont disturb or dissect any of them. They will not grow into two worms if they get cut…..one side of the worm maaaaay live, but more likely, you just killed one of your free garden workers. I don’t think their coworkers will want to stick around.
Work with your garden worms and they will keep your garden growing happily for years.