Earthworms are vital for good-soil. They aerate the soil as they move by burrowing small holes. They process organic-matter in their bodies and return vital compounds to the soil, increasing the nutrients available to plants.
Let’s take a closer look at how earthworms benefit your garden.
1. Improves soil nutrient availability Earthworms help create humus, which is a dark brown-black type of soil that holds important nutrients in place for plant growth and use. The worms feed on plant debris such as manure, grass, leaves and dead roots, as well as the soil. The digestive-system of the worm concentrates the mineral and organic compounds in the food they consume, so their casts become richer in available nutrients than the soil around them When worms die, the body of a worm decomposes rather quickly, which further contributes to the nitrogen-content of the soil.
2.Better drainage Earthworms also improve drainage and prevent soil-erosion and waterlogging, as their extensive channeling and burrowing help to loosen and aerate the soil and improve soil-drainage. Research has found that soil with earthworms drain as much as 10-times faster than soil without earthworms.
3.Improved soil structure The casts of earthworms help to cement the soil particles together. These sticky substances “glue” the mineral particles together in the aggregates and, at the same time, in a kind of mutual-relationship, the mineral particles help to protect the organic-matter to some extent from microbial-attacks, thus preserving it for a longer time in the soil. When your soil has worm-castings, they help to improve the structure and fertility of every type of soil, even on reclaimed land that has little or no topsoil. As the castings are water soluble, they have an immediate positive impact on plant growth.
Now, how to Attract Earthworms to Your Garden.
If you have no earthworms, or very few, attracting them to your garden can allow you to take advantage of all of their benefits.
• Add organic material. If there are few earthworms in your garden, it may be because your soil is compacted or low in organic-material. You can add chopped-leaves, straw, grass-clippings, dead-roots, semi-decomposed compost, and animal-manure to your garden which will allow worms to thrive. Earthworms feed on soil and dead or decaying plant remains, including straw, leaf litter and dead-roots as well as animal-dung. Earthworms prefer damp and cool environments, but not too dry, too wet or cold. The thicker the soil canopy, the easier it will be to maintain those desirable conditions. Earthworms don’t like acidic-soils with PH-levels less than 4.5. The addition of lime will raise pH while also adding calcium. They need a continuous supply of calcium, so are absent in soils lacking in this element.
• Maintain a no-dig or bare minimum dig garden. The less digging, the better. Just dig enough to get new plants in. Let the earthworms do all the soil churning and turning. You can also consider to purchase earthworms or you can take them from your worm-farm and add them to the soil.
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