NOT ALL SUPERHEROES WEAR CAPES
And some of them live in the most unlikely of places. Take earthworms for instance. They populate healthy soil, are rarely seen by human eyes unless you’re digging and do all kinds of incredible deeds that benefit not only themselves but virtually all life on earth!!
And there’s more to know about worms than you might at first imagine…
NOT ALL WORMS ARE THE SAME
The UK has an amazing 16 species of earthworms all of which can be broadly divided into three different types. Anecic earthworms make long vertical burrows and drag down leaves deep into the earth and sometimes leave casts on the surface. Endogeic earthworms live a little deeper in horizontal burrows. Epigeic earthworms don’t make burrows but live on the surface in leaf litter. These include compost earthworms, the real foodies of the worm world, revelling in moist rich environments with a regular supply of vegetable peelings and garden waste.
A HEALTHY SOIL CONTAINS LOTS OF WORMS
If when you sink a spade into your garden border you uncover earthworms then you’re doing something right. It’s an indicator that your soil is in good health. Conversely, if you rarely encounter a worm then it’s a sign that you need to think how you might improve the soil by adding organic matter. They also dislike acidic soil and soils that are prone to waterlogging. Looking after your soil by regularly adding more organic matter and not over digging can help worm populations increase.
WORMS ARE NATURE’S FIRST GARDENERS
Worms love organic matter. In fact, they can’t really get enough of it. Leaves, roots, compost if it’s worked into the soil they will make use of it. Leaves that fall onto borders will eventually break down into the soil. Worms will play their part in the process dragging down decaying leaf matter into the earth. If you mulch your borders with organic matter like home made compost, leaf mould or grass clippings that have begun to rot – it’s like laying on an all you can eat buffet for earthworms 🙂
WORMS CONTRIBUTE TO A GOOD SOIL STRUCTURE
The complex system of tunnels that worms create through burrowing help the soil to breathe by allowing water and oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide to leave. Soil full of worm tunnels is less likely to flash flood or to become compacted.
WORM CASTINGS ARE A GIFT TO GARDENERS
If you’ve ever spotted little piles of ‘worm poop’ that worms leave on the surface of lawns or bare soil- these are a hidden gift to the gardener. Rich in nutrients but with other soil impurities already removed they make a great soil conditioner. If you have enough of them gather them up and pop them near your plants!
WORMS MEAN BIRDS
If you have a plentiful supply of worms in your garden it’s also likely you’ll have lots of avian visitors. Ground feeders like dunnocks will sort through the leaf litter, and blackbirds and robins will accompany you every time you garden.
Worms really are the unsung superheroes of the garden and one of the planets most industrious creatures. We love them!!