It’s funny what inspires me to write columns.
After five years of coming up with topics, I still haven’t run out of things that fascinate me.
As I was out on my back porch, watching and rejoicing over the rain we are getting, I found myself picking up earthworms that were stranded on the porch and getting too dry to crawl.
I knew I wanted them back in the yard, so I rescued each one, tossing them back into the moist soil.
Then I thought about what things earthworms provide for us and did some research. Here is what I found:
Although there are more than 2,000 species of earthworms worldwide, night crawlers and red earthworms are the most common here.
Earthworms help decompose organic material in soil and landscaping, benefiting in ways such as aerating and loosening the clay soil, improving the beneficial bacteria needed for healthy plant growth, reducing the thatch buildup in turf, and adding their castings (excrement) in the soil to enrich it with needed nutrients.
Having earthworms present usually indicates healthy soil, which is something that helps establish a strong foundation.
To improve your soil’s health and attract earthworms, you really must stay as organic as possible when controlling pests and fertilizing.
Many chemical products have “salts” in them that can destroy worms and their eggs.
There’s actually a type of composting, called vermicomposting that basically lets the worms do the work.
To begin, create a worm habitat using wood or landscape stones piled at least 2 to 3 feet wide by a foot and a half deep. Add some partially composted organic materials and a couple of pounds of worms, which can be ordered online or possibly purchased in a few outdoor retail stores.
Feed them weekly what you would normally put in a compost bin, including moist green grass cuttings.
A soft, natural covering will protect the worms and in three months, you will be able to distribute the rich material to your beds and yard.
Keep the top several inches deep and start the process again.
A great quote by Charles Darwin regarding earthworms stated, “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals, which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”
Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org