The Earthworm:  A Gardener's Best Friend

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Worms improve soil as well as let you know the current condition of your soil.

Earthworms are nature's super-composter; they eat dirt and get their nutrients from material and living things in the soil such as bacteria, nematodes, remains of animals, protozoans, animal manure, decaying roots and organic matter in general.

If your soil is of poor quality you won't likely find many earth worms attracted to your garden. The more organic matter found in your soil the more earthworms will be attracted and will tend to stay where they are.

Earthworms burrow through your garden soil leaving tunnels that allow water and fresh air to reach the roots of your plants. They use their strong mouth muscles to eat almost their own weight each 24 hours in organic matter found in your soil and leave worm castings along the way.

Fresh Garden Vegetables DailyWorm castings is essentially, worm poop. It's been shown that worm castings help to improve your soil's moisture content, porosity, drainage, aeration, adds plant hormones, micro-organisms and pretty much everything needed to promote optimal plant growth. It's no wonder that most gardens consider the earthworm so valuable to their garden's success.

Finding earthworms in your soil is an indication that you have a healthy soil in terms of organic matter and biological activity. Worms can be found in their greatest quantity when the earth is not too dry and when temperatures are not too hot, say from 50 to 70 degrees.

Earthworms need moisture and warmth to be active so if you're checking for worm population in your garden you'll need to keep this in mind. Your soil should be moist but not soaked and be at least 55 degrees before you will get an idea of the worm population.

Taking a shovel full or two of earth out of your garden and spreading it out on an old sheet or piece of cardboard will allow you to sift through the soil in order to get an idea of the worm count in your garden.

Worms are so beneficial to the garden that many gardeners buy worms to add to their soil. Nearly the same result can be achieved by simply turning compost into the soil to give the worms something to eat. As more and more worms are attracted to your garden the castings they leave behind will attract even more worms.

Over a period of time the dirt in your garden will become a rich aerated soil full of the required nutrients to support even more worms and provide a bountiful growing season.

Make your soil hospitable to worms and they will make the soil hospitable to your plants.