The only non-gross worm photo on the internet

     Can we talk?

     About worms, I mean!  Now, I know that worms are not at the top of the dinner-party-list-of-conversations.  They probably aren’t even something we ever think of, unless we’re headed to the fishing hole.  And all this time, they are busy, burrowing and working our soil for us.  They’re remarkable little creatures, and they can serve as effective rototillers in the farmer’s field, or gardener’s garden.

     Worms are nature’s burrowers.  They aerate the soil all around them.  This enables amendments and nutrients to be evenly mixed up with the soil.  Their burrows make natural paths for water, and allow the water to be evenly dispersed, which consequently allows the plants’ roots to grow freely and easily.  Their castings (manure) are filled with super-nutrients, which enrich the soil, almost like a fertilizer itself.

Look at that nice soil!
     You may have heard that you can tell the health of the soil by how many earthworms are in it.  It’s true!  No worms = sad soil.  Many worms = healthy, abundant soil.  Worms are both the cause of and the result of healthy soil.

     In order for worms to thrive and multiply in the soil they need three things:

1) Moisture.  They don’t do so well in the desert, nor do they live in a swamp.  They need the soil to be  moist, in order to eat and process the organic matter and micro-organisms.  If the soil isn’t moist, they burrow deeper to get to moisture.  This then means that they don’t stay in the topsoil to do their good, important work there, which is where we need them to be.

2) Cover.  Worms like to have a cover over them, like leaves, grass, the shade of plants or a cover crop.  They typically live in growing places, like the forest, farmers’ fields, vineyards, orchards, gardens and the like.

3) To be left alone.  The less their soil is disturbed, the harder worms can work.  The harder they work, the more they are able to aerate the soil, and leave their castings.   Their castings are nutrient-rich, adding to the desirability of keeping worms in your operation.

     Worms leave traces of having been in a place.  You will see little holes, or little piles of castings on top of the soil. After a rain, look for them, they’ll be there.

     An interesting exercise would be to take a shovel out to your field or garden, and dig up a 1′ x 1′ x 1′ (or thereabouts) hole.  Count the large worms (night crawlers).  Count the small worms.  How many do you find?  Many?  Then you may be assured that your soil is healthy, and your crops and plants are reaping the benefit of them.  Only a few worms?  Then, you have the opportunity to introduce worms to your operation and build a worm population, whether it is many acres or a backyard garden.

     A farmer (or gardener) who wants to improve his (or her) worm population can do many things to aid in their growth.  If he wants to order worms, he can buy them by the thousands.  Worms can be ordered online from a variety of sources, or can be purchased locally from a worm grower.

     So, swing on into your local fishing shop or up the driveway of the place that has the handmade “Night Crawlers” sign out front.  Buy some worms.  Instead of hooking them on your line, take them out to your fields or garden.  Give them a little moisture, add a little cover, leave them alone, and just see what they can do for your topsoil.

No lack of worms here!

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