Earthworms our ‘green’ heroes

This month we are celebrating the slimy, yet satisfying, work of the earthworms in our garden! They are phenomenal, little green heroes, who are responsible for healthy soil and happy plants. These guys are so much more than just fish bait and by setting a colony loose in your garden, both the worms and your soil are certain to thank you for it!

Earthworms are also known as “Nature’s ploughs”, and they are essential in adding nutrients into the soil. They digest organic waste matter and magically turn it into compost. Okay, maybe not magically, but definitely very efficiently! Furthermore, earthworms have a unique chemical in their digestive system known as drilodefensins. This enables them to break down even the most poisonous plant leaves. They are a vital part of our ecosystem because they convert large pieces of organic matter into micronutrient-rich humus.

 

Nature’s plough, the earthworm, breaks down the soil’s structure and promotes higher levels of nitrogen, phosphates and potassium. This is all the good stuff your plants need to be happy and healthy. Earthworms can also digest and process contaminants, such as pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics found in animal manure. Some chemicals can even be decomposed and released as clean nutrients for plant growth. Other harmful chemicals will remain in the worms gut, preventing it from spreading. As you can see, earthworms are champions in cleaning up contaminated soil and turning polluted areas into sustainable habitats.These little burrowers actively influence the composition of the soil. As they move around under our feet, they displace microbes and spread the good bacteria, moving these nutrients from surface level to deeper down into the soil. Their tunnelling also improves the drainage of the soil, which means that water will be absorbed better, thus preventing runoff and erosion. The earthworms underground also improve aeration, making it an ideal habitat for other soil-dwelling organisms too.

Through their continuous dedication in combating infertile soil, earthworms have undoubtedly earned the title as our garden heroes. If you decide to liberate a colony from your local pet or tackle shop, be sure to not leave them on top of the soil where they are exposed to direct sunlight and may be preyed on by birds. Be kind and dig a few trowel-deep holes every square meter or so. Add a little water and natural compost, followed by a few earthworms in each hole, and tucked in with a little dirt. Be sure to regularly supply organic material, such as mulch and grass clippings, for them to work on – they are natural workaholics after all.

 

For more insight on creating the right conditions for earthworms in your garden, speak to your friendly GCA Garden Centre staff member. Happy gardening!

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