Raising Earthworms For Your Garden


Raising Earthworms For Your Garden

Not many people want earthworms for pets, but they are great for your garden. Have you ever dug into rich soil where plants are growing well and noticed earthworms? That was no coincidence. Worms are found where there are healthy plants because they contribute so much to the soil. Crawling along through life and through their habitat they manage to break up soil, creating channels for water to seep in and making it possible for small roots to grow. They also break down detritus, creating rich fertilizer.  

Fertilizer made by worms has more potassium than most soil, and much more nitrogen, giving your garden some building materials for growth.  In its little body, the simple work mixes organic and mineral substances to make nutritious plant food. Nitrogen is necessary for making amino acids and proteins (yes, plants have protein). Potassium is also used for making proteins, as well as helping in photosynthesis, in the making of fruit, and in helping the plant to fight off pests.  

To obtain worms you can save their lives at a bait and tackle shop, get some from someone who raises them (I traded some plumeria clippings for mine) or simply dig some up out of the ground. Some people have what is technically known as fancy shmancy earthworm homes, and some have less elaborate homemade abodes for their little friends. The enthusiast from whom I got my worms advised me to use a box lined with newspapers. Mine soon ate through the newspapers.

Then they ate through the box. Now I have them in a plastic bucket into which I throw vegetable garbage every few days. When I run out of garbage I throw them some shredded newspapers. They are the least picky eaters I have ever known.   The advantage of fancy shmancy worm houses is that they come with drains and spigots. You can open the valve on the spigot from time to time and obtain one version of worm tea, a wonderfully nutritious plant food, and spray it right onto your plants. With the less formal method of worm raising, I scoop up a cup of more or less solid fertilizer from their home from time to time and mix it with a half gallon of water. After it stands for about 24 hours I pour it into a watering can and water my plants. Plants can take in water and nutrients from through their leaves and stems as well as their roots, so sprinkling the whole plant with liquid fertilizer will really feed it well.  

Living in a mild climate I keep my little squirmy pets outdoors all year long, under the roof overhang. In the summer I give them just enough water to keep the garbage and newspapers moist, but not enough to drown the bucket’s inhabitants.   When it’s time to build up some new soil, I include some of the larger, more mature earthworms in the top layer. If a worm crawls out of the garden, always put it back, or else it will dry up and die. Have a good time with your  productive new pets.

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