Remembering from days of childhood I can still conjure up the smells of a worm discovered in a puddle after a rainstorm...not that refreshing earthy fragrance of a newly washed garden but the somewhat fishy, wrinkle up your nose in distaste, kind of smell. Back then worms were for tomboys to be enraptured by or maybe even collected as bait to go fishing. But as I grew up :), just like learning an appreciation for the health benefits of spinach, worms have begun to resonate with the gardener in me. For what would a garden suffer without the presence of the humble earthworm.
This isn’t a biology lesson but just a quick reminder of the hows and whys of the importance of encouraging earthworm habitat.
I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you that the roots of a plant need both oxygen and water to flourish. Porous soil is therefore much better than heavy soils so that these nutrients can access the roots...VOILA...worms help create that ductwork through the soils. And as they channel their way around, above and below (up to 6’ below!) your prized flowers they munch their way through the feast of organic ingredients that you have hopefully dug into the soil before you have planted. So as they indulge in that leaf mulch or manure that you have added, they increase its value by up to 8x as they POOP it all out again with increased levels of magnesium and calcium, nitrogen and phosphorus. Addtionally all those convoluted tunnels they create as they trundled along allows your plant to send down strong healthy roots deep into the soil.
To give you an understandable example one earthworm can produce 10 lbs of high quality fertilizer (AKA worm castings) in one year.
And don’t panic if you see one of your fine feathered bird friends prying one from the ground for a delicious snack...just another benefit to encourage the circle of life in your little part of the world.