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Worms in the Garden = Good Soil Health

June 29th, 2009

When we bought our house and first started gardening we didn’t see any worms. That was our first clue that the previous owners had used too many chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We weren’t really in to gardening the first 3-4 years but we always added good mulch and manure to the garden beds, because we knew it was good for the soil. Seven years later we’re starting to finally reap the rewards of our efforts.
worm_in_hand
I’ve been working in the front flowerbeds and every time I dig I find worms, which means my soil is much healthier (at least in the parts of the garden I’ve been working on for 7 years). Worms are so important to the health and vitality of your soil. They help increase the amounts of air and water in the soil, they help with the decomposition of organic matter and they leave behind fertilizer in the form of castings. They’re kind of like little tillers in your garden. I’m super happy to be seeing them in such quantity.

What about you, are you happy to have worms in the garden? Or do you have lots of work to do to get them to move in?

20 Comments to “Worms in the Garden = Good Soil Health”
  1. Julia on June 29, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I’ve discovered lots of worms this year too! Glad it’s a good thing. I’m wondering, though, do you know if I can toss the worms into the compost bin, or does that need a special kind of worm?
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Urban Gardening at its Best! =-.

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  2. Colleen on June 29, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Our yard was much the same way when we moved in: no worms in the soil, and this was the first place I lived where we didn’t hear many crickets at night during the summer. It took several years to get to the point where we now have a nice, healthy worm population. And you’re right: mulching, and adding manure and compost to the garden (in addition to not using chemicals, of course) were the keys to getting our worms back.

    BTW—your gift card is in the mail. It has been an insane couple of weeks around here and it got lost in the disaster area AKA my desk. Sorry it took so long!!
    .-= Colleen´s last blog ..Tomato Update =-.

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  3. Mangochild on June 29, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I would love to find worms in my garden beds – none seem to have shown up yet, but maybe they are in there quietly at work. I did find my first unwelcome critters this past weekend – a kind of worm on the pepper plants I think – but I’m hoping I’ve gotten rid of them. And I quaranteened the plants – just in case.
    .-= Mangochild´s last blog ..Spotlight: One Local Summer Week 4 =-.

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  4. Deena on June 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    We had the same situation when we first moved in here, 10 years ago. Now there are so many worms, I find one every time I dig…even in small holes for transplants:)
    We added pickup loads of organic matter to the garden areas. Years ago, I had read that just by doing that, the worms will come. And they do come! Keep adding that organic matter!
    .-= Deena´s last blog ..History of Blue Jeans =-.

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  5. KitsapFG on June 29, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Lots of worms but the biggest population is in my cold compost pile (the oldest finished pile). I dug into this pile yesterday to add a heavy layer of compost to an opened up bed area in the veggie garden – and it was alive with worms. A mass of them all tangled together and not happy with me for digging into their home! Most of them were left behind to continue working the compost pile, but quite a few were transported to the garden beds with the compost and will join the worms that have made the garden beds their home.

    In addition to lots of additions of organic matter, the other thing I have found helps to encourage good worm populations is to refrain from “tilling” the soil regularly. I do a double dig when I first create a new bed and then only use a broad fork to loosen and aerate thereafter. This results in the soil structure and stratifcation not getting broken down or mixed up. I think it is a more natural and healthy environment for soil organisms.

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    • Susy on June 29, 2009 at 10:36 pm

      I agree, I also like to use boards to step on when I’m in the garden so I don’t compact the soil any more than necessary. This helps prevent compaction and the need to tilling.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Dave on June 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

    We have quite a few worms in the yard and the garden. What’s funny is one of my neighbor’s up the road (and up the hill) sprays his yard each spring. I’m not sure if it’s herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers but after he does each year the worms migrate in the thousands to our yard. I just hope the chemicals aren’t leaching down here, but I’m welcoming the worms!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..A Challenge for Any Glove Manufacturer =-.

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    • Susy on June 29, 2009 at 10:04 am

      My mom’s garden is the same way, both her neighbors spray and use chemicals, so her garden is full of worms since she’s organic.

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  7. Silke on June 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Daniel just did some soil loosening in our backyard and we were so happy to see many worms. When we moved in three years ago, our soil was beyond horrible – mostly sand with hardly any dirt. Now, it looks so much better and the worms have moved in! Yeah!!! :)
    P.S. Now, if we could just get the fire ants to move out, I’d be really happy!!
    .-= Silke´s last blog ..Color! =-.

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  8. inadvertent farmer on June 29, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Camel poo attracts lots of worms…my kids collect them and pretend they have little villages and small worm towns. They poor things don’t seem to enjoy it much and the kids spend most of the time trying to presuade them to come back up and play! Kim
    .-= inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..My Foot… =-.

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    • Susy on June 29, 2009 at 10:29 pm

      I always loved playing with bugs & worms when I was little.

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  9. Dan on June 29, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    We have lots of worms especially in the veggie patch. With all the robins in the yard I some times wonder how we have so many.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..New Beginnings =-.

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  10. Renee on June 30, 2009 at 2:19 am

    I have a lot of work to do to get them to move in. We have lots of them in the compost bin, but our soil is so sandy, that we really need to add a lot more organic matter to improve it. I haven’t yet seen a single worm in the raised beds even though we added compost and manure before planting. Our yard hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals for nearly 7 years, so I don’t think that is causing a problem.
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..The Reading Room =-.

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    • Susy on June 30, 2009 at 8:28 am

      We have pretty sandy soil too. I really saw an increase in the worm population when I mulched heavily with sweet peat (a composted stable shavings mulch we can get in our area).

      Perhaps you could try buying some earth worm cacoons to get the population started.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. pam on June 30, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I love worms. After it rains, I rescue all the ones that have been stranded on the driveway and put them carefully back in my garden!
    .-= pam´s last blog ..Why I love my CSA =-.

    Reply to pam's comment

    • Susy on June 30, 2009 at 8:29 am

      That sounds like something I would do! I rescued a bunch from my mom’s house from the the new garden area we tilled up and I brought them home. Hopefully they’re enjoying it.

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  12. warren on June 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

    We have garden worms but esp compost pile worms…wow! I know where to hunt when I go fishing!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..It’s about the time =-.

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  13. Sancy on July 10, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve been adding kitchen scraps to my garden and am glad to hear that’s the best way to get worms to stay. Where I live now, the soil is awful, not anything like the rich black stuff in Illinois that would grow anything. We are mostly vegetarian so we have lots of appropriate worm food.

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  14. steph on August 22, 2009 at 9:44 am

    my boyfriend and I moved into our first house a few months ago, and as the previous owners were renting to say they didnt care for the gardens is an understatement. my bf and i got really into the gardening we dug up every single thing (most of it was dead anyway) and added lots of mulch and soil conditioner. i was so happy when yesterday i was adding some more plants to the garden, dug a hole and found big juicy worms!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its the best feeling ever to know that we turned a horrible, dead garden into a thriving one! and we arent even close to finishing yet so bring on more worms! :) :)

    Reply to steph's comment

    • Susy on August 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

      How exciting.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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