Earthworms are the Slimy, Slippery Superheroes of your Soil
There are over 300 species of native worms in Australia and many introduced species that are beneficial as well. You have much to thank your humble garden worm for.
Earthworms return nutrients to the soil from organic matter such as fallen leaves, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, hair clippings, and even old paper. These nutrients are important for you to grow happy, hardy plants.
Earthworms can eat up to half their bodyweight in organic material every day, so they can help keep your garden nice and tidy.
By tunnelling and burrowing away underground, earthworms aerate your soil, making it less compact and easier for water to penetrate and get to plant roots. Thanks worms!
You can help look after Earthworms in your Backyard
Avoid using chemicals or pesticides in your garden as they can enter the soil and cause your worms to become sick. If you have recently wormed your pet, collect any droppings from the garden and put them in the bin, as these chemicals can kill earthworms.
A garden with no worms at all is a sign that the soil has become polluted. So be thankful if you spot the occasional worm buddy when raking or digging in the garden, as it means your patch is healthy!
By putting your organic waste like fruit and veggie peelings, scraps, and even shredded paper in a compost or worm farm, you’re reducing how much rubbish you send to landfill and are making your garden an even better place than it is already.
Be a Backyard BuddyEarthworms love:
- Dead organic matter like fallen leaves, vegetable peelings, and fruit scraps, which they pull underground and eat.
- Mulch & groundcover which keeps the soil underneath nicely cool and moist.
- Night time when they emerge from the soil to grab leaves and scraps to pull underground and eat. They stay underground during the day so they don’t dry out.
- Tunnelling to get around underground. This also aerates your soil.
- Strong flavours such as citrus, pineapples, chilli, onions, garlic or shallots.
- Meat, chicken or fish as earthworms are vegetarians!
- Chemicals, oil or pesticides, which make them sick.
Be a Buddy to Earthworms
- Make a compost in your garden.
- Cover up any worms you unearth when digging in the garden. They like to be amongst the cool and dark soil.
- Mulch your garden beds, grow groundcover, or let leaf litter be your mulch. Worms will love you for it as they will have plenty of food and the soil will be nice and moist.
- Collect any veggie peelings, fruit scraps, old shredded papers and put them in the garden for worms to eat.
- Get a worm farm and make worm juice (liquid fertilizer) which is great for your plants. In good conditions worms breed every 7-10 days, eggs take about 21 days to hatch, and in 2-3 months the new worms are ready to breed. The population will double every 2-3 months and will eat up loads of scraps and organic material.
- Using chemicals, pesticides or insecticides in your garden.
- Overwatering your garden as worms like damp but not extremely wet soil.
- Putting meat, dairy, sugary products, spicy vegetables, or citrus scraps in the garden as worms don’t like to eat them and they can attract other insects and rats.
- You see really, really long worms.
- Earthworms squirt out lots of liquid if you pick them up.
- You see earthworms in puddles after heavy rains.
A few more Earthworms facts
- Worms have both male and female organs, but they still need another worm in order to reproduce. Worms lay eggs which hatch after about three weeks.
- Earthworms don’t have lungs, and instead breathe through their skin.
- Worms are made up almost entirely of water, and so they love to be in damp soil during the day where it is cool and moist, so that they don’t dry out or become too hot.
- Worms don’t have eyes but they do have light-sensitive tissues near their heads to detect light.
- Earthworms don’t have teeth. Tiny stones in their gut help grind up what they eat.