What’s underneath the ground is just as important as what is above ground, and this includes all the bugs that live in the soil. Worms are incredibly beneficial to the health of your garden. Here are some simple ways to increase the number of worms in your soil.
Increase the worm population in your garden beds: If you want more worms in your garden, create a habitat they will be happy in. Don’t dig up the soil; instead, add layers of compost and manure for them to eat. You can also purchase worms and add them to your dirt.
Do you need worms in your garden?
You technically don’t need worms in your garden. As long as your plants have access to light, water, and soil, then they will grow.
However, the presence of worms will make the ecosystem much healthier. If you’re ready for the next step in advanced gardening, maintaining a healthy worm population should be a consideration.
Benefits of worms in your garden
As worms move through the soil, they create small tunnels. Their movement creates space in the soil, which is immensely beneficial.
The more soil aeration there is, the better water can drain. When soil is compacted, water can’t go anywhere which can lead to soggy roots and weakened plants.
Air can also travel through these tunnels and the oxygen is then absorbed by the plant roots.
Breakdown of nutrients
Worms eat organic matter, such as old plants, dead leaves, and compost that isn’t fully broken down. As they eat, they produce waste that is nutrient-dense and easily absorbed by plant roots.
While this organic matter will eventually break down on its own, having extra worms in your garden will make the process go faster. Then, your plants will have a more constant source of nutrients, which will make them much healthier.
Decreases soil compactness
Amazingly, worms can travel as far as six feet below the surface of the ground. Even if the top layer of your garden is nice and loose, once you get deeper, it starts to become really compact.
Some plants have roots that need plenty of space and if the soil is compacted below the plants, the roots will grow in a shallow manner, which makes the plants weak. If worms open up the area for them, plant roots are able to move around as they need to.
In addition to eating plant matter, worms will also eat fungal spores. As a result, your garden will remain healthier as the fungi aren’t able to take over and infect your plants.
Worms will eat fungal spores so that the substance doesn’t have a chance to take over your garden. This is a great preventative measure to keep your plants healthy.
How to increase worm population in your garden
Digging up your garden has long been common practice but there is increasing evidence that this can do more harm than good. When you dig up the soil, you are disrupting the habit of many insects and useful bacteria.
Shovels are sharp and when you dig, you could accidentally cut up works that are in the soil. Even more common is moving their habitat around, which can cause stress on wrigglers.
Before you dig your garden, think if there is another option. Often, you can simply plant in your soil without having to overhaul it.
If you want to get a piece of land ready for a garden, cover it with cardboard to kill the grass and then add compost to the top layer for more nutrients.
It is actually quite common to purchase worms, either from gardening centers or online. Red wrigglers are a good choice but you can find other varieties that work well.
You can add worms to your compost bin or create a vermicomposting station for more specific results. Another option is to simply place the worms right into your garden.
They won’t go exactly where you want them to, but as the worms move around, they will help aerate the soil and break down organic matter, and many of them will stay in your garden.
Add organic matter
The more nutrients you add to your soil, the happier the life inside of it will be. Be sure to add organic matter such as compost and manure.
If you are worried about disrupting the ecosystem in your soil, you don’t actually have to dig up the ground. Instead, add a layer of compost, then add a layer of leaves, and finally a layer of bark mulch.
As these layers break down, they will fill the soil with nutrients. And, as a bonus, you won’t disrupt the ecosystem of worms and other beneficial insects.
Don’t use chemicals
There are many herbicides and insecticides that claim they are safe to use. However, anytime you add a chemical to your garden, you are disrupting the natural state of things.
These chemicals can infiltrate the soil and as worms make their way through your garden, they can ingest the chemicals, leading to being sick or even death.
There are many other organic ways to deal with problems in your garden, even if they do require a bit of extra effort. You can introduce companion planting to get rid of unwanted insects and you can dig up weeds on your own.
When to decrease the worm population?
Unfortunately, if you have too many worms, this can be bad for your garden. Plants need some organic matter for nutrients, but if the worms eat all of it, then your plants won’t thrive.
If you notice your plants look weak, have yellow leaves, or stop growing, dig up a patch of your garden. If a shovel full of dirt has more than just a few wrigglers in it, then it’s time to take action.
Worms are incredibly useful in your garden. They eat old plant matter and turn it into nutrients, all while aerating the soil. You can increase your worm population by adding more organic matter to the soil and even by purchasing worms.