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Get Serious About Organic Gardening – Raise Your Own Earthworms

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Earthworms an asset?  Find out why serious organic gardeners all raise their own earthworms.

When you find earthworms in your garden, know that you are on the right track.  These little creatures play a very important role to keep your soil fertile.

It is hard to believe but on average, an earthworm produces its weight in nutrient rich castings every day.  Its burrowing creates many channels through the soil, which is great for aeration, drainage and general soil structure.

The following article is full of helpful tips about how to raise your own earthworms.  It also covers what food to feed them as well as what NOT to feed them.

More importantly, find out what action will quickly kill all your earthworms.

The pale red garden earthworm is often called “nature’s plow.” That’s because an earthworm pushes through soft earth with the point of its head. If the soil is hard, the worm eats its way through, forming interconnected burrows, some several feet deep. Burrows loosen the soil, admitting air and water and helping roots grow. A single acre of cultivated land may be home to as many as 500,000 earthworms, each making the soil a better place for plants.

Earthworms In Your Garden
When you add nitrogen-rich compost to your soil, you help worms thrive. However, adding synthetic nitrogen fertilizers may repel earthworms. Worms are very sensitive to physical and chemical changes and will flee the salty conditions that result from an application of chemical fertilizer.

As an earthworm feeds, organic matter passes through its body and is excreted as granular dark castings. You may see these small casting piles in your garden. An earthworm produces its weight in castings daily. Worm castings are a wonderful fertilizer, rich in nutrients otherwise unavailable to plants.

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You can raise earthworms yourself using purchased redworms—a process called vermiculture or earthworm composting. Kept in a cool, dark place, such as a basement, a worm bin provides a composting system for kitchen scraps and a source of rich, fertile worm castings for the garden.

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If you don’t want to pay big bucks for a worm bin, you can make your own from a plastic storage bin, such as a 3 feet by 2 feet by 1 1/2-feet-deep storage bin, a modified garbage can, washtub, or wooden box. Use an awl to punch small holes in the sides of plastic washtubs or garbage cans for aeration. To keep conditions moist but well drained, make a drainage area in the bottom of the bin; use a rigid divider to separate it from the worms’ living quarters. A loose cover keeps flies and light out and worms and moisture in.

Just as with commercial bins, it’s best to fill the bin with soaked coir and newspaper.   …………….

Garden soil may also be added. Make sure the mix is as damp as a wrung-out sponge rather than wet. Then introduce the purchased earthworms to their new home. Use your purchased worms for composting only—most commercially available worms are species that live only in manure or very rich soil and will not survive in average garden soil. One exception is the enriched soil in a greenhouse bed—if the greenhouse stays above freezing, worms will do very well there.

Feed your worms well-chopped vegetable matter mixed with a bit of water. Soft foods are best for the first few days; if food doesn’t disappear in 24 hours, reduce the amount. For faster composting, run the food through a blender, since worms don’t have teeth to tear off large chunks. The population should double in about a month; after 60 days, your bin should be full of rich compost.

Source: Rodales Organic Life
Image Source: Wikipidia/commons

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