Tuesday, 04 August 2015
Actually there are loads of worms in my garden and I’ve called them all Wiggly Woo, it is pretty hard to tell them apart so I though the smart thing to do was give them all the same name. Mummy says that worms in our soil means the ground is good for growing things. But why is that? What do worms do? I’ve been finding out….
A really clever man, who found out lots of cool facts about animals and nature, named Charles Darwin, called earthworms “natures plough”. That’s because they mix up the soil with their burrowing. Whilst they burrow they eat decaying plants and then create worm poo (called casts). This is tiny and easily breaks down into the soil to give it lots of nutrients. Then bacteria and fungi feed on the poo (yuck!) and release the nutrients into the soil for new plants to use to grow. So by burrowing, the worms make nutrients available all through the soil and not just on top. Even more helpful in the garden, worms don’t eat living plants, they have to be already dead and decaying. They are hard workers, one acre of worms can contain 1 million worms and they can break down about 50 tonnes of soil. Worm tunnels also help to hold soils in place and stop water erosion.
To find out more about what worms do in the soil you can make a temporary earthworm wormery. You’ll need:
Gently and carefully collect some worms from you garden. The best time to collect worms is after a heavy rain fall as they will come up to the surface. They are normally easy to find in shady spots below shrubs or stones. I found it easy to find and gather worms using my fab Twigz garden tools. They’re not just perfect for growing veg but also for all the important garden jobs I need to show Mummy how to do!
Cut the top 1/4 off the bottle and make a small slit in the side of the bit you’ve cut off top (to make it easier to slot back on as a lid)
Fill the bottle with a layer of sand then soil then sand then soil, then sand, soil, sand, soil.
Add a few worms to the top and watch them burrow down.
Add food to the top (I used potato and carrot peelings and damp shredded newspaper) and wash your hands.
Wrap the black paper around the wormery and fasten with elastic band. This encourages the worms to burrow around the outside of the wormery where you can see them. Place in a warm place and you can remove the black paper each day to see the worms, what food they’ve eaten and how their burrowing has changed the wormery layers. After a week release the worms back into your garden.
This temporary wormery is different from a composting wormery. Special worms that live above the ground in piles of decaying leaves/other garden waste are needed for that, not earthworms. If you keep them in a wormery the worms digest your kitchen and garden waste into a wonderful compost in around 3-6 months. Composting worms like to eat: coffee grounds and tea bags, fruit and vegetables peelings, cereals and bread, crushed egg shells. Composting worms don’t like: onions, citrus fruits, meat and fish, fats or greasy foods, dairy products, rice, pasta or cooked potatoes. Worms don’t like to be too cold and eat more when they are warmer. Don’t leave them in direct sunlight though or they will get too hot. It’s best to keep your composting wormery in a garage or shed in the winter. Make sure they stay moist but don’t make it too wet. You can add rainwater or dry bedding if you need to. They will sort out their own numbers and shouldn’t try to escape if wormery conditions are right.
So next time you find Wiggly Woo or one of his friends in your garden, be happy as it’s great to know you’ve got some help in the garden.