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Know more about earthworms present in your garden soil

Nov 29, 2013
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If you have come across slightly transparent reddish, brown or gray colored and 10-12 cm long worm wriggling in your gardens, then you have a reason to cheer.

The worm is called earthworm and its presence in your garden soil indicates that the soil is nutrient rich.

Nature’s plow asEarthworm in garden soil popularly called, loosen up soil and make it more porous and aerated. They feed on the soil and organic matter like dried leaves present in it and convert them into a nutrient rich dark granular castings called as ‘worm castings’. These worm castings are good fertilizer providing plants nutrients otherwise unavailable to the plant.

Earthworm’s body is made of around 100 small segments which are clearly visible on its body. The first segment at anterior side is its mouth. As it moves, it consume soil thus making a network on interconnected burrows all the way. These burrows help in passing water and air through the soil thus helping roots grow. After feeding soil, it will digest the soil in body. During digestion in earthworm’s body, organic matter present in the soil is broken down into useful nutrients and excreted as worm castings. That’s why these worm castings act as fertilizer.


Life cycle of an earthworm


Earthworm lays eggs in spring in a cocoon buried beneath the soil. Eggs hatch within 3-4 weeks and they mature within 10 weeks after hatching and a dark 3-4 segment long dark cuticle appears on the earthworm body. It is called as clitellum. Presence of clitellum on earthworm’s body is an indicator of sexual maturity. Then it mates and produces eggs. Disappearance of clitellum indicates onset of old age and senescence. Earthworm generally lives to 4-8 years.


Attracting earthworm in your garden


Adding nutrient rich compost to the soil invites earthworm as they thrive in there. Keep your soil moist and damp. In such conditions, the earthworm’s skin stays wet and moist allowing it to breathe. Due to the same reason you must have noticed these worms crawling on the surface after hard rain. Leaf litter around the surface and a layer of mulch is assumed as an invitation by earthworms. You can bury kitchen waste in the garden soil to attract more earthworms.

Avoid pesticides and other chemical sprays as they will repel earthworms.


Vermiculture Composting


It is a process of decomposing organic matter (waste food, kitchen scraps etc) into a nutrient rich matter which can be used by plants for their growth using worms like earthworms.

Earthworm are fed food waste like fruit and vegetable trimmings, ground egg shells, lettuce leaves and garden clippings like grass clippings, leaves. You shouldn’t be feeding any dairy products and meat to earthworms.

Red earthworm ( Eisenia fetida) is best for vermiculture composting. They are generally found near on the soil surface. Put these worms with food (mentioned above) in a closed container and let the process going on. Harvest the earthworms once the food is converted to earthly smelling matter and granular dark castings are formed.

Read Also : Know more about your garden soil.



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