Soil and earthworms

Did you know that 2015 is International Year of Soils? And today is a Blogger Action Day on Save the Soil started by Lori Fontanes at (http://whattheducks.com/2015/01/12/talk-dirt-2-me/).

soil logoAs part of my contribution, I wanted to talk about the humble earthworm. It is estimated that there are 3000 species of earthworms globally. The common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris), is one of the most abundant species in Ireland and Britain and is found throughout the Northern hemisphere. It has also been introduced into Southern America, Australia and New Zealand.

Earthworms play a vital role in soil health. On one website, earthworms are described as ‘ecosystem engineers’ (http://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk). Firstly, earthworms dig burrows. Some species dig vertical burrows, others dig horizontal burrows. The burrows allow air and water to penetrate into the soil. At the same time, the burrows allow carbon dioxide to escape. Earthworms also help decompose organic matter. The common earthworm will come to the surface and pull plant material into its burrow. Darwin described earthworms as ‘natures ploughs‘ because they mix soils and the organic matter. Their casts (faeces) are rich in organic plant material and help maintain soil fertility. There can be 20-40 earthworms per square metre of garden!

Providing plenty of organic matter in you garden is a good way of encouraging earthworms. You can do this by putting mulch around plants. It is also great to have a compost bin or compost heap. It’s a great way to recycle garden and kitchen waste. I took this photo of my compost heap yesterday – it was cold and the worms are probably buried deep within but they are definitely there!

Compost heap - garden and kitchen waste turned to soil by busy worms and others

Compost heap – garden and kitchen waste turned to soil by busy worms and others

Eathworm

Earthworm

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13 thoughts on “Soil and earthworms

  1. Robbie

    Happy Save the Soil Day! I was having difficulty linking your blog post to my blog. I mentioned you in my post today which was a reblog of Lori’s one on compost! You did an amazing job, as usual:-)
    I love the earthworms:-) This is such an important post that I wanted others to see it.
    Don’t laugh, but when I garden and disturb an earthworm-where he is laying in the hot sun, I always bury him right away!!! If I did not, I could not sleep. They are the hardest workers that we take for granted-just like bees:-)
    This was a great post + I am so glad you said it + did it soooo well! Thank you for doing this for our unsung creatures below our feet:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Robbie – you are very kind. It was your prompt that got me thinking. Ya, know what you mean about digging the worms up – felt so guilty yesterday digging up soil to get photo. Made sure to put them deep back down so they wouldn’t get too cold!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Robbie

        Silly me-I use to teach young children + I could see a book about the little worms that live below the earth crawling between their tunnels + they would have meeting rooms to spread the word about the good gardeners above that cover them and put them back—-I know I am weird-I would love to read that to some kids for they would LOVE THE STORY! + be outside trying to help:-)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

        Wonderful idea Robbie. Have you read Superworm – a children’s story by Julia Donaldson – not quite the same, more a superhero worm but my kids love it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

  3. Pingback: Bloggers Say: Save the Soils! | What the Ducks!

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