I remember when I was young, I loved hunting for earthworms. We called it shining for nightcrawlers. We would go out at night and shine a flashlight on the ground. Those fat worms were easy to spot! When we went fishing, I always put my own worm on the hook. I’ve never been grossed out by them.
Recently, I’ve started to look back at the child I was and try to do the things I loved doing then. Worms were definitely one of those things. So, I decided to investigate in vermiculture or worm farming. I am also curious about earthworms in general and have added in a few facts about our long, slimy friends.
A Few Facts about Earthworms
The scientific study of worms is called helminthology. Most of the worms studied are parasitic worms, but those of us that use them might be budding helminthologists!
Worms don’t have eyes, however light bothers them and they will move away from it. How do they know the light level without eyes? They happen to have sensors all over their body that act like eyes, sensing light exposure so the worm can get away from it.
Light is bad for worms as it dries them out and disorients them. You can use light in your vermiculture worm farm to move worms away from processed compost and castings so you can harvest for your garden. More on that later.
Worms are hermaphroditic – they have boy and girl parts! They still need to mate with another worm to reproduce. They do this by sliding up next to each other, bonding and trading, and sliming on their merry ways.
Worms can live about three years. In New Zealand, earthworms are even considered a delicacy!
Benefits of Earthworms to your Garden
Earthworms recycle nutrients in the soil, producing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – all important chemicals for photosynthesis. Chlorophyl (the green in the plant) is made from nitrogen; plant cell chromosomes need phosphorus; and potassium helps regulate plant growth.
Earthworms also aerate the soil, allowing the plant to grow deeper roots and absorb more water and nutrients.