You know, we hear all the time about how importantearthworms are for the soil and for the garden, but why? And if youdon't have any in your garden, how do you get more of them? That's whatwe're talking about in today's video.
Kevin Espiritu here from Epic Gardeningwhere it's my goal to help you grow a greener thumb.
Now, did youknow that Charles Darwin, the man behind the theoryof evolution himself, spent the latter years of his lifestudying earthworms and actually the last book he ever published was this one righthere, Darwin's Classic on Earthworms.
The last book Charles Darwin wrote.
This classic on earthworms was abestseller in that day from the start, selling just as many copies as hisbook, On The Origin of Species.
That's pretty crazy.
Buthe was onto something.
He was a master observer and he waslooking at earthworms doing all sorts of experiments and really theorizingbehind their role in soil, in the ecosystem and by extensionin the garden.
In this video, we're going to talk about whatworms do, why that's so important, how to get more of them with a few keytips.
And then at the end of the video, I'll show you a bit of a worm factorythat I have to kind of speed up some of those beneficial things thatworms do.
So without further ado, cultivate that Like button and bothmyself and Charles Darwin will bless you with an Epic amount of worms in yourgarden.
And let's get into the video.
Straight out of the gate.
What do worms do in the soil? What's the point of their existence?Well, their point is to survive, to eat, to reproduce and create more worms.
The way they do that is they burrowthrough your soil munching on stuff.
They use grit that's also present in thesoil to sort of digest in a sense that food.
It comes out the other end inthe form of worm castings or worm poop, which basically just breaks organicmatter from larger to smaller pieces.
And really at that point that organicmatter can start getting attacked by soil microbes, bacteria, fungi, all sorts of stuff that then break itdown further into the components – the elemental nutrients that canbe absorbed by your plants.
And thus you can get an amazing Epicharvest and all that's being done by worms for you.
Another nice thing they do for us istheir bodies as they move through create air tunnels, air pockets thathelp loosen and aerate the soil.
But also their excretions helpcreate more soil aggregation, not like this sort of sandy crumblysoil or overly chunky clay soil.
They sort of break it up into these nicesizeable particles that is really the structure of healthy, healthy soil.
There are three categoriesof worms, roughly speaking.
There are thousands of species, but there are three bucketsthat they all fall into.
You have your litter or surface worms.
If I threw maybe a couple inches ofmulch on top of this bed of onions here, surface worms would be living in betweenthe mulch and the surface of the soil.
Then you have yourtopsoil worms.
They live, if the surface of the soil isright about here in this bed, they would probably live withintwo to four inches of the surface.
Then you have your subsoil worms.
Those can actually make verticalburrows five, six feet down.
And so worms are at play.
Different species and different sort ofgroups of worms are at play throughout the entirety of your soil.
And that's why it's so important to havea variety of them and have soil that supports them, which is exactlywhat we're getting to next.
To figure out how to encouragemore worms in our soil, we must think like a worm, we must become a worm.
Okay, I've channeled the inner essence and theinner spirit of an earthworm and I know what they want.
When it comesto soil, relatively cool soil.
They don't like hightemperatures in their soil.
You're going to want to keep it niceand moist but not too dry, not too wet.
Too dry, worms are 80% water, they'regoing to dry out along with the soil.
They kind of play the gamethat they're dealt.
Too wet, you're going to noticethat the soil, the pores, the air pockets in the soil all fill upand then the worms have nowhere to go.
And that's why when it rains, worms come to the surface becausethey literally need to breathe.
As far as the soil pH, you don'twant anything too far out of range.
In a perfect world, they want a neutralto slightly alkaline pH it seems, but they can tolerate arange of five to eight.
When it comes to theactual texture of the soil, a sandy loam is best.
It's optimal, at least for most species of worms, but they can make do with mostlywhat they're given.
Too much clay, it's hard for them to workthrough.
And of course too sandy, it just water pours through and it'svery hard for them to stay alive in that type of soil.
Some other tips that you can use toconcretely improve the ecosystem in your garden for your worms.
Usea no or low dig approach, meaning you're not disturbing the soilin your beds all too often because that's going to disrupt the pathand pattern of the worms.
You may be bringing some up to the surfacethat don't like being on the surface.
They might dry out and die so I wouldadopt that lower no dig approach.
If you'd like good instruction onthat, my friend Charles Dowding, the master of the no dig movement, oneof the big popularizers of that movement.
He spends about two inches of compostonce per year on his garden beds and he does not disturb them.
He justlays it right on top and that's it.
I have a full tour withCharles on my channel.
It's actually one of my favoritevideos I've ever made on this channel.
I went all the way to England and we gotthat video done and it was amazing to meet him, so I highly recommend you check that outif that's something you're interested in.
Another thing you can do is leavesome of the organic matter that naturally falls on the garden.
Remember a mulch layer, a leaf litter layer, something like that is going to encouragethose surface or litter worms to exist, right? Otherwise, there's nothing protecting them fromthe blinding sun and the elements so they're not going to be there.
And so that's a whole class of wormsyou would miss out on it in your garden.
Our final tip before we get into myworm factory is just use less synthetic fertilizers.
I don't think many of us watching thischannel use a whole ton of synthetics, but it's going to be a little bitharder for the worms to work with that.
They don't really preferthat.
Give them nice organic, high quality compost andmanures, stuff like that.
They're going to work through thatlike magic and use less synthetics and there's a whole bunch of reasons whyyou would want to use less synthetics anyways.
Now let'stalk about the worm system.
For those of you who want tosupercharge your worm game, you can actually add aworm composting system.
This makes use of typicallyred wiggler worms, which are those litter worms thatlive more at the top of a soil system.
And the one that I particularly likeis this one called the Urban Worm Bag.
My friend Steve, he's actually an airline pilot andthis is what he does in his spare time, which is an amazing thing, he's a hilarious combination.
But he's an amazing guy and he came upwith this system which is basically a continuous flow through worm bin.
Most classic worm bins are a tote systemwhere you stack different trays and as you move your worms you kind of movethe trays.
This one, as you can see, it's one continuous unit, so food goes in the top, worms exist right at that top layer andtheir castings start aggregating down here.
To harvest then all I dois I open this little drawstring, almost like an actual butt, the worm poop comes out and then I canharvest that and mix that into my beds as a top dressed amendment.
As you can see, I have some worm tea that has breweditself almost down here from a recent rain and I can use this in my garden as well.
Now let's take a quick peek under thehood and just kind of show you some of the magic.
Before we open itI just want to be clear.
This is not a way to addmore earthworms to your soil.
It's a way to harness the power of wormsto create fertility for free from food scraps from your garden.
So now let's open it up.
So you can see some of these wormsare hanging out on the sides.
Most of them are in this clump righthere.
Somewhere right around there.
You can see as soon as they hit thelight they really don't like that.
These are surface worms, but they don'tlike to live actually on the surface.
And I threw some mizuna in here alittle bit ago and you can see it's been worked through quite, quite aggressively.
And so what happens hereis you mix some bedding, here's just some shredded cardboard andyour food scraps, your coffee grounds.
And really they make quick work of it.
They can eat about a quarter of theirbody weight a day and then it just matriculates its way down here.
You can see probably I would say fromabout here downwards is all pure worm castings that I need to harvest andthen I can continue and just fill, fill, fill, fill, fill, fill.
And the beauty is the worm poop downhere is not full of worms because they don't like to exist in their own poopdown here.
So they're always at the top.
That's why this bottom harvest is sobeautiful.
There we have it everyone, simple ways to encourage an ecosystemthat worms love so that they show up in the garden, they startturning over that soil, doing all those beneficialthings that we talked about.
Giving your plants the nutrition thatthey need so that they grow healthy and you have amazing harvests.
If you want, I'm more than happy to do an in depthbreakdown of the Urban Worm Bag sometime.
Just so let me know in the commentsif you'd like that.
I've tried five, maybe six of the top rated bags or binsystems in existence and I've even built my own and this one is far andaway my favorite.
The owner, Steve, is an amazing guy and I love it somuch that I carry it now in the Epic Gardening store.
Price is inclusive ofshipping.
It's one of the best values, in my opinion, you're going toget for your gardening dollar.
So I'll leave that in the description.
But until next time I really hope thishelps you and I'd love to see you in the comments.
And I'd love thecomments to be collaborative.
So if you have a question and youknow the answer to someone's question, make sure and answer it so we canbuild a nice Epic Gardening community.
And I'll see you in the next video.
Goodluck in the garden and keep on growing.