by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Most homeowners will do anything to keep pests and other insects off their lawn, but earthworms are different. Through their ability to break up soil and thatch, form nutrients, and produce organic fertilizer, earthworms are one type of insect worth keeping around for a healthy lawn, and not just for a healthy lawn.
Earthworms are essential for the health of most soil types and a healthy soil is indicated by its ability to distribute water and nutrients to the roots of plants to make them grow. Because earthworms naturally tunnel through the soil to break it up; creating space for air and water to flow through, soil containing earthworms will not become compact or harden.
Since earthworms also consume thatch for food, this keeps thatch problems down to a minimum. Thatch, which are rough patches of grass, make it difficult for water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil and reach the roots of plants. Insects and other lawn diseases can also establish havens around thatch, making earthworms even more vital to keep around.
They also make a great organic fertilizer
In addition to getting rid of thatch, earthworms also consume other organic materials, such as leaves and dead plants. This allows them to produce castings, or feces that they leave behind in the soil, creating nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that keeps the soil healthy and plants growing. It also means dead leaves on your lawn will decompose at a faster rate.
It is important to make use of earthworms as producers of organic fertilizer for the soil as they are also cost effective. Fertilizer in general, especially if you need to use it more than once a year, can be quite expensive and, on top of that, it is often made from petroleum products and other chemicals.
Worm castings contain 50% organic matter and 11 trace minerals, which can be difficult to find and expensive to purchase. So, not only do they cost significantly less, but you can save yourself from spreading smelly fertilizer on your own.
Earthworms rid the soil of disease and soil pests
Soil with high earthworm populations have been shown to have low numbers of nematodes, which are pests that live in the soil, posing harm to plants as they consume the roots.In order to maintain a steady population of earthworms, limit the amount of chemicals that are used. This means chemical-based fertilizers and weed killers will need to be kept at minimum in order for earthworms to thrive. Also, rake a thin layer of compost across the top of the soil in the spring. This gives the worms an immediate source of food to start with before burrowing into the ground.
Despite their unappealing looks, earthworms should not be considered a pest! Far from it. Their populations typically do not go out of control and even in large numbers they can prove highly beneficial to improving the soil quality.
Be sure, however, to verify that the worms in your yard are actually earthworms. There are some invasive species of worms that can harm the soil by consuming the soil nutrients and plant roots. So ensure that only beneficial earthworms exist in your yard.
Because worm castings and thus worm compost is so great for your garden many people actually do worm composting, using earthworms in special composting bins to create this rich valuable compost.