Increase the Worm Population in Your Garden Beds & Compost


Worms, scientifically known as Lumbricus Terrestris, play a crucial role in the fertility of a garden. They produce worm castings, which are a form of manure and carbon dioxide, all of which are loaded with nutrients. If you are looking to sustain a healthy population of worms in your garden, there are a few things that you should do to improve conditions for them.

Attract worms to your garden by adding organic matter such as compost, chopped leaves, leaf mulch, grass clippings, and herbivore manures. Worms require a food source, so grow a green manure cover crop. There should be no bare soil, and the garden beds should be kept moist at all times.

Worms are only present in healthy and organic soils. They are subdivided into 7,000 species, 23 families, and more than 700 genera. All of them, however, have common aspects, including:

  • Soil tilling and aeration
  • Mix soils for enhanced fertility
  • Hastening the composting process

A healthy garden needs worms, and they also need a welcoming environment to thrive.

How can I attract worms in my garden?

The two key actions to take would be to add organic matter to the soil as this provides a food source that will naturally attract them. Compost is a fantastic addition to any garden bed. and there is nothing better than homemade compost for this.

If you would like information on making your own organic, nutrient-dense compost, then check out this blog post I wrote where I provide a masterclass on composting so that you always get great consistent results every time. Or even watch the video below.

The beds require adequate moisture. Aim for 80% moisture content so that the soil feels damp, but no water is released when a handful is squeezed.

Ways to Attract Worms to Your Garden

Worms will only thrive in a good environment. Secondly, every healthy garden will need worms. Avid gardeners must introduce organic matter that gives worms nutrients, attracts them, and maintains their health. Worms prefer damp and dark areas since they are sensitive to light. Here are natural ways to attract them.

1. Add rotten organic material: Compost and manure make up the perfect food for worms. More so, compost and manure will attract the worms and boost the moisture and nutrient levels in your garden.

2. Bury dry leaves, straw from dead plants, and dead roots into the soil. These components act as food for the worms

3. Water your garden. A moist garden attracts worms deeper into the soil. Gentle watering limits the environment in which worms live.

4. Add a layer of grass clippings over the soil to shield the worms against the sun, birds, and other predators. The clippings will, with time, wither and enhance the quantities of nutrients and moisture in your garden.

Introduce Organic Matter to Attract Worms

You don’t have to outlay finances on the organic matter because You can find most of the necessary materials in your garden.

1. Cornmeal

Cornmeal is a food source for worms. According to a study by Molly College, cornmeal can heighten the population of worms in your garden. Once you sprinkle it over the soil, allow it to settle for 30 days to give the bacteria time to attract worms. How should I do it, you may ask?

  • Only apply the cornmeal in spring when the soil is ready
  • Dust the garden with a corn mill
  • Mix it gently with the soil underneath
  • Moisten it with some water to ensure it is not too wet

2. Coffee

Coffee is excellent at preventing weeds and providing nitrogen. Coffee beans are rich in protein, which is loaded with nitrogen. It is considered one of the best foods for worms. The worms will consume coffee beans and then excrete them deep into the soil, thereby improving their quality. It has been found to:

  • Attract worms
  • Sustain favorable temperatures
  • Boost soil texture
  • Reduce harmful pathogens

The concentration of the coffee grounds should not be more than 25 percent. Anything above this will ruin the pH levels of the soil. This will make your soil acidic, put worms off entering the area, and affect the growing conditions for your plants.

3. Manure

Manure is an excellent source of food for worms, according to a recent study. Worms tend to be drawn to decomposing organic matter.

They break it down into small bits, allowing fungi and bacteria to feed on it. As the fungi and bacteria access other parts of the garden, they release the manure into the plants.

How can I Create a Healthy Environment for the Worms

Given that the soil quality will dictate the number of worms in your garden, you will need to maintain the right conditions for them to thrive. Here is how.

Avoid Tilling the Soil

When it is wet, you want to reduce the traffic that gets to your garden. If the soil is largely compacted, the worms tend to be strained, given that they are almost rendered immobile.

While tilling is a common misconception among farmers, avoiding it can boost the health of the soil. As long as there are worms in your garden, tilling is unnecessary, given that the soil is guaranteed many benefits.

Do Not Use Chemicals

Fertilizers acidify the soil and are bad for worms. Some fungicides are also not to be used on the soil because they ruin its structure and kick out worms.

Chemicals will kill off other microbial life within your soil. These are the start of the food chain and support other creatures you require for a healthy garden.

Work on Drainage

Waterlogging can be preventing by mounding and draining the soil. Your crawlers need a good amount of water and proper aeration. Allowing your soil to become saturated will cause compaction and remove all the air in the soil, turning it anaerobic. This is not conducive to attracting worms into your growing beds.

What are the Benefits of Worms in my Garden

Worms are largely known as natural plows and can be highly beneficial to any garden. They effortlessly boost the quality of your soil.

Their castings are rich in phosphates, potassium, nitrogen, minerals, and nutrients critical to the thriving of any garden. The tunnels they create loosen the soil and aerate it. Here are some more benefits:

They till the Soil

The tiny crawlers create canals that make it easy for water to percolate deeper into the soil. This effect reduces or eliminates soil erosion and prevents water from running off. Most of the worms fall under the following two categories.

1. Worms: These are small and live close to the ground surface. They are not disturbed by high temperatures and prefer to feed on organic matter such as compost. As a consequence, they produce warm and richer castings. You will notice them in your compost pile. These types are recommended for your indoor vermicomposting.

2. Underground worms: These varieties are found underground, deep inside the soil, and are larger than those that compost. They are excellent at aerating the soil and improving it. The worms thrive in cool environments. Although they produce castings, they are not as rich as those of worms that produce compost.

Note that worms range in size, from the microscopic ones to those a few feet long. Those found in home gardens are mostly field worms. These kinds tend to thrive in cool environments.

When it is rainy or dark, you may also spot them on the surface of the soil once their burrows flood. On the other hand, field worms are found in compost piles and will mostly settle at the bottom where it does not get too hot.

If you are a seasoned farmer wondering which worms are best for your garden, the Red Wiggler types of worms are the most ideal. While you can still depend on the nightcrawler types, the Red Wigglers are more effective in processing organic scraps.

They process soil

Worms eat everything as they burrow through the soil. They eat dry matter and mix it with the soil to form castings. Given that worms’ gut has multiple microorganisms, what they produce is about eight times more nutritious than what they consume.

Note that the castings have a neutral pH and produce hemic acid, which controls pathogens in plants for healthy growth.

What Worms Do

Worms consume grass, dead leaves, animal manure, soil, rotting plants, and semi-rotten compost. These are then ground in their gizzards, mixed with stomach enzymes, digestive juices, and finally released into the soil.

Worms are also known to eliminate debris and fungi, thereby ridding the garden of unwanted concentration. They turn soil into humus to improve its structure because their castings are stable.

How can Worms Thrive in the garden?

These soil crawlers do not need much to thrive, and when they do, your garden will also stand out. The following are some of the things you need:

  • Vegetable scraps and raw fruit
  • Finely crushed eggshells
  • Natural fibers, such as linen and cotton
  • Plant-based raw materials that are low in salt

Things not to feed the worms include:

  • Oils, dairy products, and meat take longer to break down
  • Buttery cooked food
  • Foods high in salt

Crucial Do’s and Don’ts for Maintaining Worms

Here are things you need to know to attract worms and harmful things that could keep them away from your garden.

Their Likes:

  • Loam soil: Your soil should not be too sandy
  • Corrugated cardboard and newspaper: Soak these materials or shred them and place them in your garden.
  • Moist soil: Given that the bodies of worms are 80 percent water, they need moisture to survive. However, ensure that the water is not too much to prevent drowning since they breathe through their skin.
  • 50-60 degrees temperature: In summer, you will see fewer worms, and more will show during fall. During winter, they will penetrate deeper into the soil.
  • Maintain a soil pH level of 5-8: Worms thrive in a neutral pH that is seven but can also do well between the levels of 5 and 8

Their Dislikes:

  • Seafood
  • Bones
  • Tobacco
  • Fat
  • Grease
  • Lime
  • Coal
  • Faces
  • Wood ash

Why there are still no Worms in my garden

Have you already tried the above guidelines, but none seem to be working? If there is no activity despite your efforts, begin by dwelling on the following questions:

1. Could there be critters eating the worms or preventing them from coming to your garden?

2. Could your soil be excessively cold, dry, wet, or hot?

3. Is there enough organic matter to protect the worms from direct sunlight?

Once you have exhausted these questions, you could consider purchasing worms to help in attracting more of their kind.

Keep off Pests as you Attract Worms.

Edible substances that attract worms could as well be food for pests and other rodents. However, you can prevent pests by adding foods that do not have strong aromas, such as meats, onions, grease, oil, and dairy. For coffee grounds and cornmeal, you can filter out odors by covering them. Make use of paper, wood shavings, and shreds of leaves.

Are There Other Ways I Can Achieve an Organic Garden

One of the most successful steps to achieving an organic garden is by introducing worms. Other ways to do so are as follows:

Increase Organic Matter

Every successful garden has plenty and diverse organic matter. Given that manure releases nitrogen, every type of manure can improve the quality of your soil. To keep off pathogens and their negative effects, wait for about three months before using the manure in your garden after your harvest.

Use Cover Crops

Cover crops boost the fertility and consistency of soil. They have decaying roots that allow oxygen to penetrate better into the soil. Beans, clovers, grass, and peas are the best choices because their root system is the most ideal.

Growing a cover crop is one of the best things you can do through the winter months. Not only will it feed your worms, but it will also protect against compaction, prevent weeds growing, feed the microbes, stop waterlogging, lock up nutrients to prevent leaching.

I have a very in-depth guide on cover crops, so if you would like to read that and know more about them, you can read it here.

Never Leave the Soil Bare

Always keep the soil covered using organic matter and mulches. Grass clippings and leaves will do. Wood chips and newspapers are also excellent choices. These items will help in the retention of moisture in the soil.

Earthworms are nocturnal and can live in your garden for up to 12 years. Their unique duty is to till the soil so that you do not have to do it yourself. If you are looking for the perfect dad gift ideas, worms are some of the best choices.

Conclusion on how to increase worm population in your garden beds.

Worms are so important, and they are a great indication of how well your garden soil is doing. If you have worms, then your soil is holding plenty of organic matter. If you do not have many worms, it is time to follow the advice in this post.

Don’t feed your plants and hope they will grow. Feed the soil and, in turn, the worms, and know your plants will grow.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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