How to Attract Earthworms to Your Garden

Get our best tips and tricks for creating soil and an environment to attract earthworms to your garden. 

Earthworms wriggling in the soil of the garden
© Deposit Photos / Mizina

If you’ve been gardening for long, you’re probably already friends with the earthworms. If you are newer to gardening, you’ll be pleased to learn that earthworms are some of the most beneficial creatures you can have living in your family’s vegetable garden.

They help to improve the quality of the soil by creating tunnels that allow water and air to penetrate through. In addition, they consume decaying matter, fungi, bacteria and nematodes in the soil, which have been known to cause many issues in your garden when left unmanaged.

As a special added bonus, worm castings also act as a wonderful fertilizer for your plants. In fact, a natural abundance of earthworms in your garden is quite a good indicator of your soil’s overall health.

There’s no need to despair if your veggie garden isn’t already loaded with these helpful underground wrigglers. Luckily, there are several ways you can attract more earthworms to your yard.

Best Ways to Attract Earthworms to Your Garden

1. Don’t Use Toxic Pesticides or Weed Killers.

This step should be a no brainer for any person who considers themselves an organic gardener. The case against pesticide use in your garden continues to grow as multiple scientific studies* show that their use has a detrimental impact on earthworms and the surrounding ecosystem.

Of course, most organic gardeners would never knowingly use these toxic products in their own gardens. The challenge exists in protecting your yard from pesticide drift that may come from neighbors or nearby farms.

That’s why site selection is so important. You can strategically use physical barriers in order help reduce this risk in many cases, so keep it in mind when planning your garden space.

2. Create a Welcoming Environment.

Let’s be real. Earthworms ask for very little in return for the many benefits they provide.

They prefer living in a dark, cool, moist environment – and they look for lots of organic matter to consume. By mulching your garden, you can help the soil retain the moisture that earthworms and your growing vegetables crave.

Plus, by adding lots of rich compost and matter to your soil, you can help to keep them well-fed. Add your leftover coffee grounds directly to the soil for an easy nutrient addition.

3. Leave Your Soil Undisturbed.

Conventional gardening methods involve tilling the ground to work compost and other amendments into the current soil. Did you know that doing so disturbs and damages the existing ecosystems within the soil? It does!

Earthworms and other beneficial creatures are often harmed during the tilling process. So that’s another reason to think about using raised garden beds or following lasagna-type gardening methods.

4. If All Else Fails, Buy Earthworms for Your Organic Garden.

Although this is a perfectly valid option, I listed it last for two main reasons. First, when you create a hospitable environment that provides earthworms with everything they need to thrive, you have pretty good chances that they’ll find their way into your organic garden all by themselves.

Second, it doesn’t make much sense introducing earthworms into your garden if it doesn’t offer the basic requirements that earthworms need to survive. They’ll just leave for better soil.

However, once your garden environment is ready, you can speed up their arrival by buying them from a reputable dealer that sells earthworms that are native to your local area. Buying native species will ensure they have an easier time making themselves at home in your backyard.

One of my favorite places to buy earthworms (and mealworms) from is Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

Having soil that earthworms love is the key to attracting earthworms to your garden. I hope these tips and tricks will help you achieve gardening success this year.

Earthworms, pesticides and sustainable agriculture: a review

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