Why are there no earthworms in my garden?-There are mainly 3 reasons- increased salinity, chemical toxicity, and low organic content. These are the main reason for not having any earthworm in the garden soil.
Soil is a balanced mixture of organic and inorganic matter. All the life forms depending on soil directly affected by these natural factors.
When we talk about Earthworms, We all know since our childhood that Earthworm is the farmer’s best friend. It is true and perfectly valid in all places.
These tiny creatures dig the soil, turns it upside down. This allows more air and water with nutrients to reach the roots of every plant. Earthworm casting is considered one of the best organic compost. It contains a high amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium with traces, or other micronutrients.
Every gardener knows the importance of these worms. We as gardeners always try to save and encourage the growth of earthworms for the sake of healthy vegetables. It is necessary as we are dependent on these worms.
Growing and caring for earthworms is an easy task still if you are struggling with it. Then there must be some serious problems with your garden soil. Keep reading for proper knowledge and solution for these problems.
Read my previous post: 27 Indoor and outdoor plants that repel mosquitoes
3 Reasons Why there are no earthworm in garden Soil
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- Earthworm casting on Amazon
Earthworms can survive in saline soil. In fact just 0.5 to 1% salt can kill these creatures. So Salinity of soil can be responsible for not finding any earthworms. This is the first and most common reason for no Earthworms in Garden Soil.
Before proceeding First try to understand this situation.
Why salt kills Earthworms?
The basics for earthworm tell that they have soft moist skin. Most of you may have noticed that. These creatures don’t have a separate respiratory system like other animals. They respire through their moist skin.
Earthworm secretes mucus to keep their thin skin moist. Oxygen dissolves in this mucus and then reaches the body of an earthworm. Moisture is required for this kind of respiration.
Interesting Fact: Earthworms can control the amount of mucus being secreted based on requirements and environmental factors.
When we sprinkle salt over a worm or in case of saline soil they will die. Why?
Salt is Hygroscopic in nature. It means salt above water to form water of crystalline. Excess of salt can absorb moisture quickly and make the skin dry. This will stop respiration and the earthworm will die due to suffocation.
Other than this, Salt can quickly change the osmotic pressure. In simple words, it can reduce the density of water inside the earthworm. Due to this the water spills out and the worm will shrink to die and dry.
Unfortunately Earthworms can not control the osmotic flow and internal osmotic pressure. This condition leads to the sudden death of the worm.
Sometimes if the concentration of salt is not much then it will not kill worms. Instead this salt will discourage the reproduction and formation of cocoon and eggshells in earthworms. This is again a dead-end for these creatures.
Also read: Do Potatoes Have Seeds?- Interesting garden facts
How the Salinity of Soil Increases?
This is something we humans are responsible for. Most certainly the salinity of soil increases due to excessive use of inorganic fertilizers.
These fertilizers are made of Soluble and insoluble metal salts. Prolonged and excessive use of these fertilizers creates a high deposit of salt in the soil. This increases the salinity of the soil. Ultimately reduces the fertility of the soil and kills helpful earthworms.
How to Reduce the Salinity of the garden Soil?
You just have to make the soil little acidic to keep your worms healthy. This is not a difficult job. It will take some time and finally the soil will get back its health and fertility.
So what to do to reduce salinity?– You can actually try three different methods to reduce salt from garden soil.
- First: dig the soil upside down let it dry for a few days then flood it with water. Repeat this method twice a month. This is easy especially if you are not in a hurry. This method will take time but not much money is required. You just underwater and full sun. Nature will do your job in a month or two.
- Second: you can add 5-10 inches of organic matter and mulch over the soil and water it thoroughly. Water this layer once every day for five consecutive days. Then till the soil upside down. Let it dry for two or three days. Then add some organic compost and repeat this step one more time. Finally after 25 days your ground soil will be ready to use.
- Third: this the most expensive and highly effective method. You can remove the topsoil (at least 10 inches) deep from the ground. Leave the soil exposed in the sun for 5 days. Then add an equal amount of organic compost with the soil. Fill the land again and Water it thoroughly for 3 days. Then leave the soil to dry and till the soil before use. This is the fastest but expensive method to reduce the salinity of the soil.
Toxicity of the soil
Just like the salinity of the soil, a high amount of toxicity can also kill earthworms. This is again a man-made factor for degrading soil quality and biodiversity.
Certain toxic material not only kills earthworms but also makes the soil infertile and totally baren. Ultimately the soil reduces its ability to grow anything and turns into sand.
Other than earthworms, vegetables and fruits can also get the deposition of toxic materials from the soil. Hence it can be harmful to plants, animals as well as humans.
Read this: 15 weird things a garden lizard can eat- Everything to Know
What makes Garden Soil Toxic?
Materials like chemicals, fertilizers & pesticides, crude oil, acids, and paints can make you garden soil toxic. This is why I always recommend not to use excessive inorganic, chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides.
The worst part of this situation is that most of the time it is incurable. Even if it is curable, it will require lots of effort, time, and money. Most of the time it is not feasible for hobby or backyard gardeners.
How to Reduce the Toxicity of the garden soil?
The best and easiest method is to remove the entire affected soil out of the garden. Replace this soil with fresh high-quality organic compost. This will take money and effort but is highly recommended in this situation.
If you don’t want to spend money on expensive soil treatment then you have one chance to try. Just dig a hole or two near the affected spot. Fill these holes with organic matter like dead leaves and compost. Water the holes ad leave for few days. Observe for fresh grass growth.
If you find some fresh growth nearby then repeat this step twice every month. This will take more time but way almost no extra money. This method is successful but not guaranteed in every situation. Some toxic matters may take decades or even centuries to decay naturally. So at wisely, don’t waste time if nothing seems working- just change the soil.
Low organic content in the Soil
This is really easy to understand. Earthworms feed on organic matter. Also, this organic matter maintains ideal moisture and temperature for the worms.
It not only protects the earthworm but also keep them healthy. This is a necessary condition for the sustenance of any kind of earthworm.
Sometimes Low amount of organic matter in the soil is also responsible for almost not to ver low amount of earthworms. The scarcity of organic biodegradable substances can also make the soil very hard to dig. This in turn can create difficulty to the worms to move and propagate easily. It can also increase the dryness of the soil. This in turn can kill the earthworms. So what to do now?
How to increase organic matter in the soil?
This is the easiest task to do. Just mix some kitchen waste like vegetable peels and eggshells with the garden soil. Give it some time and enough moisture. The rest will be handled by the earthworms and other decomposers.
It will turn in compost within 60-75 days. If you repeat this step throughout the year then you can even turn barren land into a beautiful garden without spending a single penny. This is easy, this is eco-friendly and this is effective. So why not try this method today and fill your garden with these tiny creatures, the farmer’s friends- The earthworms.
Other Reasons for lowering of Earthworms in the Soil
There are some natural predators of Earthworms that can make their life miserable. Sometimes you can detect these other times you cant.
New Zealand flatworm is a very dangerous predator for earthworms. These species are like an alien predator that can kill even the dense populated worm colony in days. The main reason for this situation is that both these creatures are unknown and un-immune to each other. Flatworm from the Southern hemisphere is deadly for an earthworm in the northern hemispheres. The worst part is you can’t even detect their infestation. One thing that you will surely notice is the quick drop in the number of earthworms present in the soil.
Ants and birds are another threat to earthworms. Proper watering and adequate shade are enough to protect the earthworms from ants and birds.
Recent studies show the attack of certain bacteria and fungi that can be devastating for entire species of worms. These can cause fatal disease can swipe entire species of earthworms. Again we humans are most responsible for this situation. We will discuss these in detail in the next posts.
Sometimes there are earthworms present in the soil. But due to certain reasons they get scatter and can not be detected easily. The best way to increase the number of earthworms is to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil.
Some people think of Earthworms as nasty slimy creatures. It supposes they are so but believe me earthworms are the best tools to keep your garden healthy, happy, and clean. They make this job easy, effective, and priceless. So learn your natural surrounding. keep Reading keep gardening.
Live The Green!