|What are the best soil conditions for worms?|
|Ruth posed a question recently concerning the conditions worms enjoyed …. “I thought worms liked wet conditions. Is it only cold and wet that is bad for them?“|
|As earthworms breathe through their skin, the soils around them need to be moist and damp, and although for a certain period, worms can live underwater, after ten to fourteen days and they haven’t moved, they will drown. If soils are too wet, then earthworms can become ill and die.|
Unlike humans, earthworms do not have lungs. When their skin is moist, the worms breathe and absorb the dissolved oxygen into their bodies and the bloodstream.
If the soil is too dry, it will not kill the worm population directly. Still, it will slow down their activities significantly, and they will probably enter estivation [hibernation status] until the conditions improve or move out of the soil entirely, looking for moister soil conditions.
They will die if dry soil conditions do not improve and they cannot find alternative soils or estivate properly. Earthworms will do everything they can to survive and find a healthy balance when they are in extreme conditions – too hot or too dry.
As they burrow through the soils of the gardens or grounds they reside within, Earthworms also aerate the dirt. They are known as organic ploughs and help to enrich the soil’s structure and increase fertility.
Earthworms thrive in the dark, nitrogen-rich organic and healthy soils that are cool and moist. Worms are mostly water content to the tune of around 80% and secret 15% of that daily hence the absolute importance to moist soils. A looser loamy soil is preferred and one that is easy to burrow into.
Earthworms do not enjoy garden soils that are acidic, soggy, and so too wet.
One reason earthworms cannot survive above ground is that they would dry out and die, so sometimes, worms are seen on the surfaces of land when it is raining or just after because they are also hydrating by breathing through their skin.
One of the challenges l faced during the hotter summer months this year with my worm farms was finding the healthy balance between having moist soils and not wet soggy soils. The sumps at the bottom of the farms during the harvest were l found to my relief, were not soaking but just right – nicely damp, and they all had healthy worm populations thriving within.
This meant l had eggs, baby worms and adults all present. The sumps are the most challenging sections of the farms to harvest, and l still have two large sumps to work on.
The best soil conditions for wormeries are warm and moist with a supporting temperature of around 64-77ºF and a PH of between 6-7. Waterlogged soils will restrict the earthworm’s ability to breathe, and they will die.
|Wormery sumps awaiting harvesting. The soils within are damper than normal wormeries soils, still not soaking wet just moister. All the moistures and liquids from the top of the farm from foods fed and waters supplied and worm urine [many refer to this sump liquid as worm tea] slowly travels to the bottom and collects in the sump at the base.|
|So there we go Ruth – What are the best soil conditions for worms?|