Allotment Diary Composting

How worms help with composting

It’s amazing how worms help with composting. I found this video on an allotment forum on Facebook and I thought it was absolutely fascinating. After watching the video above, it spurred me on to find out how much of a role worms play when it comes to composting and generally breaking up the soil.

The anatomy of a worm is probably one of the most simple things to understand – a worm consumes decomposing waste, and what comes out the other end is soil, over and over again.

As a result the worm is one of nature’s top soil conditioners. As the worms eat eat the soil, they’re helping with drainage as the channels they create will help water flow through the soil. This also helps with aeration in the ground.

By breaking down organic matter, plants and crops also have easier access to the nutrients and fertilisers that they need in order to flourish and survive. Worms also operate from the top down – meaning that they take the good organic matter from the top, and take it down to the roots.

A worm is capable of eating it’s entire body weight over a 24 hour period. That doesn’t sound a lot, but if you do some cunning Google research, you’ll find out that 500,000 worms could turn over 50 tonnes of soil over the space of an acre. If you were to direct those worms in one direction, they would create a 6″ tunnel that would be approximately just over half a kilometre long.

A worms lifespan is about one year. When a worm dies it will decay and shrink very quickly, due to the fact that 90% of a worms body is water – luckily, worms reproduce on their own by laying eggs, which means that new worms will replace older and dead worms relatively quickly.

I’d encourage anyone who is just starting to get into gardening to encourage worms and general fauna to live in your heap or your beds. So it’s true that worms help with composting and worms living in your beds is a really good indication that your soil is healthy and that you should expect a good return from your crops.

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