Practical Soil Improvement Part I - The Earthworm
This series on soil improvement provides innovative as well as long proven solutions to this most pressing issue with regards to natural gardening and farming. Framed positively the articles contain many solution-orientated action steps for the reader.
- Fertile soil is "living" soil
- King of the soil improvers - the earthworm
- Why earthworms?
- Count your worms - count your fortune!
- Action step 1:
- Action step 2:
- Action step 3:
- Action step 4:
- Action step 5:
- Action step 6:
- Action step 7:
Fertile soil is "living" soil
An incredible amount of animal life would be visible under a microscope in good fertile soil and only such soil will allow us to grow health-giving fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds that include all the necessary vitamins, minerals, trace elements and substances which haven't even been discovered yet by science. Scientists know that there must be more, especially subtle energies, which all work together to enable us to live a healthy and happy life, even in old age. Yes, healthy old age always was, is and will be possible, if we grow our food lovingly in "living soil".
King of the soil improvers - the earthworm
About 300 different earthworms can be found around the globe, all little wonders of creation with 5 pairs of hearts and legs which resemble tiny little bristles with hooks at the end. They are very active in spring and autumn and will go deeper into the soil in winter and summer as they don't like too much heat or too much cold.
As they process the soil through their intestines, the earthworms convert the soil almost miraculously to contain 5 times more nitrates, 7 times more phosphorus, 11 times more calium, 2,5 times more magnesium and 2 times more calcium. Furthermore the soil becomes of a consistency that a plant can take up easily. Plus there are 50 million good bacteria in each gram of soil digested by an earthworm.
Continuously the earthworm pulls in rotting plant matter as well, which serve the earthworm and the bacteria as extra food.
Count your worms - count your fortune!
No need for expensive soil testing kits, just dig over 1 m2 of your garden soil and if you find around 10 earthworms, then your soil will produce perfect health-giving fruit or vegetable above or under the ground. And if you don't find enough earthworms, some soil improvement will be necessary:
Action step 1:
Add bio-mass to your soil, i.e. wild greens, rotting plants or straw, medicinal herbs, spent coffee, stonemeal, natural wool and feathers, that's what earthworms like and they are always hungry.
Action step 2:
Shallow-dig over your soil to work all the bio-mass into the ground, no more than 10 to 20 centimeters deep.
Action step 3:
Alway before planting, add a little rotted compost and guano (= bird manure, available in packets, good gardencentres stock it).
Action step 4:
Whether you find earthworms in your soil or not, you need always more. Make yourself a little worm farm.
Look for a shady place under a tree to place a few crates or containers with holes in the bottom. Fill one container with organic kitchen scraps, rotting plants, cut grass etc. and water occasionally if necessary, your wormfarm should never really dry out. Search or buy a few earthworms and place them into the crate. As they are now starting to process your first crate, already start filling the second one. Soon a few worms will move over and start eating there. Fill as many crates as you like, one after the other, there is no such thing as "too many earthworms". You can sell a few, give some to the neighbours or even carry them to a park. They will make themselves useful wherever they are.
Tip: Even if you live in a flat you can have a little earthworm-farm converting your kitchen craps. Gardencenters sell very pretty containers for this purpose with instructions included!
Action step 5:
Special compost earthworms are available mailorder and on the internet, buy as many as you can afford until you can stick your spade anywhere in your soil and turn up a few earthworms.
Action step 6:
Guard your soil and your earthworms against any chemicals (fertilisers, herbizides, pesticides) and raw manure as those substances will either kill the earthworms or they will flee to "healthier" soil.
Action step 7:
Talk to friends, neighbours and farmers to raise awareness for our useful little earthworms.
As always, it takes more time to write an article about earthworms than actually doing the above. There is no rush, all year round one can set up small compost heaps or dig over a new patch and when spring and autumn rains come, add more worms, protect them and feed them well.
Thanks for calling in and happy gardening!