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The Wonder of Worms

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The Wonder of Worms

“It is a marvelous reflection that the whole expanse has passed, and will again pass, every few years, through the bodies of worms. The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still continues to be thus ploughed, by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” 
-Darwin (1881)

I take Darwin’s description of ‘lowly organized creatures’ to mean that he viewed worms as the humblest of well-oiled (or rather, well-slimed) machines, slowly transforming the world’s decaying organic matter into fertile soil.

Growing up in the city, I thought worms were inert, mindless, slimy creatures simply providing an obstacle to jump over after a good rain. As I started down the path of veganic growing, worms became one of my favorite creatures in the garden. Now I know what any good gardener or farmer knows; worms are wonderful.

The group of animals we call worms actually encompasses thousands of species of non-arthropod invertebrates. Basically anything that slithers, is a bit slimy and eats bacteria and decaying matter we call a worm; the most common being Lumbricus terrestris, the common earthworm or nightcrawler.

So here is the skinny on how to keep these little guys safe, and help them to grow and fertilize your garden.

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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3:42PM PDT on Jul 18, 2013


11:20AM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

Thank you!

9:12PM PST on Feb 24, 2012


9:46AM PST on Feb 24, 2012


1:15AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Love worms!

3:34AM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

i used to catch worms and feed them to the chickens as a supplementary diet. we were organic back in the early 70's, chemicals were unheard of although we didn't actually have a garden. it was one of my most memorable times growing up as a kid; digging thru' wet soil that washed in the deep drains after a rain getting those slimy creatures. fun times!

12:30AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Noted with interest.

3:14PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

@ Juliet D. It's true that some species of worms can be considered invasive. Another reason I do not recommend buying worms for your garden.

7:31AM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

It is amazing that the most advanced life forms are completely dependent on the humble little earthworms for survival.

3:05PM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Ever spring after tilling we would throw compost and about 5 pounds of worms in the garden a week before planting. That garden was the best in our area. worms are great!

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