“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.