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The Wonder of Worms


3. Feed not only your plants, but the worms themselves.

As Aristotle said: worms are “the intestines of the soil”, and we all know what moves through our intestines: decaying matter… in its various forms. Worms can eat their weight in organic matter each day so it’s important to make sure there is a good supply in your garden.

The key to keeping these hard-working creatures happy is compost, compost, compost. Creating a compost bin for food scraps (with an open base to allow the worms to work their way in and out) is easy. If you do not have the space for a compost bin or you want to concentrate the nutrients in a particular area, try direct composting.

The same kitchen and newspaper scraps that you would put in a bin can be put directly into the ground.

Direct Composting:

Dig a trench next to the area you plan to plant. Alternatively, if you can, plan a couple of weeks ahead and dig the trench directly under where you will be planting. Dig approximately one foot down and then dump about 4 inches of compostable material into the trench. Cover the items you dumped in the hole with dirt and lightly compact it down.

If the direct compost is next to where you intend to plant, go about your planting. If the compost is under your planting area, wait a couple of weeks.  When you’re ready to plant, gently prod your composted area (when dry) with a garden fork, and aerate the composted material below. You can direct compost during the winter as well, but do not expect the material to break down until spring.

To turbo-pack your nutrients, mulch over the area you’ve composted. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the worms go to work.

This is the wonder of worms; the humblest of creatures making their way through the earth below our feet, imbibing and recycling waste to create a new foundation for growth.

Now, that’s what I call a miracle!

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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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