SWT: Earthworms are gardeners’ best friend

Worms in a wormery. Picture: SWT/Gemma Smith ANL-141013-140355001
Worms in a wormery. Picture: SWT/Gemma Smith ANL-141013-140355001
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Suffolk Wildlife Trust education officer

The vibrations caused by all the exuberant dancing lures the earthworms to surface resulting in a tasty treat for the birds.

Scientists still aren’t sure why the worms respond to surface vibrations in this way.

One myth is that they are avoiding drowning in the water-logged soil but as worms absorb oxygen through their skin the damper they are the better and can, if necessary, survive several days in water. One theory is that, as worms can travel faster over ground than through, they are coming up to the surface when its wet so they can migrate further without the risk of drying out. A second theory is that the vibrations mimic those made by tunneling moles and the worms are doing their best to move out of the way.

There are 26 species of earthworms in the UK and they are vital in creating a good healthy soil for your plants. Their burrows increase drainage and allow air to circulate and, most importantly, they recycle organic matter back into the soil.

One of the most common species, and the one found in compost bins and sold for use in wormeries, is the Brandling or Tiger worm which has a distinctive stripy pink and red body. They don’t make much impact individually but where you find one worm there will be others and one kilo of worms can eat 500g of dead or decaying material a day.

So next time you’re out dipping around and you spot a worm show it some love and move it to a safe place, it’s your best friend in helping you create that beautiful garden.

Dates for your diary

Sunday, October 19, 10.30am-3pm: Apple Day and Autumn Fair at Redgrave & Lopham Fen near Diss, where there will be apple, pear or nut identification by Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group. Plant and craft stalls. Free family games and crafts to make and the all important cake stall.

Saturday, October 25, 11am-1pm: Guided bird walk at Lackford Lakes. Book on 01284 728706

Tuesday, October 28, 10am-2pm: Hedgehog Activity Day, six-10 years at Redgrave & Lopham Fen. Book on 01379 688333

10.30am-2.30pm: Woodland Adventure, eight-14years at Bradfield Woods, near Bury. Book on 01449 737996

7.30pm: Bat talk by Arthur Rivett at Redgrave & Lopham Fen. Info on 01379 608313

-- For further information on SWT courses and events, go to www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org or call 01473 890089