Tuesday, March 20, 2018

As the Worm Turns

Spring has finally arrived! We can laugh about the groundhog, who is still in protective custody after predicting those six extra weeks of winter.

Even during those cold months, one of earth’s most interesting creatures is still diligently at work. I never knew of a manufacturer that worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide an energy tonic that we sell to garden centers nationwide – until now. Alas, earthworm castings are gaining popularity among organic gardeners that prefer an all-organic balance of nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash. Did you ever imagine that your grade school science project of worm dissection would become a factor in feeding the world? Me neither.

Earthworms play a major role in turning organic matter into rich, usable humus. Did you know that earthworms are a $54 million dollar industry by themselves? I only thought of worms as the bait at the end of a fishing line as a child. But there’s so much more to know. The earthworm feeds on both organic and dead matter in the soil. “Worm casts are five times richer in available nitrogen, seven times richer in available phosphates and 11 times richer in available potassium than the surrounding upper six inches of soil,” according to Wikipedia. Its content is readily available to all types of plant life.

While earthworms are abundant in the United States, research has shown that they’re vulnerable to lime sulfur, DDT and lead arsenate. Recent studies have shown that neonicotinoid insecticides like imidicloprid (Merit) severely damage populations of earthworms and new restrictions have tightened up on its use and application.
Protecting the health of the earthworm ensures healthier soil. Earthworms will thrive where there is moisture, food (organic matter), oxygen and favorable temperatures. They’re contributing garden workers in other ways, too!

Earthworms are very beneficial to gardeners in distributing specific beneficial nematodes that are usually applied in spring. These spores are ingested into their digestive system and spread laterally in their ecosystem, eradicating many sub-soil insects that are harmful to gardens and crops. The Japanese beetle is one such grub that’s destroyed by released bacteria spores when in the larvae stage. Truly a much better solution than applying chemicals to your lawn especially around pets and children.

For years, farmers have encouraged earthworm burrows as their constant tunneling aerates the ground to allow for better root development and easier moisture retention; their casting deposits also fertilize the soil. Earthworms are also known to accelerate the decomposition process of composting. Tireless workers that constantly move and never sleep, earthworms are hermaphrodites, which means that each have both male and female sex organs, but they still need “two to tango” in order to reproduce.

Many new retail products include earthworm castings as a supplemental ingredient. These can be mixed with potting soil, top-dressed onto soil surfaces, or even steeped in a barrel for a magical compost tea. Castings won’t burn and may be applied indoors or outdoors. Worm castings stimulate faster growth, increased biological activity and bigger yields in plants.

If you’d like to include live worms in your product mix, for those consumers who wish to start their own worm farms, we’ve got you covered there, too. We sell and ship directly to your store “live” worms through Orcon Organic Control, which ships approximately 1,800-2,000 worms per pound in all stages and sizes. Just drop or plop into a compost pile… and they’re off to soil utopia!

As a child, I never realized how beneficial the earthworm truly was. I only thought the bigger the worm, the bigger the fish I caught. As a gardener however, Mother Nature has given us an amazing creature with magical powers. I’ll never look at the earthworm in the same way again.


This Month's Featured Products

Wicasset Blend Earthworm Castings
No 81600014

Buy Now

Organic Earthworm Castings
No 80030140

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Earth Keeper Castings
No 81890001

Buy Now

Earthworm Castings
No 80320008

Buy Now

Worm Castings
No 81350021

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Worm Castings
No 81350022

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