How to Get More Worms in Your Garden, Compost, or Raised Bed


Have you been digging around in your garden lately, without seeing many worms?  If so, then you might be wondering how to bring more worms to your garden.

So, how do you get more worms in your garden?  You can buy worms online, at a bait shop, or at a garden center.  However, the best way to attract and keep worms in your garden is to add organic material, like mulch and compost, and keep the soil moist.

Having worms in your garden provides many benefits to your soil and plants.  Let’s go into a little more detail about what will attract worms and what will keep them away.  We’ll also talk a little about the benefits of having worms in your garden (there are many!)

How to Get More Worms in Your Garden

There are a few ways to get more worms into your garden, including buying, raising, and transplanting worms.  In any case, you will need to ensure that conditions in your garden are good enough that the worms will want to stay.  Otherwise, they will move to greener pastures – which could mean the garden next door!

Buy Worms

You can buy live worms online, at sites such as Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.  You can check out Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm here.

They will ship composting worms or nightcrawlers year round, and they are guaranteed live.  They also have organic fertilizers and compost if you are getting started with gardening, or don’t want to make your own compost.

earthworm
This earthworm looks longer than the hand holding it!

You can also buy worms at a bait and tackle shop, since fishermen often use worms as bait.  You might get a better deal if you buy in bulk, and if you have a large garden, you will want more worms anyway.

In addition, you can check a local garden center to see if they have worms for sale.

Finally, going on craigslist and searching for earthworms, composting worms, nightcrawlers, or worms might yield some results, although the suppliers might have a seasonal business.

Raise Worms

You can also raise worms yourself, using vermiculture.  In vermiculture, you feed worms with organic matter, such as vegetable scraps, leaves, or grass clippings.  In turn, the worms decompose the matter and turn it into soil, while also feeding and multiplying.

If you go this route, you will want to use a compost bin to contain both the worms and the material you wish to decompose.  After the material turns into compost, you can apply it directly to the areas of your garden that need it.

Compost
This compost-to-be has plenty of organic material for worms to feed on.

The best part is that you can apply the compost with the worms in it, which will add worms to the soil in your garden.  You can also keep some of the worms in your compost bin and continue feeding them, ensuring a steady supply of compost and worms for your garden.

For more information, check out my article on how to make compost.

Transplant Worms

If a neighbor or friend has healthy garden soil with plenty of worms, then you can ask for a transplant of worms.  Just remember that any time you add worms to your garden, there is only one way to keep them there, alive and thriving.  That is to feed them and make your garden attractive to them.

Make Your Garden Soil More Attractive to Worms

Whether you buy, raise, transplant, or attract worms to your garden, you will want to keep them there so that they can work their magic on the soil.

One good way to do this is to add organic material to your soil.  This is especially important in gardens where the soil is clay or rocky.

If your lawnmower mulches leaves, you can add a combination of leaves and grass clippings to your garden.  In addition to providing food for worms, this mixture will help to keep weeds at bay.

You also want to make sure that you soil stays moist, but not too wet.  Worms prefer even amounts of water – if you’ve ever seen them on your driveway after a rain, it is because they are trying to get out of the wet soil to breathe (which they do through their skin).  So, if the weather forecast is calling for rain, don’t go crazy watering your garden.

If you have trouble with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.

Finally, worms like a soil pH in the range of 6.0 to 7.0.  Of course, this range is also ideal for most plants, so you will want to keep the soil pH in this range anyway.

What to Avoid if You Want to Attract Worms to Your Garden

There are also things you should avoid if you want to bring worms to your garden and keep them alive and thriving.  Here are a few things to avoid.

Avoid Digging and Tilling

When you dig up the soil using a shovel, spade, or rototiller, you can cut up the worms.  Sometimes they will survive this, but not always.  In any case, digging up the soil will disturb the worms, and they may decide to leave your garden for a quieter area.

If you must dig in your garden, use a pitchfork instead of a shovel, to avoid cutting up the worms.  If all you need is a small hole to plant a seedling or young plant, then use a trowel, which is less likely to disturb the worms.

front tine tiller
Avoid using a tiller in your garden if you want to attract worms.

Also, remember to dig during the day, when worms are further underground.  If you dig in the morning or evening, worms will be at or close to the surface, making it more likely that you will disturb them.

Avoid Using Pesticides or Artificial Fertilizers

When you use pesticides in your garden, you can drive away all kinds of beneficial organisms, including bees and worms.  If you have trouble with garden pests, consider using organic methods to combat them.

For instance, releasing ladybugs into your garden can help to control an aphid infestation.  Just as with worms, you can buy live ladybugs online.

You should also avoid using artificial fertilizers, which contain salts that can be harmful to worms. If you must use fertilizer, be sure not to overdo it. For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing your plants.

If you have been thinking about starting a compost pile as an alternative to fertilizer, now is the time to start.  As an added bonus, you can raise worms in your compost bin to add to your garden!

Keep Birds Away

We’ve all heard the cliché saying, but it’s true: the early bird gets the worm.  Birds may come to your garden for your crops or other insects, but they will stay for the worms!

cardinal
This cardinal is beautiful, but he may eat some of your worms!

To keep birds away, you can use scarecrows.  You can also use spinning, shiny objects, such as CD’s tied up on string that will move with the wind and shine in the sun.

Just remember to move these items frequently to make them effective!  Eventually, the birds will learn that the scarecrow in the same place will not hurt them, and they won’t be afraid anymore.

If you have chickens, it is always a good idea to let them run free in the yard to eat insects.  This is especially true if you have garden pests or lots of ticks in your yard.

However, your chickens will eat any worm they meet without any hesitation.  So, keep them away from your compost bin, and don’t let them eat up all the worms in your garden if you see them starting to dig!

Keep Worms Out of the Sun

If you happen to uncover any worms while working in your garden, don’t leave them out in the sun.  Put them back under a little soil to keep them cool and prevent them from drying out.

A couple of worms doesn’t sound like much, but just a couple of worms can multiply into many more over time!

Benefits of Having Worms in Your Garden

If you’re reading this, you are probably already convinced that having worms in your garden is a good thing.  If not, or if you are just curious, here are some of the benefits that worms have for the soil in your garden.

Worms Add Microorganisms to the Soil

Worms actually eat bacteria and fungi in the soil, and their waste material contains beneficial microorganisms.  In addition, the waste produced by worms contains nutrients in a form that is usable by plants.  Taken together, this combination makes it much easier for plants to grow in soil populated by worms.

Worms Loosen and Aerate the Soil

When worms move through the soil, they create “tunnels” or burrows, at varying levels.  As they create these tunnels, they loosen compacted soil, and also add air to the soil.  When the soil is loose, it is easier for plants roots to dig deeper and absorb more nutrients, resulting in stronger plants and better yields.

In addition, as the soil becomes more porous, it drains more easily.  The soil will also hold more water.  This makes it easier to avoid over watering or under watering in your garden.

Worms Break Down Organic Material

Finally, worms take organic material, such as pieces of grass, leaves, or other waste, and break them down into compounds that plants can use.

According to the University of Illinois Extension, worms can turn over the top 6 inches of soil in 10 to 20 years.  That is pretty fast work for such small creatures!

You can learn more about worms and how they benefit the soil at the University of Illinois Extension site.

Conclusion

By now, you should be convinced of the benefit of having worms in your garden soil.  If so, you also know how to bring them into your garden and keep them there, and what to avoid doing to keep them happy.

I hope this article was helpful.  If you have any questions or ideas about how to get more worms in your garden, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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