[Composting] Can Too Many Earthworms Damage a Garden?
Are also numerous earthworms hazardous to your garden? Earthworms are an essential element in a healthy yard ecological community, yet can your yard have also much of a great thing? Typically, there is no need for issue due to the fact that earthworms do not eat live plant cells and aerate soil for healthy plant development. Nevertheless, the existence of earthworms in the dirt could bring in moles, small creatures about the size of chipmunks that tunnel simply under the area of the ground, heaving the ground up wherever they go. Huge digits of earthworms in the garden could additionally lead to stacks undesirable castings.
Earthworms improve soil quality or tilth in a number of ways. First of all, earthworms make tiny tunnels through the soil as they search for food sources in decaying matter. These small tunnels increase the drainage capability of garden soil and improve aeration. Movement of earthworms through soil helps to loosen and mix soil, preventing compaction. In addition, breakdown of organic matter as it passes through the intestines of earthworms increases soil water-holding capacity.
Soil pH levels are somewhat neutralized by earthworm activity, as earthworm castings are close to soil pH of 7.0, regardless of the acidity of the soil before passing through the earthworm intestine. Fertility of soil increases because of the composting effect earthworms have on decaying plant matter. As plant debris passes through the intestines of worms and is excreted in castings, nutrients are liberated, increasing the nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium levels of the soil.
While earthworm castings improve soil quality and fertility, when they are brought to the surface and deposited in large piles, such as those left by night crawlers (Lumbricus terrestris), they can be unsightly and cause lumps on the lawn or in the garden. Raking soil while it is lightly moist helps disperse castings, which are like free organic compost for the garden. Alternatively, lightly till castings into soil using a garden hoe or other tilling implement.
Moles eat earthworms, grubs and insects. Living underground in tunnels, moles travel through soil near the upper surface in search of food. Presence of moles is indicated by upheaval of soil in stretches a few inches across and several feet long. Moles do not eat plant roots, but the tunnels can disturb roots sufficiently to injure or kill plants. In addition to plant root damage through tunneling, the presence of moles poses a threat for other small mammals to use mole tunnels in search of food. Voles, for instance, use mole tunnels to find plant bulbs, tubers and roots. Before practicing control measures for moles, check local and state laws, as moles are protected in certain locations.
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Image Source: Will Merydith