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Date: 19 Sep 2018, Entry id: 1537349763

A Sacred Earthworm: benefit or damage?

by Mark Hooten

Q: We have lots of earthworms in our soil. I've heard they are beneficial for the plants, it it true? Or should I try (and how) to get rid of them at least for container plants?

A: From my earliest childhood, I remember learning that "earthworms" are wonderful, beneficial creatures for our gardens. I had heard that they improved the soil by both aerating it via the tiny tunnels they dig from burrowing activities, AND leaving their droppings which act as fertilizer. However, both my personal experiences and studies have shown otherwise. The truth is that the vast majority of earthworms we encounter in our daily horticultural practices are not even native to North America. In fact, they were introduced from Europe, beginning with the colonial period, mostly accidentally in things like the ballasts of ships, and from soil from around the roots of plants being imported. However, once they arrived here, they began to irreparably alter the natural eco-systems of our forests... Continue reading...