Welcome to my website where I record information, gathered from many sources on the web and through print media, about the benefits of attracting useful creatures to our gardens. I include creatures found in my own garden and explain how they help grow healthy and productive plants without using synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilisers.................................................John Ashworth 27th July 2015.
An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented animal commonly found
living in soil. It feeds on dead organic matter, and its
digestive system runs through the length of its body. It achieves
respiration through its skin.
Earthworms are hermaphrodites each individual carrying both male and female sex organs.
As an invertebrate, it lacks a skeleton, but it maintains its structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.
Earthworms travel underground using waves of muscular
contractions which alternately shorten and lengthen the body. In all the body segments except the
first, last and clitellum, there is a ring of S-shaped setae. They help anchor the rear of the worms body as the front end is thrust forward through the soil or along its tunnels, and then the front end is anchored to allow the rear of the worms body to be drawn forward. The whole burrowing
process is aided by the secretion of lubricating mucus.
This earthworm activity
aerates the soil, and helps convert organic materials into plant
nutrients and distributes them in the root zone. They also work as biological "pistons"
forcing air through their tunnels as they move.
In my Garden.
Earthworms and soil microbes play a major role in breaking down organic litter on the surface of the soil and distributing it below ground where it is converted by microorganisms into easily assimilated plant nutrients.
They pull the organic matter from the surface and use it as food or to plug their burrows.
Once in its burrow, a worm will shred organic matter and partially digest it.
In addition to organic matter, earthworms ingests very small rock particles into their gizzards, where they are used to grind organic materials into a fine paste before digesting it in their intestines.
When the worms
excrete their castings, minerals and other nutrients are converted by microbes into a form easily consumed by plants.
Adding compost or aged animal manure to soil maintains this biochemical activity providing plants with abundant supplies of nutritients, without the need for synthetic chemical fertilisers.