Amy Stewart is a prolific writer with the most creative book titles. I heard her speak over a year ago at the Garden Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. She is very lively, intelligent person, with a wicked wit. She is an excellent story teller and helps you learn by telling these amazing tales of science. You may have read or heard of her New York Times bestseller and most recent book The Drunken Botanist – The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks. In The Earth Moved, On the Remarkable Achievements of EARTHWORMS Amy Stewart tells how much we depend on the humble worm.
“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as these lowly organized creatures.” – Charles Darwin, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, the Action of Worms, With Observations on Their Habits, 1881
The more you garden the more important the health of your soil becomes to you! A true gardener is very excited when they find earthworms wriggling around in their soil. Earthworms may be spineless, blind, tube-shaped, segmented creatures that live in soil and feeds on live and dead organic matter, but the part they play in a healthy ecosystem is remarkable. As it goes about its business it tills up your soil and destroys microscopic organisms that cause plant disease and breaks down toxins.
The Earthworm Society of Britain call them ‘ecosystem engineers’. I think I would enjoy being a member of this society. Even as a child I found them interesting and now I think earthworms are amazing. In describing the value of the earthworm the society says, “Much like human engineers, earthworms change the structure of their environments. Different types of earthworms can make both horizontal and vertical burrows, some of which can be very deep in soils.”
As earthworms dig deep into the soil they create pockets which allow water to percolate deeper also naturally aerating (letting oxygen in) as they go. As the water and oxygen permeate the soil the carbon dioxide leaves. The casts, waste matter, of earthworms helps the texture of the soil turning it in to a rich crumbly consistency making it easier for plants to put down deeper root. This is a good thing here in Houston with our gumbo or heavy clay soil.
The book is a fascinating and humorous read, full of facts, stories and useful information on how to foster these creatures in your own garden!