Grow worms in your garden beds naturally by laying a thick layer of bark or straw mulch on surface of your garden beds. This will keep soil moisture in and encourage bacteria which will break down the mulch. The worms will grow under the mulch and feed on the soil bacteria releasing nutrients for your plants to feed on.
How to grow worms in your garden
Worms are great for your garden soil and there are lots of ways you can grow them in your home garden. Adding mulch to the top of your soil is one of the best ways to grow worms in your garden naturally. Just place a leaf mulch mix layer on top of the soil. Adding compost to your soil will also attract worms.
Here are the easy steps to grow worms in your garden.
- Lay down a good layer of bark or straw mulch on the surface of your garden beds.
- Add a rich layer of compost to your soil to feed and grow worms.
- Add food scraps underneath mulch or dig them into a hole in your garden.
- Keep your soil moist.
- Dig a bucket into the soil with the bottom removed and holes drilled in the side to keep worms in your garden.
How to feed earthworms in the garden
Feeding your worms well is the secret to growing them in your garden naturally. They eat the bacteria and fungi on the surface of organic matter so making sure there is something that is breaking down will keep them well fed. Let’s explore 3 great ways you can feed your worms in your garden to keep them happy.
1. Lay down good quality mulch mix to attract worms
A leaf mulch mix, which has bark pieces as well as leaves mixed in like pine mulch is great for your worms. As this breaks down, the worms will eat the bacteria and fungi that forms on the organic matter.
2. Add food scraps underneath your mulch to feed your worms
You could lay some food scraps down underneath your mulch layer. Vegetable scraps or fruit scraps are a great addition underneath your mulch. A thin layer is enough to give your worms some extra food to much on.
3. Add a container compost container in your garden for worms
Another way to add food scraps to your garden is to bury a container with an open bottom in the soil which will allow the worms to dig through and climb up into the container. You can also add composting worms bought from a garden center or online.
How to put composting worms in your garden
Composting worms can be kept in your garden in an ‘in-ground worm farm. These worms are different to the worms you would naturally find in your garden. These are usually a tropical worm, that live in dense colonies in tropical areas. They break down organic matter quickly and so are great for composting kitchen scraps in a worm farm.
Because these worms like a lot of food and damp conditions, they won’t survive well in your compost or just straight in your garden. They will need a lot of organic matter to munch on, so if you put them directly into a normal garden bed, they might head off to find somewhere else to hang out.
Can I put worms from my garden in worm farm?
Trying to keep garden worms in your worm farm will is unlikely to be successful. Garden worms like to bury down and live a bit further away from their other worm friends. They won’t be happy in your worm farm so its best to leave them in your garden to do their job.
A worm farm can be the perfect way to compost your kitchen scraps quickly, because there are so many worms in a small area who are busy eaters, they can break down the food matter quickly before it starts to smell or attract flies.
Worms actually breathe through their skin so it is really important that they are kept moist. If the soil becomes too wet, they will dig up to the surface to get air. If their skin dries out however, they can die quickly so remember to keep your garden watered and it will keep your worms happy.
Benefits of worms in your garden
Worms are great for the garden, they help to break down organic matter. They actually eat the bacteria and fungi that grow on decomposing matter. They then make a substance called worm castings (or worm poo) which your plants will love.
This is perfect for your plants to grow in, it holds moisture and adds structure to the soil. Check out these other benefits of growing worms in your garden:
1. Worms will dig and mix the soil
Some of the other benefits of having worms in your garden is they will turn over the soil. As they dig through the soil to find organic matter, they turn the soil over, they create holes which allows oxygen to enter the soil and help the growth of healthy bacteria or ‘microbiome’ in the soil.
2. Worms will break down organic matter
Earth worms will help to increase how quickly organic matter like leaves, dead bugs and other plant matter will break down. Having worms in your soil can be one of the best indicators of soil health.
What that means is that if you have worms in your soil, it is a great sign that you have a healthy soil which will be great for growing your plants including your fruit and vegetables.
3. Add air to the soil
The tiny holds that the worms make as they dig through the soil also help create little tunnels for plant roots to extend. This will help your plants to develop and healthy and strong root system which is great for the longevity of your garden plants and vegetables.
I find one of the easiest ways to attract worms to my soil naturally is to put a nice mulch mix over the top of the soil. Under fruit trees and in my vegetable garden, I use a pine bark mulch.
This is a mix of leaves and bark which gives the worms shelter and also a variety of organic matter for the bacteria and fungi to grow on.
This gives them food, shelter and helps to keep the moisture in the soil. I have found that just doing this has been enough to bring more worms into my soil. When I scrape back the mulch I can see baby worms as well, which is a good indication they are happy and breeding well.
There are such a huge range of earthworms and certain groups like to live in different depths of the soil. All of them have an important role to play in your soil.
Reasons why there are no worms in your garden
There are 3 main reasons why worms might not be living in your garden.
1. Worms are good at hiding
Worms can live deep in the ground, so if your soil is dry and there isn’t any mulch they may be heading down deeper. If your soil has been left without love for a while, just adding some organic compost and mulch can be a great start to getting more worms in your garden.
There is likely to be dormant worm eggs just waiting for the opportunity to hatch. Take these steps and keep your soil moist, and you may find you have worms hatching in your garden beds in a few weeks
2. The soil is too dry
If your soil dries out easily the worms in your garden will probably head down to deeper soil. Keeping your soil moist will help the worms to breathe and break down the organic matter quicker. So make sure your soil is moist, and stop it drying out by adding a layer of mulch to the top.
3. There is nothing to eat
Like teenagers worms are hungry so providing them with something to eat will encourage them to hang out in your garden. Organic matter like compost and leaf mulch are great food for the bacteria and fungi that the worms feed on. This will create a happy place for your worms to live
Weird worm facts
1. Worms are boys and girls
Worms are actually are both male and female but to mate there still needs to be two of them. They lay eggs, which contain 2-5 baby worms which hatch in 4 weeks.
2. Worm eggs go into hiding
Worm eggs can sit in your soil for up to 15 years before they hatch. This is great news, because if you add organic matter, water and mulch you may be able to ‘wake up’ waiting worm eggs that already sit in your soil.
I hope you have found some useful tips to grow worms in your garden. For more eco friendly garden ideas check out the garden section of my blog.
How to attract worms to your garden – FAQ
The simplest way to attract words to your garden is to cover your soil with mulch. Ideal mulch types include straw or tree mulch which will protect the worms and encourage them to come up to the top soil and break down the organic matter. Moist soil will also attract worms. Mulch will keep moisture in the soil but care for your garden and water your garden beds regularly to make it a desirable place for worms.
The top reasons for no worms in your garden is the soil is too dry, hard, sandy or acidic. Worms love organic matter so add mulch or compost to your garden to give them something to eat and a moist place to live. Worms might be in your garden but can be buried deeper in the soil. Adding organic matter to the top soil will help to encourage them to come to the surface of your soil.
Grow worms at home by mulching the top of your garden beds, burying a worm farm into the soil or getting a tiered worm farm. These are 3 easy ways to grow worms in your garden. Composting worms will live best in a worm farm as they like moist, rich organic matter. They will not survive well in your garden beds unless they are kept in an in-ground worm farm.
Composting worms that are bought from nurseries or hardware stores are best kept in a worm farm. Although you can add them to your garden, they will survive much better and break down more organic matter in a worm farm. The worm castings made in a worm farm can be added to your garden and the worm juice will help to build soil microbe populations.
Worms that are attracted naturally to your garden will balance out their own population so you can not have too many. If you start adding bought worms like composting worms these can compete with natural worms for organic matter. Improve the soil and you will naturally attract a healthy worm population without needing to buy and add more worms.
Composting worms are not a great addition for your garden. These are tropical worms that like moist, nutrient rich organic matter and like to live in groups. They can compete with natural worms in the soil and so are not always a great addition to the garden.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.