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Garden biodiversityParticipant diaries

The unsung heroes/heroines of our ecosystem

By 1st March 2020March 10th, 2020No Comments

I know what you’re thinking – she should get out more – a blog about earthworms?! Doesn’t she have a friend to have coffee with or a yoga class to go to? Well, yes, I could be doing other things rather than praising the role of these slimy, creepy, slightly yuck inducing, creatures in our ecosystem. Worms are not as beautiful as butterflies, granted. They are not as glamorous as bees, perhaps, but they are vital to the health of our soils, ergo, everything we grow and eat. Charles Darwin wrote a whole book about them, so, let’s have a round of applause please for, Eisenia fetida otherwise known as the brandling worm, our composting hero/heroine. We could also have a cheer for Eisenis andrei and Dendrodrilus rubidus and, I could go on but – sigh of relief – I won’t, just to say there are lots of different worms out there doing a great job for our planet.

My interest in worms comes as a result of reading an excellent book which I borrowed from Tayport Library. It’s called, The Garden Jungle: Gardening to Save the Planet, by Dave Goulson. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought much about the significance of worms in our soils until I read his chapter on them. Mainly, we want worms in our garden to help with the decomposition of organic matter which enriches our soil. They are also important for aerating the ground and helping with drainage. Not forgetting, they are a major source of food for a variety of birds and small mammals which we, hopefully, want to share our garden with. Worms are essential for a healthy food chain and, with world food scarcity becoming a real issue, who knows, we may be…good source of protein…oh, let’s not go there, yet!

My husband has caught the bug, too (no pun intended) and went one further and bought a wormery and is…ta da…vermicomposting…a completely new word in my vocabulary! Our food waste is now fed to the worms who in turn, produce vermicompost, one of the richest sources of fertiliser for, well, just about anything: house plants; germinating seeds and seedlings; pot plants; lawns; flowers, fruits and vegetables.

If you are interested to find out more about worms – like, did you know they have 5 ‘hearts’ and in healthy farmland there can be up to 2 – 3 million worms per hectare? – then there is, The Earthworm Society of Great Britain.  Or, you can chat to our knowledgeable gardener, Peter, at the community garden. The community garden has had its own wormery for some time now so there is a wealth of knowledge for you to consult there. It was from Peter I learnt to look out for the New Zealand flat worm, accidently indroduced to the UK and which predates on our lovely worms. And, vermicompost tea? Intriguing!

Okay, I’ve done my bit for worms, I’m off to have coffee with a friend now. And, if your childhood was blighted by a brother who ate worms or worse, made you eat them, you may want to look away at the photos that accompany this blog!



I grew up on a farm in the NE of Scotland so have always had a close affinity to land and growing my own food. As a family we ate only what was in season and preserved fruit and vegetables if there was a glut. I am still passionate about cutting air miles on the food I eat. I’m lucky to live close to the Tayport Community Garden and pop in regularly for advice and produce.

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