The children in F2 are currently worm crazy. They love digging for them and collecting them into one of the planter tyres in the middle of our outdoor area. However I don’t want to encourage cruel behaviour, so we have looked at some more information on worms and why we want them in our soil.
So interesting fact number one; worms digest their food by eating small pieces of grit. These help grind their food down. These stones are known as gastroloiths. Many birds, who also like the worms, lack teeth grind their food this way. There is evidence many dinosaurs used this method to aid digestion as well.
Fact number two; much of the nutrients in the soil plants can’t access directly. Worms eat plant matter and soil, then eject it in a form the plants can then use. The tunnels the worms dig also aerate the soil, allowing drainage and roots to grow more easily.
Fact three; earthworms don’t have lungs. They breath through their skin. The oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse through the skin. But for this exchange to take place the skin must be moist. So during dry weather worms dig deep into cooler wetter soil, but during rain they come up. Imitating rain can bring worms up to the surface. The activity of worm charming is now quite well known. Popular methods include dancing or pouring water over the soil.
If teaching about worms, either in school or to your own children. I’d recommend the book yucky worms. It discusses worms in language that can be understood by children down to four years old and has additional facts around the story for older children.
If you want to uncover worms without digging or risking children forking them moving pots to the side often uncovers worms. On my patio any time I move pots there are always a handful of worms.
I hope you enjoyed reading this foray under the soil to explore worms! Please leave comments and should you wish follow on twitter.