WORMS ARE SOIL BUILDERS
They bring material up from deep in their tunnels and use grit inside their gizzards to break down rocks and other materials in the soil. They bring minerals to the surface and eat the droppings of leaf litter worms along with several other fungi and molds and organic materials on the surface. Then they bring the surface material down and deposit it inside the holes where they are taking previously unavailable minerals and rock dust, totally moving and rotating the surface of the earth.
Worms are incredible earth movers. The organic matter they deposit within their tunnels helps to break down rocks and minerals from deep in the subsoils and bring them to the surface as living soil. Additionally they provide aeration for the penetration of oxygen into the earth, and also the ability for soil to absorb water from the rain into the ground rather than rapid run off, which causes soil erosion.
WORMS IN ACTION
SUBTERRANEAN WORM | There are three worms that we use in our systems in Hawaii. The first one is a big, deep-dwelling, subterranean worm, known as Amynthus Gracilus, or a Georgia jumper. It has the ability to go deep and move tons of material, as well as inundate the soil below with its gut bacteria.
MID LEVEL WORM | The second worm is a red worm named the perionyx excavatus. It’s common name is the Indian Blue worm, but in Hawaii is called the Waimanolo Blue. It can live in a bin, process large amounts of food and then be able to migrate out when it gets too toxic from its own excrement. It’s known as a leaf litter worm and spends it’s life in the top 1 to 2 feet of the soil. Perionyx excavatus actually processes all the leaves that fall off the tree. It also decomposes the excrement from the bigger worms, meaning what’s left on the surface in the form of castings. The worms trade-off what each other eats.
Worms promote certain beneficial molds underneath the soil to help process rock in the soil, and minerals and such.
MANURE WORM | The third worm is known as Eisenia fetida, or red worm. It’s favorite food is manure, and it’s role in Nature is to eat the manure that animals deposit on the surface. It’s the most common worm that’s raised in bins, but it doesn’t really have the habit of being able to migrate out once it’s environment becomes toxic from too much of it’s own excrement. Therefore you have to constantly change their bedding. The fetida also eats the castings of the other two worms. It will migrate out of the bin or die within it, but it does not seem to have the great ability to migrate back into the bin.
The subterranean worm (Amynthus gracilus) comes up and deposits mineral material from deep in subterranean holes as far as 15 feet down. It brings this material up to the surface and the leaf dwellers (Perionyx excavatus) eat that and deposit it along the surface, creating more soil beneath the entire leaf litter. The big worms (fetida) bring down the leaf litter and deposit it in tunnels, increasing mycelium, which the worms also eat. Mycelium also helps build the web for plants and trees to interact with each other.
The three worms can share space with one another. This is an important part of our systems because they process different components for total decomposition. The idea is to integrate all three worms into your systems so they start to build their own culture and they can come and go as they like and create a healthy ecosystem.
This is a general concept of creating New Earth, by taking something as simple as azolla, and allowing worms to process it into pure new earth for you.
These are not the only 3 worms that we use. All earthworms form symbiotic relationships with each other and form colonies with on another. Do not be afraid to experiment with adding any earthworm that you find in your area to your system.
In other systems around the globe we use local indigenous earthworm populations and build them by bringing other worms in. Some other types of worms to experiment with are African nightcrawlers, Dendrobaena venta, Lumbricus rubellus, and Eisenia andrei.
So let us know what types of worms you’re experimenting with!