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What Do Earthworms Eat

Shalu Bhatti
We all have seen earthworms in our gardens, busy digging through the soil. But have you ever seen them eat anything? Have you ever wondered what's listed on their menu?
It was not before I did some research for this article, that I found out that earthworms are much more than just those slimy wrinkly crawlers that scared the hell out of me when I was a child. I would see them in my garden and run inside as fast as possible. Later, a friend of mine told me that if I sprinkle some salt over them, they would melt and die. Now, I realize that wasn't a nice thing to do considering the benefits these creatures provide to the environment.
As my interest grew in them, I became more and more inquisitive to know everything about them, especially, their diet. The following sections will take you through some interesting findings about their food habits and more.

Eating Habits

They live in places that are rich in organic matter and decayed plants because that is what they eat! What seems like garden dirt to us humans, is actually a delicacy for earthworms. They don't have teeth, and therefore they tend to swallow the organic dirt while they are busy burrowing and extracting nutrients from the soil.
They also eat fungi, bacteria, septic tank sludge, and even waste materials of cows and horses! The last item on the menu may seem disgusting to us, but it is the most nutritious food that they can get. This is because the feces contain already digested plants, making it easier for the earthworms to swallow.

Contribution to Soil

Many people do earthworm farming in order to make the soil more fertile for vegetation. Did you know, earthworms are also known as 'a farmer's friend'? Had I known that they are helping my plants grow healthier, I would have never hurt them. Their burrowing and digging replenishes the soil.
Their waste material, known as castings, helps in providing necessary nutrients to the plants. Also, because bacteria and fungi are one of their favorite delicacies, they help in pest control, as well. They also help reduce soil erosion by making the soil more fertile. So the more earthworms you have in your garden, the better it is for your plants.
I think earthworms are secret agents of the garden gnome; their presence will give you a chance to get much healthier fruits, flowers, and vegetables. So, the next time to see them crawling in your backyard, appreciate their presence by offering them some fruit peels and remains that you would rather throw in a garbage bin.
You can also use some old pizza boxes to make a worm bin in your garden. Just throw away all the kitchen waste―fruit peels, rotten veggies, and the like―and let them fertilize your garden soil.