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Who is feeding your worms?

Updated on May 14, 2015

My garden and my worms...


Phylum Nematoda

What do I mean? Well, take the nematodes, and entire phylum Nematoda, the classes, the Orders, and the Families comprise some million different small worms. Several cause issues, pinworms in humans and animals, for instance, but those are literally a few dozen, the remainder might be predators of other nematodes, fungi, or bacteria, or may be decomposers eating organic matter and turning it into fertilizer, and so forth, without which your garden would suffer greatly.

They need food.

Feed my WHAT?

Every living thing needs nutrients, including insects, worms, even helpful bacteria and fungi. Feeding them is relatively easy but you need to be mindful (thoughtful) of them if you are going to be successful as a gardener or as a farmer.

Feeding your worms

For the home gardening, feeding worms is very easy.

Yesterday I mowed my lawn. I blew leaves from my ash tree into a pile next to an existing mulch pile about two feet tall, then added the grass, and then moved the mulch onto and into the clippings and leaves.

That’s it.

What do I mean by “into” the leaves and grass clippings? Mix them up as you blend them. The soils contains millions of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and insects such as the common “pill bug” which are primary decomposers, they consume larger things like the grass clippings and leaves, and then the secondary decomposers work on the remainder.

Why decomposers?

Decomposers are a critical step in the cycles of life. Without them all nutrients would soon be locked up in plants and never recycled.

With them, you have fertile soils because they decompose plants and animals back into the soils as the nutrients left when they died. (Some of the nutrients they consumed passed through them, or fell off of them as flakes of skin, hair, and so forth.)

It is those decomposers that need foods, and by foods I mean leaves, grass clippings, and so forth, but they also need moisture.

In San Diego, that means using water.

But the decomposers make better soils which hold more water.

My lawn is nearly dead because I am not watering it to save water as mandated by the Governor, but the worms are fed regularly and watered to keep them moist.

What is the result?

This area under my orange tree is teaming with life. If I lift a stone, half of what I see are worms. Why are they there? Because every day I dump my coffee grounds, egg shells, and banana peals under those rocks or into the mulch pile.

Ashes to Ashes

Since my mulch had already been turned, this morning’s coffee ground, filter and all went under one of my in-ground worm gardens under a brick. The mulch got a brief spritz of water. Then I cleaned out the ashes from the fireplace and spread the ashes in the yard for potassium and carbon compounds so vital for the plants. Then I spritzed the yards again.

Why did I spread them this morning? Because, unusual as this sounds, we are about to receive some rains, and I wanted those ashes to help pick up the nitrogen and mild acids from the rain to help neutralize the alkali from the ashes.

Then I went to the front yard and checked that the worm pipes in the net tree were fed.

Worm pipes?

Recently the city determined to replace the sidewalk, the cement over the parking strip, and the tree in the parking strip which actually caused that decision by lifting and breaking the cement.

The city cut the tree down, dug out the stump, replaced the sidewalk and then put a tree back with a root guard to help diver the roots. When they did I took a five foot section of black 4” ABS pile, cut it in half, drilled about 16 holes in what would be the bottom end, and put them into the hole dug for the tree. I left the tops just above the watering ring they left, and then, despite the drought and state mandated water cutbacks, told me I needed to water the new tree.


Once the tree was planted I visited my worm garden in the back yard and I took several garden spades full of worms and soil and dumped them into those piles followed by banana peels, coffee grounds, and other food items to feed the worms and myriad of other insects that went into those pipes.

Trees need these too, and that soil had nothing under it since there was concrete on all four sides of the tree.

The food I put into them periodically declines and I replace it with more food.

This is ll fertilizer to the tree. This is being mindful (mind-full) or thoughtful (thoughts filled) of the needs of the tree.


Let’s be clear here. A word cannot mean something and the exact opposite of the same thing. The word mindfulness is from two roots mind and full. This does not mean mind-empty. It means to think rationally and pointedly about a subject. Having your mind pay attention to details we know in order to improve it.

I was mindful of the needs of the tree, and so that made me think rationally about what to do to improve the trees future growth potential before the tree arrived.

I thought about what to do, the purposed to act on those thoughts, and then acted intentionally to and for the benefit of the tree.

Several weeks ago someone tried to convince me that being mindful was exactly the opposite of this, emptying the mind of all thoughts. This is absurd. That is mind-emptiness, not mind-fullness. They are opposites. They are as opposite and life and death, as feeding the worms and starving the worms, opposites are not the same, they are opposite.

Be mindful of your worms. Feed them. They needs your attention and thoughtful care, and they will care for your soils.


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