Effortless Earthworm Attraction

A healthy population of earthworms in your own yard may be just some scraps of cardboard away.
By Guy Valente
June/July 2011
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Earthworms eat their weight in organic garbage, aerate the soil around plants and fertilize better than any store-bought product.

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I live on a coastal plain that has sandy, acidic soil. My good friend relayed a concern she had about the lack of earthworms around her garden. After a few weeks of digging, planting and weeding, I realized she was right. I couldn’t remember the last time I had found an earthworm in a shovel of soil.

I drive a diesel Mercedes, which I’ve converted to run on waste vegetable oil. For cleanliness, I line my trunk with scrap cardboard to soak up any dribbles of veggie oil. After a few weeks the cardboard gets pretty oily, so I usually toss the scraps on the burn pile. One day I was in a hurry and just tossed the greasy cardboard on the dirt next to my shed.

Laziness got the best of me, and I ended up just letting the scraps sit there. It rained, of course, and as the weeks passed the cardboard became soggy and lumpy. I eventually got tired of looking at it and peeled it up off the ground to cast it into the burn pile. But when I pulled it up, I was stunned to see that my pale, sandy, wormless soil had been transformed into dark, lumpy clods, densely populated with the fattest earthworms I’d ever seen!

I encourage any reader who is trying to get a healthy population of earthworms to soak some cardboard in veggie oil and then lay the cardboard out on a patch of dirt for a month or so to see what happens.

Guy Valente
Magnolia, North Carolina

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