Effortless Earthworm Attraction

A healthy population of earthworms in your own yard may be just some scraps of cardboard away.


| June/July 2011


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

Beth Stubblefield
7/5/2011 5:38:15 PM

I've been using cardboard in my garden for years now as an addition to other mulches, and I can tell you that I don't think the worms need that cardboard to be soaked in anything at all....other than water. Cardboard has glue in it that's used to stick the corregated pieces together, and THAT'S what the worms are attracted to. I'd suggest just trying to put some plain cardboard in any spot where you want to attract the worms....then give it a good soaking, wait a few days, then check. If no worms, don't give up! Just wait a little longer, and make sure that cb, and the ground under it stays moist.


Liz Wallis
7/5/2011 5:10:30 PM

You don't even have to soak the cardboard in vegetable oil. Just lay it flat on the ground. The earthworms collect under it because it shades them from the sun and helps keep the soil moist, not because it's soaked in oil. But as Anthony Riley pointed out, you may get ants in addition (or instead).


Anthony Riley
7/5/2011 10:53:49 AM

This sounds like an easy and simple way to attract worms but I'm a little worried that it would also bring ants and earwigs into the garden. I guess i could do it in the corner of the yard and then move the worms.






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