Worms are extremely helpful to plants, farmers, and the ecosystem in general. Their active tunneling not only aerates the soil, adding necessary oxygen, but also breaks down and spreads nutrients throughout the soil, making the ground fertile. To see these worm skills in action, make a wormery. (An adult should help with the cutting.)

What You Need:

  • Clear plastic 2-liter soda bottle (remove the label as best as you can)
  • Scissors
  • Sand, soft soil, garden soil, compost (as many different types of soil as you can find)
  • Water
  • Worms (about 5)
  • Leaves
  • Piece of construction paper or cardboard

What You Do:

  1. To obtain worms, there are several places you can go. Probably the easiest way to get them is to purchase them from a local bait shop or pet supply store. If you have a bare patch of earth, you may be able to find worms by watering the area and then placing a piece of cardboard, carpet, or wood over it. Wait a day and then lift the cardboard off the dirt to find the worms hidden underneath. Another way to obtain worms is to dig for them. While planting a garden or a tree, collect the worms you find as you go.
  2. After you have collected your worms, build your wormery. Clean the soda bottle if you haven’t already. Using the scissors, cut off the top of the bottle where it starts to taper to form the neck of the bottle.
  3. Fill the bottle with alternating layers of soil and sand. Use at least two different types of soil, but the more you have the better.
  4. Add water to the soil to get it damp, but not wet.
  5. Place the leaves on top of the soil and then place the worms on the leaves. Cover the top of your wormery with construction paper or cardboard to make it dark for your worms.
  6. Over the next few days and weeks, watch your worms tunnel through the bottle and see how long it takes for the layers to mix so that they are no longer distinguishable. You may even see them tunnel along the side of the bottle. If needed, add more water to keep the soil damp.
  7. When you are done with your wormery, simply dump the entire contents (worms, too!) back in your garden or a soil area in your yard.

What Happened:

Worms move an amazing amount of soil for their small size. An earthworm can eat its own weight in soil every day! As you saw in this project, worms help till the soil as they tunnel through it. Any compost (decomposed plant material) you place on your garden you can be sure some friendly earthworms will help get it down to the roots of your plants.