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Episode 5: Down to Earth

comments (20) March 22nd, 2012 in blogs
andrewkeys Andrew Keys, contributor
13 users recommend

The humble earthworm (Lumbricus species). Play this podcast... Click the image to enlarge.

The humble earthworm (Lumbricus species). Play this podcast...

Photo: Flickr user Dodo-Bird, via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

Earthworms: how well do you really know them? Odds are you've seen these critters in your soil, but I bet it's been a while since you stopped to consider the humble, hardworking earthworm, who probably has more to do with your above-ground world than you know. What do worms mean for your garden? What does it mean if you haven't seen them in your soil? And the question on everyone's mind: is it OK to pack them in a carry-on and take them on a plane?

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In this episode, author Amy Stewart shares all that and more. Stewart may be fresh in your mind as the author of Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, but her second book, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms, was just re-released by Algonquin Books. For this month's podcast, I had a conversation with Stewart about how little scientists know about these industrious annelids, in spite of having captured the imagination of none other than Charles Darwin, whose 1881 book On the Formation of Vegetable Mould partly inspired Stewart's own.


Win a copy of Amy Stewart's book...

Listen to the podcast, then post a comment on this page by Sunday, April 8 at 5 pm ET. One lucky person, selected at random from among those who comment, will will a copy of The Earth Moved.

"It was really the first book written entirely about earthworms," she said. "I realized that since Darwin’s book, there hadn’t been a lot published for the average reader about what earthworms are and how they work and how much we know about them."

Join us this month to learn more than you bargained for about earthworms--not just what they do for soil, but what happens when worms meet airport security.

Music from this podcast includes Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" by the United States Army Band, and "Gaslamp Funworks" by Kevin MacLeod (

Comments (20)

Parkay24 writes: Thanks for the podcast. It's inspired me to read your book. I've kept worms for about 10 years. Worms make good neighbors. Posted: 4:00 pm on April 8th
trentf writes: Great podcast (though the feed won't work in my reader, foobar2000).

"The Earth Moved" has been on my "to get" list ever since I read a review in a science magazine years ago. I have an old book about earthworms I got a library sale many years ago which even has a chapter of recipes, though that's out of the question since I became vegan. Posted: 7:23 am on April 7th
jdigi writes: Amy Stewart is as entertaining and informative in writing as she is in person. A great wit and a knowledgeable gardener. I am enjoying the flocks of robins this spring, knowing they are in the yard because of the earthworms. And the earthworms are in the yard becaused the soil is getting better. I would love to have a copy of _The Earth Moved_ on my bookshelf both as a reference and an inspiration. Posted: 6:20 am on April 4th
diane42 writes: Living in rainy Vancouver,B.C., Canada, I have been known to rescue the earthworms that sometimes get stranded on the pavement and place them back in the garden. We are trying to begin a garden project in a building for seniors and I am always thrilled when we discover worms in the reclaimed soil as this usually means that it is healthy and good for plants too. Great podcast. Thank-you. Posted: 2:03 am on April 4th
Shezokienca writes: Amy, you were retelling my story! I ordered my first batch of worms, prepared their home - it had holes for air and a lid too. I put them in a nice dark bedroom and.......You know what happened. I opened the door to find worms all over the room. I hollered for my hubby to come help me gather worms. He wasn't real excited about it. For months, every time I cleaned that room I found dried up worms that we hadn't rescued. After that they were moved out to the yard and eventually escaped into the garden.
I started a compost pile where they are very happy. I add my chicken's waste to it and the worms make fast work of everything that goes in there. Oddly enough, when I turn the compost pile, the chickens ignore the worms and look for the grubs. I'm am tempted to start another worm bin but don't really need to now. Thank you for the podcast. It was very enjoyable. Posted: 1:46 pm on April 3rd
digthis writes: Totally enjoyed this podcast! I have been vermacomposting for a few years in my basement. I too had a massive escape when I first started! What I dearly love now is teaching my grandchildren the beauty and importance of these wonderful creatures. I would love a copy of this book. Posted: 8:53 am on April 3rd
ssgardengirl writes: Thoroughly enjoyed the podcast, and shared it on facebook. :) Amy's escaped worm-bin worms cracked me up, and reminded me of when I first got my worms. They are in a homemade worm bin in the basement, and the first night I had them, hundreds of them escaped and were all over the basement floor the next morning. I left the bin open for a few days after that and they've stayed put ever since. (I never told my husband about the great escape!) Posted: 10:22 pm on April 2nd
justCheryl writes: What an entertaining speaker Amy is! I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast and am eager to read "The Earth Moved." As a child, worms gave me the willies because upon accidently cutting one in half while weeding for my mom, half of the worm went one way while the other half went the other. It has taken me a good thirty years to be able to pick the wigglers up but I really appreciate the good work they do in the garden and my compost pile. Posted: 7:05 pm on April 2nd
danhungerford writes: Amy Stewart writes magnificently about what i"ve been saying to my husband and children for years, earthworms are just what we need for our soil. I make them put the worms back if they find one. They are little miracle workers. Thanks for the book. What a wonderful addition to any gardeners library. Posted: 6:38 pm on April 2nd
jillyv writes: Amy Stewart is my new favorite author!! I received "Wicked Bugs" as a Christmas present (I'm an entomologist and Master Gardener) and loved it so much that I bought "Wicked Plants" online. I have not been able to locate the Earthworm book but it's at the top, of my "to Buy" list. The two books I've read are very educational but in a easy-going and humorous format. I highly recommend both of them Posted: 12:27 pm on April 2nd
diggingdilly30 writes: Amy makes worms and gardening exciting and fun. I'm ready to learn and do more. Enthusiasm is "catching". Must have her books! To think of traveling all over the world searching for and learning about earth worms is as facinating as any
topic one could name. Why didn't we catch onto it in grade school when we studied the earth worm. Never knew there were so many different species. Really enjoyed the podcast. Posted: 11:51 am on April 2nd
Dskelcy writes: Never knew that there are so few earthworm experts! Lots of interesting facts!
Posted: 11:43 am on April 2nd
pseaton writes: I got to hear part of this on NPR and am glad I got to hear the whole thing. It's a reminder that there is much in this world that we're still learning about and gaining respect for. I'd love to add the book to our repertoire to assist us in growing our NWF certified wildlife habitat. Posted: 11:38 am on April 2nd
summersbreezes writes: Loving gardening must mean loving earthworms to do this we must know them as well I would love a copy of this book.

Posted: 10:08 am on April 2nd
summersbreezes writes: Loving gardening must mean loving earthworms to do this we must know them as well I would love a copy of this book.

Posted: 10:08 am on April 2nd
mjlopezfig writes: The podcast, while very interesting and informative, could have been cut down. Twenty-three minutes was too long. The most interesting part, aside from why not to rototill, was the experience of her receiving calls from farmers. Changes are occurring. Posted: 10:02 am on April 2nd
firebrandsgirl writes: This was cool. I can no justify not cutting my grass. YEAH. heheeh. You know worms probably think that tillers are big chickens. :)) Posted: 9:03 am on April 2nd
Bitwitchy writes: Love her! It sounds fascinating and I'd love to win the book. Posted: 8:07 am on April 2nd
DebbieG2011 writes: I would love to win this wonderful book. I have just started worm farming and have a lot to learn on these wonderful creatures! Got my first 500 in the other day to help me compost.

Posted: 6:20 am on March 30th
user-756314 writes: Anyone who has ever read Amy Stewart's fantastic "Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs" would certainly add "The Earth Moved" to their garden library. BTW - my cat's name is Darwin! Posted: 12:36 pm on March 29th
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