THREE TREES FARM
ACID A liquid that tastes sour and smells
somewhat sharp. Acids help dissolve rock and break down food.
Vinegar is an acid. It is a normal product of decomposition. Redworms
do best in a slightly acid (pH less than 7) environment. Below
pH 5 can be toxic. Addition of pulverized egg shells and/or lime
helps to neutralize acids in a worm bin. See pH.(BACK TO TOP)
ACTINOMYCETES Fungi-like bacteria. New
name for this group is Actinobacteria.
AGGREGATION Clustering, as when soil
particles form granules that aid in aeration and/or water penetration.
AERATION Exposure to a medium of air
which allows exchange of gases.
AEROBIC Pertaining to the presence of
free oxygen. Organisms that utilize oxygen to carry out life functions.
AIR Mixture of atmospheric gases, including
nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases in smaller quantities.
ALBUMIN A protein in cocoons that serves
as a food source for embryonic worms. Also found in egg white.
ALKALINE Containing bases (hydroxides,
carbonates) which neutralize acids to form salts. See ACID and pH.
ALLOLOBOPHARA CALIGINOSA One
of the early scientific names for the species of earthworm now
known as APORRECTODEA TURGIDA, the pasture worm.
ALLOLOBOPHORA CALIGINOSA Scientific
name for green worm. It may look green, but also may appear yellow,
pink and gray. Found in a wide variety of soil habitats, including
gardens, fields, pastures, forest, clay, peat soils, lake shores
and stream banks, and among organic debris. This species is generally
a shallow burrower. (Also called an Earthmover)
ANAEROBIC Pertaining to the absence
of free oxygen. Organisms that can grow without oxygen present.
ANIMAL A living being capable of sensing
its environment and moving about. Animals live by eating the bodies
of other organisms, whether plant or animal.
ANNELID Term for a member of the Phylum
Annelida containing segmented worms.
ANTERIOR Toward the front.
APPORECTODEA TRAPEZOIDES Scientific
name for southern worm , commonly found in earth around potted
plants, gardens, fields, forest soils, and bank of springs and
streams. This worm lacks pigment. Its color is often lighter behind
the clitellum, darkening to brown, brownish, or reddish brown
toward the posterior. Flattening of body near posterior makes
cross-section appear rectangular.
APPORECTODEA TURGIDA Scientific
name for pasture worm, commonly found in gardens, fields, turf,
compost, and banks of springs and streams. This worm lacks pigment.
The anterior may be flesh pink, the remaining segments pale gray.
AQUATIC Living in or upon water.
ARCTIC Pertaining to the region around
the North Pole.
BACTERIA Plural for bacterium, a one-celled
organism which can be seen only with a microscope. Bacteria may
be shaped like spheres, rods, or twisted springs. Some bacteria
cause decay; others may cause disease. Most bacteria are beneficial
because they help recycle nutrients.
BAR GRAPH Presentation of data using
columnar blocks. Also known as a histogram.
BARRIER A geographic zone such as an
ocean, desert, or glacier which would prevent the migration of
an earthworm. Barriers may be different for other kinds of animals.
BEDDING Moisture-retaining medium which
provides a suitable environment for worms. Worm beddings are usually
cellulose-based, such as newspaper, corrugated cartons, leaf mold,
BIO-DEGRADABLE Capable of being broken
down into simple parts by living organisms.
BIOLOGIST A scientist who studies living
BIOLOGICAL CONTROL Management of pests
within reasonable limits by encouraging natural predator/prey
relationships and avoiding use of toxic chemicals.
BLOOD A liquid medium circulating in
the bodies of many animals. Blood caries food and oxygen to the
tissues and carries waste products, including carbon dioxide,
away from the tissues. Earthworms and humans both have a red,
hemoglobin-based blood for oxygen transport.
BREATHE To carry on activities to permit
gas exchange. Humans and land-dwelling vertebrates do this by
expanding the lung capacity to dray air in, and reducing it to
force air out. Worms conduct gas exchange through their moist
skin, but do not actually breathe.
BREEDERS Sexually mature worms as identified
by a clitellum.
BRISTLES Tiny rigid structures on most
segments of earthworms which serve as brakes during movement.
Known a setae, the patterns they form are a major distinguishing
characteristic of earthworms.
BURROW Tunnel formed when an earthworm
eats its way through soil, or pushes soil aside to form a place
to live and move more readily through the earth.
CALCIUM CARBONATE Used to reduce acidity
in worm bins and agricultural soils. See LIME.
CARBON DIOXIDE Gas produced by living
organisms as they utilize food to provide energy.Also produced
through the burning of fossil fuels.
CASTINGS See WORM CASTINGS.
CASTING TEA A solution containing nutrients
which dissolve in water in the presence of worm castings.
CELLULOSE An inert compound containing
carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; a component of worm beddings. Cellulose
is found in wood, cotton, hemp, and paper fibers.
CENTIPEDE A predator sometimes found
in worm bins. Centipedes have more than 8 jointed legs with one
pair of legs attached to each of many segments.
CLASSIFY To organize materials, organisms,
or information based upon a defined set of characteristics.
CLAY As a soil separate, the mineral
soil particles which are less than 0.002 mm in diameter. As a
soil type, soil material that is 40% or more clay, less than 45%
sand, and less than 40% silt. Clay has smooth particles and feels
sticky when wet. Clay absorbs moisture readily.
CLIMATE The prevailing or average weather
conditions of a place over a period of years.
CLITELLUM A swollen region containing
gland cells which secrete the cocoon material. Sometimes called
a girdle or band, it is present on sexually mature worms.
COCOON Structure formed by the clitellum
which protects embryonic worms until they hatch.
COLD-BLOODED Having blood that varies
in temperature approximating that of the surrounding air, land,
and water. Fishes, reptiles, and worms are cold-blooded animals.
COMPOST Biological reduction of organic
waste to humus. Used to refer to both the process and the end
product. One composts (verb) leaves, manure, and garden residues
to obtain compost (noun) which enhances soil texture and fertility
when used in gardens.
CONCENTRATION In air or water, the strength
or density of particles in a defined volume. The air we inhale
has a higher concentration of oxygen molecules than carbon dioxide
CONSUMER An organism that feeds on other
plants or animals.
CONTRACT Action of muscle as it draws
up, or gets shorter.
CULTURE To grow organisms under defined
conditions. Also, the product of such activity, as a bacterial
culture. Vermiculture is growing worms in culture.
CYST A sac, usually spherical, surrounding
an animal in a dormant state.
DDT A toxic pesticide found to accumulate
in the food chain and cause the death of animals which were only
DECOMPOSE To decay, to rot; to break
down into smaller particles.
DECOMPOSER An organism that breaks down
cells of dead plants and animals into simpler substances.
DECOMPOSITION The process of breaking
down complex materials into simpler substances. End products of
much biological decomposition are carbon dioxide and water.
DENDROBAENA OCTAEDRA Scientific
name of earthworm known as the octagonal-tail worm. Found mostly
in non-cultivated sites, such as in sod or under moss on stream
banks, under logs and leafy debris, or in cool moist ravines.
Also found in dung and in soil high in organic matter. A surface-dwelling
species. Posterior is octagonal in cross-section.
DEW WORM The common name used by Canadians
for Lumbricus terrestris, known to people around the world
as the nighcrawler.
DIGESTIVE TRACT The long tube where
food is broken down into forms an animal can use. It begins at
the mouth and ends at the anus.
DISSECT To cut open in order to examine
and identify internal structures.
DISSOLVE To go into solution.
DORSAL The top surface of an earthworm.
EARTHWORM A segmented worm of the annelid
group which contains some 4000 species. Most earthworms are terrestrial
that is, they live on the ground. Earthworms have bristles known
as setae which enable them to burrow in the soil. Earthworms help
to aerate and enrich the soil.
ECOLOGY The science of the interrelationships
between living things and their surroundings.
EGG A female sex cell capable of developing
into an organism when fertilized by a sperm.
EGG CASE See COCOON.
EISENIA ANDREI Scientific name
for one of several redworm species used in vermicomposting. E.
andrei lacks the buff and red stripping of the tiger worm.
Called the "red tiger," E. andrei has the same
performance characteristics as E. foetida. Most commercial
cultures contain a mixture of both species, and growers do not
EISENIA foetida Scientific name
for one of several redworm species used for vermicomposting. Color
varies from purple, red, dark red to brownish red, often with
alternating bands of yellow in between segments. Found in manure,
compost heaps, and decaying vegetation where moisture levels are
high. Frequently raised in culture on earthworm farms. See also
EISENIA ROSEA Scientific name
for worm known as the pink soil worm. Color is rosy or grayish
when alive. During hibernation in cold winters and estivation
during hot, dry summers, worm may be found in the soil tightly
coiled in a small pink ball. Most common habitat is in soil under
EISENIELLA TETRAEDA Scientific
name for worm known as the square-tail worm. Body is cylindrical
anterior to the clitellum, square in cross-section behind the
clitellum. The species shows a preference for damp habitats, having
been found near wells, springs, underground waters, rivers, ponds,
lakes, and canals. It has been found in bottom deposits of streams,
lakes, and ponds.
ENCHYTRAEIDS Small white segmented worms
common in vermicomposting systems. As decomposers, they do not
harm earthworms. Also called pot worms.
ENVIRONMENT Surroundings, habitat.
EXCRETE To separate and to discharge
EXPERIMENT To conduct research by manipulating
variables to answer specific questions expressed as statements
known as hypotheses.
FECES Waste discharged from the intestine
through the anus. Manure. Worm castings.
FERTILIZER To supply nutrients to plants,
or, to impregnate an egg.
FOOD CHAIN The sequence defined by who
eats whom, starting with a producer(green plant).
FOOD WEB The sequence defined by who
eats whom, starting with producers and progressing through various
levels of consumers, including decomposers, and predators. Many
organisms may be more than one level of consumer, depending upon
whether they eat a plant, a microorganism which has consumed a
plant, or an animal which ate the microorganism which ate the
plant. A food web describes more complex linkages and interrelationships
than a food chain.
FUNGI A large group of plants having
no green color and which reproduce by spores. The group includes
mushrooms, toadstools, and microscopic plants including molds
FUNGUS A member of the plant group Fungi.
The plural of fungus is fungi. Use fungi in reference to more
than one plant, capitalize the term Fungi when referring to the
major plant group.
GARBAGE Wet discards, food waste, and
offal, as contrasted with trash, which refers to discards that
GENUS A category of classification which
groups organisms with similar characteristics. These are more
general than species characteristics.
GLAND A specialized type of tissue which
produces secretions. Glands in a worms' skin produce mucus.
GIRDLE See CLITELLUM.
GIZZARD Structure in anterior portion
of digestive tract whose muscular contractions help grind food
in the presence of grit.
HATCHLINGS Worms as they emerge from
HEART Muscular thickening in blood vessels
whose valves control the direction of blood flow. Earthworms have
several (commonly 5 pairs) of these blood vessels (single valve)
which connect the dorsal to ventral blood vessels.
HEAVY METAL Dense metal such as cadmium,
lead, copper, and zinc which can be toxic in small concentrations.
Build up of heavy metals in garden soil should be avoided.
HEMOGLOBIN Iron-containing compound
in blood responsible for its oxygen-carrying capacity.
way of presenting data using columnar blocks. Also known as a
highly stable material formed during breakdown of organic material.
HYDRATED LIME Calcium
hydroxide. Do not use in worm bins. See
A prediction or educated guess which is used to guide a scientist
in designing an experiment.
To move into a region.
I (BACK TO TOP)
To provide an initial set of organisms for a new culture.
L (BACK TO TOP)
form of any animal that changes structurally before becoming an
adult. A caterpillar is an insect larva which becomes a moth or
butterfly an an adult.
run water through a medium, causing soluble materials to dissolve
and drain off.
Leaves in an advanced stage of decomposition.
calcium compound which helps reduce acidity in worm bins. Use
calcium carbonate, ground limestone, egg shells, or oyster shells.
Avoid caustic, slaked, and hydrated lime.
Rock containing calcium carbonate.
Organic material on forest floor containing leaves, twigs, decaying
plants, and associated organisms.
rich soil composed of clay, sand, and some organic matter. Soil
material that is 7% to 27% clay particles, 28% to 50% silt particles,
and less than 52% sand particles. The organic matter acts like
a sponge to hold water.
Name of family group to which several redworm and nightcrawler
species of earthworms belong.
LUMBRICUS RUBELLUS Scientific name for a redworm species. Color
is ruddy-brown or violet-red, iridescent dorsally, and pale yellow
ventrally. It has been found in a wide variety of habitats, including
under debris, in stream banks, under logs, in woody peat, in places
rich in humus, and under dung in pastures. Grown in culture by
LUMBRICUS TERRESTRIS Scientific
name for large burrow-dwelling nightcrawler. Also known as the
nighcrawler, Canadian nighcrawler, or dew worm.
M (BACK TO TOP)
large enough to see be the naked eye.
crumbly soil consisting mainly of clay, sand, and calcium carbonate.
join as a pair; to couple.
MECASCOLIDES AUSTRALIS Scientific name of the Giant Gippsland Earthworm
of Australia, one of the largest earthworm species in the world.
A tissue barrier capable of keeping some substances out and letting
Organism requiring magnification for observation.
An instrument permitting magnification of organisms too small
to see clearly with the naked eye, but too large for a light microscope.
A naturally occurring substance found on the earth which is neither
animal nor plant. Minerals have distinct properties such as color,
hardness, or texture.
Soil that is mainly mineral material and low in organic material.
Its bulk density is greater than organic soil.
downy or furry growth on the surface of organic matter, caused
by fungi, especially in the presence of dampness or decay.
The smallest particle of an element or compound that can exist
by itself. Two atoms of oxygen make up a molecule of oxygen. Two
atoms of oxygen and one atom of carbon make up a molecule of carbon
colored, finely divided, well-decomposed organic soil material
mixed with mineral soil. The content of organic matter is more
than 20%. Muck has the least amount of plant fiber to bulk density,
and the lowest water content of all organic soil material when
saturated with water.
watery secretion, often thick and slippery, produced by gland
cells. One function is to keep membranes moist.
Tissue made of specialized cells whose main function is to contract.
N (BACK TO TOP)
(usually microscopic) roundworms with both free-living and parasitic
forms. Not all nematodes are pests.
A common name for the worm Lumbricus terrestris. Often
called the Canadian nightcrawler in the United States, or dew
worm in Canada.
odorless, colorless, tasteless gas which makes up nearly four
fifths of the earth's atmosphere. When it combines with oxygen
through the action of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, it can become
incorporated into living tissue as a major part of protein.
Coming out at night.
To promote or sustain growth.
O (BACK TO TOP)
OCTOLASION CYANEUM Scientific name
for the woodland blue worm. Body is octagonal in the posterior.
It is blue-gray or whitish, and found in damp locations, including
under stones in water, in moss, and on stream banks.
OLIGOCHAETA Name of the class of annelids
to which earthworms belong, characterized by having setae.
OPTIMAL Most favorable conditions, such
as for growth or for reproduction.
ORGANIC Pertaining to or derived from
ORGANIC MATTER Material which comes
from something which was once alive.
ORGANISM Any individual living thing.
OVARY Organ which produces eggs.
OVERLOAD To deposit more garbage in
a worm bin than can be processes aerobically.
OXYGEN Gaseous element in the earth's
atmosphere essential to life as we know it.
P (BACK TO TOP)
PATIO BENCH WORM BIN Worm bin, usually
wooden, large and sturdy enough to use as a bench on the patio
or in the garden setting.
PEAT MOSS Sphagnum moss which is mined
from bogs, dried, ground, and used as an organic mulch.
PEST An organism which someone wants
to get rid of.
PESTICIDE A chemical, synthetic or natural,
which kills pests.
pH An expression for degree of acidity
and alkalinity based upon the hydrogen ion concentration. The
pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, pH of 7 being neutral, less than
7 acid, greater than 7, alkaline.
PIT-RUN Worm of all sizes, as contrasted
with selected breeders.
PLANT An organism which is green at
some stage of its life and which uses the energy from sunlight
to produce its own food. Plants do not move about on their own.
An oak tree is a plant
( a rather stout plant, at that).
POLLUTE To make foul or unclean, to
POPULATION The total number of individuals
of a single species in a defined area.
POPULATION DENSITY Number of specific
organisms per unit area, e.g. 1000 worms per square foot.
POSTERIOR Toward the rear, back, or
POTTING SOIL A medium for potting plants.
POT WORMS See ENCHYTRAEIDS.
PROSTOMIUM Fleshy lobe protruding above
the mouth of an earthworm.
PROTEIN Complex molecule containing
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen; a major constituent of
meat. Worms are approximately 60% protein.
PROTOZOA Plural for protozoan, a one-celled
organism belonging to the animal kingdom. Most protozoa live in
water and can be seen only with a microscope. Some move by means
of tiny hairs called cilia, others by a whip-like tail called
a flagellum, and others by false feet called pseudopodia like
R (BACK TO TOP)
RATIO A fixed relationship, expressed
numerically, as in a worm:garbage ratio of 2:1.
REDWORMS A common name for Eisenia
foetida and also Lumbricus rebellus. Eisenia foetida
is a common worm used for vermicomposting, although in some parts
of North America, Lumbricus rubellus is more common.
REGENERATE To replace lost parts.
RESPIRE To exchange oxygen and carbon
dioxide to maintain bodily processes.
S (BACK TO TOP)
SALT Salts are formed in worm bins as
acids and bases combine, having been released from the decomposition
of complex compounds.
SAND Loose, gritty particles of disintegrated
rock ranging in size from 0.05 mm to 2.0 mm in diameter. Soil
that is 85% or more sand and not more than 10% clay is classified
as sandy soil. Sandy soil particles feel gritty. Water drains
quickly through sandy soil.
SCIENTIST A person who studies natural
phenomena in a systematic manner.
To release a substance that fulfills some function within the
Numerous disc-shaped portions of an earthworm's body bounded anteriorly
and posteriorly by membranes. People identify earthworm species
by counting the number of segments anterior to the position of
structures such as the clitellum, ovaries, or testes. Segmentation
is a characteristic of all annelids.
on each segment used in locomotion.
Possessing a clitellum and capable of reproducing.
a soil separate, individual mineral particles that range in diameter
from the upper limit of clay (0.002 mm) to the lower limit of
very fine sand (0.05mm). As a soil textural class, silt is 80%
or more silt and less than 12% clay.
secretion of earthworms which helps to keep skin moist so that
gas exchange can take place.
is made up of mineral particles, organic matter, air, and water.
The mineral particles are called sand, clay, or silt, depending
on their size. Sand has large particles and feels gritty. Clay
has fine particles and feels sticky or slippery when wet. Silt
particles range between clay and very fine sand. Soil types have
different amounts of each of these particles. Loam is a mixture
of sandy soil, clay, and organic matter. The organic matter acts
like a sponge to hold water.
Common name for Aporrectodea trapezoides.
A small crustacean with 10 pairs of legs which breathes with gills
and lives in organic litter.
Basic category of biological classification, characterized by
individuals which can breed together.
SPERM-STORAGE SACS Pouches
which hold sperm received during mating.
A small primitive insect with a turned-under projection on its
abdomen which causes it to spring about.
produce conditions which cause an organism to experience discomfort.
Mineral bearing soil located beneath humus-containing topsoil.
T (BACK TO TOP)
scientist who specializes in classifying and naming organisms.
Living on land.
testes) Organ which produces male sex cells (sperm).
Nutrient-containing materials placed on the soil surface around
the base of plants.
specifically to discards which are theoretically dry, such as
newspapers, boxes, cans, and so forth. The term is commonly used
to indicate anything we throw away, including organics. With increasing
emphasis on recycling, less material should be thrown away as
Swollen, distended, pressing out against sides.
V (BACK TO TOP)
Term for the underneath surface of an earthworm.
Mixture of partially decomposed organic waste, bedding, worm castings,
cocoons, worms, and associated organisms. As a verb, to carry
out composting with worms.
The raising of earthworms under controlled conditions.
A rapid, rhythmic motion back and forth. Earthworms are sensitive
W (BACK TO TOP)
Having warm blood and a constant natural body heat which is specific
for each species. Mammals and birds are warm-blooded.
WOODLAND BLUE WORM
Common name for Octolasion cyaneum.
WORM BEDDING The
medium, usually cellulose-based, in which worms are raised in
culture, such as shredded corrugated cartons, newspaper, or leaf
WORM BIN Container
designed to accommodate a vermicomposting system.
WORM CASTING Undigested
material, soil, and bacteria deposited through the anus. Worm
WORM:GARBAGE RATIO Relationship
between weight of worms and garbage used in a bin to convert the
garbage to a useful end-product.
Our Contact Information:
Three Trees Farm
73470 Abeene Lane
Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424
(9:00 AM PST to 6:00 PM PST)
(please leave an evening phone number)
© 1996 -
All content developed by Chris Boissevain, owner Three Trees Farm