The Nature of Our Energy

Our seminar last week, which is one I have been giving to garden clubs, describes a worldwide war being waged over the total control of our food supply — and the damage to our health, economy and environment from the battles we have lost so far.

It had videos of the almost unbelievable consolidation of seed companies, food processors, and food distributors in just the last few years. There are food experts describing the corresponding decline in food quality — health experts explaining the results of this decline — government researchers being threatened and their research being suppressed — people dying in war time numbers from associated diseases. It is goal of these companies to obtain total control of our food system.

Everywhere that I speak on this topic, when people learn what is happening they ask what they can do.

I tell them to plant a garden.

Learning how to grow food organically is empowering and enriching. Wonderful mythologies have been created to explain the energy cycle that moves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to decay, and around again.

A garden helps us understand that the nature of our food is the nature of our energy — and that the real pleasure of our food is in the appreciation of its quality, not quantity.

You learn more about your food by learning the basics of organic gardening — the beneficial relationship between plants and other creatures. This relationship provides essential nutrients, growth hormones, and natural protective systems to grow plants that are as healthy as possible. It improves the conditions for beneficial microbes, beneficial insects and pollinators.

Pest control is assisted by good cultural practices like varietal selection, proper fertilizing, watering, good air circulation, garden cleanup and weeding, and timing plantings to avoid periods when disease or insect problems are prevalent.

Fertility is achieved by the recycling of nutrients from compost, animal manures, cover crops and green manures, and manure or compost teas.

Organic gardening requires a greater knowledge of plants because it practices prevention of diseases and insects. It harnesses the benefits of a natural system that has evolved over 400 million years to grow healthier plants. You can learn about it and teach your children in your own backyard.

And, if you take the time to learn, you could be enjoying the most amazing heirloom tomato sauce from your own garden like we are tonight. You could also be taking money out of the hands of a food industry lobbyist, lawyer, advertiser, or researcher.

The World’s Most Nutritious Foods

Plant leaves are the kitchen where all of the food for all of the creatures on earth is made.

They are where the mineral resources of our earth are combined with the energy of our sun to create the food that nourishes and energizes us.

 

Since the beginning of man, plant leaves have been our one constant food. Fruits, berries, seeds, nuts and roots have all provided us with important — but seasonal food. Meat brought us nourishment — when it was available. But plant leaves have been our daily go to food forever — they were always there. Archaeologists have estimated that earlier man ate between 6 and 8 lbs of leafy greens each day — and our bodies were bathed in the great nourishment that they provide. Our long-standing history of consumption of leafy greens has also made us dependent on their nutritional benefits. There is no other food source that provides us with their nutritional diversity and richness.

Nutrients

Our essential nutritional compounds begin their creation in the soil by the work of soil microbes. In the leaves, using the sun’s energy, they are transformed into our food energy (calories) and our essential nutrients. Essential nutrients are the building blocks that our bodies are built and maintained with. Almost all essential nutrients are found in plant leaves — if — their components are available in the soil. They also very reflective of soil fertility since what the soil lacks will also be missing in the leaves.

Fiber

Dietary fiber is one of our most essential nutrients. It is like a locomotive that controls the movement of all food through your digestive system. Fiber regulates your digestive system and therefore regulates blood sugar levels. It provides a breeding ground in your large intestine for beneficial microbes (probiotics) so you can more fully absorb dietary nutrients. It is also vital in the elimination of toxins that your body secretes into your colon by scraping your colon walls as it passes. Chemicals in leaves of the cabbage family (like kale) also contain compounds that attract toxins by forming ionic bonds with them — and therefore even more effectively remove them from the colon. There is no better source of dietary fiber than mature leafy greens.

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are chemicals that plants produce through photosynthesis. Some protect plant leaves from the damaging rays of the sun. Others protect plants from disease and pest threats. Antioxidants are produced in plant leaves and transported to fruits to delay oxidation or decay of the fruits — others are used by plant roots, tubers, or bulbs to prevent decay during dormant periods (e.g. carrots, potatoes, and onions). We are only beginning to understand our bodies dependence on these phytochemicals — and their importance to us as protection from cell damage (premature aging), disease prevention, and elimination of toxins. These phytochemicals are all produced in plant leaves and are always found in high concentrations and diversity in them.

At Canterbury Creek Gardens, we have been educating people about the dietary importance of leafy greens for several years. We offer a wide assortment of organically grown leafy green transplants, soils and fertilizers to maximize their nutritional value, a convenient and productive way to grow greens (Organic Salad Bowl Planters), and a combination of the most nutritionally rich, organically grown, leafy greens available (The Immunity Builder Salad Mix).

beans&greensOur Immunity Builder Salad Mix is a nutritionally superior combination of the world’s most nutritious foods, freshly prepared and ready on Saturdays at about 3 PM.

It is included every week in our CSA program because, as Joel Fuhrman M.D. (and nutritionist) says “salad is the main dish.” He recommends eating 1 lb of raw vegetables (salads) every day for achieving optimum health and weight.

Fresh – People have said that they have had our salad mix in their refrigerator for weeks, and it still looked fresher than grocery store salad mixes. Since leafy greens are very perishable, fresher means more nutritious.

Nutritious – Our Immunity Builder Salad Mix is a combination of the world’s most nutritious foods — grown in a way that maximizes their nutritional value.

Flavorful – The fresh flavors of organically grown leafy greens make eating a salad a real treat — and they represent nutrients they contain.

Versatile – We have dozens of recipes using our Immunity Builder Salad Mix (many on our website). It is very useful in soups, omelets, pizzas and stir fries.

 

One of the greatest misconceptions about nutrition is that all kale is nutritionally the same. This shows our lack of connection with how plants grow. For a certain mineral like magnesium to be in kale, it has to be in the soil — and in a form that makes it useful to plants. Phytochemicals need all of their components available — or they cannot be formed. Finally, the medical world is starting to understand the difference.

“One important point to mention though is that the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they’re grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium instead of magnesium.” from Mercola.com. Mercola.com is one of the world’s most visited of all health websites (behind 1) National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2) WebMD, and 3) Mayo Clinic.)

So, who needs all that magnesium after all? As it turns out, we do. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium binding sites on human proteins (3,751 body uses). Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body. An estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral and the health consequences of deficiency are significant. Even moderate deficiency means thousands of little problems for your body to deal with — thousands of little maintenance and repair jobs that aren’t being done.

This is why we have always placed such emphasis on how food crops are grown — especially leafy greens. In a food chain where nutrients are so sparse, we need to make every mouthful count. This is especially true with our most important foods. It just seems very cost-effective to make better decisions when buying our most important foods.

Neglecting the details of plant nutrition has caused a host of health issues including

obesity, metabolic problems, immune system problems, cardiovascular problems, blood sugar problems, premature aging and degenerative diseases. We even create genetic problems in our bodies that are genetically passed along to the next generation as a result of lacking essential nutrients in our diets.

The improvement to American health would be stunning if we all had at least one really nutritious salad every day — full of nutritionally rich leafy greens that were grown in fertile and biologically rich soil.

Lower health care costs, a cleaner environment, better grades for our children, a more productive workforce, and a more vital and less burdensome senior population — all just an organic salad away.

We Sell Soil, They Sell Dirt

Dr. Elaine Ingham is recognized around the world as a leader in soil microbiology, founder of the soil food web (which helps farmers worldwide to understand their soils), and a key author of the USDA’s Soil Biology Primer. She states, “The difference between soil and dirt is the lack of populations of beneficial organisms.”

It is amazing how simple gardening becomes when you stop treating your soil like dirt. If you want to make it easier, to grow larger harvests, of more nutritious food — just make your soil come alive. Enhance your soil with biologically rich conditioners — use fertilizers that feed the soil biosystem — and you will begin to enjoy gardening more and have much greater success.

If there was one tip that I could give gardeners, it would be to learn to put billions of soil microbes to work for you. If you don’t believe me, just come up and watch our plants grow — it’s incredible — and so simple! Think soil — not dirt.

Use living soil, not dead dirt
Many gardeners will waste a lot of money again this spring on sterilized ‘organic dirt’. It may have the words ‘organic’ and ‘soil’ on the label, but inside, it’s just ‘dirt’. Peat moss products and bagged soil conditioners can help to improve the physical structure of your soil but they do very little when it comes to feeding and rapidly increasing soil microbe populations — or getting your soil biologically prepared for your plants — or holding on to plant nutrients.

Soil microbes prefer oxygen rich soils. Bagging soils — and stacking them on pallets squeezes out most of the oxygen and the microbes start to die off. Big soil operations have to bag and ship soils months in advance because of problems associated with shipping and selling so much of a bulky item, so quickly in the spring. But, the longer the bags sit, the more dead microbes you have. It may say it is a composted soil product on the bag, but it’s compost treated like dirt.

Our soils are freshly made — and freshly bagged.

Our compost and soils are made in small batches and we leave it bagged it for only short periods. Since the greatest contribution that compost makes to your garden are the microbes it contains, you get a lot more for your money with fresh soil products.

Our compost
“Diversity in starting materials means diversity of food, and diversity of beneficial organisms” said Dr. Ingham referring to compost quality. Our compost is made from the waste products of our salad mix — things like organic kale stems, organic carrots, organic peppers, organic mustard greens, and organic cabbage. It is nutrient rich with a great diversity of microbes and sold at just the right time.

There is a cycle that a compost pile goes through — and there is a window of time where each batch is most alive. Once our pile is big enough, or we need compost, we stop adding fresh organic matter and let the pile sit for a few weeks. Then we till the pile to grind the partially decomposed organic matter down to a smaller size and thoroughly mix in the microbes that have begun to grow in the pile.

The microbe population explodes because the smaller size of the ground organic matter provides a greater surface area for even more microbes to grow on. After a few weeks, the pile starts to cool down — the microbe population starts to die back again.

We bag and sell our compost when the piles are most biologically active. It is timed and ready to seed your garden with massive populations of the best friends a plant can have.

Our potting soil
Our potting soil is great! It makes growing big, healthy plants much easier. I actually feel bad for the plants (and the people) when I see someone that has purchased brand name artificial soils. They used to call them soil-less mixes years ago, and at the time it seemed like a good thing. Now we know those mixes are really just fancy dirt.

Our potting soil uses fresh compost that is amended with fertilizers, kelp, rock powders, and more beneficial microbes. We add an assortment of organic matter that keeps the soil looser by breaking down more slowly. Our potting soil brings all of the benefits of fresh compost to your containers with adequate drainage — without perlite — and without peat moss. Plants grow better in it because it holds nutrients better and because more nutrients are absorbed by the plants due to the microbes.

Our leaf humus
We also carry leaf humus. This is a very inexpensive way to add organic matter and beneficial microbes to your garden. Although it is not as nutrient rich as our compost (which is made from organic veggies), it is a very cost effective soil conditioner. It is ground and sifted — a very high quality product made entirely from local leaves.

Rice hulls
I like the idea of using an organic waste product like rice hulls that rice companies are trying to find a use for instead of a product like perlite, or vermiculite so we tried it when it came to our attention — and guess what — it works better too. The difference was so noticeable that we switched over to rice hulls immediately last spring.

Using waste products to grow plants instead of filling landfills makes a lot of sense in an organic garden. We use locally composted leaves instead of peat moss that was mined and shipped from great distances, and rice hulls that rice companies are tying to find a use for instead of a mined and processed product like perlite, or vermiculite.

What Have They Done to Our Potatoes

It may come as a surprise to some, but potatoes are a very nutritionally rich food.   

  

They are rich in important nutrients, antioxidants, resistant starch and other fiber — and they are one of the most filling foods for calories consumed.

  

There is some very good news about potatoes (it appears we have a new superfood) — and some very bad. You should take a few minutes to educate yourself to make better decisions.   

 

 

The Benefits

One medium potato (5.3 oz) with the skin contains:

  

110 calories / no fat

Vitamin C – 45% of the daily value (DV)

Potassium (620 mg/18% DV) – more than bananas, spinach, or broccoli

B6 – 10% of the DV 

Fiber – (2g) 8%

Trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc

…and a lot more!    

 

Satiety

Satiety is one of the most highly researched factors in weight management today. Satiety is defined as the physiological and psychological experience of “fullness” that comes after eating and/or drinking. It is the ability of a particular food to satisfy your hunger. Several studies have shown potatoes are among the most filling of foods for calories consumed.  — and the feeling of fullness you get from potatoes lasts for hours. 

 

While our salad mix is more filling with almost no calories, potatoes also rate near the top of the satiety index. The reason potatoes are so filling may be resistant starch. 

 

Resistant Starch  

Potatoes are one the best sources of natural resistant starch. Resistant starch acts like dietary fiber because it resists digestion in the stomach and passes through to the large intestine. Resistant starch is considered the third type of dietary fiber, as it can provide some of the benefits of both insoluble, and soluble fiber — including satisfying your hunger.

 

Like other types of fiber, resistant starch also has beneficial effects in the large intestine, the colon, as well as body wide. Health benefits in the colon include improved digestion and fermentation, the production of important short chain fatty acids, and increased production of “good” bacteria, all of which are believed to protect the colon from harmful microorganisms and even cancer. Body wide benefits include improvements in stabilizing blood sugar levels. 

 

A United Nations/World Health Organization study concluded that resistant starch is “…one of the major developments in our understanding of the importance of carbohydrates for health in the past twenty years.”

 

Antioxidants

Out of 42 vegetables tested for total antioxidants, beans (including small red, kidney, black and pinto) ranked highest in total antioxidant capacity. However, russet potatoes ranked ahead of vegetables that are more commonly known for their antioxidant potential, such as broccoli, cabbage, and tomatoes.

 

Potatoes contain an assortment of phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, most notably carotenoids and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are found in the greatest quantities in purple and red potatoes while carotenoids are found largely in yellow and red potatoes, although small amounts are also found in white potatoes.

 

Anthocyanins are considered to be among the strongest antioxidants. In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. They are also associated with preventing inflammation, type II diabetes and cognitive decline — as well as allergy relief, better eyesight, heart health, weight loss, and ulcer treatment.

   

purple majesty2 A new level in antioxidants has been reached with Purple Majesty potatoes — bred at Colorado State University using traditional breeding methods. Purple Majesty potatoes have one of the highest anthocyanin content of any food available today — much above all other potatoes, including other purple varieties. The increased anthocyanin level is reminiscent of our ‘Indigo Rose’ tomatoes this past summer (bred by Oregon State University). The antioxidant capacity of ‘Purple Majesty’ anthocyanins is enhanced by proper cooking methods.     

 

The first study to check the effects of eating potatoes on blood pressure in humans has concluded that two small helpings of Purple Majesty potatoes a day decreases blood pressure by about 4 percent without causing weight gain.  

  

We are happy to have organic ‘Purple Majesty’ potatoes in stock now (as well as seed varieties) — grown by one of the top organic specialty potato growers.  This is a produce item that you will be hearing a lot about. It is exciting researchers and nutritionists alike — a modern marvel of traditional breeding methods with an ancient Peruvian ancestry.  

 

When you use something so different in cooking, the purple majesty-potatoes crushedright recipe and presentation makes a big difference. I first had trouble using Green Zebra sauce until I stopped thinking of it as a green tomato sauce in traditional tomato sauce fashion and started thinking about the possibilities of a green sauce with a tomato flavor. Get creative and let us know what you come up with. A couple of cooking tips — lemon juice makes the dark blue more magenta and something like milk or mixing with white potatoes makes the color lighter.   

  

Potatoes are a very much underrated food. They are low calorie, nutrient rich, and are especially high in antioxidants and 3 different types of fiber.  They have a 7,000 year tradition of nourishing and sustaining many generations. And, there are countless healthy recipes available for them.  We made a really good  — and incredibly unique — organic purple potato soup last week. We used Purple Majesty along with our organic heirloom fingerling mix in a great stew this week.  

 

The Bad News

Potatoes are also a good example of what our big business food chains have done to our food. People can now buy non-organic potatoes that are ‘dirt cheap’ — but, here is how that happens. 

  

Non-organic potatoes today are:

  • Planted in less fertile soil than in the past — lowering nutrient content and quality. (e.g. Because of decades of potato monoculture in Idaho, many chefs now prefer Colorado or other potatoes to Idaho potatoes). 
  • They are fertilized with chemical fertilizers which contain few, in any, trace minerals — resulting in less healthy plants and less nutritious potatoes.
  • They are treated with an array of pesticides while growing, necessitated by inferior health and lower disease resistance associated with chemical fertilizers. 
  • About 4 weeks before harvest, they are sprayed with chemical sprout inhibitors — which are really growth inhibitors that prevent cell division. These are sprayed on the foliage and absorbed into the potato tubers so the potatoes will not ‘sprout’ in storage at room temperature. This will not wash off since it is absorbed through the leaves into the tubers. 
  • 10-14 days before harvest, they are ‘sprayed to death‘ with an herbicide (usually Roundup) to toughen the skins (and improve storage). This is also sprayed on the foliage and absorbed into the tubers. Roundup also acts as a chelator of essential nutrients, making them unavailable to us. This will also not wash off since it is absorbed through the leaves into the tubers.
  • They are often treated after harvest with post-harvest growth inhibitors.
  • They are treated with a combination of preservatives to retard spoilage.

This is all done to increase shelf life for large retailers. I have talked to potato distributors who say that food chains will no longer buy untreated potatoes (except for organic which cannot be treated) Retailers want a long shelf life without refrigeration. The use of growth inhibitors — and preservatives is usually printed on the box to advertize the extended storage benefits to retailers (I see it all the time). However, it is information that most retailers neglect to tell you.

At Canterbury Creek Gardens, we believe in educating you so that you can make informed decisions about food choices. Where are the potatoes kept at your food retailer? — Why aren’t they sprouting? — and — What aren’t they telling you?

Ours are kept in a special dark cooler at 45-50 degrees to keep them fresh. At room temperature shelf life is much shorter for untreated potatoes — and kept in bright light, Solanine, which is a toxin, forms in potatoes. It has a bitter taste and can irritate the digestive tract.

Keep potatoes in a cool, dark spot in your refrigerator, or basement, etc. — best at 45-50 degrees. If kept below 40 degrees, the starches turn to sugars and cause other problems. If they are kept colder for a length of time, try bringing them slowly up to room temperatures to let the sugars change back to starches before cooking.

Chemically grown potatoes are inferior nutritionally; contain pesticides, growth inhibitors, and preservatives. Anyone who says that there is no significant difference between organic and chemically grown potatoes is either ignorant or misleading you. It is hard to tell which is worse.

 

 

Earthworms

“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly organized creatures.” Charles Darwin

 

When we celebrate “Earth Day”, we should be talking more about the precious few inches of earth that supports all life here by providing our food. “Healthy Soils, Healthy Plants, Healthy People” is becoming a popular new slogan around the world. This is why our planting soils, fertilizers, seminars, and emails at Canterbury Creek Gardens focus on improving our health by improving our topsoil.

Past civilizations and previous generations have learned how important it is to nourish our topsoil — although many extinct civilizations learned the hard way. Unfortunately, our country has failed to honor the lessons of the “Dust Bowl” years — and we have abandoned measures like resting fields and planting cover crops to let the soil repair itself. We are beginning to realize that the failed agricultural experiments of the last few decades have put America’s rich farmlands into a downward spiral of nutrient depletion and desertification that needs to be reversed.

One of the damaging results of chemical farming — and chemical gardening — and chemical lawn care — is the dramatic reduction of the earthworm population that my generation has witnessed — along with the honeybees. But who cares about some dead worms, what difference does it make?

Here are a few of the benefits that earthworms play in healthy soil that are lost with chemical agricultural methods — some food for thought for “Earth Day”.

 

Physical improvements to soilearthworm tunnels

The earthworm is irreplaceable in keeping the soil structure open. The tunnels they create are channels that allow the soil to absorb more moisture as water slowly drains through them. The same system allows the water to eventually drain into the subsoil and it brings needed air to the roots and soil microbes. Permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison says that by sliding through their tunnels, earthworms “act as an army of pistons pumping air in and out of the soils”.

 

Biological improvements to soil

Earthworms also bring life to the soil and are sometimes known as microbe farmers. They turn dirt into a living ecosystem that fully provides for plants.

 

They pull larger pieces of organic matter, such as leaves or manure found on the soil surface, down into the soil. They also bring up mineral rich soil from the deeper subsoil which naturally helps to replace trace minerals used by plants. In their burrows, the worms will shred the leaves and partially digest them. As organic matter passes through their intestines, it is ground up, mixed with the subsoil minerals they have also ingested, and inoculated with microorganisms.

 

Although earthworms feed on soil microbes found on decaying organic particles, worm casts (feces) contain more humus and more microbes than the surrounding soil because of the beneficial effect of mixing in their gizzards (or stomachs). The combination of small bits of organic matter, subsoil minerals, and intestinal secretions are ground up in their gizzards and mixed together making an ideal food mix for soil microbes. “In the body of the earthworm we find a complete, high-speed humus factory combining all the processes — both mechanical and chemical — for turning out a finished product containing in rich proportion and in water-soluble form, all the elements required of the earth for plant nutrition. Thomas J. Barrett, “Harnessing The Earthworm” 1947 with several reprints. 

 

Their channels make it easier for roots to penetrate further into the soil and the nutrient and microbe rich casts which line their tunnels help feed the roots. Earthworm casts are 5 times richer in available nitrogen, 7 times richer in available phosphates and 11 times richer in available potassium than the surrounding soil.

 

Earthworms improve water quality

Earthworm tunnels help prevent water pollution by minimizing runoff, erosion, and chemical transport to waterways. They improve water filtration because their shredding, mixing, and defecating enhances soil biological activity. As water slowly travels through their tunnels, this biological activity can also decompose and filter pollutants before they get into our waterways. Wormless, compacted soils cause water that is carrying pollutants to quickly run off the soil surface and into our waterways without any benefits of microbial decomposition.

 

Causes of earthworm decline

The application of chemical fertilizers, sprays and dusts have a disastrous effect on earthworm populations. Chemically derived fertilizers tend to create acidic conditions, which are fatal to the worms, and often dead specimens are to be found on the surface following the application of chemical substances. In Australia, changes in farming practices such as the application of superphosphates on pastures and a switch from pastoral farming to arable farming had a devastating effect on populations of the Giant Gippsland earthworm leading to their classification as a protected species.  

 

Encouraging earthworms

earthwormThe best way to maintain or increase the levels of worm population in the soil is to avoid the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Adding organic matter like manure, compost, grass clippings, and leaf products on a regular basis will provide them with their food and nutrient requirements. Organic mulches (but not shredded wood products) also provide food and create optimum temperature conditions (cooler in summer and warmer in winter) and moisture to stimulate their activity.

 

Simply buying earthworms is not a very good use of money or your time. If your soil provides an environment they like, they will show up in appropriate numbers. If you soil does not provide them with a good environment, they will quickly move away, or die out.

 

Recent research from Rothamsted Experimental Station has produced figures suggesting that rich fertile soil may have up to 432 earthworms per meter². This means that the weight of earthworms beneath a farmer’s soil could be greater than that of the livestock upon its surface.

 

We often find dozens of worms in a single pot when we recycle our used potting soil through our compost system. Sadly, this is probably more than some 4-step lawn care customers have in their entire yard.

 

The Costs of Earthworm Decline

The results of low earthworm populations is more money spent on aeration (which is a very poor substitute for worm tunnels), more money spent on dethatching (which removes the nutrients instead of recycling them), more money spent on fertilizing, more money spent on watering (we haven’t watered our lawn in 3 years), more money spent on water purification, and more money spent on pesticides to protect an unhealthy lawn (not to mention the health problems associated with these products). On the farm or in  the garden, it also means food that is less nutritious and farm soils that now yield less than 5 or 10 years ago.

 

Those are some of the reasons why we should worry about a few dead worms.

 

Build an Earthworm Haven 

You can easily build a worm haven in your yard by following a few worm do’s and worm don’ts.   

 

Worm Do’s

 

Worm Don’ts

Manure based, trace mineral enhanced, organic fertilizers are best for worms.

Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides and fertilizers containing GMO products like corn gluten and soy meal.

Fresh, living, compost based soil products will seed your yard with beneficial microbes that feed the worms.

Avoid pre-bagged compost products and peat based soil products that have little microbial life.

The best mulches for worms are shredded leaves and shredded bark. 

Avoid mulches made from shredded wood and dyed shredded wood products.  

Leave on grass clippings to feed the worms.

Leave soil undisturbed as much as possible, try cover crops and living mulches.

Do not till your soil any more than necessary.