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getting earthworms in my soil

Gail Saito


Joined: Dec 31, 2012
Posts: 70
Location: Medford, OR
    
    1
Ok...so I am now living in my dream house, almost an acre of land and very few earthworms in the soil. Anyone have suggestions as to how to increase the earthworm population?
Keith Odell


Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 29
Location: Indiana
Add organic material and time. The phrase "if you build it, they will come". You didn't say but I am assuming this is a new house/yard?


Castaway Compost - Yer Trash be Treasure!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6579
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Are you in a forested area?
Usually, worms are scarce in wooded areas compared to more open grassy areas.

Forest soils are built primarily with fungi, whereas grassland soils are built by bacteria.
Worms seem to prefer a bacterial environment over a fungal environment.

If so, you may need to introduce them to get them started.
Good compost (not forest duff) is a good way to build a habitat for them.

Thom Foote


Joined: Dec 17, 2011
Posts: 18
Location: Colbert, WA
For the past 2 years I have been keeping red wigglers in order to generate castings. I have found that the competition for resources that can be their food is too intense for the amount of material returned. So, I recently took the worms and put them into my compost bins and shut down my vermiculture operation. I took another batch and put them into the 1/2 acre of leaf mulched planting area I will plant next year. My compost is a hot pile and they migrate to the outer, cooler edges as needed. When I use the compost in the garden, they go with it and keep reproducing. I get much more bang for buck by having them in the compost bins.
fiona smith


Joined: Jul 09, 2013
Posts: 141
Location: UK
also, if you have access to it, aged horse manure is usually full of them red wigglers. but i am not so sure if they are comfortable in a garden as yet, i am just about to find out!

good luck.


fuck it
Gail Saito


Joined: Dec 31, 2012
Posts: 70
Location: Medford, OR
    
    1
Thank you, all for your most valuable input!
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3888
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  80
fiona smith wrote: not so sure if they [red wrigglers] are comfortable in a garden as yet, i am just about to find out!

I've found they will stick around as long as there's a large amount of uncomposted organic matter for them to work on.
As soon as it's decomposed, they disappear at my place.
I haven't the faintest idea what happens to them; do they die or head off to a tastier environment?
Tim Malacarne


Joined: Feb 06, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: South central Illinois, USA
    
    1
Thom Foote wrote:For the past 2 years I have been keeping red wigglers in order to generate castings. I have found that the competition for resources that can be their food is too intense for the amount of material returned. So, I recently took the worms and put them into my compost bins and shut down my vermiculture operation. I took another batch and put them into the 1/2 acre of leaf mulched planting area I will plant next year. My compost is a hot pile and they migrate to the outer, cooler edges as needed. When I use the compost in the garden, they go with it and keep reproducing. I get much more bang for buck by having them in the compost bins.


Thom that is fascinating! I have been wondering if a compost ring, kept in one place all the time, wouldn't attract a healthy population of red wigglers underneath it? Guess I ought to go out and fork around a bit, eh?
fiona smith


Joined: Jul 09, 2013
Posts: 141
Location: UK
Great info about the wigglers permies! i love worms.

I have read the above posts, and i have been vermicomposting because i found truckloads of red wigglers and brought them home. thing is i have been lucky, i have pretty good soil here, full of worms. but even so, i have at the moment been mulching like mad, before i am planting anything i want the soil to be alive and ready to the point of the obsession! haha..
anyhow, how long can red wiggler eggs survive?

fifi, worm obsessed.




stephen sinnott


Joined: Sep 06, 2013
Posts: 25
adding compost to the soil wont do it, they need food and moist soil both of which are provided by a mulch, the easiest way to mulch an acre is to grow the mulch in place, the easiest mulch to grow is whatever grasses and weeds are already growing there, the easiest way to turn this standing stuff into mulch is to eat and trample it with large animals like cows, cows manure is also very microbially rich which is all to the good and this method would really bring your soil to life.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4063
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
The majority of North American worms, are descended from Eurasain imports. Generally, the further north and west you travel, the greater the likelihood of these worms being absent. Once they are added the environment is forever altered. The soil gets churned up which is good for farmers. Duff levels drop and carbon off gassing increases in wild areas, both forested and grassland.

This slow replacement of native soil critters, ranks right up there with the demise of bison and the American Chestnut in changes brought on by European settlers.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
On my farm mulch seems to be a big requirement for good earthworm populations. That and moisture. Where I can provide moist but not real wet soil, topped off with three inches of mulch, the earthworms multiply. I also use composts as mulching material, so there is plenty of organic material to feed the earthworms. Also, I see far more worms in my tilled gardens than in non-tilled areas. So soil compaction might be a factor.

I know there is debate as to whether earthworms are good or bad, but they seem to be definitely beneficial to my gardens.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com


It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
stephen sinnott


Joined: Sep 06, 2013
Posts: 25
how is there any debate over weather earthworms are good or not?
Su Ba
pollinator

Joined: Apr 18, 2013
Posts: 309
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    
    9
Stephen, forest conservation people are quite concerned about the loss of the natural duff layer due to introduced worms. I don't know which earthworm species it is, but obviously they are really good eaters.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
stephen sinnott


Joined: Sep 06, 2013
Posts: 25
i hadnt heard but that looks like a concern, those worms need a predator but i cant think what bird fills that role.
Rebecca Norman


Joined: Aug 28, 2012
Posts: 350
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 11,000 feet
    
  21
I like how Dale told the facts there: earthworms are a very successful introduced invasive species in North America. And we love them, too.

I don't know if it's true they are less common in forest and also that they remove duff. On the land that I'm part of in the northeast US, the only part of our land that is absolutely teeming with earthworms is the area under a large patch of trees. There is very thick duff there, from last year's recognizable leaves on down to lovely leaf mold. Compared to the garden soil that we add an inch or two of compost to every year, the forested area is simply teeming with earthworms. When I weed the voracious vines out from under the trees, zillions of earthworms are disturbed by the pulling and are also seen busily going here and there in the leaves in large numbers.


Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4063
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
I don't think we could or should try to stop the advance of earthworms into new environs. Every time a dozer or excavator is moved to a new logging road, worms could move. People are going to continue to dig up plants and move them about. It's virtually unstoppable.

The boreal forests of Canada and Russia contain a carbon store in peat soils and muskeg that is approximately double that of the stored carbon in all of the world's rainforests combined. If global warming were to advance to the point where these areas become suitable for farming and earthworms, those worms would accelerate the gassing off of those soils. This has already been observed and is one of the factors responsible for rapid soil losses when drained wetlands are used as market gardens.

I can't find the thread, but I once calculated the soil loss due to gassing off that has occurred in the state of Iowa since it was first plowed and compared the carbon released to all of the carbon released in 100 years of burning petroleum. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say --- it was a lot.

Here in British Columbia, we have had a major die off of pine trees due to a pest. For the next 20 years or so, our exposed soils will contribute more carbon to the atmosphere than the state of California currently does.

But I digress. We're supposed to be figuring out how to get more earthworms.
 
 
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