General question about earthworms

thejohnnyjoeSeptember 17, 2009

OK, today I was preparing the soil in the veggie garden getting it ready for planting, and for the first time I saw an earthworm in the soil. This is the first one I have ever seen in my garden or even my yard for that matter. Even when I repaired/replaced the leaking whole yard irrigation system, I never saw one.

It got me thinking, shouldn't there be at least a couple in every shovel full? Even here in Tampa Bay area?

I use a good amount of Black Kow every season.

If I remember earthworms are pretty valuable in the garden.

So how ofen do my fellow FL gardeners see earthworms?

And if I need to add some, where do you suggest I buy them and what kind?


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Generally, if I dig I see them. Not sure if every shovel full, but I do see them, do doubt about it. I use the orange cleaner to wash my car which is supposed to be biodegradable. When I am done I dump the bucked in the grass. The earthworms HATE IT! They come jumpin out of the grass like their skin is on fire.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 10:35PM
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cjc45(9 Mount Dora FL)

Earthworms like well-mulched soil. I read here a while back that they especially love coffee grounds mulch. If you have one earthworm you should soon have more. I usually see them when digging in an established bed but not a new one.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 10:54PM
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it takes a while to build up the organic material in our soils that worms need. they also need consistent moisture: i remember a few years ago i was digging around my rain barrels and there were hundreds of worms that i promptly transferred to my veg garden.

after five years of adding oak leaves, trash mulch, grass clippings and god knows how much mushroom compost, i'm at the stage where my garden soil seethes with worms--they're in my pots, in my compost piles... everywhere. you'd have trouble taking a handful of my soil without finding one. there are several different kinds--red wrigglers that live at the surface and big fat fishing worms that live deeper down, and smaller ones that might be juveniles or maybe just another kind of worm.

anyway, much of florida is earthworm free--i read somewhere that it's because the glaciers were responsible for depositing the worms throughout n america, and if the glaciers didn't make it to your area (presumably along florida's spine), you don't get worms!

anyway, if my experience is repeatable, you just need to get your hands on a bunch of worms (baitshop!) and be patient.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 6:58AM
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flyingfish2(9b w stuart)

I'm not sure that going to the bait shop is going to do much to your earthworm population. Until you have the right conditions, the bait shop worms will die. When the conditions are good for earthworms , they will double their population every 3 months.

Organic material buildup in your garden over the years will get better with more mulching etc until you have a good residence for them. Meantime , you can start a worm box to consume your kitchen scraps. Tanya is the resident expert on this forum for wormboxes :>) I have been so-so with mine, but have achieved some castings that I use when I transplant to 8oz cups and it definitely helps.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 10:08AM
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bernie, any excuse to go to the bairtshop is a good excuse!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 10:23AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I'm guessing it also depends on where you look - my yard is teeming w/ earthworms, but I didn't get any from a bait shop.
As the others say - organic matter(not manure) is what feeds them & I make sure to have PLENTY of that. I have several compost piles that attract the little red wrigglers & lots of leaf litter that feeds the bigger guys.

& yes, earthworms do like it cool & moist, so if an area is hot &/or dry, you're not likely to find them there.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 10:32AM
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When the European settlers first came to North America, there were no earthworms in Canada, the Northeast and the Middle West. Although some scientists contend that these regions never had native earthworms, most believe that the natives were killed by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. The earthworms found in northern regions today are virtually all descendants of those brought over from Europe, either accidentally or on purpose. Interestingly, there is some concern nowadays that European earthworms are beginning to have a negative impact on the ecology of temperate forests which had evolved for thousands of years in their absence.

Since glaciation did not extend below the Mason-Dixon line, native earthworms persisted in the Southeast and West. But even there the exotic, invasive European species have tended to become predominant. The paucity of earthworms in parts of Florida is due to adverse environmental conditions which, as has been said here, can sometimes be mitigated by human intervention.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 3:09PM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

I do love worm talk!
If you want the EARTHWORMS( not to be confused with the red wigglers which do better in manure or bins full of kitchen scraps) layer thick sheets of newspapers under your mulches and keep super wet. They love to nest in wet paper and use it for bedding so go ahead and try it. Check in six months or so.I prefer the vermicomposting in bins myself and just using the castings, it's easier to keep them alive in my garage.
Palm coaster is correct ,we supposedly have no NATIVE earthworms Though I prefer the flood theory to the ice age,we ceryainly WON'T go into that. My op.LOL

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 4:08PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

When we moved to this property almost 4 years ago, all we had was subsoil making up all our new beds. No worms, just rocks and shells in mostly sand. You would not believe the tons (not figuratively, I'm talking quantitatively), of organic material we have brought to our yard in the form of leaves, wood chips, coffee grounds, compost, grass clippings, prunings, manure and kitchen scraps. Now we have loads of earthworms. In the places where we have concentrated our efforts (veggie garden), there are so many it's remarkable. Start recycling as much of yours and your neighbors' yard waste and you will see a huge difference even within a year or two. You don't need to buy any. They will find you in droves.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 8:17PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I've always managed the shadehouse by cutting the debis
into small pieces saving removal and acts as a mulch for free. The soil has become so organic that it won't drain over the years . I recently removed a lot of soil to fix the problem and there were hundreds of EW lol I moved this soil out into outdoor beds and they all disappeared.. I'm guessing because the soil dries more throughly ??
When repotting a Batplant from the shadehouse I counted 27 EW in one 3 gallon pot!! if you build it they will come for sure lol I certainly didn't buy any lol gary

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 5:48AM
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thanks everyone. I appreciate it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Invasive worms to Florida. I moved here from Hawaii. The threat from Eisenia foetida,and "European Night crawlers has cased great concern that if you import them you can be fined $25,000.

When Looking for Compost worms here,I was shocked. The only worm farm I found sell Worms that are not from Europe was Hongkongwillie Worm Farm. Why is the compost worm industry so money driven. In their on words,selling tactics(Eisenia foetida, and"European Night crawlers) they tell what these worms will do. Here is one of the statements made. Their voracious appetites and reproductive rates are like no other worm. Florida has so much to lose like Hawaii. The environment is perfect for these worms to upset the natural Balance. Please Composting worm growers ,you say you are green, not so true. The wprms you sell is for money. Stop be for it is to Late. Hongkongwillie I salute you.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 4:01PM
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I have never seen an earthworm on my property in the 15 years I've lived here. The soil is largely filled with rocks as if it came from dirt discarded from unknown projects.

I read that putting some dog food in the bottom of the hole when planting will give the earthworms something to survive on until the soil builds (with compost and other nutrients added during planting). Interested in the opinions of others before I do this.

I do notice that some friends, who water copiously and have soil that has been augmented with compost and fertilizer, had earthworms on their driveway after the last big rain.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:34PM
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