No earthworms were harmed . . .

mpcartAugust 21, 2008

I have an 18 month old new-construction lawn that I began an organic progam on this year. This weekend I removed sod and dug holes to plant five large trees and, while doing that backbreaking work, I found exactly one earthworm.

I was bummed about the lack of visible life in the soil. I guess I have a long way to go to get my soil where it needs to be.

Maybe I need to buy a bucket of earthworms and spread them around. :)


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I don't think buying a bucket of worms will help that much. If you've got enough OM to keep the worms happy, you'll get worms and they'll multiply. If you don't have enough and add worms, they won't stick around and/or they'll die.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:28PM
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Worms felt the vibration of your shovel and vamoosed to another quieter part of the yard. As bpgreen said, just add organic matter and you'll have plenty.

The hardest part of organic lawn care is developing the patience for natural changes, especially if you are used to results by chemicals.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 7:31PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

It may take 3 years to see the results you're looking for.

I hope you provided large area of mulch for your new trees. You can spread some earthworm casting that you buy at nursery. Sometimes they have cocoons in them and they hatch when the condition is favorable. Just spread them underneath mulch and you will have tons of them and they will slowly take over the lawn.

Sometimes it helps to speed things up by buying different types of worms. That's what I did and it sure helped a ton. I started at nothing 3 years ago and now, I seem to have millions of them in rocky soil. I've helped neighbors plant trees and didn't see a single earthworm in their ground. I planted 13 trees at the park across the street from my house and only found 1 earthworm.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 2:06PM
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Worms need microbial/decomposing plant matter to feed on. Do you compost? If not, here's a how to article about starting a compost heap. Maybe buy some night crawlers to add into the compost heap. Before long, you'll have all the worms you need. BTW, robins feed on earthworms and also consume harmful insects. Anyway, here's the link:

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting 101

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 2:41PM
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Well, I just started an organic program this year so it doesn't suprise me that I didn't have many worms - but I did think I'd see some.

My lawn is 20,000 sq ft so I doubt I'll be adding compost but I have decided to go the compost tea route - we'll see how that works.

As far as mulch under the trees goes, I did remove a 6 foot diameter section of turf under each tree. The trees are 2-3" diameter and around 15 feet tall so I'm hoping that is enough. If not, I can remove some more turf.

I'm in the St. Louis area and have very compacted clay/loam soil. The tree guy said the soil is very good once you get past the compacted part on top.

I was kidding about buying worms, but if you guys think it will help I can go ahead and try it.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 4:35PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

It really depends on whether you need to get some worms or not. Mine was razed over completely to build a new house in 2005. It's all rocks. I couldn't find a single earthworm for a year. I started reading more about them to find out how they travel, how long it takes, etc. I just decided that i wasn't going to wait forever for them to come so I ordered some worms from a place that raises several kinds of worms for a living. Now I have worms everywhere. I just can't remember which place I got worms from but here is the link of what I probably got.

Here is a link that might be useful: Worms

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 6:20PM
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Thanks for the link but I think ordering $1000 of earthworms is going to get me tossed out of the house.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 11:36PM
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There's a good chance that you got at least a few with the trees you planted.

If you saw even one earthworm, that means there were already earthworms in your soil even if there weren't any hitching rides with the new trees. As you increase the amount of organic matter, there will be more for the earthworms to eat, so you'll end up with more earthworms over time.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 1:27AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I didn't pay that much. Just one batch is all it took me.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 5:38PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Feed them and they will come. Mulch around the trees and flower beds. Mulch the leaves from the trees into your lawn. Use organic fertilisers on the lawn. If you saw one worm, you have more than that. Keep feeding them.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 2:38PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Well, my way was much faster...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Worms like grass clippings and leaf mulch.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 8:31AM
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Don't burn or throw away your fall leaves.

I put shredded leaves about 4 inches deep over all my flower and garden beds in the fall, by the end of May there's none left. This sounds insane, but if I go into my backyard at night in the spring it sounds like I'm standing in a bowl of rice krispies, you can actually hear the earthworms slithering around in the leaves. Of course the backyard is all flower beds, and therefore all leaves at that time of year.

I suppose you could rake back your mulch and put down your new "leaf mulch" and then put the regular mulch back over it to get the same effect. I think someone here one posted that earthworms really like coffee grounds so maybe visit Starbucks for some freebies.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 1:25PM
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I thought I'd post a follow up since its been about 9 months since I started this thread. I dug up several sprinkler heads this spring doing my routine system maintenance and noticed several worms so I guess they are starting to spread around the yard. I've also been planting flowers in the beds and every time I find a worm I carefully move it the yard. I guess I need to be a little more patient.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 3:49PM
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