Worm knowledge, please

lincannJanuary 17, 2013

I hope I'm asking on the right forum as this is both a worm & compost question.

I make compost using 2 recycle bins and only use organics (compost, cornmeal, alfalfa pellets, soybean meal, etc.) on lawn and beds.

Having a dog limits my use of manure ~ (bad enough that he eats his weight in corn and soymeals!), but have found that no matter how well rotted, any manure becomes his new 'best friend'.

On to my question: A nurseryman told me that I could dump a thick layer of composts on my beds followed by the purchase of a container of nightcrawlers per 15'. He said tipping a container over at night and waking to no visible worms in the morning meant they were busy carrying the compost deep into the earth.

All the reading I've done says:

1. Don't introduce nightcrawlers to the garden if they aren't already there. (I commonly see both 6" earthworms as well as some 'monsters' from time to time.)

  1. A worm is going to live where it wants and not where you put it. (When ever I dig, I'save' any little guys from being hacked in two ~ sometimes moving them from one bed to another.)
  2. Never using pesticides or chemical fertilizers and only using organics is the best way to increase the natural worm population and help incorporate compost into the ground without lots of digging and turning.

What's the real scoop here?

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The last point is the best one I think for encouraging worm populations in your garden, going organic and all. If you build it, he/they will come, borrowing a phrase from the movie "Field of Dreams". Not roto-tilling the soil probably is also helpful for worms as well as encouraging development of beneficial soil fungi populations.

Have you ever been out in your garden barefoot or in flip-flops, and have one of those 6 incher earthworms slither across your toes? That happened to me one morning, and talk about a thrill of a lifetime hahaha.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Haha ~ can't say I've experienced the 'toe slither', but do love to see the little guys. Taught my children and grandchildren that these creatures are to be respected, protected and nurtured.

Only break from 'organic' came couple of years ago when dear hubby decided to 'deweed' the stone paths with RoundUp. One quick spray and out came the worms! I found them writhing on the stones ~ the saddest sight you ever saw ~ and started frantically scooping them up and dunking them in water in an attempt to rinse the nasty poison off them. You can imagine this as some hysterical hyper-version of the Keystone Cops meet Mother Nature. Not sure how many I saved from RU that didn't end up drowning, but my intention was good !

Thank you for your reply and will continue to feed the 'herd'.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:57PM
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I use horse manure in my compost piles which I build in the garden area the fall. I turn one time (or not!) and native worms populate it pretty well. Sometimes I add compost worms and vermicompost to the base and build the pile on top. This method leaves pretty good VC in the spring after winter rains.

I have 4 dogs and they all love to roll in manure and dead things YEK!! lol They once unearthed some 4 week old fish carcass' from a too shallow garden grave...Very bad! They finally quit rolling in our pony poo.

I use cages for my compost wormeries. I make these out of 10-12' lengths of 3' wide hardware cloth fastened together to form a cylinder. This makes it easier to keep out pets and other critters.

Most people on this forum use composting worms in a worm bin. Night crawlers are burrowing worms better suited for the garden. Adding night-crawlers may introduce another species but should be beneficial to the garden. I agree with points #2 and #3.

Good luck! Pete

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:25PM
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DWD2(10a, Sunset 17)

gardeningannie, Worms do not like direct light. So, not seeing any in the morning is to be expected. There is a lot of information out there on all the good things worms do for the soil. It has become clear over the past number of years that when worms consume organic material that the by product, vermicompost (worm poop), is pretty impressive stuff in the garden. Rather than writing a longish reply, I direct you to the NC State University vermicompost site. They also have a link to their composting site. Tons of terrific, accurate information is on those 2 sites. There was also a nice write up recently in the NY Times on the subject.
Enjoy the reading!

Here is a link that might be useful: NC State University Vermicompost site

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 2:36AM
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The NC State website is a very good resource. Isn't the internet a wonderful tool to enable learning?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:04AM
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