Worms in woody and leafy mulch and in sand soil

gonebananas_gwApril 3, 2010

I have very sandy soil, almost pure sand. There is a humus-enriched A-horizon (uppermost soil zone) a couple of inches thick, but basically it is medium grain-size sand.

Can earthworms handle sand, so long as there is something to eat at top?

I would like to use earthworms as part of the decomposition (along with natural bacteria and fungi) of thick mulch around fruit trees. I'd have coarsely ground tree debris (not good at first, I know) and grass clippings mainly as the mulch.

I could wait until the initial mulch had rotted some and could later easily feed them a bit supplementally. Will worms eat cottonsead meal, soya meal, alfalfa pellets or other animal feeds also used as fertilizer?

Final question, for now. If worms cannot travel readily through sand I would worry about dry periods when the mulch may dry to the bottom (the site is 25 miles away and without a well, not easy to water). What do you think about augering (3-inch diameter soil auger) down a foot or so in two or three places around each tree, beneath the mulch, and filling these deeper and thus moister "refugia" with something organic and highly suitable for worms. I'm thinking maybe peat moss or well-decomposed compost?

Thanks for any suggestions or information.

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If you are able to visit the garden site often enough, you might consider saving your kitchen scraps and bury in the area you hope to innoculate with composting worms.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Do you already have worms there? I have very sandy soil here in southern california, and Even though you would be hard pressed to find worms in the drought of the summer, they always come back in hords when the winter rains come. There are big worms that have apparently estavated during the drought, and of course the rains make conditions right for the many cocoons to hatch. Organic matter is crucial to this process. I use coffee grounds and what leaves I can find in the area..works for me. The worms, if they are present in any numbers will multiply rapidly for you in a mulched garden or orchard. steve

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:23PM
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In 23 tree planting holes and 10 small soil test holes so far I have seen nary a worm. I have plenty at home though 25 miles away, in compost and in the soil of trees still in big containers. So I have seen none at the small orchard site but have plenty adapted to this climate.

I should build a small compost pile out there and see if any worms arrive from the soil there.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 7:28AM
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