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Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... Toplef10Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... I22gcj10Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... 14dhcg10

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Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms...

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AvaDGardner
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Post  quiltbea 3/16/2012, 7:55 pm

There seems to be a debate about worms on the board. Our Red Wigglers are bred for composting, not as dirt farmers. There are other worms better suited to that job. Here is an article you might find interesting from Organic Worm Farm.

Alabama Jumpers Make The Best Garden Worms



Alabama Jumpers are actually an earthworm compared to most other worms many are familiar which are composting worms hence making them a better choice for your garden.

Composting worms usually prefer staying towards the top of the garden beds for several reasons, moisture, food availability… Another reason is many cannot take a harsh bedding such as hard packed clay, sand or even heavy dirt. Remember these are composting worms looking to devour breaking down organic matter and not dirt worms.

Now while the Alabama Jumpers also look for decaying organic matter to chow down on the surface areas, they are an earthworm which can burrow down up to 12 feet or so. They can and in fact prefer packed hard clay, packed dirt and even sandy soils to live in.

Since the compost worms basically stay towards the surface, the Alabama Jumpers also perform additional tasks to help your flowers, vegetable gardens and lawn areas grow. As they dig down deep, they leave open burrows which help to aerate the soil, allow for better water penetration through them and help promote better root growth for your plants by allowing roots to access and easily flourish throughout the burrow system.

At the same time many composting worms will not survive colder winter temperatures throughout the continental USA. On the other hand, Alabama Jumpers utilize two techniques to survive cold temperatures. In moderately cold areas they may simply burrow down to warmer soils several feet. In the colder climates the Alabama Jumpers coil up into a slime covered ball which they produce and go into a sleep like state, similar to hibernation.

Introducing your worms to the garden should not be a method of scattering them throughout. Rather using the Alabama Jumpers for instance, releasing in clumps of approximately 500 worms in a pile allowing them to dig down. Once they are down it is important to either have some decaying organic matter for them to eat in the immediate vicinity or place some material on top where you just released them. Another good food source to use if needed is Purina Worm Chow by sprinkling a little on top where you released them as needed.

The reasoning behind this method versus scattering them throughout is the fact that the worms need to be able to find each other to breed. If scattered around they will have difficulty doing so leaving you the option of buying new worms each year. By feeding the worm piles you drop into the garden you are keeping a good number of worms around to breed, lay cocoons and later on hatch.

Down the road as they become more populated the worms will begin to spread out and covering more and more territory in your yard or garden areas.
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Post  camprn 3/16/2012, 7:59 pm

...and here I thought those red worms were for fishin' Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... Smiley-vault-character-261

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Post  sfg4uKim 3/16/2012, 10:48 pm

I have GOT to tell you what happened yesterday at physical therapy . . .

An older (very opinionated) gentleman told me he didn't believe in Square Foot Gardening. Then he proceeded to tell me that a bunch of tiny red worm were "invading" his compost pile.

He wasn't going to stand for that SOOOOOOO he sprayed them "real good" with diazinon. Shocked Shocked Shocked He wasn't happy when I told him that they were probably red wigglers and would have been GREAT for his compost.

He admitted that it was impossible to get diazinon anymore and I asked him why he thought that was the case. He didn't seem to know that it might be HARMFUL to him and anyone else he was giving his veggies to. Remind me not to eat anything from HIS garden. affraid affraid affraid

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Post  GWN 3/16/2012, 11:44 pm

I certainly hope that I am not the source of debate about worms on the board.
I had merely pointed out in a note that Josh had had great success in his worm farm with worms that he had "wrassled" from his SFG.
So I threw a few from my garden into my worm farm to replace my losses.
Am I the source of conflict?

Hope not......
I appreciate this article.....
I take back anything I said about non red worms...... Embarassed
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Post  quiltbea 3/16/2012, 11:58 pm

GWN....No conflict. Don't worry. No problems. Just some differing comments which might be clarified with a little more information from those that raise worms for a living. I live in Maine where the winters get mighty cold and the ground freezes. At least now I know I won't be tossing my composting worms into the garden where they may not survive long. I wouldn't want to take a chance of causing their demise.No
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Post  GWN 3/17/2012, 12:09 am

No I appreciate your article
I have been living in a temperate climate for years and now am in a colder climate.
It is important to know that my red wigglers would not survive the garden. I feel SOOOO terrible when I am digging in the garden and suddenly there is PART of a worm Embarassed
I know what you mean.
I guess what I was doing was the opposite, putting poor almost frozen worms from the garden into my nice cozy indoor worm farm....... Very Happy
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Post  shannon1 3/17/2012, 3:16 am

sfg4uKim wrote:I have GOT to tell you what happened yesterday at physical therapy . . .

An older (very opinionated) gentleman told me he didn't believe in Square Foot Gardening. Then he proceeded to tell me that a bunch of tiny red worm were "invading" his compost pile.

He wasn't going to stand for that SOOOOOOO he sprayed them "real good" with diazinon. Shocked Shocked Shocked He wasn't happy when I told him that they were probably red wigglers and would have been GREAT for his compost.

He admitted that it was impossible to get diazinon anymore and I asked him why he thought that was the case. He didn't seem to know that it might be HARMFUL to him and anyone else he was giving his veggies to. Remind me not to eat anything from HIS garden. affraid affraid affraid
I'm sure his veggies are like Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... 1280598131
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Post  shannon1 3/17/2012, 3:19 am

GWN wrote:I certainly hope that I am not the source of debate about worms on the board.
I had merely pointed out in a note that Josh had had great success in his worm farm with worms that he had "wrassled" from his SFG.
So I threw a few from my garden into my worm farm to replace my losses.
Am I the source of conflict?

Hope not......
I appreciate this article.....
I take back anything I said about non red worms...... Embarassed
No worries GWN down here the red worms are doing just fine in my table tops and they love MM if it were regular soil maybe they would not be doing so well.Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... 966236
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Post  GWN 3/17/2012, 11:37 am

I'm sure his veggies are like Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... 1280598131
rofl
What IF all the plants just got up and BOPPED everyone who tries to poison them....... OR US

I have a neighbour who seems to want to draw the property line between his yard and mine with ROUNDUP..... and our well lies just below the property line, roughly
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Post  shannon1 3/18/2012, 3:48 am

Thank you GWN for reminding of one more thing to be thankful for.
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Post  AvaDGardner 3/21/2012, 1:00 pm

That's great info on worms.

I just ran into that debate on youtube. Seems the information on worms is growing. When I started my worm bin years ago Red Wigglers WERE the garden worm!

I've heard of super wigglers, too. Not night crawlers. But bigger, more active brothers of the reds. And the ones to tunnel your dirt. I wonder if supers are jumpers.

Having reds in your dirt will happen because you a) added worm castings or b) added a compost that has worm castings!

So what happens then? Do they adapt or die?

The worms I find in my dirt, and most of it is imported clay (this is a greened over desert), that I aerated and amended 18 years ago with some compaction since...look just like reds. It's mild here, a frost every decade on average.

One thing that does suprise me...I've yet to see birds digging for worms here (20+ years). It's a mid-west standard I miss, along with robins and their song.

And thanks for the Chow link. I always wondered!
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Post  plantoid 3/21/2012, 5:10 pm

Looks like we need a new thread with lots of worms and their Latin names as Latin is a universally accepted scientific nomination that can be & is used all round the world .

It would be good if as many of us as possible get pictures close up of the worms on a fairly clean light coloured surface , showing them along side an imperial or metric steel tap or a ruler.



If no one takes up the gauntlet by the time I get back early next week I'll dig up some worms from my garden , out the composting veg matter and out the composting animal manures and will see if I can identify them all with local and latin names ..

No they aren't going to be called Fred , Billy & Mr Wiggley etc.etc.
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Post  kittykat 3/21/2012, 9:13 pm

I wonder if these jumper worms would be a good worm to use in Josh's worm towers... Sounds like the best of both worlds there...

I bought the PVC tubing today for the towers, but will have to order worms online, as no one locally seems to carry them... Good time to have read about these jumpers...
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Post  GWN 3/21/2012, 9:55 pm

Hi Kittycat
I just contacted someone from Squamish today who sells red wigglers.
The cost of shipping was too much for me, but you are MUCH closer.
It was called compostculture.com
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Post  kittykat 3/21/2012, 10:21 pm

GWN wrote:Hi Kittycat
I just contacted someone from Squamish today who sells red wigglers.
The cost of shipping was too much for me, but you are MUCH closer.
It was called compostculture.com

Thanks GWN! I was actually just on their website... I found a nice listing of worm places for BC and even across Canada today when I was scouring the Internet. I can't post links yet here (haven't been a member long enough) but add the www to the beginning of the following and you'll get the list:

cityfarmer.org/wormsupl79.html

Hope this is helpful! Looking forward to worming!

Oohh.. edited to add:

These guys are in Chilliwack - and shipping 1 lb of worms within BC looks to be $16... that seems reasonable...

worm-composting.ca
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Post  kittykat 3/21/2012, 10:49 pm

Okay - so - next question...

How many worms should I get for 4 worm tubes? I only meant to make 2 of them, but had to buy the whole 10-foot length of pipe at the hardware store, so now I get 4 worm tubes - yippee!

Half a pound? A pound? I have two 5 x 6' raised beds and was going to put one tube in each, an then the other 2 tubes out at the edges of a couple regular flower beds to help them and the lawn...

Opinions?

Thanks!
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Post  GWN 3/21/2012, 10:54 pm

These guys are in Chilliwack
Thanks a lot, the other place was WAY more expensive
I am nearer to Kamloops, but never get in there, so Chilliwack would be a great alternative, I have to go through there.
Thanks a lot. I do not know much about the towers, I only read about Joshes worm bins, but am curious
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Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... Empty Josh's worm towers

Post  kittykat 3/22/2012, 12:35 am

Here's the link to Josh's worm towers... (You have to add the www at the front - I'll be glad when I can post links...)

squarefoot.forumotion.com/t1603-worm-tube-for-the-sfg

I love you
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Post  AvaDGardner 4/9/2012, 6:25 pm

I saw encapulated earthworms for sale on the net. They intended them for lawns. Very reasonable price. Up to 20 per capsule?

One of the plotters told me he was growing endive, and it did two things to his clay soil: broke it up, made it black, and full of big earthworms. Now 1/3 of his plot is gorgeous loam.
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Post  AvaDGardner 4/16/2012, 8:25 pm

When I was transplanting a fennel in my patio rose side (perfect greens for a vase!), I found an earthworm! Long, fatter, slower, grayer than a wiggler (think of a giant wiggler that was never exposed to light!). I was digging deep, because fennel have such deep tap roots!

Anyways, I threw (okay, gently placed) him/it into it's VERY OWN TRAY. It will be interesting to see how it does!

When I was digging out the 12 inches of tree mulch at the garden to plant a succulent, I found 3 nightcrawlers (REALLY BIG, LONG and VERY WIGGLY). I put them into one of my boxes.
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Post  GWN 4/16/2012, 8:34 pm

I have had a worm farm for years, in my big plastic compost bin
It all started quite accidentally, my DH put a whole bunch of sawdust in my com poster and I sort of left it for 6 months, went back and it was like spaghetti
They worked wonders they ate through whatever I put in there.
It very very rarely froze down there in Oregon, they were large wigglers.

Here in the winter no worms.... so bought some.

I find many many worms in my garden these days that look just like red wigglers, but with this thread, I have not put any more in my worm farm, but the few that I did put in there really seemed to set it off and get it started
I HAVE read that night crawlers do not do very well in worm farms because they tend to live so very deep in the soil that they die in the very shallow worm farms ....not really sure but I would not put those big night crawlers in unless it is very deep
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Post  AvaDGardner 4/22/2012, 2:02 am

Interesting! What kind did you find in your sawdust?

My boxes are 10" of dirt, with no weed cover, on hard pack. They've got room to dig, if they want. I found them about 6" down in mulched tree bark that is all over the walkways of the garden. They were only 4" in from the hard edge where the mulch meet border fence and city sidewalk.


I was cleaning up my patio the other night, and found a plast bag of un-worked dirt that must be from the my plot in the garden (based on all the tree mulch). As I worked my hands through it, every wet clump I found was full of pale, slow moving, long fat worms (and babies). I think they must be regular earth worms. I found about 15 and put them in their own tray.
Compost Worms are not Dirt Worms... _earth10


Which caused me to look in on my red wigglers. They are happily occupying the center of their tray. (After the thunderstorms last weekend I did find one half way in and half way out of the lid. Even being skinny he didn't want to go through either direction. I hope I didn't hurt him getting him free and back into the nest!)
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Post  GWN 4/22/2012, 10:13 am

to be honest apart from the night crawlers all of them look the same to me.
10 inches of dirt would likely be enough for night crawlers.
I had to move my worm farm down into my basement yesterday WAY too hot in the greenhouse.
They were trying to escape on the lowest level, so I decided to make the higher level more comfortable for them.
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Post  catderm 5/4/2012, 7:48 am

IF I PUT DIRT WORMS INTO 12'' HIGH RAISED BEDS WILL THEY DO OK AND RETURN FOR NEXT SEASON?
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Post  llama momma 5/4/2012, 8:31 am

Oh sure! My first sf garden bed was 12 inches high and yes, 2 years later earthworms and cocoons are in there. The bottom has hardware cloth so they come and go as they want and they are probably still working the compost and any leftover tiny dead roots, plus making babies, etc. You want to encourage them even more? Go to the white search box above and put in worm tubes.
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