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Organic Gardening: Worms!

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 8, Views: 141
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Lufkin, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 2, 2012
7:43 AM

Post #8991956

howdy from east texas! :)
i am primarily a daylily nut. i grow more that 1,000 different dls in raised beds. most of my beds were filled with landscaping mix and have been amended over the last few years with fine pine bark mulch, cotton seed meal, alfalfa and rabbit poo. at this point the soil is almost like potting mix in consistancy. i can easily dig with my hands, which is really nice! however, i pretty much never find any worms!

so, my question is, am i killing my worms with the artificial fertilizers or insecticide that i use? or do i need to "seed" the beds with worms? i would be happy to purchase worms, if i am not just going to kill them by something else that i am doing. oh, and not applying chemicals isnt really an option for me. the thrips can pretty much destroy the color of the bloom or cause bud drop. i have had it happen and it can ruin your bloom season. and rust is endemic to this area and is horribly ugly and stresses the plants. i think it actually contributes to plant death due to the increased stress. especially with our horrible summers we have been having.

any advice would be greatly appreciated! thanks!


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February 2, 2012
7:49 PM

Post #8992795

If you don't already have worms in your garden beds I think it's a sure sign that you're doing something to deter them, or that ends up killing them. That sort of a mix should really be attracting them. However, the surest way to find out for definite is to set up a small bed in a separated area, using the same materials, and not adding fertilisers or insecticides. You wouldn't have to plant anything in it but you'll see over time if any worms move in.
Lufkin, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 2, 2012
7:53 PM

Post #8992801

thanks for the suggestions!

Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 3, 2012
7:54 AM

Post #8993185

good for u on your yrs of work on your soil aggie !!!
my gardens have benifited similarily.. even in my vegy garden i can
shove my arm down a foot or so with little trouble..
all those leaves,manure,straw,compost have made great soil yea
on the worms.. do other gardeners in your area have worms?
i think tropics suggestion is a good one too..
we have endemic worms here..i even go out after a rain with a bucket and
pick them up in the cutters in our neighbourhood and put them in my sure my neighbours
talk about that.. hehehehe
i know morgan up in montana..has no worms ,endemic.. because they have glacial
rock only a few ft under the soil..he does big scale vermiculture.. i think even in outdoor
good luck to ya..
Lufkin, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 3, 2012
8:24 AM

Post #8993212

I know we have worms, but we don't see them like you do. Makes me think there are not as many. I think I will find someplace local to purchase some and try introducing them to some of the beds. Maybe I can get a local coffee house to save some grinds for me!



Port St Lucie (+ Wk , FL
(Zone 9b)

February 6, 2012
6:22 AM

Post #8996420

I think I remember that cotton seed meal has pesticide in it. That might be too strong for the worms. Leaves, alfalfa, rabbit poo and pine bark or other tree bark all seem to me to be great for worms. If you have any local worms, I suggest gathering as many as you can and put them in your raised beds.

I have a "vermicomposting" bin that I only put kitchen veggies in for the redworms there and they seem to like it fine (3 years running). I also have put the mulch (either pine bark or hardwood) that you buy in 2 cu ft bags from HD or Lowes in beds all around. When thebeds are moist, I could catch all the night crawlers I want by scraping back the mulch. When it dries out, the worms go deeper into the ground below. The local worms are more likely to thrive in your hot weather. It was very hot here last Summer but not like you probably had.

Good luck

Helena, MT

February 12, 2012
5:16 AM

Post #9003731

Tracie, like Dave says, we have no native worms, either in our yard or garden, in spite of my efforts to establish some type of native worm. What I like to do is to take worms from my indoor compost bins and add them to holes dug in the garden for various transplants. As suggested you might try vermicomposting in a bin or some other system, and harvest the worms to transplant into your outdoor daylilly beds. Red worms are not particularly fond of garden soil, but I have found they will last through out the growing season in these garden holes filled with a mix of top soil and composted manure.

Not much is said about harvesting worms in vermiculture forums. It seems to be all about harvesting worm castings. I feed about 4 dozen small red wigglers chopped up to my fish daily, and thousands to the garden transplant holes each year, thus keeping the worms in constant growth and reproduction. My red wigglers came from a leaf compost pile in Kansas some fifty plus years ago. I'm sure Tracie you could find a local source of these at little cost. May take a few months to establish enough of them to begin harvesting the worms for your daylilly beds, but tossing in a couple of hands full of worms whenever you cultivate, add compost or organic fertilizer should help with the soil aeration of your beds.

I would also agree with the others that fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, unless organic, are a deterrent to all worm activity. If you switched from these I'm certain in time you will find native worms in your beds.

I like Dave's recommendation for making a separate bed outdoors. When I was a kid my grandfather had a worm pit at his cabin. He dug down about a foot or more and refilled the hole with leaves. Then he covered the pile with a piece of plywood. Grandmother would send us out with kitchen scraps to add to the hole, and that is where we got our fishing worms. My brother, cousin and I spent most of our summer days fishing off the end of grandfathers dock and we never ran out of worms. Each of us had one of those old time metal hook strings which we filled with sunfish, three to a hook. So get bush Traci and build it...and they will come!

Byron, GA

April 29, 2012
6:25 PM

Post #9103059

Years ago cotton seed meal may have had pesticides in it. I don' know we fed it to livestock and fertilized roses with it. The scientists have now eradicated the infamous Boll Weevil and the cotton farmers no longer use tons of DDT, Toxaphene, Malathion and other toxic insecticides to kill the Boll Weevil. So it's not as likely today that cotton seed meal has toxic residue.
Bronson, FL

May 15, 2012
8:20 PM

Post #9125445

If you can't find local worms I'd be glad to trade ya some worms for daylillies :D

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