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My husband and I are building a raised table bed that will stand on legs about four feet off the ground. While we have earthworms in our soil at ground level, I'm not sure if they will take the hike up that distance to our new beds. Should we try to recruit some of our residents for a high-rise relocation, or would it be better to buy some new wormies? What kind would you recommend?
We live north of Houston, in zone 8b, where the average temperature is 66 degrees.
Hi Suzy Bee... You could dig some from around your yard to add, but earthworms will not climb up wooden structures to reach the beds. There is a place not too far from you in Conroe called Decker's Worm Sales. I think they would be a good alternative to digging up your yard.
You can add some of your garden worms to get you started but my thoughts are the depth of the beds in the picture.
If these beds dry out, then the worms will not survive as they do need a little moisture, not soaking wet by the way, just damp, so consider that when you build your benches, maybe even line with plastic and use the garden fork to make holes in this, even worms from a wormery need feeding which is why you need to feed the worms every so often by adding garden waste or kitchen food waste, what they do is take the stuff you lay on the soil down under the soil and eat this, then what you get as fertiliser is the worm poo which is crumbley and great for adding air to the soil, feed to the soil and they dont eat out plant roots or above the ground foliage ect, just go for it and give it a try, what have you got to loose. I never throw away a worm when I.m digging unless a cheeky little bird is waiting for a feed as it watches me dig.
Good luck. WeeNel.
Kittriana, true earth worms CANT eat the roots, they live on dead or dying / decaying material which is why gardeners never throw worms aside as they pull down fallen withered leaves or other garden debris that lays on top of your soil.
A few weeks after I use my home made compost as a mulch on my beds, there is a huge increase in the number earth worms especially this time of year,
Perhaps what your Dad has eating his roots is another insect and there are huge amount of things that eat roots, the most common suspect is the larva of the Vine Weevils, dont ask me why it is called the Vine Weevil as they are common visitors to any plants,they are small Black beetles that crawl into our pots, shallow beds / borders and lay there grubs under the soil and these half inch long white /cream coloured grubs live on the plant roots under the soil, they look like little horse shoe shaped things with a tiny darker head end, once mature, these grubs hatch into the black parent beettle and the cycle starts all over again.
there is several liquid mixtures that you can buy to water onto your pots that kill off the grubs, ending the cycle, the best way to find IF this is the problem is to dig up the damaged plant, (wilted / dying/ or sickly), dig out the soil with plant/ root attached, shake the soil onto a newspaper and look for any of the white grubs, if none, examine to soil clinging around the roots and gently search this area, I feel sure there will be these grubs when dad notices his plants collapsing. Hope this helps.
Good luck, WeeNel.
When an earthworm runs out of decaying matter they WILL eat ends of the roots. I have seen this myself- and especially in a case where they weren't in ground. No other grubs, pill bugs, etc were clinging sround that rootless tomato when I examined it- just baby earthworms. My dad poisons before he puts his vegetables in ground. He's 84 this year and we grew 1600 acres of crops, cows, kids, and family. Just saying, if you want worms up there, be certain you have plenty of earthworm food...
I think food is the key word here...and controlling the population of worms in raised beds. Anytime the supply of food decreases, you are going to see damage to otherwise "non diet choice" forms of sustenance until the population dies back...What seems to work is using compost rich soil and mulch in the beds, Letting them get established, and every now and the removing a handful of of the larger worms. It is necessary to remember that worms can move to better food sources in the ground, but are in effect dependent on the gardener to keep things balanced.