Red wigglers in the garden!

Helena, MT

I think we are all in agreement here that red wigglers are thought of as strictly compost worms. However, using them in the garden may not be a bad idea, especially if your garden doesn't have an ample supply of indegenous worms. I have been gardening here in Montana for going on six years and have yet to find an indegenous earthworm in my yard or garden. So the thought occurred to me why not transplant some red wigglers into the garden where appropriate.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, mellons and pumpkins in my garden all start with a two foot diameter hole which is dug from one to two feet deep depending on the type of plant being placed in the hole. The hole is refilled with a mixture of well composted cow manure and soil from the top six inches of the garden.along with the appropriate fertilizer(s). Also a heaping handful or two of worms from one of my indoor compost bins is added as well. Although I don't expect any if any of these worms will survive our harsh winters they certainly will do an adequate job of aerating the soil, especially if aided by regular cultivations. I use a drip feed system for all of the above plants and over a period of time the surface of the soil becomes crusted over. Regular cultivation not only helps the plants but will assist these transplant worms as well. I have read only a few articles on the importace of aeration to the roots of plants, but in each of these articles it is stated that aeration is as important as any other factor in the growing process, and what better means to aerate the root system of plants than worms.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

mraider3 - This is a quote from "Gardens Alive"

Note: Although redworms will work hard in your compost pile, they won't live in garden soil.

Here's a link:

Helena, MT

Ture Honeybee, however some of these transplanted worms have overwintered in these planting holes I have dug in the garden. The holes are something of a mini-compost. The interesting thing is these survivors are always smaller and darker red in color than the ones in my indoor compost bins. They tend to revert back to their original size and color from the leaf pile which they were originally collected from. As long as they do the intended job or aerating the planting holes during the regular gardening season I'm satisified with replacing them each year. Good feedback.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

i find everytime i add alot of ground up leaves to the garden and alot of coffee grounds..that next spring i have a huge population
of "native" worms in the soil..
i know some climates just dont lend themselves to native worms.. :( truely a bummer..
here in provo,ut.. i dont know if its the tons of food.. leaves/compost that help keep the soil a bit warmer and
help the worms out... but im happy these worms are in the soil !!!
this last fall i found a source of as much rabbit manure as i could haul in.. 2 truck loads .. i had neighbour boys mow down
about 140 bags of leaves.. then had them spade it under.. sigh.. saved my back... lol
even in late nov.. when the boys were spading over the soil.. there were some mightie BIG nitecrawlers in the soil...
? jealous morgan???? hehehehe
im going to add 10+ big bales of coco coir to soil this spring too.. i know they love eating it...
good luck to all..
im ready for a thaw !! not as cold as for u up in MT morgan.. but enough here.. sigh

Helena, MT

Well Dave I am jealous, but you just gave me a great idea. I was looking for a hand mower with bag last fall to collect some leaves in town. I think instead I will contact some of the local lawn service companies this fall and let them do the job for me. Provide the bags and a couple of bucks and offer to pick them up from the site...Thanks for the idea Dave. TYVM

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from mraider3 :
I think instead I will contact some of the local lawn service companies this fall and let them do the job for me. Provide the bags and a couple of bucks and offer to pick them up from the site...Thanks for the idea Dave. TYVM

This raises a question in my mind. I don't know about your area but the lawn services here usually try to sell people a year-round program which includes spraying their yard with chemical fertilizers and also to kill insects, weeds, etc., several times during the year. If they use mechanized equipment to clean up the leafs, don't know if what they pick up from those yards would be healthy for worms since it is bound to contain at least residue from those chemicals. If they just manually rake the leafs, then probably would be okay. I'm asking because I see the chemical guy at my neighbors at least once every 3 months with a big spray rig and have been considering whether to ask for his leafs. Any thoughts?


Helena, MT

DNP..Point taken...I was just being lazy.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a) actually got up over 40 F today.. i anxious for spring...
even the vegy garden has some of the snow melting.. theres alot of straw/leaves/rabbit poop out there ..
i always think wow..its going to be july before i can plant..then.. funny how winter breaks down all
that stuff ..
ordered some lettuce seed today.. time to get my early cold frame put together and get some
lettuce,spinach going.. mmm..good... :)
morgan..i just drive around town ,pick up bags of leaves..
u could get a neighbor kid to mow the leaves down..
? are u still thinking of putting together a row for compost worms?
im always amazed at the projects u do..
talk about inspiration!!!!!
hope youre getting a little thaw up there....

Helena, MT

No my friend you're the inspiration here. That's why I spend the wee hours browsing the net. Always on the lookout for new ideas. The windrow idea for worms was put on hold because of the bin problem. I had to transfer all the euros to my deep raised bed. The one which i dug down into the bed rock (4 ft). It is full of well aged cow manure and straw along with lots of chopped up squash, etc from last falls garden clean up. I cover my raised beds with old window panes from the Restore and added about a foot of alfalfa hay to the top of the bed. Hopefully these euros will survive this harsh winter and maybe next fall I can do the straw bale/leaf/manure windrow project. The list of projects grows longer each year and I have to prioritize. But still I'm always on the look out for sometime fun to try.

I ordered some looseleaf lettuce seed last week and plan to pot some up as soon as it arrives. I have a case of the 2.5 gallon plastic pots I ordered last year for pepper plants, but I have been kicking around the idea of container gardening using a mix of MG potting soil, aged cow manure, and worm media (worms included). I want to try potting up some herbs and some mini-cukes as well. Never seem to get any cukes until the end of the season and I like to include them in salads. Trouble is we run out of lettuce when the cukes and carrots are ready. Got smart last year and ran the carrots though the food processor and bagged them in quart freezer bags. Now we have fresh carrots for salads and lime jello whenever we want them. My two favorite uses for raw fresh carrot.

And in case you missed it in another thread I have been working on growing a sweet potato in a cardboard box. The potato in question has now started a couple of slips and the quart jar it sitting half submerged in is filling up with lots of white roots. And yes, I will be planting with lots of worm media and worms in the potting mix. I am totally convinced that adding red wigglers in containers, raised beds and garden holes for tomotoes, cukes, squash and peppers is a must. I see no need at all to go to the trouble of separating them from the worm media or castings if you prefer.

Got a little break in the weather as well and the snow has melted off the top of may cow manure pile. I will retrieve some later today and start mixing up the potting mix for the above. Think I will plant some onion seed as well. Wasn't it you Dave that came up with the idea of using COSTCO roasted chicken container lids for planting onion seed. Will probably just use straight worm media for germinating the onion seed. I start them in February usually and they are ready to go when soil is warm enough to plant in the garden. I keep the tops cut down to 4-inches and use the cuttings in soups, just like chives. Trying leeks and bunching onions this year as well.

Hurry up spring!


Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Morgan, send me a box of "Reds". We had highs in the 70s and just moved to the 60s. LOL.

Helena, MT

well darn...we just might break freezing today...tired of waiting so I am going to dig out a couple of lettuce crispers and plant some loose leaf lettuce. I got my PVC seed starting stand set up that I made last year and figured I would get busy and plant some old seed just for the heck of it. Tried some basil in butter on some little steemed red potatoes (another DG idea) and was plesantly surprised at the taste. So I have some basil seed to add to my vermiculture potting mixes as well. See what fresh basil in melted butter tastes like on steemed red potatoes.

So Sharon, what do you wlant, a box of red potatoes or red plenty of both?

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

lol.. we are getting in the high 30s..few 40s here and there..
i make a cold frame with straw bales..and cover with big plexiglass..i cant remember where i got..but sure wish i
had a couple more.. :)
im in planting mood too.. just spinach and lettuce right now..
another idea on basil morgan.. i pick the leaves in morning has more oils in the leaves.. add a little water..puree
pour in ice trays..freeze..then pack up and wrap in foil and freeze..
so when ya want to make a sauce with dont have to pay major $$$$$ and im sure tastes alot better...
friend at work has her 2 worm bins all set up.. i got to get her some worms for her to start composting..
shes an avid gardener.. ive told her of the major benifits of castings..
she reads here too..
see morgan.. u and your PVC seed starting stand..lettuce crispers as planters.. U the man!!!!
u have so many cool never think of..
:) always grateful for your and others ideas.. much thanks..

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Morgan, I do not need either. I was giving you a bad time.

Our weather today was 62, sunny and no wind. Gorgeous day. I spent about 2 hours gardening after getting home from doctor appointment. Tomorrow I will put at least 6 hours in because weather is suppose to be the same. It is time to prune back th roses and feed them.

Have a great day tomorrow. Sharon.

Helena, MT

I know Sharon, everybodies rubbing it in. Wife is leaving me again for Texas. This time it's "PayBacks" birthday. The 2-year old that puts Dennis the Mennace to shame.

Reno, NV(Zone 6b)

This thread seems to be long dead, but I would like to start it up again. I have red wiggler worms in the garden any where I mulch. They wander just under the mulch and also a few inches down. I do think it is important to keep the areas mulched and moist. I live in Reno NV and we had had a mild winter so far.

Now a problem with mulch for the red worms is ear wigs. If I found a way to catch them I could just feed them to the chickens. Any good ideas for a ear wig trap? lol

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

dyanbuffa - when I was a child, my mother would poke a stick in the ground. She would stuff a small plant pot with paper and turn it upside down. Then she would stick the paper-stuffed pot on the stick. I don't think she stuffed the pot too tightly.

I can't remember if this was to catch earwigs or ants, but i think it was the former. (I was only eight at the time.) Anyways, you could try this simple trick to see if it works. LOL

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