Earthworms

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Earthworms are good for soil, or so the wisdom goes.

My question here is, are earthworms just a sign of good soil, or can it also work in reverse? Can marginal soil be improved with more earthworms? I don't expect worms to make good soil out of concrete, but if I have okay soil and add worms, will it improve the soil over time?
 

dillbert

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earthworms can 'improve' soil - they tunnel for a living, thus loosening / aerating the soil and of course there's the castings.

you can 'add worms' to help - but not by simply dumping them on unsuitable ground.
in a heavy clay soil you'll need to work vegetative matter into the soil for them to eat - obviously they don't take up residence in places where there is no chow.

they avoid sandy soils that dry out, also places that swamp / stay too wet.
 
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Trouble when you have good healthy soil with tons of worms.........The moles follow. We have so many moles I've often considered a "Bill Murray Caddy Shack" approach. Believe me it has been suggested on more than one occasion by folks else where. :crazy: Because of them, we can't grow anything remotely edible. Shame, the soil is so loaded with organic matter from the years of perennial gardens that it would be a great soil to grow vegetables in. Have the perfect spot all picked out too.

There was a neat thing that happened the other day. Brought back memories of looking for nigh-crawler for fishing. I was (and when I say that I mean We were) cleaning the patio furniture from the winter grime and mildew. Used a light bleach solution. You wouldn't believe the worms that came up in the runoff trail. Coulda opened a stand and sold'em by the pound. We always used a light bleach/water solution to get the worms to surface. :D
 
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there are a few things you can do to inhibit the moles if ya really want a vege garden. trench the perimeter and fence it off underground. or the mole proof wire baskets. they help protect the main root ball from being eaten so while the mole may get some of the root structure it shouldn't harm the plant enough to kill or lessen production. Kept the buggers off my artichoke plant long enough to actually get artichokes, finally. lost three other plants from the bottom up till we used the basket.
 
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We're giving the wire basket thing (actually I am using hardware cloth) a try with the Hostas. Those buggers much down on them, especially the Patriot Variety, like there's no tomorrow. We lost 15 last year and at 12 bucks a piece..........
I've used in in a couple other applications in the garden mainly our garden railroad. It's a hobby of ours and uses a 1/25th scale train (average size) . The buggers tunnel under the track an cause all sorts of issues. I heard they won't tunnel through sharp or coarse rock but that's a myth. They move through it like nothing was there. Or at least our moles do. Caught one late last year, was almost as big as the spade I scooped it out of the ground with.:eek:

For the veg garden....... How about doing a raised bed and use the wire to line the ground between the actual ground or grade and the bed. I think that might work as well? I would just have to pick the material that we build the bed out of more carefully than timbers or rail ties. That is unless I line the indie walls with the wire screen as well.
 
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heh, i live in the foothills of california, i have 6 inches of dirt then river bedrock. Doesn't help i live on a river canyon. yeah the moles still invade albeit they have some shallow tunnels in places. I didn't wire line my wifes raised beds, but they are literally on 2 inches of ground soil with solid bedrock under em. any mole interested would need a ladder (mole sized) and some rope.
 
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Earthworms are a sign that you have a fair amount of organic nutrients within your soil. They are indicitive of good growing conditions because they prefer to live in similar conditions that plants like to grow in. The worms also contribute to 'fixing' nutrients for plants to better utilise. The plants in turn give back organic material that worms continue to break down and the cycle thus continues.
 
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Earthworms are a very good sign of a good, rich and plentiful soil. But if there are too many of them they can deficate and potentialy ruin the base of a good soil compond. So I would say that the best indicator of earthworm ratios in the soil is one worm per 5 inches squared. That is the best ratio of worms you should get
 

dillbert

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uhmmm, you are aware that "worm castings" are a highly valued commodity?

worms are not likely to 'over populate' - no food, starve or go elsewhere.
 
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Sure as heck am glad we don't have moles. Sounds like a major headache. Could think the only option would be container planting (pain that it is). Or the wire cage planting.

I'm always happy to see worms in any garden I'm trying to grow in. They indicate to me that the soil is viable. Worm farm units here are popular, to add their castings to a poor soil to improve it.

Back to the original question - I agree with the answer that if you have marginal soil, enrich it first (cow/chook poo, pea straw etc), let it sit for couple months, then add some worms. If they are already there - your soil is good. Worms are one of the greatest aids for your soil. They'll fertilise it, churn thru it, aerate it, make it much better to work with.
 
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Just to toss in my own 2 cents: It should never be necessary to add worms to your garden. If you create good soil, they will migrate into it. "Good" means lots of organic materials.

Vermiculture, btw, is one of the fastest growing home gardening projects, with many people now maintaining vermiculture bins under their sinks so they have a convenient way of adding their veggie trimmings.
 
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