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Should I buy Red Wigglers to populate my raised bed garden?

 
Posts: 23
Location: Vancouver, BC
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It would be really nice if I had red wigglers running all over my garden. I'm told it can't be done because they're composting worms. Then I thought... wait a minute! They were around long before humans began officially composting in bins.

One person advises that red wigglers won't survive winter here. But, another tells me that their eggs will overwinter and I'll have a new batch of baby worms come spring. So, nature has taken care of that part. Then I'm told that they eat food scraps and not decayed material in the soil, so they will starve to death if not in a compost bin. But another one tells me that's ok too, because they also eat decaying wood particles, compost and manure in my soil, and the decaying woodchip mulch in my pathways.

The soil sucks, because I just bought it and put it into my freshly built raised beds last month. It appears to be a mix of sand, manure, and wood fines. The wood mulch in the pathways is actually playground wood chips (softwood with no bark) because I couldn't get arborist wood chips. In another month, my plants will be big enough that I can start chopping and dropping leaves to mulch the raised beds.

Does a permie have a definitive answer to the question: Should I buy Red Wigglers to populate my raised bed garden?

thank you


 
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Posts: 49
Location: USDA Zone 6b, Coastal New England
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My understanding is that red wigglers only live in "fresh" compost and do not travel into normal soil. My recollection is that red wiggler eggs only hatch in the presence of compost (the eggs can survive a deep freeze though) . Compost doesn't need to be in a bin (i.e. you can add them to a free standing compost pile).

One way to keep them in the garden is to make a submerged worm-tower (a perforated pipe in the ground with top above the soil, removable cap to keep critters out), or a similar submerged compost pit. The perforations allow subsoil life to transport nutrients out of the compost pit. Being submerged may help the worms overwinter better. Perhaps insulate the top of the tower in the winter.

https://www.geofflawtononline.com/2016/03/02/how-to-build-a-worm-tower/

See also: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/subpod-the-ultimate-composting-system#/
 
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i am in New Orleans (Zone 9)
but they stay alive here.
i have a few raised beds, and between the plants i keep cardboard on top
and often wood-chips or dry-grass on top of the cardboard.
under it, i often add food scraps, coffee grounds, dry grass etc...
those worms will eat decomposing leaves and plant material also.
but my food scraps (mostly fruit peels and veggies) + coffee grounds is a lot of food for them.

i see them fairly often, and they are definitely red-wrigs.
i even found one 4ft in the air, inside a decomposing sunflower stalk.
it was 20ft from the beds. they are all over my yard now.
i do a LOT of chop+drop though.
but the cardboard is perfect to keep the moisture in and sun out.
i just have to add another layer 2-3 times per year.

carlson yeung wrote:It would be really nice if I had red wigglers running all over my garden. I'm told it can't be done because they're composting worms. Then I thought... wait a minute! They were around long before humans began officially composting in bins.

One person advises that red wigglers won't survive winter here. But, another tells me that their eggs will overwinter and I'll have a new batch of baby worms come spring. So, nature has taken care of that part. Then I'm told that they eat food scraps and not decayed material in the soil, so they will starve to death if not in a compost bin. But another one tells me that's ok too, because they also eat decaying wood particles, compost and manure in my soil, and the decaying woodchip mulch in my pathways.

The soil sucks, because I just bought it and put it into my freshly built raised beds last month. It appears to be a mix of sand, manure, and wood fines. The wood mulch in the pathways is actually playground wood chips (softwood with no bark) because I couldn't get arborist wood chips. In another month, my plants will be big enough that I can start chopping and dropping leaves to mulch the raised beds.

Does a permie have a definitive answer to the question: Should I buy Red Wigglers to populate my raised bed garden?

thank you


 
Posts: 182
Location: 7b desert southern Idaho
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Worms will find you. Native ones that will survive. Take care of the soil and the worms will multiply your efforts.
 
Posts: 64
Location: Unincorporated East Bay Area, CA
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J Webb wrote:
One way to keep them in the garden is to make a submerged worm-tower (a perforated pipe in the ground with top above the soil, removable cap to keep critters out), or a similar submerged compost pit. The perforations allow subsoil life to transport nutrients out of the compost pit. Being submerged may help the worms overwinter better. Perhaps insulate the top of the tower in the winter.

https://www.geofflawtononline.com/2016/03/02/how-to-build-a-worm-tower/

See also: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/subpod-the-ultimate-composting-system#/



Interesting. I built an African style keyhole bed with a wire/reed fencing "basket" in the middle for scraps. When I move the straw I see lots of worms and have wondered if I should buy some red wigglers to throw in there. Perhaps I should just be happy with the worms that showed up? They are small and red, not the giant earthworms. I wonder what breed they are?
 
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We got tired of our red wriggler worm farm and retired them to the garden (zone . It’s been about three years and we haven’t seen any in a while. The garden is now full of regular earth worms and everything else that composts plant material. Just keep feeding the soil, worms are just a pice of the puzzle. If you have bugs eating your plants, don’t kill them, feed them more. We had major problems with cutworms, slugs and everything else eating our seedlings. We found out all you have to do is feed them and they will be happy. Never leave a seedling out in bare dirt, it’ll be done the next day.

Big tip: Watch the wasps. The day I saw them eat a horn worm was the last day I killed them.
 
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