• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Carla Burke
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • Leigh Tate
  • thomas rubino

How to get native worms for my garden.

 
pollinator
Posts: 130
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
dog forest garden fish fungi trees hunting books food preservation building wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi friends,

So, I created a garden by adding organic matter to dead dirt in "the diggins" by my house. Therefore, no worms are in it, although the soil seems to be pretty good! Is there a way to collect worms from another area on my property and relocate them? Also, is there a way to know what kinda worms are local to my area? Also, I put an ad for worms on craigslist but I'm not holding my breath.

Diggins is what you call the land after hydraulic mining, by the way.
 
Posts: 70
Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
27
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you have a moist area somewhere that isn't dead (i.e. has worms in it) they will probably go there and then you'll be able to collect them for your garden.  We get lots of them under the bunny hutches where there's lots of bunny manure, especially after washing down and it's more moist than usual.  I've always been amazed at how much wetness the worms really seem to like.  I'd have thought it was too soggy for them in several areas, yet those would be the areas which had the most worms.  Perhaps if you tried making a moist haven for them somewhere in the yard where there's likely to be worms you'll have a collection site.
 
Posts: 61
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll second Niele's comment, use poop piles. I had staged a small pile of cow manure (5 gal bucket worth) in an area that I thought had no worms and was amazed to see how many lunkers congregated under the pile in just a few days - it was like ringing the dinner bell.  I'd also recommend maintaining lots of manure in and around your garden to keep them interested in the area upon relocation.

 
master steward
Posts: 4067
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1225
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What we have done previously is to buy fishing worms at the sporting goods store.

I don't know if you can get them to stay unless you give them good things to eat.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2134
Location: 4b
512
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anywhere I want lots of worms, I put down a layer of coffee grounds, then a layer of wood chips, and wait.  It doesn't take long.
 
gardener
Posts: 986
Location: Western Washington
256
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think that they'll show up in your garden soon enough if fed with mulch and such. I would just pile some coffee grounds or manure in the garden and go from there. Or just wait
 
Dan Fish
pollinator
Posts: 130
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
dog forest garden fish fungi trees hunting books food preservation building wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
OK great, thanks. I know worms would like my garden, I just wasn't sure they would ever reach it. At best it's 25 feet of hardpan with almost zero moisture that they would have to navigate. I will make a "worm trap" in the woods and enlist some volunteers!

Also, Niele, I am with you in amazement at how wet worms like to be. I kept my worm bin "like a wet sponge" for a long time with underwhelming results. Now I practically flood it and worm population is up!

As always, you guys are great!
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2017
Location: mountains of Tennessee
797
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All the above. Burying kitchen waste will probably help too. I suggest looking under nearby leaf piles for native worms.
 
pollinator
Posts: 807
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It may be worth considering the opinion of some that there are no native earth worms in north america. I'm not certain of that claim but it wouldn't surprise me if there were no earth worms native to the Sierra foothills. You may need to import.

If you can get locally ish made worm castings they will likely have eggs in them. Or you can surely find some worms in a park or a friends garden to import
 
pollinator
Posts: 108
Location: Indiana
14
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lots of good advice.  

From "Field of Dreams" - if you build it, they will come.  Build up the organic material and the decomposers - worms included - will show up.
 
Dan Fish
pollinator
Posts: 130
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
dog forest garden fish fungi trees hunting books food preservation building wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's the answer I was hoping for but too afraid to hope for, know what I'm saying? Hahaha.

That's a very good point also about no native worms in NA. I forgot about that. Super weird.

 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 4067
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1225
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is some information for earthworms in Northern Nevada.  They recommend Nightcrawlers (Lumbricina terrestris) and Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida):

The information comes from this book:

"The Worm Book” by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor.

https://www.tmparksfoundation.org/arthropods
 
master pollinator
Posts: 3059
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
1135
forest garden foraging books food preservation cooking fiber arts bee medical herbs
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can attest that hey will come as your soil improves. But to speed the process, you may need to learn how to call them...



Maybe you could travel to a forested area and import the resutls to your garden. I saw one youtube that the guy just tapped two sticks together with success.
 
gardener
Posts: 534
Location: N. California
190
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have read you can't just put worms in raised beds, they had lots of interesting facts.  I don't think my worms read that article, because I always toss worms I come across in my yard into my veggie garden and now I always see them when I am planting.  I do chop and drop, and add compost to keep them happy, along with improve the soil.
I totally agree with you about how wet a worm bin should be.  I did lots of research before I started my worm bin. The one thing they all said was it should be like a damp sponge.  My bin was fine. I thought I was doing everything right. I took out 50 worms for a friend. Put them in a small shallow bucket. No air holes, no drain holes in the bottom, a box over the top.  Instead of them being in there a couple days it was a couple months. The top was a bit dry, the bottom quite wet.  Most of the worms were in the wet bottom, and there were tons, and lots of eggs. I realized I have not kept my bin damp enough.  Live and learn I guess.  
Wood chips seem to be what worms love to live under.  I have an area covered with wood chips for about 8 months, and when I moved some aside it was damp and there were lots of worms.  If I dig in non covered soil it is hard, dry, and the worms are very few.  If you don't have wood chips you can wet cardboard, and lay that down, worms seem to like that too.  Good luck to you.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
99
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Night crawlers really like wet cardboard.

I only brought in a handful. It seemed like they multiplied very fast.
 
steward
Posts: 5417
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2047
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Earthworms can't live in permafrost, therefore they got frozen to death during the last ice age. Trees also don't live under glaciers, so during the last ice-age there were also no native forests in the northern parts of North America. The ice reached about to the Ohio and Missouri Rivers in the East. After the ice receded, the forbs and trees moved north faster than the earthworms. Doesn't mean that the earthworms are necessarily non-native, they are just gradually reclaiming their prehistoric range and symbiotic relationships with the forbs and trees.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains didn't get the kilometer thick ice sheets that smothered Canada and the eastern usa. They got some glaciers in some valleys. The non-glaciated areas continued to have fully functioning ecosystems. Therefore, I expect that lots of species of worms continued to live in the Sierra Nevadas right through previous cold spells.

My favorite way to collect local worms is to go for a walk in early morning after spring rain storms. Worms will be all over the sidewalks. Another way to capture them is to go outside, after dark, during rainy weather, with a flashlight, and pick them up off the ground.

 
pollinator
Posts: 322
Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
68
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The first warm rainfall in early Spring usually brings them out in droves here in SE PA.  This is how they move about quickly to find new habitats.  Like Joseph, I collect them from the sides of lightly traveled roads (where they get trapped by curbing and rarely survive long - KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR APPROACHING VEHICLES) and transfer to my gardens.  They are invasives but I am not moving them any distance so they are already here.

https://www.uvm.edu/~entlab/Forest%20IPM/Worms/InvasiveWorms.html
 
It's hard to fight evil. The little things, like a nice sandwich, really helps. Right tiny ad?
5 Ways to Transform Your Garden into a Low Water Garden
https://permies.com/t/97045/Reduce-garden-watering
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic