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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 6 months ago
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.
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.