Usually, worms are scarce in wooded areas compared to more open grassy areas.
Forest soils are built primarily with fungi, whereas grassland soils are built by bacteria.
Worms seem to prefer a bacterial environment over a fungal environment.
If so, you may need to introduce them to get them started.
Good compost (not forest duff) is a good way to build a habitat for them.
fiona smith wrote: not so sure if they [red wrigglers] are comfortable in a garden as yet, i am just about to find out!
I've found they will stick around as long as there's a large amount of uncomposted organic matter for them to work on.
As soon as it's decomposed, they disappear at my place.
I haven't the faintest idea what happens to them; do they die or head off to a tastier environment?
Thom Foote wrote:For the past 2 years I have been keeping red wigglers in order to generate castings. I have found that the competition for resources that can be their food is too intense for the amount of material returned. So, I recently took the worms and put them into my compost bins and shut down my vermiculture operation. I took another batch and put them into the 1/2 acre of leaf mulched planting area I will plant next year. My compost is a hot pile and they migrate to the outer, cooler edges as needed. When I use the compost in the garden, they go with it and keep reproducing. I get much more bang for buck by having them in the compost bins.
Thom that is fascinating! I have been wondering if a compost ring, kept in one place all the time, wouldn't attract a healthy population of red wigglers underneath it? Guess I ought to go out and fork around a bit, eh?
I have read the above posts, and i have been vermicomposting because i found truckloads of red wigglers and brought them home. thing is i have been lucky, i have pretty good soil here, full of worms. but even so, i have at the moment been mulching like mad, before i am planting anything i want the soil to be alive and ready to the point of the obsession! haha..
anyhow, how long can red wiggler eggs survive?
fifi, worm obsessed.
This slow replacement of native soil critters, ranks right up there with the demise of bison and the American Chestnut in changes brought on by European settlers.
I know there is debate as to whether earthworms are good or bad, but they seem to be definitely beneficial to my gardens.
I don't know if it's true they are less common in forest and also that they remove duff. On the land that I'm part of in the northeast US, the only part of our land that is absolutely teeming with earthworms is the area under a large patch of trees. There is very thick duff there, from last year's recognizable leaves on down to lovely leaf mold. Compared to the garden soil that we add an inch or two of compost to every year, the forested area is simply teeming with earthworms. When I weed the voracious vines out from under the trees, zillions of earthworms are disturbed by the pulling and are also seen busily going here and there in the leaves in large numbers.
The boreal forests of Canada and Russia contain a carbon store in peat soils and muskeg that is approximately double that of the stored carbon in all of the world's rainforests combined. If global warming were to advance to the point where these areas become suitable for farming and earthworms, those worms would accelerate the gassing off of those soils. This has already been observed and is one of the factors responsible for rapid soil losses when drained wetlands are used as market gardens.
I can't find the thread, but I once calculated the soil loss due to gassing off that has occurred in the state of Iowa since it was first plowed and compared the carbon released to all of the carbon released in 100 years of burning petroleum. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say --- it was a lot.
Here in British Columbia, we have had a major die off of pine trees due to a pest. For the next 20 years or so, our exposed soils will contribute more carbon to the atmosphere than the state of California currently does.
But I digress. We're supposed to be figuring out how to get more earthworms.