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composting worms in my orchard

 
Kathy Kelly
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I have been using composting worms for a long time. For the last couple of years I have just put the composting worms right in my garden, applying a lot of mulch around my plants and have had no problems with the worms bothering my plants.  I want to do this on a larger scale.  We just purchased an avocado grove and are transitioning to organic.  I want to put down a good layer of wood chips around each tree and add some composting worms also to help compost the wood chips faster.  I will also continue to add organic mulch around the trees to continue the process.  So my question is: do composting worms stick to composting dead material or will they also chew on the live roots and cause damage?
 
James Freyr
Posts: 85
Location: Middle Tennessee
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I would like to make it clear that I am not a helminthologist, but I don't believe your composting worms will damage any living roots. The only worms I am aware of damaging roots are certain nematodes. Earthworms and the likes feed mainly on decaying plant matter, so yes they will stick to composting dead material.
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 68
Location: Indiana
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I had to look up "helminthologist" to make sure I wasn't one -- I'm not.
Sounds like a good plan to me. 
Based only on my reading, I might add comfrey and/or mushrooms to the mix.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Nice solid plan Kathy. The composting worm (red wiggler in fisherman's terms) likes to eat everything we consider compostable but it doesn't eat "living organic matter".
Since you plan on laying down a layer of wood chip mulch, you still have the option of covering some kitchen wastes for extra food for those worms.
Keep in mind that the compost worm like the top 12 inches of soil and generally doesn't go deep like an earthworm.
However, feeding those compost worms will tend to call earthworms to the area as well, then you will have a nice symbiotic set up between the deep diving worms and the shallow worms.
 
Jason Bijl
Posts: 17
Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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Feeding them might be a good idea, otherwise they will likely disperse once the area's food supply is exhausted.

Would a mowing down a cover crop be enough to sustain their eating habits?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2103
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
163
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Jason,

Most likely, as long as the materials were provided frequently enough.

Redhawk
 
Jason Bijl
Posts: 17
Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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This has a wealth of information.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 34
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I'm looking into composting worms, but it looks like most of the worms are non-native. I'm not trying to pick on the OP here, I just have this question and it seems like a recent and relevant thread for the question.

It does not seem environmentally wise to introduce non-native species of worms to the environment. It's such a bad problem here in New England that I can't even google to find out which worms ARE native. All i get is page after page of articles about the invasive worm problem.

The OP here may be using native worms, but I have been looking at worm suppliers, and the invasive worm problems don't seem to be a concern to them at all.

Is anyone else concerned about this? I do bird rehab, and I know we cannot release an English sparrow or a Starling back into the wild, even though they very established in this area. I don't know why it would be different with other species of animal.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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