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Should I add worms to my SFG?

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Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  rebecca.sedlacek on 2/11/2013, 12:14 pm

Hello, this will be my first year as a SFG, but my second year vegetable gardening. I was wondering if I should add worms to my SFG. I have cement blocks under my boxes to prevent moles and voles from coming through. I'm thinking this will hinder worm activity, so let me know if you think this is a good idea. Thanks!
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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Kelejan on 2/11/2013, 1:20 pm

You could try worm-towers, rebecca. Google worm-towers in the search box on the left of this page, and you will find all the info you need. We will be here to clarify any questions.

I am going to do this this coming season. Very Happy

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/11/2013, 1:21 pm

I haven't seen any worms in my beds, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. There are lots of worms in my compost so I get the benefits when I add the compost to the beds through out the year.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Lindacol on 2/11/2013, 2:27 pm

I finally have worms in my beds. I have done nothing special except adding a very few worms to each bed(I mean only 2 or 3 worms). I was so excited to find them when I pulled my old pepper plants just a couple of weeks ago. This is in a table top bed and I found several in each root ball that I carefully shook out.

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worms in sfg

Post  pryz123 on 2/11/2013, 6:45 pm

Hi,

worms eat decaying organic matter, so as long as you have something for them to eat and keep them moist, i think they would be happy in your bed. Smile

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  landarch on 2/12/2013, 5:27 pm

I added about a dozen earthworms to each square in my boxes last year...made a game of it with my 2-year old daughter. If your soil temps climb above what the worms like, make sure they can still migrate down to cooler/ wetter soil beneath your boxes.

By the way, since then, my daughter has realized that worms are slimy and she won't have anything to do with them whatsoever this year.

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Mels tip to Me on worms in SFG

Post  victoria on 2/12/2013, 7:22 pm

I got all excited about worms - only to have Mel remind me that Mel's Mix, when done right has no dirt and already great compost from 5 different sources. So what are those poor worms gonna do or eat ? Then he asked me if I had weed cloth underneath the Mel's Mix - which I do - so they worms can't dig down or go anywhere really. So not only are they hungry they are in prison basically - the best place for your worms is in the compost piles to help out there. Worm castings and worm teas are GREAT though. Worms - you dont need them in the SFG. - V

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  llama momma on 2/12/2013, 8:10 pm

Oh my goodness Dear Mel, my hero, please don't discourage the use of worms in our beds.

I am sure Mel knows that compost continues to break down for up to 2 years or so. Worms will continue to work over the compost, add humic acid and other properties that studies indicate helps plants become more vigorous and able to fend off disease and pests. Even if worms die they will become another source of nitrogen, but very little as they are mostly made up of fluid.

Dr. Clive Edwards, world reknown researcher out of Ohio State University, has 140 academic papers to his name and has been quoted to refer to worm castings -- Amazingly from a researcher, his words were, "almost magic" when it comes to worms and plants. Oh Mel, Please look up this man's work.

I am soo guilty about making a big deal over this but I truly believe the lowly worm should not be underestimated, but rather encouraged to be a part of our fantastic square foot gardens. Fresh castings along with compost is a win/win situation for our gardens. Many times we can learn from each other, so I hope Mel will revisit this topic. Thank you, Llama Momma/Gina W


Last edited by llama momma on 2/12/2013, 8:39 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  camprn on 2/12/2013, 8:13 pm

When I find earthworms near the garden, into the garden they go. If they are closer to the compost pile, into the compost pile they go.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  landarch on 2/12/2013, 8:17 pm

I used worms in my SFG because I was limited to store-purchased, lower quality compost my first year. I'm pretty sure they headed down deep with the high summer temps (114 degrees) and no rain. I have been adding coffee grounds since fall so I'll probably find them up in the Mels Mix when the weather warms a bit in the spring.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Kelejan on 2/12/2013, 9:03 pm

@llama momma wrote:
. . .
I am soo guilty about making a big deal over this but I truly believe the lowly worm should not be underestimated, but rather encouraged to be a part of our fantastic square foot gardens. Fresh castings along with compost is a win/win situation for our gardens. Many times we can learn from each other, so I hope Mel will revisit this topic. Thank you, Llama Momma/Gina W

I think that over the years we are coming to realise what a treasure compost worms are, whether in a compost pile or in our SFGs.
So long as we remember that the compost worms in our beds do need feeding, I see no harm, and indeed a lot of good by having them directly in our squares via worm towers.

In addition, I feel worms in the beds via worm towers are ideal for people with little space to build compost piles.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Triciasgarden on 2/12/2013, 9:23 pm

I agree if MM is made correctly, we don't need worms. On the other hand though they do add some nice nutrients and lightness to our beds. I think having the worm tubes is a great idea so we have a place to put the food for them and also to remind us we need to feed them.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  JustMe on 2/18/2013, 11:24 pm

Last year I added 2 worm tubes per Josh's instructions (on the main forum page, hover over the tabs on the left and you'll find it) into 1 of my 2 4x8 boxes. That box did so much better than the box that did not have the worm tube. The non-worm box was a first year SFG - it had been a traditional raised bed previously. Plants in the non-worm box did not do as well as the box with the worms. This spring, I will move a tube, so each 4x8 box has a tube.


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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Coelli on 2/19/2013, 1:15 pm

On the flip side of the worm towers, almost all of my worms died in the towers because of the summer heat (SoCal) even though I have 12" high beds. I dug the towers up, rescued a few worms, and moved them into a bin. That was last April and they did SO much better in the bin (inside the house) that I harvested about 3 gallons of castings a few months ago and have had to start a second bin because are so many worms now.

I know the worms didn't move out into the beds because they were never seen again, even when digging up the soil. We just broke down the beds and rebuilt them and while I did find a few dozen worms they were native earthworms and not red wigglers. If adding anything, I'd say add regular earthworms, not red wigglers. Your native worms will be much better adapted to your local climate as well.


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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/26/2013, 5:55 pm

I like what this lady advises.
Attracting Worms

The red wrigglers probably will not survive so it is a waste of money. The earth worms will come naturally and free of charge if you add compost.

My first year of SFG I saw a lot more earth worms in my beds. I wasn't exactly clear on the ingredients of Mel's Mix and my only compost was two different brands of composted cow manure. I don't know if it was the manure resulted in me having more earth worms or if they are still there but have their deep burrows established so I just see them less. Hopefully there are lots of them in my beds doing what they do while I am not looking. I did see one earlier this month when sifting one of my beds to remove all of the cat turds.

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Lots of worms

Post  Hardcoir on 3/27/2013, 12:33 pm

We do not put down a weed cloth. Instead, we start with a layer of black and white newspaper covered with a layer of moist leaves. As the paper and leaves compost, the worms come forth from the ground into the top 7 inches of mix. When we harvest all the stuff at the end of the year, and we stir the mix with new compost for the fall/winter greens, we see worms in every square foot.

Yes, we have to pick a weed or two, but it is never more than 5-10 minutes of work one day a week. There was also the year where we ended up with dandelion greens from volunteer seed, and they were a delicious and nutritious add-on to our late winter/early spring harvest. Throw in all the wild garlic, and we had a nice free harvest.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/30/2013, 11:45 pm

I was digging up my first bed for this year and I found more than 20 earth worms! I sure didn't have that many last year. When I first made my beds about three years ago I put 2-3 worms in each bed. The beds are made to be 12" deep but because of settling they are about 9" deep. My frames are 8" high and I had dug an additional 4" down when making them. I put down weed cloth but after adding the worms, I used a sharp shovel and stabbed some holes in the weed cloth in case my worms didn't want to be in the beds if the ground froze. As I was finding the worms, my thoughts were that I had to get on this forum to let you guys know, lol!

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  landarch on 4/1/2013, 10:33 pm

My compost piles went a bit cold over winter, but I found earth worms up in the piles near the top surface. Since then, I've added a wheel barrow full of coffee grounds, chicken poo, and rabbit poo, and the temps have come back up which will probalby push the worms back down again.

I'll either throw worms I find into the SFG boxes...or toss to a Robin for a free lunch.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  southern gardener on 10/27/2013, 2:57 pm

@llama momma wrote:Oh my goodness Dear Mel, my hero, please don't discourage the use of worms in our beds.  

I am sure Mel knows that compost continues to break down for up to 2 years or so.  Worms will continue to work over the compost, add humic acid and other properties that studies indicate helps plants become more vigorous and able to fend off disease and pests.  Even if worms die they will  become another source of nitrogen, but very little as they are mostly made up of fluid.  

Dr. Clive Edwards, world reknown researcher out of Ohio State University, has 140 academic papers to his name and has been quoted to refer to worm castings -- Amazingly from a researcher,  his words were, "almost magic" when it comes to worms and plants.         Oh Mel, Please look up this man's work.  

I am soo guilty about making a big deal over this but I truly believe the lowly worm should not be underestimated, but rather encouraged to be a part of our fantastic square foot gardens. Fresh castings along with compost is a win/win situation for our gardens.  Many times we can learn from each other, so I hope Mel will revisit this topic. Thank you, Llama Momma/Gina W  
I agree about worms in the garden! the more the better. We have topped off our SFG beds with about 6" of wood chips/leaves. We also took the bottoms off of our beds and now the beds are full of worms! What's interesting is, the worms are in the chips and not in the MM. I've checked each bed (we have 13) and it's the same thing. Worms in the chips, and none in the MM. Not sure why, but all I can say is, they LOVE chips and will find their way to them!!

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/27/2013, 7:23 pm

I also have red wrigglers in my table tops (3, 4x4s) and in an 5x10 raised bed. I bought a pound of them in the spring and assembled on worm tube per table top and 2 for the large bed. The raised bed has gopher wire, but no weed cloth and is 12" deep at least with additional 4" of wood chips on top.

When replanting for fall I found many worms in every shovel full of MM and in the wood chips. They survived 107 degree temps during our summer and most of our days are over 100 for 2-3 months straight. The thick layer of wood chips and twice a day watering with drip irrigation keeps the soil moist and cool. I feed them with worm tubes every couple of weeks and have harvested about 6-8 inches of castings in the tubes every couple of months.

In addition, I have added 2-3 worms to each of my 2 foot long window box size planters that I use for starting my seedlings. Thus far, nothing but good experiences with my sweet little guys Wink 

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/27/2013, 10:10 pm

Are they multiplying in your window boxes? I have been wondering what's the minimum to get them breeding.

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  sanderson on 10/27/2013, 10:17 pm

2

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/27/2013, 10:19 pm

But what if their first date goes badly?

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  sanderson on 10/27/2013, 11:30 pm

Good point. Maybe 3 or 4!

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/28/2013, 12:42 am

LOL! Just added them, we'll have to watch Shocked Very Happy 

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Re: Should I add worms to my SFG?

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