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Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

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Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  llama momma on 12/22/2011, 5:39 am

Thought I read every worm post that was posted.
Not sure if my thinking is correct here --- Did I miss something?

I have native worms either originating from below the boxes once covered in cardboard, or above from added homemade compost. I am thinking of adding worm tubes at opposite ends of the boxes in very early spring and let nature figure out what kind of worms want to live in the boxes. Have them travel between tubes for food and deposit their casts. Not so sure I am sold on buying worms when I got native ones already making a home here. If they migrate below Mel's Mix during winter thats fine I am finished w/gardening anyway. Any thoughts?


Last edited by llama momma on 12/22/2011, 5:52 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification)

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  janezee on 12/22/2011, 6:06 am

I'm with you. That's exactly what I'm planning, too. I always run into worms in my garden, and I want to keep them happy and present.

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  Unmutual on 12/22/2011, 6:07 am

The regular earthworm, as far as I know, doesn't really like to live in garbage. While they do have to eat, a moist, garbage-full environment isn't what they like. The worm you're looking to get to turn your kitchen scraps, newspaper and cardboard into worm castings are red wigglers(Eisenia fetida).

Here is something about vermicomposting from New Mexico's Extension office. It explains the different kinds of worms you can use in vermicomposting.

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  janezee on 12/22/2011, 6:36 am

Beuna is a member here that wrote directions for a 'worm cafe' at instructable.com, (and won a first prize for it). This is a comment from someone who tried it:

"I use nightcrawlers from the sporting goods store. Having them, Is like having your own herd of pigs, That devour everything in site. I put everything from dead waste, To still living weeds in there, That have gone to seed, And they leave nothing behind. I built two of these composters, And placed them in pure sand, Now after One summer of operation, I have sand with a small layer of black dirt on top of it, About 1/4 in thick, And my grass has turned from brown, To a dark green color. Yes I put them in the yard too. My gardening area was a mish mash of grey looking sandy soil, But now the area with the composter has a complete layer of black dirt on it, And the soil under that is about one third black now, with a lot of grey still in it. The big question is, Will it create a hotspot of nurtients? The answer is... yes it will. But the hotspot is huge, In my garden I can clearly define the area of travel that my worms use, And its a circle of 25 feet in diameter. Around the edges, The black dirt is thin enough that i cant measure it. But in the center, next to the composter, Its as deep as six inches or more, but only because thats how deep i planted the composter. So will it work?....Absolutely! This is the best use of a composter that I have ever seen, Not only did it cure my garden and lawn problems, But I can move them after a month or two to a new location, And the hole it leaves behind, Is already full of high grade compost, So the lawn actually repaired itself in just a couple weeks. Once again, This is a great idea, Good job."

Convinced me.

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  janezee on 12/22/2011, 6:51 am

And this, from the Montana Handbook of Integrated Pest Management:
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" can certainly be descriptive of earthworms (nightcrawlers); they are both beneficial and pests. First the good news. Earthworms are excellent aerators of the soil, creating up to 1,200 tunnels per square yard of soil, to depths of six feet or more. The tunnels, which are 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter, also serve as channels for plant roots and microorganisms, resulting in deeper-rooted plants and distribution throughout the soil profile of the beneficial oxygen-using microorganisms that are crucial to building good soil. Earthworms also mine minerals from the subsoil, carrying them upward into the topsoil in a natural tilling operation.

Earthworms also break down thatch and the other the raw materials of organic matter, and spread it evenly throughout the top 12 inches of soil, further improving the soil. Millions of beneficial bacteria that break down thatch are produced in the gut of earthworms. These bacteria, along with a superior fertilizer produced by earthworms, are put into the soil with earthworm "castings". This top quality fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and many micronutrients in a form all plants can use. Earthworm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, 11 times more potassium, and 1,000 times more beneficial bacteria than the material contained before the earthworm ingested it. In a 10 x 20 foot garden with only five earthworms per cubic foot of soil, over 35 pounds of this superior fertilizer is produced by the earthworms. In healthy soil with nightcrawler populations of 25 per cubic foot of soil, more than 170 pounds of the highest grade fertilizer will be produced in a year in a 10 x 20 foot garden. This is more than 18.5 tons per acre per year. Gardening supply companies sell earthworm castings as fertilizer for about $12-$25 per pound. Earthworms can also help change alkaline or acid soil toward a desirable neutral pH over time."

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  llama momma on 12/22/2011, 7:43 am

[quote="janezee"]And this, from the Montana Handbook of Integrated Pest Management:
..."Earthworm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, 11 times more potassium, and 1,000 times more beneficial bacteria than the material contained before the earthworm ingested it. In a 10 x 20 foot garden with only five earthworms per cubic foot of soil, over 35 pounds of this superior fertilizer is produced by the earthworms...."

Fabulous input everyone, thank you. If I use the above numbers then when I've observed 1 to 3 worms per square, things must be going pretty well for my little natives. I am definately adding worm tubes to make sure the darlings stay happy and don't need to wander off too far.

BTW I love all the worm topics! I enjoy reading and learning about them but I don't want to spend much time doing it Smile

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  RoOsTeR on 12/22/2011, 7:48 am

"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" can certainly be descriptive of earthworms (nightcrawlers); they are both beneficial and pests. First the good news.

Now where is the bad news Razz
Some good stuff here. I'm always up for some good worm readin!

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 12/22/2011, 7:59 am

If you really want the bad news on worms....Many are not native. They devour the forest floor and have destroyed habitats that did not evolve with worms. They are threatening several bird and tree species to the point of endangerment. If you are really interested I can look up what these references are.

Patty in Yorktown (who reads too much)

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  llama momma on 12/22/2011, 8:00 am

Maybe the bad and the ugly refers to finding half a worm in apples rofl

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  llama momma on 12/22/2011, 8:02 am

Yes Patty please do I would love to read about them. My other post was for Rooster, certainly not poking fun at yours.


Last edited by llama momma on 12/22/2011, 8:03 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  RoOsTeR on 12/22/2011, 8:02 am

@llama momma wrote:Maybe the bad and the ugly refers to finding half a worm in apples rofl

DOH! I give up! darn funny

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 12/22/2011, 2:09 pm

Hi,
No offense was taken. The book The Earth Moved, On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart is very interesting and where this information came from. Minnesota, Michigan and New York are some of the states having problems. Most of the areas are places where glaciers were. (pg 99-109) The plants most threatened are understory plants and ferns. I thought Amy Stewart listed some of the endangered plants, but she does not. Must have read it somewhere else. Happy Reading

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Re: Purchased worms vs. Native wigglers

Post  llama momma on 12/22/2011, 2:35 pm

Great, I will check it out at the library.

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