noqgardener
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worms

where can I get some? (prefer local but will consider ordering online) I am thinking of starting a compost pile this year.

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hendi_alex
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You can get red wigglers from most any bait and tackle shop. There are numerous one line sources, which would be cheaper if you plan on starting out with one or two thousand, which is what I'd reccomend. Here are a couple of sites that look promissing.

[url]https://www.wheatgrasskits.com/worms.htm[/url]

[url]https://www.wholesaleworms.com/?gclid=CMyT2dqaxpgCFQxKGgodWTf_1A[/url]
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

TZ -OH6
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Why do feel you need worms for a compost pile?

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hendi_alex
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Worm castings are one of the richest soil additives in existence. A person can run a relatively passive and somewhat cool compost pile as a worm bed and the worms will do all of the work for you. As the population grows, many worms will migrate from the pile into the yard, they will be moved into various beds as the organic matter is used. The worm continue their work in those locations by aerating the soil as well as converting the organic matter to worm castings/humus. IMO a passively managed compost pile, decomposed by earthworms, it a far superior arrangement to the constantly turned, hot compost pile.

I've had to alter my worm bed compost arrangement because of the pesky fire ants. They keep the worm population so low that they can't effectively break down the organic materials fast enough. The first several years that I used the worm composting method, it was wonderfully easy and effective. If I can figure out a good way to keep the ants out of the pile, I'll definitely return to that method.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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The problem with worm logic is the misconception that if worm castings are good then they must be better than the alternative (compost). If you are composting to get rid of organic waste worms are great, especially if you have a use for the worms, but if you are composting to produce maximal organic ammendment for your soil they act against the purpose.

Compost is perfectly good soil ammendment without being turned into worm castings. With worm-filled compost you are trading off the greater part of the organic soil ammendment end product for organic worm flesh. Plus, even if you did grind up the worms to fertilize your garden soil there is a large loss of energy/organicc matter in the process. It's the basic biology energy-trophic pyramid of energy loss (organic matter = carbon compounds, carbon compounds = chemical energy). You get more carbon/energy by eating the grain than you do by eating the flesh of the cows that you fed the grain to, and in the case of worms you are not even using the worms. The microbial breakdown process of compost gives about a 40% yield of stable organic matter for soil ammendment, i.e 60% of the matter is respired away by the microbial growth process. Add worms to that and they are eating that 40%, turning it into more/bigger worms. Worms, like all animals, have a high protein content, proteins are the single most nitrogen rich biological molecules making up a body, so those worms are robbing the compost of nitrogen, not adding to it.


Those sponge like larger bits of decaying plant matter in your compost hold moisture in sandy soil and separate particles of clay, and thus aerate the soil when mixed in. So it does not need to be turned into fine grained worm poop to benefit your soil.

Worm-free compost, once incorporated into your garden, will feed the populations of your native soil worm species (not red wiggler compost worms). The soil worms will then benefit your garden by burrowing and mixing the soil, which is especially good if you are using no-till methods.

Are worm castings good soil ammendment? Sure, if someone offers you a truck load take it, but if someone offered me 2X as much finished compost from the same amount of raw material I would choose that instead.

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hendi_alex
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Gardening IMO is a lot like investing. The methods and the comfort zone are unique to the individual. And what works for someone in one situation may not work for another person or situation. I would have to agee with everything in your post, in theory. In practice my yard is like a sand desert, and had a near zero earthworm population when our home was built. Now most every enriched area in the yard has a good amount of earthworm activity. Even the very poor dry areas, show evidence of earthworms at work, munching on those leaves and grass clippings that never make it to the compost pile. So I would have to say that the injection of earthworms in my almost pure sand yard, is more important than maximizing the few hundred cubic feet of compost and partially composted material that I can gather, process, and spread. The thousands, perhaps millions of worms that I now have working for me, are working on ALL of the material that doesn't get gathered, plus they are aerating the soil at the same time. The breaking down of that natural accumulation far exceeds the relatively small amount of my involement. As a result, I would have to think that the benefit of the additional earthworms to the yard, has to more that offset any modest amount of humus that gets devoted to them from their inclusion in the compost pile and worm bed.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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CharlieK
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Hendi-Alex, try sprinkling your pile with ground cinnamon. It really worked to keep the ants out of my pile and I live in the fire-ant capital of the world. One valuable tip I learned on this forum! :?
I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. Addison

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cherlynn
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hendi-a
I, too, appreciate the hard working earthworms.
I started a lasagna garden last year and they arrived to help...then they moved on to the newly turned soil in a nearby garden plot...which didn't have a worm in it! They have done a great job aerating the soil! They are my gardening friends! I can't wait to see them again this year!
Oh, yes...they love the compost pile, too!


CharlieK...I don't think we have fire-ants in Connecticut, but we had a pesky ant that made me itch...possibly from little bites... whenever I went near my black-eyed-susans. I really don't mind ants, but these were after me! I had tried cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and even corn grits. I finally got rid of them before they "got rid of me"! I was never quite sure what worked! If I get them again I'll be using the cinnamon first!
cherlynn

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rainbowgardener
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worms

I do the noted "passive, somewhat cool composting" without turning. My bin sits on bare ground, so the earthworms come to it and do the work of breaking down all my kitchen scraps. So I'm not doing it for worm castings. But then my compost is full of earthworms and when I use it to plant things in, it puts earthworms into my raised beds and flower beds as well. Since what we have here in Ohio is very heavy, dense, solid clay (yellow clay suitable for pottery, but not so much for growing things), the earthworms are very helpful in aerating and breaking down the clay and helping turn it in to dirt.



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