Quirky
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Raised bed question -- add earthworms?

I've got two 4' x 4' raised beds from last year that have Mel's Mix from SFG in them, and have three new raised beds this year that I just did a mix of mostly compost and some topsoil. One is 3' x 6' and the other two are 4' by 12'.

I didn't do anything to remove the grass underneath the beds before I built and filled them, just got rid of any obvious weeds like dandelions.

So, here's my question -- will earthworms somehow eventually find their way into my raised beds? Or should I add some? I've been tossing any earthworms I find when weeding or working in the rest of the yard into the raised beds, but esp. in the ones with the Mel's Mix (1/3 vermiculite) is this not a good thing because it will harm them somehow? I'd love to have earthworms building and improving the soil in my beds but I don't know if they can/will find their own way in or whether I would need to add them proactively.

cynthia_h
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We started with Mel's SFG method last year. When I dug up (well, actually, pulled out) some plants in the winter, I could see worms in the soil mix.

I had placed this particular bed over clay dirt with a few layers of newspaper vs. the weeds at the bottom. So the earthworms found their way through the clay, through the newspaper, into the raised bed. Happy worms! Happy me! :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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hendi_alex
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Most of my raised beds are not in direct contact with the soil, so I add a handfull of worms every now and again. The worm bed kettle grill continues to provide a steady supply of worms to be harvest every week or two. The worms are now becoming so abundant that they can be seen in most areas of the yard and in all beds and planters.

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applestar
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Both my sheet mulched-over-grass raised beds built last spring and the sheet mulched-over-grass raised beds built this spring are teeming with earthworms. If I pull out a weed, at least one or two squirm out of the ground. If I dig a small hole, one or two earthworm casualties are a given while 4 or 5 worms crawl away. The surface of the beds are pockmarked with worm holes (hopefully into another dimension where the slugs will be transported! :twisted: :lol: ) Does this answer your question?

Actually, to be fair -- since I had earthworms hatching in my homemade seed starting mix earlier this spring, I'd say some of them are coming from my compost that have been added to all the beds... but many of the worms are HUGE! :shock: and most likely have moved in on their own. :D

I really don't think I'll have the nitrogen deficiency I had to deal with last year. The worms are very busy "casting" and spreading the goodness. The difference last year was that I didn't have much home made compost and had to use bagged.

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jal_ut
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If you have worms in your yard, they will find your bed. If you have plenty of organic matter in your soil, the worms will be happy. its not going to hurt to add a few when you have them.

Quirky
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hendi_alex wrote:Most of my raised beds are not in direct contact with the soil, so I add a handfull of worms every now and again. The worm bed kettle grill continues to provide a steady supply of worms to be harvest every week or two. The worms are now becoming so abundant that they can be seen in most areas of the yard and in all beds and planters.
What is your worm bed kettle grill? I'd be very interested in learning more -- are you raising earthworms?

Thanks everyone for your answers! I appear to have plenty of earthworms in the rest of the yard, at least I get one or two every time I dig up a dandelion -- but I haven't seen them in last year's beds when I've worked them.

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hendi_alex
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I originally wrote about my kettle grill converted to worm compost bed in thread call "trash to treasure." The worm bed has continued to work great and has nurtured several thousand worms in the past year or longer. Here is a link to a thread that I called "A new job for an old grill" that has the details of my makeshift worm bed.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11779

Quirky
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very cool! I haven't been able to talk my dh into ducks or chickens; maybe he could get behind worms as backyard pets instead.



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