Earthworms in bottomless 15 gal pots okay?

Ash7681November 15, 2013

I plan to cut the bottom of 15 gallon pots and bury them in the ground. These pots are more taller than wider (the typical black plastic planters you find in nurseries).

My concern is around the earthworms that will get into the nutrient rich pot soil. I read that earthworms have a wide range of movement and if bound, they tend to go for the live roots of the potted plants.

Is there a chance that the earthworms might get bound after climbing into the potting soil from below? Is there truth in the bad effect of bound earthworms that I mentioned above?

Please let me know. I plan to bury 8 pots and would really appreciate if I knew this exercise was a bad idea. Do I need to worry about earthworms getting inside these 15 gallon bottomless pots?

Thanks.

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Earthworms are wonderful. If you have healthy soil or potting mix, they will thrive. If you have poor soil, they die off. I have more than a hundred containers sitting on bare ground outside during summer and most of them attract earthworms. Gritty mix doesn't seem to attract them, but 5-1-1 and peat-based mixes do. They don't eat roots that are alive; they break down organic materials that are already in the process of breaking down due to soil microorganisms. I have never had any problems with them in decades of growing in containers.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 7:09PM
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calistoga_al

Earthworms feed on bacteria and fungi and convert it into castings,which enriches the soil. The channels made by the worm also help the soil structure. Its a win win situation. Al

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 12:37PM
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alan.oz

I have always thought earthworms were bad for container soils causing them to break down too quickly.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:11AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Since the containers have no bottoms and are partially buried, we're really talking about raised beds/in ground gardening rather than container gardening. In this scenario, I can imagine no downsides and a lot of upsides (as others have pointed out) to the presence of earthworms.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Ash7681

Thanks for the comments, folks. I do want to point out that these 15 gal containers would be buried in the ground up to the rim. So we are talking about a cylinder space about 17" ht and 14" diameter, though open at the bottom.

My concern is that once the earthworms enter from the bottom, they don't get constrained in this space and can find a way out back from the bottom. Do earthworms have vertical range or just mostly horizontal range?

Also, the soil around the pots is hard clay. I don't think earthworms like such a soil and are likely to get attracted to the softer fir bark based medium in the buried pots, possibly causing overpopulation. Any, ill effects on plants from such an overpopulation?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:48AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

If you don't mind my asking, what's the rationale behind your buried pots plan? In my experience, you're better off building a bed on top of the existing soil. Otherwise, especially with clay, you can run into poor drainage issues. For example, if your native soil is slow to drain (as clay sometimes is), the heavily amended soil above it could essentially act as a bathtub, and that's very, very bad for plant roots.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Ash7681

The clay soil fills a long raised bed (don't ask why, this is what I inherited from the previous owners). The entire buried pot depth would be above the ground level. So drainage shouldn't be an issue. I plan to bury these pots at regular intervals, put fir bark medium in them and grow blueberries.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Just bumped in to this thread. I to am growing blueberries. my containers are made of window shells stacked 30 inches tall to make a 28" by 24" container 30" tall. They have no bottom as they are just the frames that once held glass. I have a full year experiance with citrus trees in bottomless containers. They work extremely well and have none of the issues of container plants. Over watering is almost not even possible. Go for it

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Picture of my bottomless container.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:52AM
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