I have no worms in my garden, should I buy some...

mctraillMarch 6, 2009


I have just started my first compost pile, my friend tells me my compost wont work as I dont have worms in my garden. I have lived in my house for 3 years and never seen one. I have solid clay, with sand on top and a very small amount of top soil. My husband says the worms dont like the clay or the sand so there wont be any worms to get into my bin.

Do I need worms and should I buy some?

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Your lack of earthworms are due to the lack of organic matter in your soil. Earthworms need organic matter to live in sand, clay, gravel, whatever and without that organic matter they will not live. Buying earthworms is usually a waste of your time, energy, and money unless and until you get sufficient levels of organic matter into your soil, and once you get sufficient levels of organic matter in your soil the earthworms will appear so there is no nedd to buy any.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:24AM
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leira(6 MA)

You don't need worms to make compost (unless you're doing worm composting, which is another matter entirely). Of course, if you do have worms in your compost, they'll help the process along, but without them, there are plenty of insects and microorganisms that will get your stuff composting just fine.

Getting a nice garden system going is a bit like a chicken and egg problem...worms will improve your soil, but you won't have many worms unless you have better soil.

You've got a compost pile started, and that's good. I'm guessing that getting the pile going, and eventually adding it and/or other organic matter to your garden, will cause worms to appear from somewhere.

I'd get some good organic matter added into your soil, and once you do, watch for the worms. If you think you've created some good soil, and the worms haven't appeared on their own, then you could reconsider buying some.

If you want improvement in your garden this year, you might need to bring in some additional organic matter from elsewhere, because it will take a while for your compost to finish, and even then, you probably won't have as much as you'd like. There are some good threads on this forum about how to acquire organic matter cheaply, or possibly even for free.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 10:01AM
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jmsimpson9(CA 8/9)

Basically this is a case of built it and they will come.

I started a new garden several years ago, sand and adobe clay (horrible mix to have). I immediately started compost piles and added them to the soil. No worms the whole first year.

Second year I noticed a few worms here and there, nothing to write home about.

This year I was turning my finished compost heap and its swarming with them. I dug into the ground around the garden and I find worms, not as many in the heap but they are there.

I used to find worms under my plastic pots that were on concrete but none in the garden! I still find them under the pots and I throw them onto the compost heap. The more the merrier!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 12:38PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

yep add the organic matter and the worms will come, use raised beds will do a good job. and yes you can buy composting worms and add them to your garden, we have them in our gardens but we also put our kitchen scraps int the garden daily.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:04PM
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Excellent I shall keep going and wait and see what appears.

Thank you for your answers...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:20PM
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When we first started our garden here on pure clay in a coniferous forest there was not a worm to be seen. I amended the soil in several ways and it looked like soil and grew well but still no worms. When I began trading plants with friends which had worms in the soil and DH dumped his extra fishing bait worms in the garden they started to multiply and I could find worms occasionally. They really began to multiply when I dug in raw kitchen veggie scraps and coffee grounds in many areas of the garden. Now I have lots of worms cause I feed them. Worms will dig thru clay as we've seen holes in the clay base. They need food tho to survive and especially multiply which should be your aim.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:49PM
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omg noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 7:40PM
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It takes a lot of time to inprove a garden plot.I don't get rede of nothing. If it rots it's going in the garden. Some I compost and others I just dig it in.

I read something like for every shovel full of garden soil you turn there should be x number of worms. I'm thinking it was 10

Don In Wilton Ca

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 12:04PM
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August 2001 Tiffy buys new property.

April 2002 Tiffy's DH unable to find any worms on said property to go fishing after digging 14 holes.

May 2002 Tiffy discovers S&C Forum and reads about used coffee grounds (UCGs) and composting and begins her quest.

July 2002 Tiffy discovers a source for UCGs and starts picking up over 200 lbs per week.

September 2002 Tiffy begins flinging UCGs on the lawn and in the new garden beds. Compost bins - 4 of them - were full.

April 2003, DH digs 4 holes to acquire worms for fishing. Ucgs are flung throughout the summer and composted diligently with shredded leaves and seaweed and then applied to the gardens.

June 2004, Tiffy shows DH that worms can be had by simply gently jiggling the base of her Coreopsis Domino plants. By doing so the worms will simply come out of the ground and the shovel can stay in the shed.

The end...

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 8:14PM
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Like others said. If you build it they will come. Adding compost to soil attracts worms. I had almost no worms in my garden when I first started it. Now after a couple of years of adding compost there are dozens in every shovel full. Even though I till once a year in the spring.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 11:05AM
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brdldystlu(5b Mo)

Tiffy, lay out some newspaper or cardboard put a brick or two on it to keep it in place, have husband go for his fishing worms there. I have that at my country house. Kind of like your story we bought this place. No worms to be had but I started to spread/dump buckets of coffee grounds everywhere and now there are worms galore to feed to the fish. This is the third summer and this year I am planting garden. Was so nice to be able to dig into the soil without back breaking work.
So yes build it and they will come.
tree huggin' soil worshippin' trash pickin' dog lovin' recyclin' woman
please control the pet population, spay or neuter your pet
Mystic(German shepherd), Ginger ( Vizsla boxer (?)mix) and Pixie (JRT Chihuahua mix)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 7:32AM
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I live on top of clay...pure, rock hard clay. The BEST way that I've found to attract worms to a particular location is to either put down a couple of pieces of cardboard, as someone else mentioned, or an old towel, right on the ground, on top of some vegetable scraps. Get it nice and wet, and keep it that way. About once a week, I check it, and it's usually covered in wormies (who are then put in the compost pile, with their friends. We save them the trip across the entire backyard.)

To get them throughout the garden, absolutely, you need organic matter mixed in, and they will come. I don't know where they come from, but they do come.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:14PM
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jollyrd(Richmond VA)

what jmsimpson said - it takes time and proper ingridients to have worms "come for dinner"
same goes for lady bugs - people keep asking "should I buy them?" - well, if there is nothing in your garden that attracts them, what tells you that they will stay?
Three years after we moved to our previously un-inhibited property, we start to see increase of worms, lady bugs, bees, butterflies

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 5:32PM
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It's like opening an empty restaurant, just a building (soil) with no food (organic matter). If you don't have any food, there won't be any customers.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:47PM
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and bus them in, they will leave if there is no food. Whereas, if you put out food, they will come to you. :-]

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:48PM
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