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No earthworms in Florida???

Posted by internetlot none (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 24, 11 at 4:04

I just moved to Florida in January. Since then, we lived in an appartment and now moved to a house. In both places I dug outside and planted (can't help myself)but never found worms... is it because of the sandy soil? Confused
Does it influence the quality of the vegetables that grow on sandy soil? thinkShould I buy some? Any advice? Big Grin
Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Earthworms live on the organic matter in soil so if there are no, or very few, earthworms to be found that means the soil does not have enough organic matter to support them. Add organic matter to your soil and you will have earthworms as well as a soil that will better retain soil moisture and nutrients.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Here we go again, Kimm with your unambiguous statements that are simply incorrect. These things that you say are no doubt valid under certain circumstance, yet you cast them as absolutes.

Now you have strayed with your OM pronouncement right into my direct experience to the contrary. I have had a garden site in central florida for six years. There were no earthworms to start with. I have not seen one in this entire county, nor do I ever recall seeing one in florida, and I was raised in the state and was outdoors constantly. Back to the garden plot. I have put absolutely staggering amounts of OM and manure into it. Also large amounts per sq ft of humates. There has been benefit from that, though not nearly as much as there would have been in Kimm's climate, a cool wet one. Not an earthworm to be seen.

Why is this Kimm? Do you thinks it's possible that your blanket statements about OM are missing some other very important factors when it comes to the web of life? What are the things that earthworms must have? More so than many other life forms, they must have moist conditions around their bodies, as well as air. It so happens that in most parts of florida the sand is so well-drained that 99.9% of the time there is not enough moisture in the sand to allow an earthworm to exist. If you brought some and added them to the sand, along with lots of OM, what would happen? If you had some experience with the the evaporation rate in the region, you would know that any kind of OM dries out within hours or a couple days at most. Even if by dint of using absurd amounts of irrigation one managed to keep the earthworms alive, summer would come with it's high ground temp and extreme metabolic rate, the OM would vanish and the worms would die before then because they are not adapted to the high soil temps in any case. Up north when the top inches get hot they easily go downward to cooler moister soil. In florida if they went down they would encounter bone dry sand.

You don't help when you give simplistic advice from one paradigm to be used without thought in another. Internet is never going to have earthworms; but in florida lack of earthworms is not a factor in growing food.

Internet, raising food plants and fruit trees in florida is difficult. Methods that work in most of the temperate latitude states do not work there (where I am right now, putting in crops). I have lost many fruit trees. Beyond that, florida is huge and has very differing climates so you have to figure out your particular region. The keys are fully tropical, south florida is just sub-tropical, central is a transition zone between sub-tropical and continental (and consequently maybe the harshest region), far north and west is warm continental and also tends to have much more favorable soils. Not surprisingly, that latter region is where earthworms may be found in florida.


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RE: No earthworms needed in Florida???

Internet, BTW, there is a florida gardening site on GW where you can make searches and any question you have will have been already discussed. I think I remember there was one about worms, in fact.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

FWIW, my Pinellas County yard is chock full of earthworms, & there are multitudes @ the city park where I work as well.

OTOH, my Mom's house, which had limestone mulch installed back in the 70s (& I understand arsenic was commonly used to treat the underlying soil as a weed suppressant) was bereft of earthworms for decades - not to mention the fact that the island she lives on was built from sand dredged up from the intercoastal waterway.

Here is a link that might be useful: earthworms @ UF/IFAS


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

That's interesting, Carol. Probably an area that was drained and the muck raked out of the streams while making them into canals to make house lots. We lived in various parts of Hillsborough county when I was a kid and I don't ever recall seeing one, even around the canals.

The great majority of peninsular florida was beach dunes formed at varying sea-levels. Presently then there is a thin skin of living matter growing on ancient beach dunes. Hence the extremely low natural level of OM and moisture in the 'topsoil'.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

There seems to be a Florida Worm Lizard that lives on earthworms and termites in Florida, so that would indicate that there may well be earthworms in Florida.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Yes, I have pointed out that there are native/naturalized earthworms in very limited areas of the region called florida (the reverse of the case in most other eastern and central states). The odds are extremely high, however, that the OP is not in one of those areas, and inversely the odds are extremely low that earthworms are going to show up in their garden beds regardless of OM percentage.

The OP should certainly not base any gardening decisions on lack of earthworms, that is the important point and perhaps also the implied OP question.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 25, 11 at 10:44

AMEN pnbrown.
One can buy local worms, to seed ones beds. If this will make you sleep better.
I have rarely seen earthworms in the farm garden raised beds, but in the cool leaf mold in my back yard are tons of earthworms.
Well I have grubs in the farm beds, but they are eating the coffee waste.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I wouldn't purchase earthworms. They are an invasive species in most places, and while I'm no expert on Florida, I wouldn't import them if they are not already in your yard.

Adding OM will be wonderful for your soil. You don't need earthworms to grow veggies. Just add OM and don't worry about earthworms or no earthworms.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

The following entertaining utube clip is an example of a habitat in florida where EW's would be very common and naturalized, if not native. Wet shaded soil is of course the reason. The poor drainage and forest cover also leads to a high percentage of OM for the worms to eat. Some parts of south florida have this kind of habitat also (with a somewhat differing assemblage of flora and fauna of course), but sadly much of it has been drained by dredging and canalling. Such suburban neighborhoods might still provide EW habitat, as some people attest to in threads in the florida forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: good ole crawlers


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Earthworms as a general rule are not 'invasive' in the south, as this area supplied refugia for them as they moved away from the advancing glaciers. It is in the north where they have been brought in by gardeners, farmers and the nursery trades, and it is in the north where they are turning over forest soils faster than the forest has adapted post-Wisconsinan glaciation.

Dan


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

If O.M. is what worms need, better stay away from the muck lands south of Lake Okeechobee, 60%+- O.M.. I hear the worms are bigger than pythons down there from eating all that O.M..


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Dan or Mike, have you read John Hamaker, speaking of glaciations?


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Nope, never heard of him.

Michael357


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Very interesting view of the glacial cycle, and how it affects us.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

pn: glacial cycle, as in geological eras? Give me the quick synopsis please or link to a succinct page on it.


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Plenty of earthworms in Florida

Try the following: PUt some leaves on the ground, water them well, then place one of your pots with a plant on top (preferably a light one like the black plastic ones that plants come in). Water your plant as needed. After a couple of weeks (possibly days) lift your pot and you will see worms underneath. best


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Mike, search "bread from stones" by Julius Hensel, as the starting point. That book from the 1880's was reprinted with a forward by Hamaker/Weaver. Don Weaver as I understand it is still working on remineralization in CA. Hamaker died in 1994. His theory, briefly is that the inexorable demineralization by plant growth in the interglacial period creates the dynamics that put the planet back into active glaciation, and that it can happen very fast. He thought agriculture in the temperate latitudes would be collapsed by the combination of mineral depletion and climate factors by the mid-90's. that didn't happen, as we can see, but indications are that it is happening and his prediction was off by perhaps 50-100 years.

His proposed solution, or delaying tactic, was to divert most human efforts toward grinding glacial rocks to remineralize ag soils in the temperate latitudes, thereby boosting plant growth and reducing CO2 while at the same time drastically improving human health.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

As most of our energy is from fossil fuel and burning yet even more of it to store carbon doesn't work as an EROEI input/output function, the idea doesn't work at scale. Thus our species is still subject to the rules of physics and nature; wishing to forestall normal population biology is against the rules. We must RTFR.

Dan


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

If we used part of our current fossil fuel budget to powder, transport, and spread rock the benefits would be immense. IOW, zero sum on the fossil fuel, take it from some other completely unnecessary usage. The Haber process, for example, or wars.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

We'd have to eliminate corporations to eliminate the Haber process, and I don't know how we eliminate a common activity arising from our basic nature, but I'm with you in theory. Although landform ruination for large-scale geoengineering schemes is something that we're nowhere near being able to mitigate, technology, ecology or wisdom-wise. By the time we are close, it'll be long past time.

Dan


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 2, 11 at 23:49

Well, did you find any worms?


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Florida is a very large area. "native to florida" doesn't give any useful information when talking about variation within the region, or even when comparing florida to other geographies/climates.

Most of peninsular florida is excessively drained sand. Worms will never persist in that environment without some sort of extraordinary alteration and maintenance of conditions. If one kept piles of fresh horse manure wet from pumped water during the dry season then probably one could maintain some manure worms, for example.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Been vegetable gardening on my lot in Texas for 3 years and flower/shrub gardening for 7 and still not an earthworm in sight. Organic matter - check. Moisture (under landscape fabric and heavy mulch and clay soil) - check. Mom - who lives 10 miles away have earthworms - check. Thriving plants and plentiful harvests - check. So I stopped worrying about it.

They may or may not come. Are they helpful - yes. Are they required - no.

I have a new neighbor that started a garden this year; I'll have to ask if they saw any earthworms while digging around. My other neighbors hire professionals to do the digging, so they wouldn't have a clue.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Kind of amazing how few people can grasp it:

soil type and climate determine the presence or not of earthworms, not some kind of "wait-and-see" attitude on the part of the gardener. Hot climates (like parts of texas) can have worms if the soil is sufficiently heavy. A cool wet climate can have no worms if the soil is sufficiently drained. The examples are ad infinitum.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

This article may help explain what earthworms live on.

Here is a link that might be useful: earthworms


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I hereby give up on this effort to educate.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Do earthworms thrive is any sand-dominated soils, even if moisture and organic matter is plentiful? Can they handle sand-grain dominance? I would think it would be pretty difficult.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 28, 11 at 9:07

A thoroughly entertaining thread.

Lloyd


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by gnappi 10 Coral Springs Fl. (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 20, 11 at 9:36

"I have not seen one in this entire county, nor do I ever recall seeing one in florida, and I was raised in the state and was outdoors constantly"

Statements like that do nothing but add heat while shedding no light on the subject. The fact is that EW's are common anyplace the soil and weather supports them.

I grew up between New York City and Upstate New York and I ALWAYS, ALWAYS had worms in the ground unless the soil was solid clay as it was in some areas upstate. After every prolonged rain the sidewalks and roads had many dead worms that appeared to try and escape drowning in the saturated soil.

Anyone who spends time outdoors where there are worms sees this after a rain.

Here in Florida (been here 30+ years) my yard is so full of worms I cannot dig a hole the width of a shovel and not turn up several worms.

My tropical fruit trees thrive in the soil as it is. The fact that worms are there may not be relevant but I like to see them.

Gary


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

This notion that EWs live on Om has me wondering now that winter is descending upon us.... what do they eat when the ground freezes and they have to retreat down to sub soils where there can be little to no OM? For all I know, they just hibernate and wait for the thaw and come up hungry in the spring.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

What about wormholes in space? Do they require moisture and OM? :) Actually I am with Lloyd, I find the thread very interesting. Here in my area of S TX with the intense heat and thin layer of hardpan clay soil I am amazed to find any worms at all. I use plenty of OM, mulch, moisture, etc but it is hit and miss. Some places plenty and some places not in the same yard.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Just an update to my earlier post.

I posted that I didn't have any earthworms after 3 summers of gardening in Texas.

Well this is my first year of serious gardening where I added organic matter, actually fertilized (organic), and didn't neglect my crop. As I planted my fall garden, I started seeing worms. The red ones that you would buy with worm composting. I've only seen them in my garden so far....after seven years of not a one. And this was the hottest summer in a long time.

I just wanted to update what I stated earlier. I don't care to argue about what this means to who and if it indicates anything or not.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Mike, I concur it seems likely that earthworms in cold soil go into a low-metabolic state, below the frozen layer. Perhaps they can withstand being frozen.

Gary, this thread seems to have established that far southwestern florida has some frequency of soils with earthworms, in contrast with what is typical in most of peninsular florida.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

pnbrown quotes
"Here we go again, Kimm with your unambiguous statements that are simply incorrect"

"I have had a garden site in central florida for six years. There were no earthworms to start with. I have not seen one in this entire county, nor do I ever recall seeing one in florida, and I was raised in the state and was outdoors constantly"

Diplocardia Mississippiensis is a NATIVE eartworm in Florida.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Yes, it is a big state with a range of soils from very dry sand to soaking wet organic muck. The former (always worm-less) are much more common than the latter.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I think pnBrown needs to add another hobby to his/her list. You are letting earth worms get to you


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

John, I don't aim to let them get me til it's all over.

But you bring a new option for observations OT: how about down under, does one typically find earthworms in arid climate soils there?


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I just wanted to say that I have earth worms in my yard, and I live in Central Florida. The majority of my soil is a yellow sand, except where I have planted things and in beds, where I have added some compost to beef up the soil. My husband never has any trouble finding worms when he wants to go fishing. I find some about everytime I dig a hole to plant a new rose bush. I live about 5 miles from the coast.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

claferg, can you post a photo next time you find one?


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

i live in West Florida, and the land on my lot is white sand over pale yellow sand. Northerners would agree that sand is awesome because of its excellent drainage. You could dig up my whole yard and not find a single earthworm except for underneath the cherry laurel trees.
That being said, i went to the municipal dump site and got about 5 square yards of shredded bark, free, and placed it into a boarded raised bed. Right on top of the straggly grass and weeds trying to make it in the white sand and full sun. Less than a year later, the mulch bed has composted itself and worms have moved in. and a lot of little bugs, many different kinds. But they are all aerating the soil so it's a good thing. The raised bed has gorgeous friable humus in it, and worms spontaneously appeared. if that doesn't prove the addition of organic matter attracts worms then i don't know what does. I live about 10 miles from the beach in an area developed over 40 years ago. (Read: land was clear-cutted 40 years ago, all organic matter has since washed away.)
So try mulching. Your county may have free shredded bark, or you might be able to contact a tree trimming service, who are usually eager to dump their trimmings.
check out my articles on composting in place. if you have a blog, leave a comment for me and tell me about it :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Scrub Lands of West Florida


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by Laud none (My Page) on
    Mon, May 6, 13 at 9:46

Pnbrown,

You are wrong. I have plenty of earthworms in my south Florida soil and I don't live anywhere near muck. It is simple sandy soil with lots of OM, plenty of shade (due to food forest planting).

Don't be angry or set in your thinking. The world is a garden.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Thanks, I won't be angry if you won't be.....deal?

I guess this thread is a good example of how difficult it is to understand generalities vs absolutes, apropos here that as a generalization thermic sands will have few or no worms, especially as compared to less sandy cooler soils. Of course there are exceptions, such as when a gardener brings in large amounts of OM over a long period of time, as mentioned by several posters in this thread. Case in point, at my central florida place, after years of importing different types of OM to that deep deep sand, I finally saw a worm, just once, under some bark mulch. So that makes one earthworm that I know I have seen after gardening in various places around FL.

In the poorly drained regions of florida, or in the mucks, as I keep pointing out (to no avail apparently), there would be no surprise in finding various adapted annelid species. Anyway, I'm glad this thread has been of amusement to many and possibly even a learning experience.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I do cleaning and maintenance for a number of small residential neighborhoods throughout Pinellas County. Any neighborhood I work for that has professional lawn care tends to have plenty of earthworms.

I don't say that in defense of lawns, landscapers, or anything else. It's just, between thick lawns, scheduled irrigation, and a decent placement of trees and shrubs, I see them all the time, particularly after rain, when they're crawling (or baked dead) on pool decks when (i'm assuming) escaping the saturated soil.

My own property had very few worms initially, but I found something that tended to help, enough so that earthworms started showing up in my pots, planter boxes, and garden beds. I'm hesitant to mention the "big M" though, because this is the organic gardening forum, and most probably would not find it kosher.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I guess it is not a surprise that most of those reporting common presence of earthworms seem to be in SW Fl where many neighborhoods are built in drained swamps. This is a very different environment from less tampered ones on naturally-drained sites.

Are you referring to miracle-grow, F'rverlad?


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

No, by big-M, I was referring to Milorganite. I'm not a champion of the stuff, and I wouldn't for a minute suggest organic gardeners rely on it.

My soil on its own is mostly worthless. Often water-repellant, rarely hosting more life than ant piles and the occasional curled up grub. In my garden beds I've found that mixing (and obviously watering in) Milorganite, along with the leaves and compost I normally add, has made a huge difference in both summoning and maintaining earthworms in the soil. Possibly coincidental, but a number of the neighborhoods I work in, where I tend to see the most worms, use reclaimed water.

Anyway, a couple of photos from this morning:

Ants on a worm in the gutter in Largo

Live worm I found on a pool deck in the same area

Baked worm on pool deck, same property

Soil in my yard

One dig with a trowel to uncover this in one of my beds (I'm in Palm Harbor, north Pinellas)

Again, I only bring this up in discussion on worms, not as an argument for or against organics.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

  • Posted by Laud none (My Page) on
    Fri, May 10, 13 at 15:37

Deal.

I live in Fort Lauderdale 1.5 miles from the beach. Sugar sand is 2 feet deep.

This theory sounds like you may very well want to let it die. There are local earthworm farmers around here too.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I lived in lauderdale for some years - never saw a worm but many a palmetto bug and lizard.... same in lake worth and WPB.

As a kid I lived in the Tampa Bay area in various locations - we were always digging in making fortifications for toy soldiers, I remember the red and yellow sand but not worms. We lived in Gainesville for a while, also digging occurred, there was the novelty of small stones and gravel, even clay here and there. I don't recall worms though there must have been some in that kind of soil.

Lately I have gardened in the very deep sands of the north-central peninsula around the ocala forest. Again, no worms in the gardens except the one that I saw under some bark mulch a while ago. How did it get there? No doubt imported with the mulch from a much damper location near a slough.

It isn't only a florida thing, of course. I can find areas around here where the ground is so sandy and dry and so low in OM that one will search a long time before finding a worm. Other places merely walking on the leaf-litter sends dozens of giant crawlers skittering away. Florida is a big, big region with a lot of variation in underlying strata - the sand can appear try similar but in some regions it underlain by dozens of feet of more sand, other places by clay, others by limerock within just a few feet. All this has an impact.

I don't have a "theory" about where worms will absolutely be found or not found. Apparently my first statement to the OP that they will likely be waiting a long time for worms to come has outraged those who know of places within the state that harbor worms. Maybe the OP will return and update us....


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I live near a swamp in cental fl kissimmee. I go into this area (water level about 3 feet under ground) I'll look where the armadillos dig and find solid worm droppings and at least a few worms with ever shovel full. my son had dug a pond about 8 feet deep a while back and when he left I filled it in (some kid could drown in that dept. so I get these buckets of great worm earth and my back yard has good earth to begin with (clay mix which I never saw in any other house I put fences in ) i put layers and layers of dead leaves when the neighbors throw them out. I have two rubber trees that I started growing there because the one I have next to the house is where my dog likes even with the ac on. yesterday I dug up some eart and found tow large worms and not the half dead ones they moved like snakes. of course there is a price to pay for this earth you have to worry about poisonous snakes and guaranteed poison ivy (i'm use to the poison Ivy now) and you have to lug the 5 gallon buckets out over fallen trees , bushes etc. great core training except I'm 67 and it hurts. never told anyone this so I figured I would bend your ear sorry if I took up your time . could be all in vaine come august but worth a try . getting the earth worms to live is just a challenge I all ready have their droppings . I'm figuring the pool liner will keep them moist


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I live in Palm Beach County and have tons of earth worms.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

I'm in Hallandale FL not far from the beach. I read this thread last month with great interest since I have never encountered real earthworms in my soil. They only come in with potted plants. A few months ago, I started vermiculture and to feed my worms, I located a local source of horse manure.

This morning, to my great surprise as I was fetching turned manure, I discovered eight, full grown "deep soil" earthworms sliding out of a spadeful of my composed horse manure! I was amazed. I wasted no time in introducing them to my raised beads.

I know the difference between a true earthworm and a compost/manure worm species. This pile of the most mature horse manure was teeming with true earthworms as well as compost worms.

I make this post to offer desperate fellow Floridians a few of my earthworms to add to the organic matter enriched gardens you worked so hard to build hoping to attract native earthworms that never materialized. Just pay the priority shipping via Paypal.

In addition, I hope to discourage anyone from BUYING sewage sludge (branded: Milorganite) when tonnes of FREE horse manure is available in driving distance. That is a natural, organic soil amendment and worm attractant. Its very easy to "handle". I found two sources on Craig's list.


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RE: No earthworms in Florida???

Dan Staley said:
"Earthworms as a general rule are not 'invasive' in the south, as this area supplied refugia for them as they moved away from the advancing glaciers."

So I pondered the idea of an earthworm outrunning (outwiggling) a glacier.

Michael 357 said:
"This notion that EWs live on Om has me wondering now that winter is descending upon us.... what do they eat when the ground freezes and they have to retreat down to sub soils where there can be little to no OM? For all I know, they just hibernate and wait for the thaw and come up hungry in the spring."

I will never forget learning how frogs in the North burrow into the mud for winter and are encased in frozen mud. Their blood turns into a sort of anti-freeze and their heart beats once every 20 minutes. Amazing.

pnbrown- you mentioned Hamaker and Weaver. I saw their rock dust video back in the early 90s and was hooked on the idea of remineralizing with rock dust of glacial and or volcanic origin. I have been doing it ever since. I also heard of an idea from a man named Daryl Kollman who believed we could improve atmospheric oxygenation by building a vast network of algae ponds and also to use algae to treat sewage and convert it more naturally. He saw that as a much faster way of restoring atmospheric conditions than spreading rock dust, although both are a good idea. I remember hearing of at least one pilot program where they did have success treating sewage with an algae bloom. Very interesting. Has anyone heard of the algae treatment for sewage? Is it feasible on a global scale?


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