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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've got this great organic garden that's been a good producer for a few years--four 6'x6' raised beds with organic soil/compost and chicken poop--but the soil has no structure. I finally went on a worm hunt this spring before planting, and despite the fact that there were tons of worms in the mulch around the raised beds, the beds themselves were completely empty. In the weeks since, I've never found a worm in the garden itself. We sent a soil sample to our local extension office, and everything came back with the best ratings. But the leaves and compost we put in early last fall haven't decomposed at all and we live in Virginia! I can't figure it out.

Any thoughts, hints, suggestions? I feel as though our garden won't keep being productive if there aren't any worms.

warmly,
Kam, mamamama! to Meg
 

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when i did worm composting i read a book called worms eat my garbage, and one of the things it said was that the worms that live in leaves and mulch are different from the worms that live in soil, the worms in the leaves are the kind used for worm composting and they are great for that sorta thing but in reguler soil they die, the kind that live in soil are just different
when i was in high school i had a half barel planter and it had lots of millipedes and they made the soil fantastic! milipedes are great for soil they do the same stuff worms do but mostly on the top layer
if your garden is productive it will probably stay productive, it really doesn't need worms, but they are nice, the best time to find them would be at night time, you could tap the ground some people can get them to come to the surface that way, the theory is the worms think it is raining
 

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hmmn, could they have just been deep that day?

the ones that eat dirt are the ones that leave a little mound of castings; the ones that pull leaves into their burrows whole, the detritivores, may not leave much evidence.

the fact that they are in your mulch makes me wonder if conditions are just not to their liking. if they are fluffy beds, they probably are just fine with insect and microbial life decomposing what's there... is your chicken poop too hot? i know i can get a little lazy sometimes and throw it in before it is completely composted, if i am burying it deep under feet of soil etc.

go to your bait store and pick up some nightcrawlers and throw 'em in
can't hurt (and it's fun seeing robins wrestle those monsters into submission.) i don't think they are supposed to be hardy here in zone 6, but mine have been multiplying for years (and my earthworms are SO eating garbage- the redworm lobby is wrong :p)

good luck! (maybe mulching your beds more? i know my worms are much more interested in laying under thick mulch than anything else i offer.)

suse
 

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if you buy worms make sure to get night crawlers and not red worms red worms will live in the leaves but not the soil, they will just die if they are in soil and not mulch

also i ahve heard that worms don't like to be in soil that is disturbed a lot so if you have been digging in the soil a lot they may have left for a while
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the help, everyone. We've been cutting green crops back into the soil and mulching and fertilizing more, and I did see a worm yesterday! Yippee!


It still bugs me that the leaves are not decomposing. I know it's missing something.

Oh, well, the tomatoes are going nuts, and the kabocha looks as though it's going to take over the world. Maybe I'll just find something else to worry about.


thanks again,
Kam
 
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