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We have a very productive compost system but do not seem to have many earthworms in the garden soil. I read up on wormeries but found you cannot use earthworms. How can I increase our earthworms, maybe we do have lots but they hiding!
In dry weather they will go down deeper. A soil with lots of fibrous material in it will attract earthworms. Try adding compost on the surface, or well rotted farm yard manure.
Wormeries use brandlings, a different type of worm.
Earthworms eat dead plant material, mainly by pulling it down from the surface, so you could try providing them with ideal conditions and mulch the surface of your soil with compost. This is actually the essence of the "no dig" system.
In extremely dry weather if you dig up a spadeful of soil you sometimes find a worm in the middle of the clump all tied up in a little knot. Does anybody know how they manage to get themselves, in a knot, surrounded by soil with no airspace?
Evolution, waterbutts. A sphere has the smallest possible surface area for any given volume of earthworm, so they have evolved to 'knot' themselves into as close to this shape as possible to avoid water loss. They probably plug the entry hole and cover the inner surface with slime to seal it.
I can understand them tying themselves up in knots to keep moist but I don't understand how they don't have an entry or exit tunnel or any air space around them. And how do they undo themselves when it's time to stretch out and get going again? It beats me.
There is a way of finding out if you have lots of earth worms in your soil, watched it on a gardening programme and as we don't have many of those....me thinks it was on the A to Z of Gardening, under E for earthworms or W for...you guessed it...Worms.
If you can get the programme back on the internet, I recall something is mixed with water which when poured on soil doesn't harm worms but brings them up to the surface.
If you want to increase their number give them stuff they like to eat, mulch your soil with compost, they are one of the good guy's after all.
Many thanks for all your replies. They are fascinating creatures. We do mulch with the compost and put well rotted manure down. They must be there but deeper as fidgetbones suggested.
Bob- is there anything you don't know?
Fascinating facts - isn't Ma Nature clever....who thinks the human race is the highest form of intelligence?
It makes sense Celia doesn't it? They like damp - and there isn't much damp soil around just now so they have to look for it. I've been doing a lot of digging recently and they are much deeper than you'd expect. Even a foot down the soil's bone dry here.
Hi FG, There's plenty I don't know (I'm not the worlds best plantsman for instance - others here have much wider knowledge!) However, I've always researched quite deeply into anything I find interesting, especially anything science/nature related - I'll have to admit being quite a bore about that sort of thing. I dislike political and religious subjects immensely though and go out of my way to try and avoid knowing anything about those at all - if I woke up one day and all politicians had been "recycled", I doubt I'd even notice except for wondering why the news was suddenly a lot shorter!
My ex partner and I once watched a fascinating programme about weeds -b****y rosebay w. herb so it was relevant as we were inundated with it!
Made everyone at work laugh when I told them!!
Recycled politicians - would that be to the great compost bin in the sky?.....
FG, One can only hope!
What use could a recycled politician be put to? Any suggestions?
I don't like to say waterbutts...I am a lady....
They could be used for pavement resurfacing- then we could get to walk all over them for a change!!
All that hot air.... it would keep a few greenhouses warm for a while.
Yes- forget windmills for renewable energy - just stick them up on a hill somewhere and plug them into the National Grid!
Are we taking that too far??
You couldn't take them too far for me.