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Old 06-28-2019, 08:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by writerwife View Post
I have a lot of compacted clay soil (not compost) in my yard. Would dropping a bunch of earthworms in help? or kill them?
I don't think it would do either but I don't think it would affect the soil. I have clay soil too and plenty of worms. The worms don't change the consistency of the soil.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:39 PM
 
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I don't bother to rub compost through a screen. Turning with a pitchfork is sufficient, and the worms are fine that way.
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:09 AM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by writerwife View Post
I have a lot of compacted clay soil (not compost) in my yard. Would dropping a bunch of earthworms in help? or kill them?
Like all animals, earthworms live where they get enough food. If you dropped a bunch of earthworms in your yard, and they didn't find much food, most or all of them would die. Most likely, your yard is ready supporting all the earthworms it can. If you want to increase the number of earthworms, you'll have to increase the amount of food. You can do this by adding compost and/or organic mulches, like leaves. Corrugated cardboard mulch also works. Add the food, and they will come sooner or later.

If you do add compost, don't dig it in deeply. Just kind of stir it into the top couple inches. Night crawlers and the like are burrowers, they'll come up to the surface and pull the organic matter down into their burrows. It's hard to add too much organic matter.
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Boonies of N. Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacqueg View Post
Like all animals, earthworms live where they get enough food. If you dropped a bunch of earthworms in your yard, and they didn't find much food, most or all of them would die. Most likely, your yard is ready supporting all the earthworms it can. If you want to increase the number of earthworms, you'll have to increase the amount of food. You can do this by adding compost and/or organic mulches, like leaves. Corrugated cardboard mulch also works. Add the food, and they will come sooner or later.

If you do add compost, don't dig it in deeply. Just kind of stir it into the top couple inches. Night crawlers and the like are burrowers, they'll come up to the surface and pull the organic matter down into their burrows. It's hard to add too much organic matter.

Thanks!
Some places where I dig are so clay compacted I had to wonder if a worm could actually make it's way thru! I'm practically pulling ready made pottery out of some places in the lawn!
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Boonies of N. Alabama
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Originally Posted by Rowan123 View Post
I don't think it would do either but I don't think it would affect the soil. I have clay soil too and plenty of worms. The worms don't change the consistency of the soil.

I thought that by digging thru it, they might help aerate it some or loosen it. Thanks.
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Old 06-29-2019, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
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Quote:
Originally Posted by writerwife View Post
Thanks!
Some places where I dig are so clay compacted I had to wonder if a worm could actually make it's way thru! I'm practically pulling ready made pottery out of some places in the lawn!
You might try this - https://offbeathome.com/worm-tube-composting/

I never had occasion to, but this struck me as an interesting experiment.

Burrowing earthworms, over time, will help to loosen your soil. Choose n area of your yard - a future flower bed? - to improve, and concentrate on keeping it covered with organic matter. I was once part of an experiment to rejuvenate the soil under a group of of old fruit trees, involving putting down a deep layer - about a foot - of straw (not hay) right on top of the grass. Took a couple of years, but eventually there was a deep, spongy layer of organic matter, no longer identifiable as straw, on top of the soil. And plenty of earthworms. Once you have that, you can start planting flowers in it.

One of my favorite garden authors says that soil doesn't deepen, it "uppens". Sure, you can do a lot of digging and lifting if you want to, but it's really not necessary. All Ma does to make soil is add a layer of dead plant material in the fall and rain and snow on it according to the season in a particular area. Earthworms and other soil critters move in to turn the organic matter into rich soil. Works for her, it'll work for you too.

There's a great book on the importance and management of soil life - https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Half-N...qid=1561836119

Actually, there are several great books on this topic, but this is the one I enjoy the most.

Last edited by jacqueg; 06-29-2019 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 06-29-2019, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by writerwife View Post
I thought that by digging thru it, they might help aerate it some or loosen it. Thanks.
We had heavy clay soil when we started gardening. It was a long process to change this. We mixed peat and compost in every year, and removed as many rocks as we could (many big clay lumps are actually rocks with clay stuck to them.) After success with the peat*, we used regular store bought garden soil plus our compost every year (my understanding is that peat is more for soil building, but low on usable organics for plants.) We also keep a layer of fallen leaves on our garden beds in the off season. That makes a big difference, IMO. The soil doesn't compact as much over the winter, plus you have the rain/snow leaching the leaf "tea" right into the garden.

The number of worms, pupae, isopods, and other invertibrates has probably quadrupled over our decade of work, and the soil is a nice brown color. Not "black earth" like I used to see at my grandmother's garden, but we keep working every year.

Other post was right about mixing compost in the top layer and letting the worms do the rest.


* Our compost is really high in mashed egg shells which helps balance the PH of using peat.
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
27,270 posts, read 25,874,276 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgardener View Post
I don't bother to rub compost through a screen. Turning with a pitchfork is sufficient, and the worms are fine that way.
I was wondering if it was part if a potting mix. I might screen that. The compost that went into my yard never got screened.

My husband once told me that he was going to drive a few miles down the road to buy some worms because he was going to go fishing. I introduced him to the compost pile.
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