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Adding Worms to the Garden


June 13, 2013

Within the next week I will be amending my garden soils with red wigglers (from Quality Baits). I have 3 questions: (1) When is the optimal time to toss those suckers out into the dirt? (My spidey sense tells me to do it "in the evening" so they can burrow into the ground before the birds get to them). (2) Right now the "soil" is bone dry (and I do mean BONE dry). Should the soil be dry, wet or "damp" when sowing the wigglers? (3) Roughly how many worms per square foot or per square yard? (Quality Baits sells them by the 100 count) (4) Can you put too many worms in an area / volume of soil / ground? If yes, explain, please. (5) If there are left-over worms, what is the best way to "save" them? (Or can they be saved?)


Answer by JZ: By adding composting worms to your garden bed you will be continuously amending your garden with humus in the form of worm castings - Good for you!

Composting worms live in the top 6-12" of soil. They need about 50-60% moisture in the soil and decomposing organic matter to eat. So, you might consider working in organic material before adding the worms, eg shredded leaves, compost, aged manure, yard clippings then moisturize everything well, then add worms, then mulch well with a few inches of straw, newspaper or cardboard or a combination of all three on top to keep the moisture in the soil.

Consider waiting until Fall to add them; it would be less stressful for all concerned unless your garden bed is in full shade. Once acclimated (about 2 weeks) and under good conditions they will breed and double their population in about 3 months. If you add now, by all means wait until the PM. Just sprinkle them on top of amended soil, they will go down, then mulch well.

If you continue to mulch the bed during winter they will be somewhat active as long as the soil is well above freezing and has moisture.

You have not said how big your garden area is, so I cannot comment on the amount. My guess would be to start with 1-2 lbs. of composting worms. As I said they will breed under good conditions.

If worms become overpopulated they would decrease breeding to reduce the population.

You should have no left-overs, just buy what you need and put them down. Hope that this is helpful.

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