” My front lawn has been reseeded recently and is not growing properly, could this be due to too much rain or lack of sunlight? could the soil be too compact? I don’t notice any worm casts, so I thought about introducing earthworms into the soil. “
This is not a question simply answered, a lot depends on what the soil was like prior to planting the seed, assuming the soil is up to supporting the growth of grass seed (it would have to be pretty poor not to do so!) and has been prepared properly then you have to look at the conditions, too cold, too wet, too hot and too dry will affect the germination rate, if the light levels are pretty poor such as in a heavily shaded area or under trees then germination could be slow and patchy, add to this that birds may have been feasting then you may have problems, lack of worms at this point will not affect the germination rate so until any problems have been put right it is unlikely that adding earthworms will help much to get things going.
The adding of earthworms to gardens is not something that is readily thought about, unfortunately it is often considered after a lot of work has already been done, adding earthworms should be planned in at a very early stage, taking the lawn as an example, even before adding worms the conditions they need should be carefully prepared, contrary to beliefs worms do need quite a good soil to live in, if the soil is hard, compacted, sandy, very dry etc worms will not suddenly turn it into good soil, they will leave! when the soil is good worms will work and turn this good soil into excellent soil and all plants, including grass will benefit from this. The action of worms in the soil creates burrows where oxygen and water get into the soil around the plants roots, when a worm feeds it leaves behind worm casts, sometimes these are left on the surface, these casts are a bundle of goodness, not necessarily fertilizers but all the other things that plants need to thrive, all this has to be in place before seeding, so the answer to the question “Should worms be in a lawn” is certainly yes! (as long as you don’t mind a few casts on the surface)
The most important workers of the soil are worms, scientific research has shown that a realistic population of earthworms in the soil has a positive effect on plant growth with an increase in crop production of 10% to 25% compared to soils with no worms, not to mention the positive effect that they have on the plants ability to fight disease and bug attack.
During the growing season, particularly in vegetable gardens, the worms will have been badly disturbed even damaged by the practice of digging over the plot, soils are becoming more and more depleted in worms to the point we sometimes struggle to find any, if this is the case in your garden then it is important to replace them.
As we head into autumn/winter and the busy harvesting period begins to slow we start to think about preparing the veg and flower beds for next year, adding organic matter such as compost, old manure etc is usually high on the list, this is an ideal time to also add those important worms, over the next few months they are the ones that will be working hard to break down and incorporate this organic matter into the soil and whilst they are doing this they are creating a network of tunnels allowing oxygen and moisture deep into the soil, as the worms feed, what goes in must come out, the wonderful casts often referred to as “Black Gold” and with good reason, they are jam packed with beneficial (to the plants) micro organisms – bacteria, fungii and a host of other benefits, this is worms working hard to prepare your plot!
“I was thus led to conclude that all the vegetable mould over the whole country has passed many times through, and will again pass many times through, the intestinal canals of worms. Hence the term “animal mould” would be in some respects more than that commonly used of “vegetable mould” “
That is why worms are so important they make the soil (vegetable mould)!
Occasionally we will get a ‘phone call or an email from a customer who has received their order for worms that they have arrived with some dead, dying or very lethargic, when we query as to what makes the customer think they are dead, the response is invariably that the worms are not moving much, many people assume that worms are very active, wriggly creatures, whilst this is true when you have just dug them up (they are now attempting to get away from a situation where they are likely to be eaten! why else would they be dug up?) but when they have been harvested, packed and then shipped out in a moving vehicle the worms response is to burrow down, stick together, stop moving, “play dead” and hopefully I will not get eaten! disturbance, movement, vibration etc are all threats to worms.
We always send out worms in A1 condition, there is no point in doing so otherwise so unless something exceptional happens to them on route it is almost impossible for them to die, the exception to this maybe when smaller quantities are sent out in tubs and they have been left out under the sun, possibly during delivery or more likely when requested to leave or some other extreme conditions, if this has happened then the evidence is very obvious and distinctive.
When the worms arrive and they do appear lethargic do not write them off, if they are composting, garden or fishing worms and you are not ready to use them straight away, give them a little water and/or wet newspaper/moss and place the closed container somewhere cool for them to get over their journey, if they are composting worms and you can, add them to the wormery straightaway do so and give a little water, this applies if you have bought loose worms or in a kit.
We have put this together after requests from previous customers.
This advice applies to the 3 main casters available with some differences, these will be pointed out as necessary, the 3 casters are the large Blue Bottle, smaller Green Bottle and the small House fly.
When maggots are required to turn to casters they should be sieved off the sawdust and put into fine and already damp sawdust or peat, do not just add water to maggots already in sawdust or you may find the wet maggots are able to escape an open container, These should be kept at room temperature, it is a good idea to take off the casters every day or so, this is done by placing them on the sieve allowing the maggots to wriggle through, the casters that are retrieved should have any rubbish removed and the clean casters put back into damp sawdust, to slow the development keep them chilled, if flies are needed then keep some at room temperature, you will notice that the casters will continue to darken, when they are almost black they are close to hatching and should be moved into an enclosed container or you may find you have a room full of flies. The flies will hatch best when the casters are kept in damp sawdust.
We have put this together after requests from previous customers.
This advice applies to the 3 main maggots available with some differences, these will be pointed out as necessary, the 3 maggots are the large Blue Bottle, smaller Green Bottle (Pinkies) and the small House fly (squat).
The first thing to do is to clean up the maggots, if they are purchased from us this will already have been done, if bought from a fishing tackle shop they are likely to be pretty grubby, probably a bit smelly and put in sawdust, if this is the case carry out the following;
The maggots must be sieved off the dirty sawdust (you can often buy sieves or riddles from a tackle shop) or if you have a sieve the mesh needs to be about 3mm, once the sawdust is removed, leave the maggots on the sieve and allow to wriggle through into a suitable container placed underneath, do this at room temperature, this will remove any dead maggots, cast off skins and general debris, you may have to do this a couple of times, once you have the cleaned maggots put them into fresh, fine sawdust, this process should be carried out every 3 or 4 days.
When you first acquire the maggots, if they are fresh, you will notice a black mark in the middle, this is the stomach and if black contains its last meal! If feeding your creature the maggots it is best to keep them for as long as it takes for the “food spot” to disappear, the reason being that this food is not very wholesome and is best not fed to your creature, not always the case but better to be safe than sorry! If keeping the maggots to turn to casters the food spot will naturally be used up.
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