The Q&A Archives: Earthworms for New Landscape

Question: Several years ago, I visited the rooftop garden of the Fed. Reserve Bank in Boston. The director of Horticulture stated that they had not fertilized their plants in over ten years due to the fertility of the soil resulting from the presence of worms.

My firm, Carol R. Johnson Associates, is the site designer for a new regional lab for the EPA. I want to incorporate worms into the landscape to support our corporate mission of sustainable design. I know that red worms and red wrigglers are preferred species but do not know the proper application rate. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Answer: What a great project! I'm glad we can be a small part of it. First let me suggest that you find out what sort of worms are native to the site, and first work to encourage their numbers to increase. You can also augment their numbers with purchased stock of the same species. "Red wigglers" is the name given to a couple of different species (Eisenia fetida, E. andrei, and Lumbricus rubellus), which prefer living in decaying matter at the soil surface. Actual soil-dwelling species common in the northeast include Lumbricus terrestris (nightcrawlers), Aporrectodea turgida, A. trapexoides, A. tuberculata, Drndrobaena octahedra, Dendrodrilus rubidus, L. rubellus, and Octolasion tyrteum.

Let me refer you to the on-line forum for Worm Digest
for more specific information on where to source worms, and how to introduce them to your area. Best of luck!

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