Roses forum→Worms and Roses

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Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 10, 2019 12:33 PM CST
Hi folks.
When I started my garden in a public park here, I got the park guys to rototill the garden. That's the only gardening they ever did for me; they did, of course, lend me tools, dump some pretty nice mulch outside my fence, and laugh with me about standing out in the park sweating away.

However, the soil in my garden has not really be worked, I mean really worked, in 19 years. I've been thinking of dumping some (1,000 or so)
earthworms into my 150 X 15-foot plot to give it a jolt.

Has anyone on this list ever done this? Has it helped? In what ways? How did you do it? (Did you dig a hole, dump in a handful of worms, and then
toss the soil back over the little critters?) What time of year would be best to do this? I figure I have about 2,000 square feet of earth. How many
worms should I order? Does anyone know of good vendors? The one that I've looked at is called something like Uncle Jim's worms; I haven't comparison shopped.

Any suggestions?
David

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
Aug 10, 2019 1:23 PM CST

Moderator

This may not provide direct answers to your questions, but have you considered the addition of worm castings to your soil? I'm squeamish, so I can't imagine handling a thousand worms, but this year I bought a bag of worm castings from Amazon and applied them to the roses in three of my rose beds. I just poured out about half a cup of castings around the perimeter of each rose bush in those beds and watered them in. I didn't bother to dig them into the soil. The instructions might as well have said "Apply and stand back!" The roses in those beds took off like crazy. They have exhibited vigorous growth, quicker reblooming, and visible improvement in general health. Some of the old rose bushes in those beds that have been dwindling in size in recent years are suddenly producing new basal shoots.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Aug 10, 2019 1:33 PM CST
I'm about to add some worm compost to my roses, the one I just planted, it's not very good soil, clayish. But they are red wrigglers compost, not earth worms.
I try to grow everything, sometime not successful.
Name: Jim
Central Pa. (Zone 6a)
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jim1961
Aug 10, 2019 4:49 PM CST
Here over the last 15+ years I have put some used coffee grounds/yard compost/mulch on the soil which has caused a earthworm explosion...I have let the earthworms rototill the soil for me..lol

Your idea sounds interesting! Let me know how you make out in the future..Thanks
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 10, 2019 6:04 PM CST
Jim.
Do you mean that you have just put coffee grounds etc. on the soil and the earthworms have appeared...exploded?
There's a coffee shop across the street, so I think I could get lots...in addition to my own select blend.
Do you dig it in, or let it lie on the surface?
David
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Aug 10, 2019 6:28 PM CST
Are you sure you don't already have worms ?

The concept of needing to "work the soil" ... I want to say old-fashioned, but that's not quite right.

I have a no till garden. My native soil, if you could call it that, is what the natives up here call glacier slurry. It's tightly compressed rocks / stones with some sandy clay between them. The soil was dead when I started the garden. Not a worm to be found. Weeds wouldn't even grow where I now garden.

For years, I just hauled in carloads of bagged oak leaves that I got from a friend's property as my mulch. I mulched in spring and fall. The heat up here during the summer "eats" any organic material. My spring mulch always has to be replenished.

I have never tilled in anything into the soil. I also have never purchased worms, but I have enough worms working in the beds that "soil" that was almost all rock is now friable and I can dig in the beds with a trowel.

I learned in another thread in a post by @hampartsum, Arturo, that the nutrients from worm castings are immediately available to the plants. So instead of purchasing worms, you might want to follow Zuzu's example and purchase worm castings.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Jim
Central Pa. (Zone 6a)
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jim1961
Aug 10, 2019 8:25 PM CST
BigAppleRoseGuy said:Jim.
Do you mean that you have just put coffee grounds etc. on the soil and the earthworms have appeared...exploded?
There's a coffee shop across the street, so I think I could get lots...in addition to my own select blend.
Do you dig it in, or let it lie on the surface?
David


Over the past 15 years I have used leaves, wood mulch and have applied USED coffee grounds some of those years...I dig the used coffee grounds into the soil...I do not go wild with used coffee grounds just enough to attract earthworms... The past 6 years I've added homemade compost to the mix...

2-3 years ago I made a bed at the side of the house.... Checked a few locations for earthworms and nothing! So I kept topdressing with compost , leaves, wood mulch and some scattered used coffee grounds here and there during those 2-3 years now I'm finding earthworms...

Articles on Earthworms...
https://www.flymo.com/uk/hints...

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/...

[Last edited by jim1961 - Aug 11, 2019 7:48 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2042809 (7)
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
Aug 11, 2019 6:15 AM CST
My soil was awful when I moved in. My side yard was so bad, even weeds wouldn't grow. Over the years, I have not tilled the soil but did put on good organic fertilizer, (first year I had chicken poop on there and ewwwww did it smell but it was great fertilizer!). I also put down good compost, earth worm castings, alfalfa meal (roses love it). I have also used seaweed, neem meal (another very stinky product) and lots and lots of good, finely chopped wood mulch. I have nice earthworms (which I didn't have before).

It is so funny that when I moved here, I had to take a pick ax to the soil in order to get a hole more than 1/2 in deep. The shovel wouldn't work the soil was so compacted and hard and awful. I have to steel myself anytime I go into the yard to dig something up. I just keep putting it off and finally, just grit my teeth and start. Ahhhhhh! The soil is not the same as when I first moved in! I keep forgetting that! Shovel goes in just fine. Soil is so much better and I keep feeding it with compost, good organics, etc. What a difference!

Worm castings will do wonders! Go for it!
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 11, 2019 11:29 AM CST
I'm just about ready to order [Worm Castings, 30 lb Compost, Soil] some worm castings.
Geez, 30 pounds in the U.S. mail. But, I have never done anything without dithering, so
I'm thinking about it. But I'm just about ready to pull the trigger.
All of your comments have gotten me ready. (Geez, 30 pounds!) Especially, Zuzu's
warning to "Apply and stand back"!
I think I'll do it now.
David

(I'm getting my money out of my Prime status on Amazon.)
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
zuzu
Aug 11, 2019 11:35 AM CST

Moderator

Wiggle Worm is the brand I buy, David.
Name: Jim
Central Pa. (Zone 6a)
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jim1961
Aug 11, 2019 3:23 PM CST
BigAppleRoseGuy said:I'm just about ready to order [Worm Castings, 30 lb Compost, Soil] some worm castings.
Geez, 30 pounds in the U.S. mail. But, I have never done anything without dithering, so
I'm thinking about it. But I'm just about ready to pull the trigger.
All of your comments have gotten me ready. (Geez, 30 pounds!) Especially, Zuzu's
warning to "Apply and stand back"!
I think I'll do it now.
David

(I'm getting my money out of my Prime status on Amazon.)


Not familiar with buying that stuff...lol...Let us know how you make out...

Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
RoseBlush1
Aug 11, 2019 7:12 PM CST
Mustbnuts said:My soil was awful when I moved in. My side yard was so bad, even weeds wouldn't grow. Over the years, I have not tilled the soil but did put on good organic fertilizer, (first year I had chicken poop on there and ewwwww did it smell but it was great fertilizer!). I also put down good compost, earth worm castings, alfalfa meal (roses love it). I have also used seaweed, neem meal (another very stinky product) and lots and lots of good, finely chopped wood mulch. I have nice earthworms (which I didn't have before).

It is so funny that when I moved here, I had to take a pick ax to the soil in order to get a hole more than 1/2 in deep. The shovel wouldn't work the soil was so compacted and hard and awful. I have to steel myself anytime I go into the yard to dig something up. I just keep putting it off and finally, just grit my teeth and start. Ahhhhhh! The soil is not the same as when I first moved in! I keep forgetting that! Shovel goes in just fine. Soil is so much better and I keep feeding it with compost, good organics, etc. What a difference!

Worm castings will do wonders! Go for it!


MBN ... when I first moved up here, I couldn't buy any of the things you have mentioned in your post.

There was NO way I could dig in my soil. In my best year, I managed to plant 20 roses. I started my rose holes with a pick, but ended up lying on my stomach prying the rocks apart to get a hole that was big and deep to plant my roses.

I live in an old gold mining town up in the mountains. I used everything I could glean. I used oak leaves, madrone leaves, pine needles, forest duff, wood chips, used straw (yeah, that stinks) ... anything free. I've also used chicken poo, rabbit poo, llama poo, horse poo ... my favorite poo.

I got my alfalfa by making an arrangement with the lady that used to own the feed store. When the storage shed where they kept the alfalfa hay bales was almost empty and she was expecting a new delivery, she would call me and I would go over after hours and lift up the pallets and sweep out the shed to get all of the alfalfa dust that fell through the pallets.

I solarized my weeds, when I finally got weeds .... Hilarious! and when they were thoroughly cooked, I'd bag them and let them sit over winter and in spring I had bags of black gold.

I had to haul everything home and then haul it up from the street level to the garden on the house pad level.

Nothing got tilled into the beds. Like you, I found that my soil structure changed and now I don't have any problems digging in the beds.

Oh ... I almost forgot .. *Blush* nowadays, if I wanted to buy anything to feed the soil, it is readily available. We have two stores up here that specialize in providing everything a pot farmer could possibly want... it's pricey, but now it's here.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Aug 11, 2019 7:34 PM CST
With all this worms and roses discussion, I gave my 3 new roses a few shovels worth of worm compost from my bins, they are not worm castings only. They have worms too. They are decaying vegetables and eggshells from my kitchen. My husband throw in a few peat moss shovels to keep the smell from the rats. Otherwise they'll be in there.
One thing I have to be careful for papaya seedlings to come up. Minor problem. Otherwise they are free.
I try to grow everything, sometime not successful.
[Last edited by SoCalGardenNut - Aug 11, 2019 7:59 PM (+)]
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Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Image
BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 11, 2019 8:39 PM CST
Hey SoCal, speaking of rats...
You reminded me, I found the largest rat I've ever seen this morning outside my garden gate. The rat was dead and, being a dog
walker, I had pick-up bags in my pocket. I usually just pick up rats with the bag and let it drop into the bag ... same as poop.
However, this guy was so big that I had to just use the bag like a hot pad and carry him (or her) over to a trash can and drop
him (or her) in. One of the pleasures of gardening.
David
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
Image
Mustbnuts
Aug 11, 2019 8:49 PM CST
Lyn, I feel your pain! When I moved here, I was surprised how little there was in the way of anything organic to use in my garden. I figured that this being an agricultural community, there would be tons of things for me to use. Thank goodness for mail order! I was used to doing that since I came from southern California and there really wasn't anywhere for me to purchase the things I wanted other than potting soil from Roger's Gardens. I have been doing mail order for a long time since I lived in apartments, gardened only in pots and had to get small bags of things since there was no room for storage.

Your resourcefulness and ingenuity were amazing, Lyn!
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
Image
SoCalGardenNut
Aug 11, 2019 9:29 PM CST
BigAppleRoseGuy said:Hey SoCal, speaking of rats...
You reminded me, I found the largest rat I've ever seen this morning outside my garden gate. The rat was dead and, being a dog
walker, I had pick-up bags in my pocket. I usually just pick up rats with the bag and let it drop into the bag ... same as poop.
However, this guy was so big that I had to just use the bag like a hot pad and carry him (or her) over to a trash can and drop
him (or her) in. One of the pleasures of gardening.
David


Scary, I don't like rats. I usually let my husband handle them.

Here is a picture of my black gold, my previous worm bin from my previous garden. We don't have big yard for this 64-gallon container anymore. So I gave it away.

Thumb of 2019-08-12/SoCalGardenNut/b68158

I try to grow everything, sometime not successful.
[Last edited by SoCalGardenNut - Aug 11, 2019 9:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Carol
Alberta, Canada (Zone 3b)
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Canadian_Rose
Aug 12, 2019 12:58 AM CST
GardenNut - yes, black gold!!! It looks so nicely finished!

We're so lucky not to have rats here. Alberta is rat free. We work hard to keep it that way....well, I don't. Hilarious! But if anyone does see one...we phone...and a rat patrol team comes out. The last time I heard of a rat anywhere in Alberta was maybe 30 years ago...and they were killed.

David...blech Thumbs down
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
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BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 16, 2019 2:30 PM CST
I did it.
Zuzu suggested worm castings and I ordered 30 pounds worth.
The UPS guy wasn't happy and neither was I when I had to
carry it (them?) up to the 37th floor and then down to the
garden the next day.

I dug little holes around each rose at 3,6,9, and 12 o'clock and
through a small trowel full in. I didn't wear my pruning gloves
as I should have. See the picture of my trowel arm below.

Now I'll sit back and watch the worms swarm.
David

Thumb of 2019-08-16/BigAppleRoseGuy/a43b38
Name: Jim
Central Pa. (Zone 6a)
Image
jim1961
Aug 17, 2019 7:39 AM CST
AWESOME!

Also Worms like to be kept cool with a topdressing of mulch/or compost/ or leaves...
Hope you have success with the earthworms!
Name: David Tillyer
New York City (Zone 7b)
Image
BigAppleRoseGuy
Aug 17, 2019 8:30 AM CST
Yeah, Jim.
I have a layer of some lovely double shredded mulch that the Parks Department
gave me two months ago. It was about 3 inches, but now it's a 2-inch crust. I'll
have to beat it up with a pitchfork. I'll bet it's not circulating well. Got to
keep my nascent worms happy.

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