Soil and Compost forum: Is there a simple way to create natural, self-composting soil?

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Barcelona, Spain
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Gabe1982
May 8, 2016 1:30 PM CST
I have recently read a post where a guy used a few things (like eggshells and some weird salts) and some worm eggs to create a soil that was nutritious enough for this worm strain and while the work was eating all the things away, it basically excreted into the soil (making it perfect for plants).

Does anyone know of a way to do the same in a simple way?

I mean it is easy to get eggshells from the kitchen....but other things might be complicated (he used some weird salts and I cant remember what they were) and I have no clue where to get those weird worm eggs. I remember it was easy when I was a kid. We had a massive garden and we would just dig up those worms to use them on fishing hooks (but now living in a big city...things are slightly different).

Any help will do. :)
Cheers
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
May 8, 2016 4:22 PM CST
Don't know anything about the special worms but you could look into spot composting - burying some of your kitchen goodies in the soil - which would attract the worms in your soil.
Barcelona, Spain
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Gabe1982
May 8, 2016 4:41 PM CST
Shadegardener said:Don't know anything about the special worms but you could look into spot composting - burying some of your kitchen goodies in the soil - which would attract the worms in your soil.


It's a type of earthworm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumbricus_terrestris). It is in the soil. It eats it and when it poops...well, that's when natural fertilization occurs. At least that's the idea. I am not sure I am right on this whole idea. :)

Read this part: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm#Benefits
It might prove my idea right. I guess the soil needs to be recharged with things these little guys eat, but if it is something simple like eggshells and some simple salts...then it would make the whole thing easier than preparing compost in a flat.

P.S. just found this post on earthworms in pots. http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/1497602/put-worms-i...
They say it is a bad idea if they are so-called wigglers, but others say that earthworms do a good job of keeping the soil fertilized. Interesting.
[Last edited by Gabe1982 - May 8, 2016 4:59 PM (+)]
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Name: Catherine
NW Illinois (Zone 5a)
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jerseyridgearts
May 8, 2016 5:42 PM CST
I wonder if you're thinking of vermiposting? It isn't generally done directly in your garden bed but I guess it could be. It uses wiggler worms too which, for me, are easier to obtain. Here's a link:

http://permaculturenews.org/2011/04/02/everything-you-need-t...
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
May 9, 2016 8:06 AM CST
What I've heard about red wigglers (but not sure if accurate) - they differ from native earth worms because they live closer to the soil surface and therefore can't survive our winters. The "salts" needs more definition and research as there's the potential for affecting your soil profile.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 9, 2016 10:42 AM CST
Supposedly there are almost no native earthworms:

http://ecosystems.serc.si.edu/earthworm-invaders/
[Last edited by sooby - May 9, 2016 10:48 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
May 9, 2016 6:43 PM CST
I would say there are two main things: the health and fertility of the soil, and then there are conditions that encourage more worms to live there.

Usually the two things occur together, but do decide whether you MOST want to grow flowers and crops, or worms! (Are the worms just a means-to-an-end, or are they the goals in themselves?

If you are more interested in plants, then aim for rich, organic, well-aerated soil, and you'll get worms as a bonus. Consider the worms an INDICATOR of how healthy and organic your soil is.

- Add lots of compost! That is good for plants, and good for worms.

- Make sure the soil drains well enough to be well-aerated! That's good for both, too.

- Mulch! Protect worms and roots from heat, cold and dryness. Fewer weeds to pull are a bonus.

- Unless you really need to open up heavy clay, don't till or roto-till more than necessary. (It probably inconveniences the worms to be chopped up.) Always add compost and amendments when you DO turn the soil. Consider trying to imitate the action of a broadfork with a garden fork. Try to achieve "loft" and aeration by adding enough compost, other organic matter, and coarse soil amendments. You can always add compost or OM by sheet composting, trench composting or spot composting (spread it under the mulch, or dig a hole, dump and cover it.)

As for special worms, and special salts, if you want to grow worms in with your plants, I would think it better to seek to encourage "native" worms, or worms well-suited to your climate.

Think twice or three times before creating a nutrient imbalance (excess) because someone has advanced ideas about cultivating worms. Get a soil test before randomly adding soluble minerals! If your soil doesn't NEED something added, adding it anyway is BAD for the soil fertility!

If you focus too much on worms with special needs, won't the plants suffer? No one can serve two masters well.

I would experiment with worms in a vermicomposting heap or windrow - or, better, a tub or bin. You can get most of the benefit from worms by taking their left-over bedding with "worm casts" and spreading those in your beds.

Just be careful: if you follow some new idea for growing worms, make sure that their wastes don't poison YOUR soil. The person having great luck with his system might have very low levels of (for example) Manganese in his soil.

Say he adds lots of Manganese to his vermicomposting tub, and then spreads it over an acre of Manganese-deficient soil. Fine, good job.

Now suppose that you already have plenty of Manganese in your soil. You follow his worm-growing recipe. Say you spread the wastes from a BIG bin over a few small raised beds. Now those beds have a Manganese excess, and good luck recovering from it!

Everyone's situation is different.


Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Jun 4, 2016 1:01 AM CST
If you start a mulch with yard waste, particularly leaves, you will collect local-to-you earth worms. Unless you live next door to the tundra your soil will warm adequately with a perpetual mulch kept in place.

See Ruth Stout.

If an old lady could do it, I bet most every one else can too.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jul 15, 2016 7:46 AM CST
I highly recommend the book "The Earth Moved" by Amy Stewart
https://smile.amazon.com/Earth-Moved-Remarkable-Achievements...

Karen
Name: Nico
Northern Midwest, US (Zone 3b)
Birds
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nicodiangel_no
Aug 11, 2016 9:51 AM CST
I've read a lot about coffee lately, and it seems to be pretty good with worms- I've heard lots of things about it, from attracting worms to killing slugs and other pests. If you're a big coffee drinker, I think that would be a pretty good start, at least!
(Although some say it's a bit on the acidic side, while others say that roasted coffee is more neutral... maybe try getting some more alkaline materials as well?)
:^DD
Name: David Queen
Mineral bluff ga (Zone 7a)
Queensdaylilies
Daylilies
Ace529
Sep 12, 2016 9:57 AM CST
Gabe1982 said:I have recently read a post where a guy used a few things (like eggshells and some weird salts) and some worm eggs to create a soil that was nutritious enough for this worm strain and while the work was eating all the things away, it basically excreted into the soil (making it perfect for plants).

Does anyone know of a way to do the same in a simple way?

I mean it is easy to get eggshells from the kitchen....but other things might be complicated (he used some weird salts and I cant remember what they were) and I have no clue where to get those weird worm eggs. I remember it was easy when I was a kid. We had a massive garden and we would just dig up those worms to use them on fishing hooks (but now living in a big city...things are slightly different).

Any help will do. :)
Cheers

I use a 2 storage totes, fill one with stuff like egg shells, coffee grinds, left over veggies from supper, just don't put meats or anything greasy or it'll start stinking, through some lawn clippings,dead leaves into it then dump one into the other every weekend until it gets good and rich, works great.

carolpalmer
Sep 15, 2016 12:24 AM CST
Gabe1982 said:I have recently read a post where a guy used a few things (like eggshells and some weird salts) and some worm eggs to create a soil that was nutritious enough for this worm strain and while the work was eating all the things away, it basically excreted into the soil (making it perfect for plants).

Does anyone know of a way to do the same in a simple way?

I mean it is easy to get eggshells from the kitchen....but other things might be complicated (he used some weird salts and I cant remember what they were) and I have no clue where to get those weird worm eggs. I remember it was easy when I was a kid. We had a massive garden and we would just dig up those worms to use them on fishing hooks (but now living in a big city...things are slightly different).

Any help will do. :)
Cheers



The most cheap and viable option I found was with the organic waste. Get rid off these waste and in return nourish your garden soil with nutrients. it helps you do away with refuse in landfills and helps in carbon absorption. It is very simple. Check this article http://www.redbins.ca/3-ways-get-rid-organic-waste/

Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Sep 15, 2016 5:57 AM CST
It's one of those "If you build it, they will come" things. By adding any organic matter to your soil, you encourage local earthworms to move in, aerate and fertilize your soil. Make compost. Start lasagna beds. Throw you used coffee grounds on your flower beds. Use organic mulches, like leaves or straw or grass clippings. Collect fall leaves from your neighbors and use them as soil ammendments. ... Once you build up your soil it will be alive with worms. It's not a one time thing, but rather an ongoing process.

After gardening and composting in this yard for over 30 years, my once dead, light tan mucky clay soil is now rich and black with a massive network of worm tunnels.

Karen
Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Sep 28, 2016 6:46 PM CST
Woodlice are very good for breaking things down as well as worms but Woodlice are very good they eat only dead rotten garden matter. Another idea is to get some Madagascar hissing roaches and feed them on all your vegetable/fruit scraps etc etc they eat everything, you get a nice layer of roach poop for compost, depending on how much you feed them and how many you have, you can get up to a liter of fresh compost out of them each week for your plants.
[Last edited by AmberLeaf - Sep 28, 2016 6:59 PM (+)]
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 29, 2016 10:39 AM CST
AmberLeaf said:Woodlice are very good for breaking things down as well as worms but Woodlice are very good they eat only dead rotten garden matter. Another idea is to get some Madagascar hissing roaches and feed them on all your vegetable/fruit scraps etc etc they eat everything, you get a nice layer of roach poop for compost, depending on how much you feed them and how many you have, you can get up to a liter of fresh compost out of them each week for your plants.

Now that is fascinating.
Amazing what one can do on the other side of the pond.

Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Sep 30, 2016 4:18 PM CST
Insects can play a very important role in gardening but some can also be complete pests as well. It is amazing how things in nature all work together
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Nov 3, 2016 8:38 AM CST
There is something called "sheet-composting". Basically, you add grass and kitchen waste to your garden and cover it with hay and the dump some soil on it to compost in place over Winter.

I tried it a couple of times and wasn't impressed. Too much uncomposted stuff in Spring. But if you don't have a compost bin and lots of kitchen scraps, it works better than nothing. The worms will do a lot of work.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Nov 6, 2016 10:27 AM CST
I spread Fall Leaves all over my garden beds. They work as mulch to keep down the weeds and then later they break down and feed the soil.

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