Thursday, March 11, 2010

Accidental But Welcome Red Worm Propagation

Back in late November, I potted a few plants into buckets. My soil was barnyard dirt, containing LOTS of well broken down cow manure, and vermicompost from my first condo worm bin. I had tried to harvest as many worms as possible out of the VC before using it as potting soil but I knew that there might be the odd baby worm or worm cocoon remaining. I figured that these would just perish in the dirt since they are not the deep burrowing type of earthworm.

Well I was wrong. Very wrong.

Some weeks back I was watering one of the plants with a spray bottle and I noticed that as I sprayed water on the soil...the soil was moving! This kind of freaked me out until I remembered that I had used VC so perhaps these were worms wiggling under the dirt. Sure enough, moving some of the dirt around revealed a fat adult red worm, thick and juicy, obviously well nourished. Then I found another, and another and another. That day I must have dug 30 fat adult red worms from the top couple inches of soil. Since then I would say I have dug out easily another 50 adult worms. Then, for certain reasons, today was the end of the plant`s life cycle and as I was removing it from the soil and breaking up the rooting in the soil (so that it can be used again as it remains rich) I discovered another 30 or 40 adult worms AND at least 40 cocoons. There were likely still a few worms and I know I didn't get all the cocoons.

So, bearing in mind that my initial worm purchase was around 150 worms, this bucket basically returned my investment in worms, all on its own. That`s pretty cool as far as I`m concerned.

I also wanted to share a picture that I captured awhile shortly after my last worm update post:

You can see a group of worms gathered around a chunk of cow manure. The picture is from about 30 seconds to a minute after I lifted the lid. Had I had the camera ready, this picture would show the whole mass of worms that was covering this chunk of cow shite. They moved pretty fast to get away from the sudden brightness of the overhead light to which they are so sensitive. I wanted to share the picture since it shows what I had been explaining about what great bedding and food manure makes.

So I`m not totally crazy for bringing shite into the house after all.


MoonRaven said...

Wow--this is great to read. I am just about to publish a post on soil (out tomorrow); perhaps it's the season. I do think having a lot of worms is a sign of having very good soil, so here is proof that you have some amazing soil.


Aimee said...

Two years ago I started my compost pile right next to the hardpacked gravelly driveway. I didn't dig into the dirt - that would have taken heavy machinery. I didn't know if I'd ever get soil but I just kept piling up the straw and poop. Now I have rich black composted soil full of worms - and I never had to buy a single worm! My book said they would come and it was right!

linda said...

Way to go! I love these little "accidents".