Montana worm question

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Steph in MT, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    I feel silly even asking this... Is it too cold in Montana for earthworms and redworms? True, my soil here is horrible, but everywhere I've dug around, even in the better soil under the pine trees I've yet to see a single worm. Was hoping I could introduce some to my garden but don't want to just freeze the poor little guys to death.
    Thanks for any insight anyone can pass along~
    Steph
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    There was an interesting article here last year, pointing out that earth worms are not indigenous to anywhere in the U.S. but since colonization, have spread far and wide.

    That said, I've been all OVER Montana and never yet found a place without worms, but ya gotta know where to look.

    Worms don't like acid soils, so if you are looking under pine trees, you won't find them. Have any cattle nearby? Lift a flop or two and you'll find all the worms you want.

    You can safely introduce them without fear of their freezing.
     

  3. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    Cool thanks! :)
    I've dug around a lot out here- not just under pines but no sign of the little guys anywhere. I think I'll just have to import some to my garden- now that I know they can survive. :)
    Thanks again~
     
  4. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When I moved to my dry home in central Tex where they'd been using chemical treatments (fert. and pestic.) I couldn't find a worm either. As I mulched, compsted, added manures I started finding worms in the moister dirt that developed where I was mulching etc.
     
  5. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds like your soil NEEDS some worms! :) I don't know what part of MOnt. you are in but even in the cold parts just make sure you mulch and then mulch some more! Red worms are the ones that compost manure and kitchen waste and stay near the top of the soil. Night crawlers go way down deep into a complex system of tunnels...they don't like to be in containers very much but I have done it before. They won't multiply very well like that. Red worms will multiply quickly. If you have an old apple...place it under the bedding and in a few days it will probably be full of baby redworms munching away! Provided there are red worms there to begin with. I had to mail order mine in because the fishing stores only carry night crawlers around here. I got them from Garden's Alive with those nice coupons they sometimes have on the front of the catalog. Red worms won't live very long in a garden usually because there isn't enough continuous food for them to eat. I found that a worm composter is the way for me to go. It has 3 levels and they migrate up to the top one as the food below gets too scarce. Then the bottom one is the most "done" and I use it in the garden. There are articles in Countryside mag. about how to make one. I think the last issue had one in it. Best wishes!
     
  6. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input!
    Yes, Ann Mary, my soil definitely needs worms! :) It's virgin land in Roundup, MT (south central MT) - no chemicals ever used here but this gumbo soil is pretty inhospitable looking. The cactus and yucca seem to like it though... I'm actively amending the soil wherever I plant and hope to get things better as the years go on. We plan on being here the rest of our lives so I've got plenty of time . :) I'm thinking of introducing both red and earthworms and a worm composter wounds like a great idea.
    Thanks again~
    Steph
     
  7. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I don't know where they come from, but if you pile on the organic matter including some manure of some kind, you'll get the worms. A manure pile will inclulde the red worms, but what you want in the garden are the big ole nightcrawlers. They actually do the plowing for you! Before you know it your clay soil will be loose and friable. Lovely stuff. Just keep piling on the mulch to keep the weeks down. Make your own compost, or order some in; get leaf mulch from the city. We have mushroom compost here, raw or aged. I use the raw for compost piles, and in the fall to build new beds. I use the aged for this years crops--usually as mulch on top. I don't till--I leave that to my friends in the soil. I wouldn't dream of using harsh chemicals on them.
     
  8. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Sandi~
    That's exactly my plan. :) I will be tilling to get the ground broken up just this one time. I toyed (briefly) with the thought of hand tilling but after doing the elephant garlic and onion beds by hand my poor aching back let it be known that I should rent a tiller for the big garden bed. We just got our first chickens so I will have lots of lovely things to add to my compost pile. Years back, we let our neighbor graze his horses on our property to help with fire danger and the horses blessed me with lots of poop presents so I've been cruising the property with my little wagon collecting all the good stuff and have been spreading it on my future garden plot to till in as well as dumping all my coffee grounds and eggshells. This poor soil needs all the help it can get... We don't have any decidous trees on our property (yet) so next fall I plan to cruise around town and offer to dispose of bagged leaves people have out for trash. :)
    After living in Southern CA for most of my life where worms were plentiful I was just surprised to not see a single one here.
    Thanks again~
    Steph
     
  9. Ann Mary

    Ann Mary Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, I kow where you are at...I lived in Laurel for a while. When fall comes see if people in town will let you have their bags of yard leaves or find someone who has old straw they don't want. There is a feed lot on the east end of Billings...maybe they'd have some fertilizer...course it probably has stuff in it you may not want like grwoth hormones. I'm not sure if they feed that stuff to the cows or not there. It gets WINDY there so be able to button down things for the fall! Enjoy your new place!
     
  10. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ann Mary~
    Yep, I plan to make the rounds next fall on a leaf quest. I've got a friend with horses so between that and my chickens I think I'll eventually have some really nice soil. I look at it as an adventure in gardening. :D
    And thanks, we are enjoying it here~ it's a life-long dream come true for us.
    Take care~
    Steph