worm refuges

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by songbird, Oct 28, 2014.

  1. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    sometimes people live in areas which flood, have changes in temperature or moisture which are not very favorable to worm life, etc.

    so it is a good idea to think about ways of making places that worms can live when conditions otherwise may not favor them.

    building a mound, putting plenty of organic material in the center and down deep enough that they can always have some sort of food, that if it is hot and dry it will be cooler and moist in there. or if it floods the mound can keep some of them alive that they'll be able to spread back out into the surrounding area after the flood has passed.

    here we have floods, freezes and dry hot spells so to encourage worm life to continue in some gardens means i have had to both raise up the garden and to supplement the soil with more organic matter to give the worms food and a cooler place to be when it gets hot. that can be a problem in raised beds in some areas that get too hot if the raised beds are too small. same with winter cold spells, frozen times. i try to make sure there is a good central core with plenty of organic material that some worms will inhabit. other species of worms are not surface or need as much organic matter, but they all do need to not be drowned out by flooding, so having some high points for them too will keep those species around in an area they might otherwise be eliminated...

    by reshaping the area you can also help, i had one back garden that was in very poor shape, but by flattening the area (to retain water longer so it could soak in, but also to stop the rain from washing away valuable organic material from the surface) i stopped a gully from forming, increased soil organic material levels and made it possible for night crawlers to move in where they would not survive before. it used to be a hard packed clay top where only a few straggly weeds would grow. now the entire area is gradually building very healthy soil (based upon the size of random veggies i plant in small test plots throughout and by examining parts of if by digging and examining the soil layers and the root structures of plants). once in a while i chop and drop parts of the field to cycle it as it would be by being grazed. best time i chop it is when the stems of the fodder plants have gone to woody as then those stems persist longer than they would otherwise, making a nice mulch layer on top.

    also, remember that adding adult worms to a new garden is rarely helpful as the worms have not grown in that soil and if it isn't easy for them they are likely to just perish. the smallest worms and cocoons are where the worms for that area will come from and they will be more acclimated to that soil, but again, if it is a tough area they may need some help and extra consideration...

    these are random thoughts on keeping worms a part of your gardens or fields even if perhaps they might otherwise be challenged... : )
     
  2. Gonhar

    Gonhar Junior Member

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    Earthworms are survivors:
    Q. Can earthworms survive freezing?

    A. If frozen, they will die. Earthworms fall into the category of freeze-avoiding invertebrates. Some adults survive freezing temperatures by going below the frost line in winter to "sleep." Earthworm cocoons, however, are much more tolerant to freezing and worm eggs within a cocoon survive deep in the soil over winter to hatch in the spring when conditions are right.

    Q. When are worms most active?

    A. In the fall and spring. Cool temperatures of 50, 60, 70 degrees F and moist conditions are best for earthworms. Earthworms aren't active when it's cold or dry.

    Q. What do earthworms do when it gets too cold, too hot, or too dry?

    A. Earthworms escape by either burrowing deeply into the soil (up to about 6 feet or 2 meters), or entering a reduced metabolic state known as estivation. Estivation is a form of hibernation that takes place when temperatures get too hot or too dry for earthworms. When conditions are favorable, the worms will emerge and resume normal activities.

    Q. What happens during estivation?

    A. Each worm curls up into a tight ball deep in the soil and slows down its metabolism and bodily functions to survive high heat and drought.



    https://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/WormNotes3.html
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    The magic recipe - slow the water down, add organic matter, let the worms get on with it. Sounds like you are on to it Songbird!
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i've found them curled up like that during the hot dry spells. i much prefer to keep them active, thus some sort of refuge which moderates the moisture and temperature extremes.
     

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