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Thread: Ode to an Earthworm

  1. #1
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    Ode to an Earthworm

    You were expecting an ode to an earthworm...come on it's late..not that I can't do it !
    Anyway, over the past few weeks I've noticed as I dump out the contents of plastic pots that many earthworms have taken up residence. I don't know how they got there but I'm starting to think that maybe I should just have 'earthworm pots' to generate earthworms that I can then toss into my flower beds. That's what I did with the earthworms I came across today. I love it; to me they are a sign that the soil is good and if it's not all that good they can make it better.
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  2. #2
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    Earthworms in the pots

    Cathy-I've noticed the same, worms seem to love the potting mix, as well as living right underneath the pots. It's come in handy when my son and I need fishin bait!

    I also think it's a good thing to have these guys in the pots, as I use a lot of compost in my mix, and this composted steer manure has been sitting long enough to have lots of worms in it by the time it gets added to the potting mix.

    My understanding is that the worms improve any soil or organic stuff they swallow and poop out...innoculating it with little micro-good guys and even adjusting the pH closer to ideal. I have even used this "vermicompost" in the propagating mix for cuttings (2 parts perlite, 1 part vermi, 1 part peat)...I was very happy with the results using this last summer.

    Ode to an earthworm?

    Rah, rah, rah...yeaaaah earthworm!

    Glen in BC

  3. #3
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    Glen, How long do you compost steer manure before using it in pots? Do you compost it by itself or add other ingredients? We have plenty of manure and would love to have something "free" to extend our planting medium.
    Thanks for all the good advice you give us.
    tennessee sue

  4. #4
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    Composted manure in pots

    Sue-I've always mixed the composted steer manure with bark to make my mix. This stuff comes from the local feedlot already quite well composted by them...that is, it has cooled off and doesn't smell too bad. There are still some clods of fresher stuff in it that could do with more time, so I try to avoid those at first.

    This year I got enough trucked in to leave a pile under a tarp at the side of the property. I have been real happy with the way this pile has gotten worms and fungus from the nearby forest crawling thru it. The compost has really changed from quite acceptable to beautiful, crumbly stuff with lots of critters running thru it. I'm pretty sure this is an improvement over the "new" compost/manure. Gonna try to stay ahead of the game by ordering in advance, and let the worms, etc. work on the piles from now on.

    The feelot does a good job of turning their stuff and getting it to heat up nicely, so no weeds. (I'm not so good about that in my own little compost pile, never really heats up enough to get rid of weed seeds or diseases, I think.) It's just that extra time for the compost/manure to get the worms going thru it really seems to improve it...

    Glen

  5. #5
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    I can get composted horse manure and hay from a stable at a local college. I guess that would work too wouldn't it. It is free if I haul it. They even load it. I have used it on new ground that I want to use as a garden and it worked very nicely at amending the soil.
    I never seem to get around to turning my compost either. Just too much else to do. I do want to compost some leaves this year to use later in my mix.I've learned not to use leaves from hybrid poplars, they take forever to break down. I do use tham as a mulch over my plants in the shade area though.
    tennessee sue

  6. #6
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    Sue- I do not have first hand knowledge; this is just anecdotal information. A co-worker told me that he once used horse manure and got a ton of weeds; something about horses eating weeds but not cows eating weeds. I have no idea if this has any vaildity whatsoever but I thought of it when I read your post. Now perhaps the heat of composting kills weed seeds. Any horse manure composters out there ?
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  7. #7
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    Hi All,
    I used very aged horse manure last year on a couple beds and it still had some weed seeds. It was about 6 yrs. old. Too old, in my opinion. I will be getting some that is about 1 yr. old now and spread it on the area where my new beds will be. I plan on planting next spring then mulching heavily so the little buggers don't spout. I hope it works. Or what about the pre-emergents? I heard they work really well.
    Happy Growing,
    Vicki in West. Mich.

  8. #8
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    weed seed in manure

    Horse manure is well known for weeds, whether the horses don't digest the seeds as well, or the bedding has seeds in it, it tends to grow a ton of em if you don't compost it real well.

    The feedlot is delivering another truckload here tomorrow morning, so it can sit for a year or so before I'll need it. I like it good and old, with the worms and fungi growing all thru it. I do keep a tarp over it to prevent leaching the nutrients out...even in the very dry, hot summer the pile stayed moist under there (also in the shade). This feedlot does compost carefully, turning and tracking the temp to make sure the seeds are killed before selling the stuff.

    Horse manure can be managed to avoid weed seeds, like the worm farm I buy vermicompost from. They also compost very carefully and completely, before feeding the composted manure to their worms. Apparently earthworms will take out the weed seeds if they pass them thru their gut, so this makes the vermicompost a real dependable product.

    Otherwise, I wouldn't put horse manure on my property, coz I just can't seem to stay on top of the composting like it needs to be...something like 130 or 140F for several days, and turning the outside of the pile in to the centre to get it heated properly...just ain't gonna happen around here. I've certainly got enough weeds to deal with here without "sowing" a bunch more from a load of manure.


    Glen in BC

  9. #9
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    Glen,
    Thanks for that great advice! I will take you up on it. There are cow farms around here that I can also get manure from. No wonder the horse people want you to haul it away! You are absoutely right about the weeds, I also have enough. I have piles of wood chips (little chips), from my brothers' stump grinding business that I am also waiting to decompose.

    Have a great day (night)!
    Happy Growing,
    Vicki in West. Mich.

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