Adding Earthworms to the Garden

(Question)

This is a long shot, but … do you know if it’s possible to commercially purchase earthworms to live in a garden? My research on the Internet indicates that “composter worms” such as red wigglers don’t/can’t live in “dirt”. I have very compacted clay soil and don’t seem to have many (if any) worms and although I know I can amend it with organic matter, I don’t know how that is going to attract worms, so thought if I could purchase some this would give me a head start. (Hope this isn’t a totally wacko idea!!) Thanks for your help!

(Answer)

Dealing with compacted soil is a common issue that many gardeners are faced with. It’s most likely that there’s no or very little worms in your compacted clay soil because they’re unable to live or thrive in your soil in its current condition. Simply adding earth worms to your soil is more likely to end up with worms that either leave the soil to find a more suitable environment, or end up dying in the compacted soil unable to find any nutrients from organic material to feed on.

One of the best solutions to your compacted soil would be adding a thick layer of compost or mulch. 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) would be most ideal for your heavily compacted soil. ¬†Even wood chips are a great amendment if you don’t mind waiting for the organic matter to break down. In either case the worms will certainly be attracted when there’s decaying organic matter for them feed off of. Worms are almost everywhere and will appear if you create the right conditions for them. This will in turn improve the underlying soil as well in time.

Good luck with improving your soil. You may be surprised what organic matter can do to improve your soil and add life within it.