Adding worms to the soil is a fantastic way to improve the condition of the soil and add valuable nutrients and microbes. If you’re adding them to a planter or raised bed, you can create an amazing ecosystem for plants to live in. At the same time, some people have a hard time keeping their worms alive. If your worms are dying when you add them to the soil, here are a few reasons that could be happening.
For additional reading, find out: Is earthworm poop fertilizer is really good for your plants?
Wrong Temperature for the Worm Species
If you’re buying worms and then just dropping them onto the ground, you may be overlooking a vital detail - temperature. Every type of worm is different when it comes to what temperature they can live comfortably in. For example, if you’re buying Canadian nightcrawlers in the middle of summer in Florida, and you put them on the ground, they’re most likely not going to make it.
Canadian nightcrawlers live in very cold temperatures compared to what you’ll experience in the summer in Florida. They need to live in temperatures between 35 and 48 degrees. If you put them in 80 or 90 degrees...it’s not going to end well.
Because of this, you’ll need to do a little research on the worms that you’re considering buying before you get them. For instance, if you’re in a warmer climate, get African nightcrawlers. They live in a temperature range from about 60 to 95 degrees. They love warmer temperatures. While worms will dig down into the soil and try to get cooler if necessary, they can’t always get deep enough if the temperature variation is too great compared to what they are used to.
Not Enough Food Source
In some cases, the worms may die because they don’t have enough to eat. If you just put them in the garden, then they should be able to survive by just branching out farther in the soil and finding more. If you put them in a contained environment, such as a planter or raised bed, then they could starve at a certain point.
Once they’ve eaten through all of the dirt and organic material in the container, they won’t have anything left to eat, and they’ll die. This can take some time, so it might not seem like an issue at first. But then one day, you take a look and all the worms are dead.
To avoid this scenario, make sure that you add some organic material to the container periodically. You could do this by throwing out some table scraps, adding yard waste, and even dumping some compost in occasionally. Just make sure that you’re giving the worms something to eat every few weeks.
Worms don’t like completely dry soil. They need it wet so that they can get the water they need to survive. If you put them in a container and then never water the plants, they may dry out. Typically if you’re in an area that gets rain, it will rain often enough to keep the plants and the worms alive.
But if you’re in the middle of a drought or in a really dry climate, you may need to water frequently to keep everything alive. If you look at the soil and it’s hard and dry and solid, it’s time to put some water into it. On the other hand, don’t drown the worms by overwatering. Just make the soil moist but not completely soaked.
If you don’t typically raise worms, you may not think about how old they are. But the average lifespan of the worm can play a factor in this as well. For example, African nightcrawlers can live up to roughly 2 years. If you buy worms that are 1 year and 10 months old, then they’re not going to live for another year in your garden.
While you may not know the exact age of the worms when you get them, this can definitely factor in. Look up the average lifespan of the type of worm you’re getting so that you have an idea of how long they’ll last. The good news is, that if you give the worms a good environment to live in, they’ll multiply.
Just because you bought 500 worms to put in the soil, that doesn’t mean that only those 500 will be there in a few months. While some may die, they’re going to breed and have new worms. So after a short time, the worms will multiply and increase in harmony with the size of the environment that they’re in.
Worms can be an extremely valuable addition to your soil, planter, or raised bed. You’ll be improving the condition of the soil, and creating the microbial environment that is just perfect for your plants. Just make sure the worms have a comfortable environment to live in, and you’ll be happy with your investment.