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Expert Council Q&A for 4-25-24 – Epi-3486 — 3 Comments

  1. I know little about jumping worms other than what I have heard but I heard that they are problematic because the claim is that the worm castings won’t integrate into the soil. I don’t fully understand that but I can post some links etc .. I just google searched for “jumping worm casting dont break down” because that was what I had read. I first saw it on nextdoor about these things because someone said they where found in a field around here so I tried to look it up. It sounds like they eat the mulch layer and some of the plant roots .. not totally sure. Someone else said that chickens don’t really like them either but I have no experience in that

    https://joegardener.com/podcast/invasive-jumping-worms/

    Earthworm castings are high in nutrients and typically a good soil amendment, but Brad points out that jumping worm castings sit on top of the soil, where those nutrients are not available to plants. Because other earthworms have been displaced, there is nothing else to pull those nutrients down into the soil, and then the castings erode away in rain.

    Brad knows that using organic mulch is important in gardening for a variety of reasons, like retaining moisture and suppressing weeds, but he says that for jumping worms, that mulch is like a buffet, including wood mulch. Jumping worms have an enzyme that allows them to digest wood, which not every earthworm can.

    I seriously can’t imagine a garden without mulch, and my favorite mulch of all is shredded leaves. Well, Brad has studied what leaves, pine needles and grasses are the most and least palatable to jumping worms and found that they really love leaf mulch — especially maple leaf mulch with its high nitrogen content — and just gobble it up. He also found that jumping worms do not like pine needles or native grasses like big bluestem.

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    https://ask2.extension.org/kb/faq.php?id=844342

    there is really no value in the castings. The worms will turn your soil into a coffee ground like consistency that will hold no organic matter. They are invasive in that they will convert organic matter uncontrolled at an alarming rate if left alone.

    • The red wriggler worm castings I use on my chestnut seedlings have a coffeeground like consistency too, and my saplings are loving it. Feeder roots tend to be near the surface anyway, and as long as you keep sowing stuff on top I don’t see why it’s any more bad than any other kind of manure on top of the soil. Seems like a lot of fuss over a largely unsolvable non-problem, with the usual histrionic government types trying to fan up fears.

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