Is it unusual not to have Earthworms in the soil?

I work a lot in my flowerbeds. I have four in various areas in the yard. I just finished digging a small bed 5 feet long and I went down 7 inches.

It occurred to me this morning that its been years since I saw an earthworm. Even in that new area I just dug and screened (removing the rocks). Not one worm.

How unusual is it not to find earthworms?

I recall old time gardeners saying earthworms are very beneficial. They enrich and break down the soil.

How can I introduce earthworms into the yard? Are the ones at a bait & tackle shop ok to use? Can I just dump the bait container into the flowerbed?

It is unusual not to have earthworms. I would suggest getting a soil test. Try to find your local county extension office and talk to one of their agents.

If you don’t have earthworms, you probably don’t have whatever it is earthworms eat and you need to be adding organic matter to your soil. Or maybe the pH level is off. Or could be quite a few other things, which is why a soil test is the best step so you know exactly what you need to be doing. In my neck of the woods, a soil test costs $20. I wouldn’t think it would be much different for you.

Once you get the soil in good shape, the worms will return. If you just get more worms without correcting the problem - and you’d need a few dozen bait boxes to make it work - those worms will leave, too.

Do you have some sort of a county extension office that you can take a soil sample to? Or find out if others in the area are also experiencing low worm volume.

I know that worms typically don’t like poor soil conditions and where I live it’s basically sand. Yet for some reason I seem to have a lot of worms but it might be because I’m always throwing bags of topsoil down in my gardens.

start a compost pile. if you have worms some will eventually find it.

worms need soils that don’t pack tight, moisture and decaying vegetation.

I would say yes and if you add organic matter it makes everything about soil better, including attracting worms.

Last time I had a yard of my own I did this and not only did I greatly increase the number of worms (always had some) but they became bigger, shinier and more energetic.

I added bone meal and blood meal to this new bed. Also nearly a bag of composted cow manure. Maybe that will attract the worms.

My soil is pretty rocky and compacted. I need to get some soil samples and get them tested.

Perhaps you are not supposed to have earthworms. I don’t know about your area, but earthworms are not native to Minnesota, which is where I live. They do live here now, but they are all considered invasive species. I would not introduce worms from the bait shop, etc. until you make sure you are supposed to have them.

i bought some worn out blackland prairie 8 years ago and have a lot of flower and vegetable beds. it took four years of no pesticide/herbicide, adding compost, organic fertilizer, etc til i started seeing earthwoms. they don’t make soil healthy, but are an indication it’s getting there, unless you’re up north where they wear it out. even better, i’m starting to see a few fairy rings…

Try walking with rhythm. :wink:

Earthworms are not native to the Americas so don’t sweat it. In fact, as Tamex’ link shows, they are an invasive species from Europe. There are other worms that are native to our soil. Cecilwrote on this a while back.

Did you find other bugs and crawlies in the soil? If so, your soil is likely healthy enough to support crops and flowers.

Do you use man-made fertilizers? The salts that are left behind by things like Miracle Grow can harm the health of your soil. If you want to attract worms the very best thing you can do is add compost to your soil (not manure, but well-aged compost. It should smell good, and earthy.)

As someone said above though, if you have other livestock (bugs, grubs, and the like) crawling around in your soil, your soil may be healthy even without earthworms.