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Author Topic: Night crawlers and the compost pile  (Read 4716 times)
Cindi
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« on: August 09, 2007, 09:28:51 AM »

I have an enormous compost pile.  Picture a minimum of two hours of mowing grass (and all the other stuff that goes into the compost all year around, but no weeds, that is a no no), and you may begin to imagine the size of my compost pile.  That is how long it takes me to mow the yards around my place.  Big job, but man is the exercise good.  I have very strong legs.

Now and then I find on my lawn an enormous worm.  I presume this is the big worm that is termed the "nightcrawler."  Certainly not the typical smaller guys that I find in my gardens all the time.  When I find the big worms I put them in my compost pile, hoping that they will propogate in there.  But...now I have a question.

The nightcrawlers are found on top of the lawn.  Is this their nature, to live under grassy areas only?  My curiosity is that I wonder if they would not stay in the compost pile and look for the areas that have the growing grass above.  Anyone got any interesting thoughts on this?  Have this wonderful day, go to a place that makes you happy.  That is your biggest job of the day, to be in that place (in your mind) that makes you happy.  You will be happy.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007, 12:39:48 PM »

A worm out of the ground in the day time? This is pretty unusually I think unless something scared it out of its burrow or it rained alot and was in fear of drowning.
Good question about the compost pile though, I have mount manure in the back with rich compost at one end and fresh manure on the other. When I flip the pile to aerate there are tons of baby worms and red worms but I have never seen night crawlers in there, at night though we have so many night crawlers in the grass away from the pile that you can just reach down and pick up a dozen for fishing. So I guess the night crawlers do not care for compost piles as much as nice fresh grass.
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Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2007, 01:07:35 PM »

BlueEggFarmer.  Yes, I thought it rather odd that a worm would be on the surface during the day.  It was actually early evening, in a shadey spot, had not rained, go figure.

Sometimes words have an intrigue with me.  I don't know why, just one of my idiosynchrocies.  I think the word "night crawler" holds this mystique.  I haven't ever noticed alot (or any for that matter) on my lawns.  I have have very enormous lawns.  I really must get out there, just for the fun of it, and observe this more deeply.  We should have them, I see no reason why not.  I do own a flashlight  Wink, so maybe tonight's the night.  Have a wonderful day, beautiful life and health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2007, 01:17:31 PM »

 grin
The early bird catches the worm,
but maybe
the early worm catches the bird...poop?
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2007, 01:37:49 PM »

I will occasionally scare off a robin, and it will drop the worm that it is in process of pecking up into edible chunks.  How and where they find nightcrawlers during the day is beyond me, I can't ever find them.

Rick
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Rick
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2007, 03:16:02 PM »

Contrary to popular bee-lief worms are not good in garden. They eat the very organic elements you are trying to add.

I have heard of worm compost (digesters?) arrangements and they i think collect the 'castings' but even so would wonder if the fermented organic material isn't better??

It was certainly the shattering of a long held belief when I heard that.

cheers

peter
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2007, 08:19:15 PM »

Actually worms aren't harmful in a garden setting, where they are extremely destructive is in the forest, where they process the organic matter too fast, making it difficult if not impossible for a good layer of forest duff to form where many of the spring ephemerals live - the woodland wildflowers.  If you see a patch of forest where there is a lack of undergrowth, consider that worms may have made the understory unfriendly to the herbaceous plants that should be there.
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2007, 08:26:54 PM »

Here, here,

Yes I agree worms aren't necessarily 'harmful' in a garden, just that they are competing with the plants for the same goodness.

That is interesting re:forests, and I can see why as a lot of times (here anyways) that forest that is left is on so-so land and the duff is the only thing really good for growth and like you say is only the iop small amount of soil.

Learn something new every day

cheers

peter
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2008, 03:26:39 PM »

Night crawlers aren't found in your compost pile as they live deeper in the soil than do the red wigglers, nor do they eat the same material.  No, worms are not "bad for the garden" and do not compete with your plants for the nutrients, but they DO turn your compost into the nutrients your plants need on a quicker basis than would normally happen.  Vermicomposting is a most interesting topic and can easily be researched online if you are interested.  Those of us who use no-till gardening depend on the worms to process the compost and aerate the soil.  We actually buy red wigglers and place them in our raised beds, then we feed them!  Not common for the night crawler to be on the surface in the daylight but they do come up to the surface of their burrows on occasion...if you ever want to see something neat watch the robins!  They will bleep their heads and dart in and pull up a large worm where you would have sworn none were a moment ago.  We always waited until after dark after a rainy day and took flashlights out and caught the night crawlers for fishing.  When we really needed to catch them and there weren't any, we made a very weak bleach water solution and poured it on the ground and, man, would they crawl out!  Not recommended for the grass or the worms, but, hey, when you're a kid and you live by the river...all is fair in love and fishing!
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2008, 09:50:50 PM »

Cindi, were you digging or doing something that would have cause a vibration in the soil?  My grandfather taught me to gather nightcrawlers in the day time (for fishing of course) by stabbing a pitchfork into the ground and strumming it like a jews harp.  After a few twangs the night crawlers would start crawling out of the ground.
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2008, 12:05:26 AM »

Beekissed and Brian, wow!!!  I had forgotten about the night crawler that I found during the day that day.  The comments are great.  Brian, your question answered, yes, I was stabbing the ground actually, trying to get out some plantain that was in the wrong place, it was a method that I was trying to see if it worked to loosen the roots.  Absolutely, that is what made the nightcrawler surface, makes 100% good sense.

When I am making the borders around my sidewalks, (I like to keep the grass about 3 inches from the sidewalks so I can mow the grass clean to that point), there are hundreds and hundreds of regular worms that surface.  I remember one evening last summer, just for the fun of it, I gathered every worm that surfaced there, I had an enormous amount after a couple of hours, it was probably about 1/4 of an ice cream pail.  That is a whole lot of worms, and man does it look creepy!!!!  This is a common occurrence with the worms and me around the sidewalks.  They come bubbling out of the ground so quickly it makes my head swim, and some can squiggle away almost too fast to catch too!!!

Brian, I am going to try your method of the pitchfork in the ground actually, soon.....I will cause vibration on the tines of the fork and see what happens.  That sounds pretty cool and would be a neat experiment, I will let you know what happens.  We have had lots of rain lately, so the ground will be very soft and the worms not too deep.

When I was gathering the worms that evening last summer, a friend of my Son-in-Law was watching me, thinking I was nuts and proceeded to tell me that when his Father and him used to gather worms for fishing, they would put two rods into the earth and attach an extension cord to them and cause some kind of electrical charge.  I am not sure of the method because I wasn't listening very closely, but that was the gist of it.  He said the worms poured out of the ground.  He said that you had to gather them really, really quickly, because as quickly as they came up, they would head back down.  I know how quickly they can go back in the earth, let me tell you!!! Just try and grab one before it is completely out of the ground, it is like a whip, back down within a blink of the eye and there is no way on this good green earth that you can pull it out, it is like that are stuck in the earth like glue!!!  Eeeks!!!!  How can I ramble on so.....have a beautiful and wonderfullest day, Cindi

Beekissed, I know what you are talking about when watching the robins, they astound me too when they bleep their head to the side, put their beeks into the ground and pull up worms, enthralling and wonderful to watch, they amaze me.  How they can gather so many in their mouths when needed is cool too!!!  Have the most beautiful, greatest of days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2008, 09:37:22 AM »

Baitshops pay good $$ for night crawlers and people actually go out at night and gather them for a living.

Also when I said they compete in the garden, they do not eat nutrients, rather organic matter that keeps your soil loose and eventually decomposes into nutrients.

Professor at the univ. hort. dept. was the one that pointed out that worms are not indigenous and will strip organic matter from soil and I'd believe him.

cheers

peter
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2008, 11:56:41 PM »

I remember years ago when My dad took me to a place to catch nite crawlers at one of his friends house. dad and his pal , I remember, stuck an electric rod in the ground and turned it on!.The Nitecrawlers came pouring out of the ground! This was during daylite hours!..On different occasions we would crawl around in the dark with flashlites and snatch 'em up in the garden bed before they went back down in the earth!
 Maybe, Cindi, you have an electric current coming from somewhere in the area making them come up during the day.
 Where i live now we dont have nitecrawlers....Sometimes tho you mite see a bigger than average earthworm when youre digging in the garden!

your friend,
john
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2008, 12:02:23 AM »

Back when the valley was farming land, before the warehouses & businesses covered it up you could dig nightcrawlers that were 12-16inches & fat as your fingers!  They looked like garter snakes! and YES I do know the difference!

Jody
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2008, 01:56:38 PM »

Vibrations will bring them to the top of the ground.
Haven't any of you ever caught night crawlers to fish with?
Yes the regular old barnyard red worm some how will find their way to the compost pile.
Don't worry about the heat, the worms know to back off from the hot spots.
Need to watch the PH though.

Read my rabbitredworm story in the thread, "why raise rabbits for meat".
Why do you think the call me "RABBITREDWORM"? Smiley Wink
doak---AKA rabbitredworm
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Cindi
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2008, 10:22:59 AM »

Doak, now you have sent me off on an adventure, I need to find that post that you describe that you wrote, hee, hee.  Beautiful day in this beautiful life.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2008, 04:22:30 PM »

I remember search night crawlers years ago, I have thousands popping up little 3/8 inch holes in my front and back yard on warmer Spring nights and cooler Summer nights.

What I read was amazing: they live nearly 20 feet, soetimes deeper than that in the ground - using geothermal temps to regulate their bdy temps. The holes are so perfectly verticle that you can PLUMBOB them to the bottom. Rain on the ground (and other vibrations will cause them to climb out) and they are dual-sexed and take advantage to mate when above ground. While mating it is easy to grab up two at a time, use a dull flashlight with waxpaper held over the light using rubberbands and don't aim the light directly at them, just look for the shiney bodies, they really gleam with little light at night.

It is hard to keep them alive (comparred to earthworms) because if you cover them with compost or coffe grounds, they smother easily. Cool moss is a better option.

Lastly, when it rains, their holes fill with water and they work their way about the raising water level  neat little creatures for sure!

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Cindi
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2008, 12:07:46 AM »

John, yeah!!!  YOu got me pretty hyped up about the search for nightcrawlers.  What a great bit of knowledge you have imparted, cool!!!!  I am going to wait until the weather warms up quite a bit and then, I will listen to your advice on how to view these beauties and hopefully catch a few.  Only to catch and release, I have that curious side, and I also have a child within me that loves to come alive and slip out sometimes, and I let her go and have some fun......nightcrawling catching we will go......beauty.  Have the  wonderful and most awesome of days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2008, 09:47:45 AM »

Wow, john!
 This is the kind of info. a person needs at family gatherings!
 I never knew any of this stuf about nite crawlers till now!
 Now, I just have to wait till someone mentions fishing with worms so I can "Enlighten" them!..I bet I'll be sharing this by tomorrow!(Cuz I have to go back to work).
your friend,
john
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2008, 10:14:35 PM »

   I remember my brothers and I searching neighborhood yards, up north, for soft soiled uneven yards.  Seemed to get more in those yards than the level firmer ones.  We would get permission and go that night with flashlights and get a couple.  Then an uncle told us how a red lense or wrap would help us get more.  He was always mixing in BS with truth just to see if we would do it or call him out on it.  We figured it couldn't hurt and we would never admit to him that we tried it if it didn't work anyway.  Man it really seemed to make them glow and didn't spook them.  We learned how to walk real softly also.  Any crawlers we didn't use went into our yard.  Then we started a night crawler farm in the basement for a couple years. 

Never admitted to him we tried it when he asked anyway.  It was fun watching him take us out to 'teach us how'. evil
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