Worms and Products in Landscaping
Landscape gardening has become a sophisticated and 'high tech' industry as the demands and standards of the paying customer have grown, particularly over the last 20 years or so. The days of putting in some soil, laying a bit of turf and a patio are rapidly being consigned to the past.
The customer is much more aware that gardens are living areas, not only for their use but for nature that it is hoped will take up residency and contribute to addressing the balance.
The design, planting mediums, trees, shrubs, all things green and the hard landscaping are crucial to this being a successful project.
Loose supplied Earthworms
For the soft landscaping to get off to a good start, the soil and growing mediums have to be given serious and careful consideration, it is no longer acceptable to rotovate existing areas, import some "topsoil" add a bit of peat and fertilizer and hope for the best! How many projects looked great at the start and then become problematic?
Foliage, whether grass or trees, need more than just fertilizers and water. The success of all plants is dependant on the early establishment and expansion of the root system. This needs to be at the correct rate, too quick or the wrong emphasis on the roots can cause problems later on.
Nature, when it has not been "helped" (interfered with) usually manages to have the right balance, the whole environment around the establishing root systems is teaming with micro life of all sorts from bacteria, through fungi up to larger creatures including earthworms, in fact, it is the action of earthworms and these other creatures, acting on the building blocks that create this super environment, a far cry from the dry, lifeless, unbalanced, alien environment normally provided for the plants out of a bag!
This can be vastly improved upon simply by inoculating these lifeless mediums with the right products. First, by adding worm-casts, all the beneficial micro life - bacteria, fungii and beneficial bugs will be present, along with nutrients, providing the planted area is kept moist, this micro life will grow and flourish. Secondly, when the system has matured, inoculate with earthworms, the worms will establish and grow as all their needs will have been provided; as the population expands more worm casts will be produced, more nutrients, more micro life, all to the benefit of the growing plants, oh, and if this wasn't enough, research shows that this natural environment around the roots contributes significantly to the plants ability to fight disease and bug attack - just as nature intended!
For several years we have been developing "Worm Colonies" these are a means of introducing a colony of worms into the soil, previously the only way to do this was to purchase the worms loose and then plant them or, if you wanted to feed most of them to the birds, spread them around on the surface! Planting loose worms does have certain drawbacks, holes will need to be dug and watered to cater for the number of worms required for the area to be populated. Using colonies means the worms stay protected in an environment they are happy to live in but are able to migrate out into the surrounding soils in their own time but there is always the protective environment of the colony to retreat back to if necessary.
If you are interested in further reading about the development of introducing worms to the soil, there are several aricles and papers online, search for "Soil Innoculation Units" developed by the Open University.
Earthworm colonies are particularly beneficial where remedial work has to be undertaken, an example would be where trees are suffering from compaction due to vehicles parking near them etc.
Once the compaction has been dealt with and a regime of feeding, watering, mulching and vertical mulching etc is being undertaken, then would be the time to introduce worm colonies.
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