Worms to the Rescue!

Our yard is a disaster.  Remember a few months ago we planted a bunch of new things in hopes up making our yard a happier place to be?  Let’s take a look:

So young and promising… full of hope for their bright futures…

Now they are dead. Dead as door nails.R.I.P. trees… we will miss you.

After going through the heartbreak of losing yet another round of planted love, we came to the conclusion that its isn’t the way we take care of them (because we do! and well!)… it is the terrible quality of the soil.  Literally it is hard-packed sand/dust that blows around in the wind.  That doesn’t scream healthy to me…

So how does one go about improving soil quality?  The answer: worms.Apparently these little guys are called “the gardener’s unpaid handyman.”  First of all, they tunnel through the top 12″ of your soil, aerating it and leaving room for plant roots to grow more freely.  No more hard-packed soil!  Secondly, (and bear with me here… I’m about to get a little gross) earthworm waste contains five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, eleven times more potassium, and 1,000 times more good bacteria than the material it consumed.  So worms make the quality of the soil better as well as the structure.  You may think I know a lot about worms but really all I did was read the back of the worm container! :)Anyway, now that we have gotten a little down and dirty, let’s move forward.  Once Walker came up with the brilliant idea to use worms to help our soil (he’s so smart!) and I read the back of the worm can to figure out what the heck he was talking about, we followed the instructions to give the little worms a new home in our yard.

Prior to placing the worms, we roughed up the top couple inches of bare soil.  Then, once the worms were settled, we mixed the top layer of dead, miserable soil with some healthy, happy soil.  Then we spread some more grass seed over the bare areas and watered thoroughly with our new sprinkler.

Sad, but this is the improved “after” picture…

We have been good about watering twice a day (morning and evening) and are hoping that the worms, healthy soil, and new grass (please?) will help improve our soil. It is also nice that the weather has cooled down a bit here to a gorgeous 80 degrees or less because our new grass actually stands a chance!

On a side note, the reason the other half of our yard has out of control, tall grass is due to two things: 1. laziness and 2. the last time we cut the grass, we ended up with half of it dead and now we are trying to re-grow it. So we need to trim it but not too much.  It is the one thing that is surviving in our soil!

We do, however, have a few container plants that are flourishing in their store-bought healthy soil and two of them were displaced from their usual homes when we brought in the new side table and Adirondack chairs this weekend.  But not to worry, they found new homes!  Clifford has taken the sunny corner where the lime tree used to live die slowly and the succulent crate has snuggled in next to the grape plant!  We actually used two patio pavers to raise the crate off of the soil for drainage reasons but you can’t see them because of the grass.So there is a little life back there but keep your fingers crossed for our backyard’s healthy recovery!

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13 Responses to "Worms to the Rescue!"

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  1. Melanie

    July 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I never would have thought about using worms – You learn something new every day! I hope it works for you guys.

    • Erika

      July 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

      I know- I had no clue! This was Walker’s brain child. Thanks! I hope it works too!

  2. Ashley

    July 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Huh! I’ll have to keep this in mind when I eventually get around to doing our garden beds. Our soil is really heavy and clay like.

    • Erika

      July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Yeah- supposedly they really help for soil like that! :)

  3. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication

    July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Interesting… our yard is full of worms and we have a lot of healthy plants, so maybe that’s why?

    • Erika

      July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Definitely could be! Worms are a sign of healthy soil. Lucky lady… can we borrow some of your soil? ;)

  4. John@ Our Home from Scratch

    July 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    That sucks!! Good luck with the worms. Interested in seeing how that works. Despite the fact that you remember to water often, you may want to consider adding a drip irrigation system anyway. They’re super DIY friendly and very economical. We have nearly our entire perimeter setup with drip nozzles and I wanna say we spent less than $200 for everything. It’s on a timer connected to the spigot, so we don’t have to lift a finger. Makes it low maintenance.

    • Erika

      July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Hey John! That’s a great idea. Is it something that is very installation-heavy (i.e. would we need to clear it with our landlord)? Or does it just sit on top of the soil? Since we are apartment renters, I wouldn’t want to spend an excessive amount on a system specifically for this apartment but if you spent only $200 on an entire yard, I bet ours would be pretty cheap. Thanks for the idea!

      • John@ Our Home from Scratch

        August 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

        It’s something that sits on top of garden bed and doesn’t need to be buried. It can be bured under mulch if you want to hide it, but it’s totally removable. You can even take it with you when you move if you want to.

        • Erika

          August 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

          Awesome! Great to know- thank you!! :)

  5. Meghan @ Wishful Thinking

    July 23, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I can totally sympathise with you! When we moved into our rented London house a few years ago, the garden was a wreck and everything we planted died (this also had lots to do with our black thumbs but we are learning slowly but surely). It’s taken a few years but it’s starting to look good and this year we planted our first set of vegetables that are growing really well! We found that mixing store-bought compost and turning the soil every month helped improved the quality (we also get a lot of rain in London which helps). I had no idea you could buy worms in a can!

    • Erika

      July 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Hello Meghan! Glad to hear your yard recovered… here’s hoping mine does the same! What kind of veggies did you plant? That is my dream to have a veggie garden! :)

      We will definitely have to try your compost trick!

      P.S. Your blog is so awesome!!! Adding it to my reader :)

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