Composting worms can be added to raised garden beds if the bed is kept moist and the worms have enough organic matter to feed on. There is the risk that worms can escape out of raised beds. Use a worm tower if you want to keep worms in your raised garden bed. This will keep them moist and make it easier to feeed them.
Earthworms will naturally find their way into your raised bed through the ground soil.
Note: The best way to keep worms at home is to use a worm farm. Use them to break down food scraps and use the worm castings to improve the soil in your raised beds.
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This article will explore all you need to know about putting worms in raised garden beds. This includes pros, cons, and easy tips for success.
Putting worms in a raised garden bed – Pros and Cons
- Easy care
- You don’t have to move worm castings from a worm farm to your garden
- Worms will break down organic matter releasing nutrients for the plants
- Aerate the soil
- Worms might escape
- Worms can dry out and die
- Need to keep the garden bed moist throughout the year
- Need to make sure to feed the worms regularly with organic matter
Worms will survive in a raised garden bed and can help to break down organic matter and make nutrients available for the plants. Large, raised beds can house composting worms. A raised garden placed on the ground will naturally attract earthworms that will dig through the soil into garden bed.
Naturally attracting worms to a raised garden bed is a good way to help the organic matter to break down. Rather than adding composting worms, layer the bed with aged manure, mulch and compost. Worms will move in to digest soil bacteria and leftover organic matter in the compost.
You can even layer food scraps under the mulch which will slowly break down and attract the worms. This article will explore all you need to know about putting worms in raised garden beds, how to keep them healthy and how to attract them naturally.
Putting composting worms in a raised garden bed
It is ideal to keep composting worms in a worm farm to let them rapidly break down food scraps and turn it into worm castings. You can place composting worms in a raised garden bed to allow them to break down the mulch, compost and other organic material. The key factors needed to keep worms in raised garden bed include:
- Moist soil
- Mulch – 3 inches of bark, straw, or hay
- Added food scraps or cuttings (optional)
To keep composting worms happy, keep the soil moist and full of organic matter. They will need lots of mulch to protect them and the soil from drying out. The composting worms love a moist environment so put them in a garden with vegetables that need regular water.
I have successfully put composting worms in a raised bed with lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers. They need regular water and benefit from lots of mulch. Worms will live happily in the soil causing no damage to the plants.
You can leave trimming and old leaves on the soil surface. You can even layer food scraps under the mulch layer when you are preparing a bed. A thin layer of food scraps will break down quickly and then can be dug into the soil before planting. Let them break down for 2-4 weeks before planting out new crops.
Don’t be worried if your worms disappear from the surface. They will dig down deeper to moist soil as the surface soil dries out.
There is a risk that worms can escape the bed and head off into the soil. Keep the soil moist and well covered with mulch to feed them.
How to naturally attract worms to a raised garden bed
Another way to bring worms into your raised bed is to attract them naturally. Earthworms are different to composting worms and live in smaller colonies in the soil. They will also live deeper in the soil and can tolerate dryer soils.
Earthworms are fantastic for raised beds because they can tolerate a dry spell. They will move in and out of the bed as the weather changes and the conditions suit them right.
To attract worms they will need organic matter to eat and moist soil. Like composting worms, they will benefit from a thick coverage of mulch which will keep the soil moist, protect the worms and give them something to eat.
I have noticed a mix of earthworms and composting worms in my raised beds. Earthworms have naturally moved into this bed over time. Some were living in potted plants that I have grown in this bed. Others have found their way into the bed over time, crawling their way in or up from the soil.
Benefits of worms in a raised garden bed
Allowing worms to naturally move into a raised bed or adding them yourself will benefit your plants and your soil. Here are the top benefits of having worms in your raise garden bed:
- Break down organic matter releasing nutrients for your plants
- Turning organic matter into compost
- Aerate the soil
- Digest soil bacteria
- Allow plant roots to grow deeper
Tips to successfully put worms in my raised garden beds
Here are the top things to remember if you want to put worms in your raised bed. You can keep composting worms alive in large, healthy raised beds if worm farms are not your thing.
- Keep the worm farm moist
- Cover the worm farm with mulch
- Mix through aged manure
- Mix through compost
Another way to keep worms in a garden bed is to use a worm tower. Make one yourself by getting a large, plastic pipe and placing holes around the base. Dig it at least 5 inches into the soil and leave 5 inches above the soil. Place worms and some worm bedding inside and put your worms in.
They can crawl in and out of the worm farm and they will keep moist.
For more on making a small worm farm for free, check out my article here: How to make a Styrofoam worm farm.
Should I put worms in my raised garden bed? | Summary
You can put composting worms in your raised garden bed but it is easier to keep them in a worm farm or worm tower. Worms can be kept in a raised bed if they are fed with organic matter and kept moist. Make sure that you cover them with at least 3 inches of mulch to protect the worms and give them something to eat.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.