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I know that in real life worms will eat both fresh and dry leaves at night or when it rains.

I am not putting earthworms in the soil yet but I will soon.

I am trying earthworms and mix of old and new soil to improve the growth of my maples both in speed and duration.

The new soil has more nutrients than the old soil. Leaves and fruit and vegetable scraps will improve this more. But worms can turn leaves and food scraps into compost in their digestive systems.

So I think that maybe adding fruit and veggie scraps periodically to the soil will help both the worms and the trees. I am not all that worried about earthworms eating roots because it isn't a main part of their diet.

The ravine has maples, elms, and oaks. I am thinking that fresh leaves would be best but that means either one of these 3 things:

1) Pick leaves off trees(which I wouldn't do)

2) Wait for falling branches and then pick the leaves off(This I think would be best)

or

3) Wait for leaves to fall(that is until summer, fall, and the beginning of winter)

I am expecting to see maple seeds soon since the maple trees are getting their leaves and I always see seeds soon after I see leaves when it comes to maples.

So I was thinking of putting earthworms into the soil after I move the pot to on top of the hot tub(this area gets the most sunlight overall and the most rain so I don't have to water them as much during the first year and only really during dry parts of summer from then on. They also will produce the most nutrients for bark production and winter survival here) and plant a maple seed and give it a deep watering.

Then I figured that maybe once a week or once a month I will give food to the worms. Since they are true hermaphrodites I don't have to worry about telling male and female worms apart because regardless, I am going to get baby worms to aerate the soil even more and produce new soil faster.

Anyway, should I give them fresh leaves from this year off of fallen branches or dry leaves from last year's fall as a staple food(since I might not always have fruit and veggie scraps for worms)?

And how many worms do you think I should start with? I am thinking maybe 2-10 but I don't know for sure.

My pot is in the shape of a truncated cone and is about 1 foot wide at the base and 1.5-2 ft wide at the top in case you need those dimensions. It is also about 1.5-2 ft tall.

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    it would be great if you can shorten your question and remove any extraneous content. You basic question is whether you should use dry leaves or fresh leaves. Also, adding a picture of your pot would be helpful – JStorage May 5 '16 at 22:59
  • I view all the content in my question as being relevant. Like for example the ways I could get fresh leaves and what I would do is relevant in a way since the way the leaves fall off the trees is probably best for the trees I get my seeds from and feeding the worms. – Caters May 6 '16 at 0:31
  • Well I'm confused - are you asking about adding worms (with or without food for them) to a pot with a maple in it, or adding worms to the ravine with maples already growing that you mention? – Bamboo May 6 '16 at 16:17
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Worms will eat a LOT of stuff. They can eat any of your food scraps, cardboard, sawdust, leaves (any), fruit rinds, and almost anything else they will have access to in the wild. As long as the worms pretty much have these three ingredients they will eat it. The ingredients being bacteria, fungi, and algae. They will more then likely take a bite out of something that is rotting or decaying. There really is nothing more to that. Hope my research has proved some use to you!

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I would start off with the older leaves and either bag the newer leaves (shredded if you can) with a little bit of water and small bit of dirt or put them in a round wire cage as you accumulate. The wire cage method will over a longer term (1 year) provide leaf mold which the worms will eat and will of course attract worms.

The bag method will break down the leaves via beneficial organisms from the small handfuls of soil/dirt into a rich soil. Some people put them in bags in the fall so that they will have the amendment for their garden in the winter.

You can also just layer the leaves via lasagna gardening style under the trees: Newspaper section first over grass then a small layer of leaves (browns) then food scraps, grass cuttings, coffee grounds (greens) then a layer of leaves. Repeat process as you get greens. This is probably the easiest way, you would just need to store your leaves (browns) then layer them on the bed when you have available greens. Resist the meats, dairy products, fats, oils, citrus. They are good, but this will usually attract scavengers that will dig it up or it may stink as it breaks down.

Regarding worms, if you build it they will come. If you are anxious then I would put what you can get in the beds. Composting worms can eat their own weight every 2 days under ideal conditions. But if conditions are right the worms you put in there are going to produce worm cocoons so they will reproduce to accommodate the resources that are available.

Different worm species live at different depths some will live in the compost (Eisenia Fetida a.k.a Tiger Worms, compost/manure worms). The leaf litter worms (epigeic like lumbricus rubellus a.k.a Red Worms) never burrow, but live and feed in leaf litter. These types will probably be most prevalent in your beds once established.

The burrowing worms are endogeic or anecic (night crawlers and such) will either make horizontal or vertical burrows. I can't remember exactly but I think the vertical burrowing worms like nightcrawlers will will come up to mate or feed by dragging the leaves down in the soil to feed on.

So if you decide to buy worms from a bait/pet store or online I would get the nightcrawlers or the Red Worms. The Red Worms may be Composting worms like Eisenia Fetida. It depends on the bait supplier. You can google for pics of the different types. The composting worms can be bought online or acquired at a cow pasture in or near the (older decomposing) cow patties. The Composting worms need rich compost to thrive so unless you have a steady stream of greens I'd stick with the Red Worms (leaf litter worms) or the Night Crawlers.

Good Luck.

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