To prepare for a tear-down rebuild, I had to remove our raised garden beds. Given the effort that went into building them, there was no way I was going to lose those beds to the gears of progress--though I was much more concerned about the soil than the Cypress boxes!

While removing the soil from the beds I noticed that I wasn't seeing any worms. Is this lack of worms a sign of unhealthy soil, or perhaps just a result of looking in October?

The soil was built through blending approximately equal parts of native soil (clay), humus, manure and vermiculite.


As I'm in the UK and my geographical knowledge is appalling, I'm not sure what kind of winters you get where you are. If you get cold winters, and you have Fall (autumn) starting around September, then certainly in the UK, by the end of October, worms have burrowed down much deeper to get away from the cold. If October is very mild with no overnight frosts and overnight temps of above 12 deg C, they are usually still active, but the soil cools from the end of October onwards, and night time frosts certainly appear here by early November, earlier in the north of the UK. If you've had frosts or cold weather, then the worms have retreated more than a spade's depth, and that's the most likely explanation as to why you've not found them.

If your temperatures are still warm and this explanation doesn't fit, then it's possible the humus content of the soil in the raised beds has dropped dramatically and/or they have been very dry.

  • 2
    Bamboo is right by this time of the year the worms have moved down in the soil below the frost line where they estivate. They also produce cocoons which winter over and new earthworms emerge in the spring.
    – kevinskio
    Nov 22 '13 at 20:16

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