Bad Worms cancel Cooperative Extension plant sale

posted by Bill Williams -

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene CountiesNews Release

Invasive Worm Causes Cancellation of Master Gardeners’ Fall Plant Swaps and Sale

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties’ Master Gardeners Fall Plant Swap and Sales, scheduled for October 7, have been canceled at both the Columbia (Hudson) and Greene County (Acra) locations. The reason for canceling these well-attended and popular annual community events is that the “crazy jumping worms” have been rearing their invasive heads.

The Master Gardener Volunteers have been finding the “crazy jumping worms” (Amynthas agretis) in their own gardens and plant materials. These plant materials are the major source for the plant swaps and sales! The Master Gardeners, being the good stewards of our earth, went into action. First they took a poll of the group of 50 volunteers to see who had the worms in their gardens. Once the poll results indicated that more of the gardens had them than not, discussions ensued about the plant materials collected from these gardens.

The only way to keep these worms in check is to not spread or introduce them into your garden. Therefore, the only choice was to cancel the events. However, the Master Gardeners decided to use this as a teachable moment and share this very valuable information.

The Amynthas species of worm alter the structure and chemistry of the soil dramatically, leaving a distinctive grainy soil full of worm castings, and they can damage lawns, landscapes and even the forest understory habitat. People unknowingly spread these worm by using them for bait or transport their egg cocoons on shoes and wheels, in mulch, or via transplanted plants.

These worms can reproduce without mating during the active season, increasing their populations rapidly. They peak in late summer and early fall and can outcompete other species. Research is being done on controlling these worms but nothing has come back with favorable results. What you can try to do is contain their spread by recognizing the worms when you are working in your garden. Don’t transplant mulch, soil or plants to uncontaminated areas.

While the plant swap/sales have been canceled, the Master Gardener Volunteers will be availablethat day to provide information on the latest species to threaten our landscapes, gardens and forests. 10:00 am-12:00 noon, at the Extension Education Center in Hudson and 9:30-11:30 am at the Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra. For more information, call either office 518-622-9820 or 518-828-3346.

For information on Cornell Cooperative Extension’s upcoming programs, visit our website www.ccecolumbiagreene.org. Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.

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