by Nick Savinatink of Nick’s Nightcrawlers
Worm composting is the process of using earthworms to recycle food scraps and other organic materials into nutrient rich soil. Worms eat these scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. After digesting, the worms produce excrement called castings or vermicompost and it is an excellent soil conditioning material. It stimulates plant growth, improves properties in the soil and fights against pests and diseases.
Red worms are called composting worms and are better for gardening and also do well in worm bins. Red worms are prolific breeders. These worms are both male and female at the same time. In my research, I have found that in six months one worm can produce up to 3,000 offspring. In my first year of growing these worms, I moved the whole project inside my home in an unused bedroom. I began growing them in plastic storage containers with garden soil, peat moss, food scraps and shredded newspaper on top to hold in the moisture. I drilled holes in the bottom of these containers for excess water to drain out and put plastic tarps underneath to protect the floor. After going on the internet to find the best information available, I slowly figured out how to breed and produce baby worms.
I would advise the beginner to start their worm containers inside during the spring or early summer, after the threat of freezing is over. Red worms are the most cold-hardy of composting worms, but when the temperature is 80° or higher, you must keep them in a shady spot if you are growing them outside. Setting up a worm bed is easy. All you need is a small or medium plastic storage container, organic garden soil, peat moss, red worms and shredded newspaper with black ink only. Using a power drill with 1/8” drill bit, drill several hundred holes on the bottom and corners of the container for drainage. Make sure you go back over each hole from both sides so the holes are reamed out properly.
Next, get a five gallon clean bucket of chlorine free water to mix with your organic garden soil. Chlorine in regular tap water will dissipate if it is set out in the sun for 24 hours. In a wheelbarrow or another five-gallon bucket, mix the organic garden soil with small amounts of water. The soil needs to be moist but not overly wet. Mix it to the consistency of a wet sponge. Fill the garden mixture half way up the storage container, then mix the same with the peat moss. Add a layer of peat moss on top of the garden soil a quarter way up the container leaving room for the shredded newspaper. You are now ready to add your worms. Let the worms find their way down into the bin. Add a layer of garbage scraps for the worms to feed on. The last step is to add the shredded newspaper to the top of the bin. Using a water bottle with a spray nozzle, lightly spray the newspaper until it’s damp. For the first week, keep the newspaper damp, but don’t add any water to the soil. Periodically, check the soil below the newspaper to see if it’s damp, but never over water! In a couple of days your worms should be on top of the soil, underneath the newspaper, and feeding on the vegetable scraps.
Nick’s Nightcrawlers is starting its sixth year in business, offering competitive pricing on his products. Nick also offers worm castings (organic worm fertilizer). Nick’s products are available at the Show Low Main Street Farmer’s Market every Saturday through September.
For more information, please call (928) 537-2497.