Early this week we welcomed 2.5 inches of rain providing some badly needed moisture to my compost piles and inground worm beds. The micro organisms that break down organic waste in compost piles need food, air, and water. In South Texas the missing component of that equation is usually H2O, and with a steady shower over the last couple of days we are back in business. I get asked often “why is my compost not breaking down?” and the answer is usually a lack of water. Keep your piles mixed to increase Oxygen, keep them watered if lacking in rain, and add Nitrogen bearing organic matter like grass clippings and manure to reactivate a pile. Use these winter months to get ready for spring planting and keep those compost piles fed, turned, and moist.
My Jumpers love this time of year and can be at their peak performance. Cooler temperatures and added moisture stimulate hatching of eggs and adults feeding and breeding in top layers of compost that at other times of the year maybe too hot or dry.
Earthworms have a couple of jobs, and depending on your goals you will need to decide what worm is best for you. Earthworms feed on decaying organic matter and produce castings. Worm castings (worm poop) is nitrogen rich, pH balanced, humous that is ready to be absorbed by plants roots immediately. Earthworms are the intestines of the soil and are top soil producers. Beyond soil production, their other job is to tunnel through the ground aerating and mixing the soil as they work. Earthworms are also the “plow of the soil” mixing layers of earth while they eat, tunnel, and deposit their castings. These tunnels allow oxygen and water to reach roots of plants and break up compacted soil for greater root penetration and growth.
Red Worms (eisenia foteida) If your goal is composting and worm casting production, this prolific producer is your worm. Well suited for bin raising, not a candidate for adding directly to soil.
European Nightcrawler (eisenia hortensis) Larger worm that is an excellent for composting and fishing. Well suited for bin raising, not a candidate for adding directly to soil.
Alabama Jumper (amynthas corticis) Large worm that is a powerful aerator. Strong worm that is ideal for adding to garden or soil and can burrow deep in hard packed soil. These worms are deep divers and do a great job of mixing layers of the soil, can be bin raised but are better suited for the soil.
Texas Red Worms raises composting worms (European Nightcrawlers, Red Worms) and garden/aerating worms (Alabama Jumpers) in San Antonio and Livingston Texas. We are here to help you add life to your lawn, garden, pasture with the best fertilizer available, all natural worm castings.
Earthworms are the intestines of the soil and produce humus from decaying organic matter. Let us help you get started raising worms for vermicompost or turning your plot of land into an oasis for aerating fertilizing earthworms.
Above is a pic of one of my Alabama Jumper bins. Worms are feeding on my DIY Worm Chow and some pumpkin.
Alabama Jumpers are best suited for tunneling, aerating, and mixing the soil. They can be raised in bins like your other composting worms (red worm and european nightcrawler). I set my bins up with a few inches of clay soil on the bottom to make the worms comfortable and try to replicate their natural home. Next, I add several inches of compost that will provide the organic matter they will feed on. In a worm bed or bin the second generation will flourish if conditions are right (moisture and food). Having been born in the environment worms will adapt much better from birth and be happy in their new home. When introducing Alabama Jumpers into a new environment (bin or bed), start with an ample supply of the medium that you harvested them from to ensure a greater chance for success.
Worms will eat just about anything they can fit into their tiny mouth, and are the ultimate composter, humus maker, and soil conditioner. The primary feedstock I feed my worms is composted horse and cow manure, yard clippings-leaves, and table scraps (minus dairy and grease). Between feedings I sprinkle my own version of Worm Chow over the top of the bin. This simple recipe is great for fattening up your worms for a fishing trip or just adding some diversity to their diet and your castings. Use for your Alabama Jumpers, Red Worms, European Nightcrawlers, or African Nightcrawlers.
TexasRedWorms.com Worm Chow is:
1 part corn meal
1 part ground up oatmeal
add crushed egg shells for minerals and flavor
I got my mom some Alabama Jumpers to add to her yard and to the pasture. Alabama Jumpers, or in this case Texas Jumpers, are not composting worms like the red wiggler or red worm. They are great for aerating and powering through tough clay or sandy soils. The ideal worm to set in your garden or lawn to fertilize and aerate your soil. These worms are strong tunnelers and will eventually spread out into your tough soil giving roots of plants room to grow. Introducing Texas “Alabama” Jumpers is easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. You can purchase Jumpers from TexasRedWorms.com and have them shipped to you or come on by to see our beds and bins.
When your worm order arrives here is one way to add them to your garden, raised bed, soil. Your TexasRedWorms.com farm is a great place to raise your worms, but soon you will need to harvest the worms in order to make room for more. You can use all or a portion of your worms. In this example I am adding a box of Alabama Jumpers or as I like to refer to them “Texas Jumpers” to a raised bed I have prepared.
1. Choose a location preferably a shady spot that you can keep somewhat moist. If you are adding to a full sun area be sure to cover with a few inches of mulching material to protect from the sun and to retain moisture. Leaves, newspaper, straw will work fine. Morning or evening are the best time to add your worms.
2. Pre-wet the area you have chosen to prepare a nice moist environment for your worms to settle in.
3. You will need to dig a small hole about the size and depth of the box or container of your worms and contents.
4. Empty contents worms and compost into the hole.
5. Cover with a section of wet newspaper. This will keep the worms cool and protected from drying out giving them an opportunity to settle in to their new home. The Alabama Jumpers will eventually spread out on their own. Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers will stay were they are fed and are not going to spread like the tunneling Jumpers. In the event you are adding Red Worms or European Nightcrawlers you will add a handful of kitchen scraps to the same location you placed your worms every few days. As your worm population grows you will learn how often to feed based on how fast they work through the organic material. The Alabama Jumpers are great for aerating and fertilizing the soil. Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers are better composting worms.
For added protection I covered the newspaper with some leaves. This method is one I have used with success, I have included some other similar worm bed set up links I have used. Have fun and send us ideas. Let us know if you have any questions.
Worm Tubes, Worm Pit, Outdoor Worm Bed, Flow Through Worm Bin.
I have been experimenting for a little over a year with the Alabama Jumper, sometimes referred to as the Georgia Jumper, or in this case Texas Jumper. The scientific name of which being Amynthas agrestis. Now that that’s out of the way, this Jumper isn’t even originally from Alabama? As a matter of fact, it is believed to hail from Asia. How about that? This aggressive and super strong worm can and will jump right out of your hand. This super strength makes it a powerful tunneler, and allows it to burrow through some of the hardest packed clay soil. This worm is a hot item, and is in high demand by gardeners everywhere for these reasons. European nightcrawlers, African nightcrawlers, and Red Worms, are all great, but the Alabama Jumper can go to work in clay and sand unlike the other varieties. I have experienced it’s power first hand, and been amazed at it’s strength and ability to work through some hard soil. In San Antonio, we’ve got some pretty tough clay, and I have seen these Jumpers perform mightily in it. I too have read all the hype about this worm, and it is the real deal. The Alabama Jumper is great for people that want a worm to go to work in their soil, garden, or flowerbeds. For composting, producing castings, or fishing I would recommend the others.
I have been trying various methods of raising the Alabama Jumper for over a year, and have had success with raising them in bins, as well as, worm beds or pits. They are reproducing in both environments, and I have a limited amount available for sale. Call for availability.
Due to a lack of morning or afternoon sun, I had a difficult time growing anything in this flower bed. What began about three years ago as a compost pile would be converted into a worm pit.
First, I dug out some of the existing soil that was mostly clay and caliche (rock). I dug out about 18″ and began filling w/ organic matter. I began adding coffee grounds, horse and cow manure, grass clippings, leaves, and other vegetable waste. I didn’t add worms until about this time last year. Adding the worms at this point, gave the organic matter plenty of time to break down, and provide a rich environment for the worms. The worms have flourished and every handful yields a good many worms. I have continued to add compost material, and water as needed to keep the bed moist. Over the last month or so, the live oaks have given us a ton of leaves, and I have added them to the top layer as a mulch. You can use newspaper, hay, or other kinds of mulch to keep the worm bed from drying out. A layer of mulch will also keep the worms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This particular worm pit I am raising Alabama Jumpers, but is suitable for other species, red worms, European nightcrawlers, and African nightcrawlers.