The Spring Fever Festival is Saturday March 23, 2013 at 33 Herff Road, Boerne TX 78006. Kyle from Texas Red Worms will be speaking at 11 a.m. I will be presenting basics of worm composting and answering questions on worm farming. I look forward to seeing you there.
Upcoming events include an April 16th appearance in San Antonio with Green Spaces Alliance. Stay tuned for more details.
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.
I have tried several models of flow through systems and continue to tinker to get the results I’m looking for. The idea is for the finished castings to fall through the grate at the bottom of the bin and the worms to work towards the top of the bin.
Materials: square metal tubing, plywood, braided cable, 1.5″ self tapping metal screws, small I beam we found for the base bar to mount winches, and 2 winches (one we salvaged and another from Tractor Supply @$20) for pulling each direction.
We welded a bar to slide along the bottom of the bin to agitate the castings through the grate. I have tried other versions without the cutting bar, and castings tend to get clumpy and stuck. Stay tuned for the big reveal when we add worms and a few finishing touches.
Master Gardeners spring gardening is almost here. The stir of vegetable gardening and landscape rejuvenation is upon us. Adding compost will be a big part of our chores. Kyle Harrell will speak at our February meeting about enhancing your composting operation with a vigorous population of earth worms. He will teach and show how increasing your worms improve your composting operation. Our door prizes will include worm castings and tools to spread compost in your garden. Mr. Harrell is seasoned speaker and worm farmer. His presentations are tops on organics and composting.
The meeting is at the AgriLife Meeting room, 3355 Cherry ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230. This is a 1:00pm to 3:00pm afternoon meeting. A continuing education credit is earned for all Master Gardeners. All gardeners and the public are invited.
The Garden Volunteers of South Texas will be hosting their monthly “Essentials of Gardening” from 12:15 – 3 PM tomorrow at the San Antonio Garden Center (3310 N. New Braunfels at Funston, next to the Botanical Garden.) Dr. Jerry Parsons will be speaking first on year round garden planning. I will follow him w/ a worm composting presentation. Admission is free but a $5 donation is encouraged. Come join us!
Thanks to Roy Bragg at the San Antonio Express News for his story on Texas Red Worms.
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
Yesterday TexasRedWorms made a visit to Mrs. Mein-Johnson’s Environmental Science class at MacArthur High School in San Antonio. We introduced European Nightcrawlers and Red Worms into a couple of raised beds. Mrs. Mein- Johnson’s class has recently been studying soil samples in their soil lab. Students have also been tending their Fall gardens in planter boxes behind the baseball field. True to San Antonio the pepper crop is yielding some nice results.
They will be monitoring the benefits of introducing worms to their gardens and I look forward to seeing their results.
I have spent the last couple of weekends harvesting castings from my red worm bins and european nightcrawler bins. I had tried to hold out until after Labor Day, when it’s only 95 outside. The heat can add stress to harvesting castings for you and the worms. Exposed worms can dry out and die quickly.
Loaded down with finished worm castings I was left with little choice. The girls pitched in and really helped speed things. My harvester that was built last winter, really came in handy. We were able to crank through 100+ pounds in no time. The girls picked worms stuck in the harvester screen. On a side note: Use cooking spray on the wire mesh to help keep the worms from sticking.
In picking egg capsules and smaller worms from two separate harvest runs (red worms/ european nightcrawlers), I was surprised at the performance of the nightcrawlers. The cocoon or egg capsule production has definitely slowed down for the red worms compared to other times of the year. Compared to the red worms, the nightcrawlers had about triple the amount of eggs. That’s right, from what I have seen this Summer, the European Nightcrawlers have outperformed red wigglers in reproduction.
This past Winter and Summer have been the most extreme temperatures I have seen since beginning worm farming. The good news is that with a little planning and preparation worms can flourish in just about any part of the country.
Francisco was kind enough to share these pics of his double tub worm bin. Francisco got started a few months ago and is doing great. His double bin construction technique allows for excess moisture to drain into the bottom catch tub (worm leachate). His bedding base is comprised of finely shredded newspaper mixed w/ food waste. As a mulch layer, he keeps a few sheets of wet newspaper on top of the bin. Francisco also shared some of his homemade worm chow that my worms loved. It was gone the next morning.
Thanks for sharing your ideas and pictures.