From Mike in San Antonio:
“Bro thanks a million!!! Very excited about my worms. Almost turned around and bought more! LOL. Here are some pix.
Very excited about my Garden.”
Thanks for sharing!
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.
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.
Thank you to all who came out to the San Antonio Botanical Garden this weekend. I have included some links and attachments to dig a little deeper into some of the topics we covered on Saturday.
Worm Handout pdf
• Care of worms- what to do when you get your worms.
• Harnessing the Earthworm - by Thomas J. Barrett
Thanks again to all who participated and to Sasha Kodet and the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Let me know if you have any questions, or if I can give you some feedback on your set up.
Join TexasRedWorms.com at the San Antonio Botanical Garden this Saturday, July 23 at 10:00 am. We will be teaching how to set up your own red worm composting bin, and how to compost with worms. Learn how to turn your kitchen waste into rich worm castings that will condition the soil, and fertilize your plants naturally.
10 am—noon. Start turning your waste into rich worm castings for your garden and plants. Red Worm composting from
TexasRedWorms.com will show you how to make your own worm bed and bin, how to feed, care for, and harvest your own steady supply of worm castings. Limit 30 participants. Fee: $20. To register, please contact Sasha Kodet at 210.207.3270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a few minutes and fewer tools you can set up your own red worm composting system in any raised bed.
Tin snips or box cutter
Plastic planter or bucket
Shovel or other digging tool
Stone or cover for the in ground bed
Find an old plastic planter and cut the bottom out.
Find a well drained spot that is protected from afternoon direct sun. Dig a small hole big enough to bury the upside down container. Add some shredded paper products and some compost. Moisten your mix and add worms. Cover w/ a paver or stone to keep out critters, and protect from elements.
Depending on the amount of worms, a handful of kitchen scraps every week or so will be plenty to start. As your worms grow and reproduce they will require more frequent feedings. Do not over feed. Be patient and when the food is processed by the worms, add a few more kitchen scraps. Keep an eye on moisture. If kept out of direct sunlight, the food scraps will usually provide enough moisture for your worms. Worms like it wet because they breathe through their skin, but will drown in standing water.
I had been thinking of building a feed trough style worm bed for some time. I found some plastic 55 gallon drums on Craigslist. My dad had some pine 2X4s cut from his saw mill, and we were in business. We began by cutting the 55 gallon plastic drums in half w/ a skill saw.
Materials: (2X4s, plastic 55 gallon drums, 3 inch wood screws, roofing screws, Thompson’s water seal)
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.
Orlando Cortinas, Landscape Maintenance Technician for Villa Finale in the historic King William district in San Antonio, TX is doing some tremendous work on the museum grounds. He is bringing this historic property back to life, and working on some exciting organic methods to gardening and landscaping. Orlando has built a beautiful worm composting pit, and another composting bin for leaves, yard clippings, and food waste.
On my tour of the grounds, Orlando showed me his plans for a greenhouse, and compost tea brewer. Thanks Orlando, and the National Trust For Historic Preservation for your purchase with TexasRedWorms.com and the tour of your impressive property.
The first National Trust Historic site in Texas, this former home of preservationist and civic leader Walter Mathis was purchased in 1967. This home originally built in 1876 is now a museum, and a nearly 2 acre showcase along the San Antonio River on former Alamo farm lands.