Here’s another example of a raised bed for worms. It’s next to the house and gets full shade. It’s next to a spicket for easy access to water and/or drip irrigation. I used some landscaping blocks to construct the borders and filled it with compost. After adding a Tx Jumper Starter, I cut a piece of old carpet to cover. The cover acts as a permanent mulch blanket to keep in moisture and protects the worms. I like carpet or an old rug because they last a long time, and I believe the weight gives the worms a sense of security that promotes surfacing and feeding.
Within a few months of setting this up, the worms started to really take off. I continue to keep moist, and fed with compost. The worms do the rest. It’s always fun to pull back the carpet and see a bunch of happy worms (Texas Jumpers).
This is what I like to see. Pictured above are some chunks of clay with some of my Texas Jumpers working through them with no problem. The ability of these native Texan worms to work in clay is what makes them suitable for adding directly to your garden or raised bed. They are a hearty worm that grows to 6 inches or more in a few months time. The strength that they have at a few weeks old and small size is what separates them from European Nightcrawlers or Red Worms (eisenia foteda). This strength makes them great aerators and tunnelers for your soil. They can dive and tunnel several feet and can survive through our extreme temps. Pick a spot that has good shade for these worms, keep it composted, covered (old carpet or something similar), and watered for best results. Once your population is established in several weeks, you’ll be ready to start moving them around a couple of handfuls at a time. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll have worms all over.
I broke open a clay clod and found this young worm working through. If these worms can handle this South Texas clay and caliche soil chances are they can benefit yours.
I am looking to have a storage building built on my property and called a local builder that I came across at http://www.bbarns.com. After talking a few minutes, we realized we had met earlier. Turns out a year or more ago, Robert got a pound of European Nightcrawlers from me. In addition to talking storage building construction, Robert talked all about how well his worm bed was doing and sent me this great pic. Not only does he have a great looking worm bed, but his vegetable garden is the envy of the neighborhood. Thanks for sharing, Robert.
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.
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.
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.
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
• Adding worms to your raised bed
• In ground bin
•Harvesting Worm Castings- My harvester
• Compost Tea
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.