Today Tuesday, April 16th, from 6-8pm at the Alamo Heights Community Garden Texas Red Worms will be with Green Spaces Alliance at 403 Ogden St. Join us for instruction and discussion on worms, composting, and compost tea.
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.
Last Spring was the first time my parents used worm castings exclusively to fertilize their garden. My mom and dad claimed their best tomato crop they can remember. We used a handful of castings with each tomato seedling, and the results were terrific. Even in one of the driest and hottest years on record, the taste, yield, and size of the tomatoes were outstanding.
Worm castings or earthworm manure is the best all natural fertilizer you can get. Beyond Potassium and Nitrogen, worm castings are alive with beneficial microbes. Beneficial bacteria, nematodes, and other tiny beneficials that will add life to plants and soil. You can maximize your castings harvest by brewing compost tea. You will need an aquarium pump, water, castings, and some unsulfured molasses to amplify the effects. Worm castings are the only manure that can be directly absorbed by plants roots. They are perfectly pH balanced and won’t burn up plants like other high in Nitrogen manures.
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.
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!
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.
Composting with Red Worms
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.