Thanks to Lisa, Laura, and Rainbow Gardens. Check out “Opening up my own can of worms”.
(Insert your favorite state- Alabama, Texas, Carolina, Georgia) Jumpers are great for mixing and aerating garden soil. The only commercially available earthworm that is suited for introducing directly to the soil. Some soil types and raised beds with an abundance of organic matter can potentially support red worms and European NightCrawlers, but if you are dealing with sand, clay, or packed ground Jumpers are the only option. With that said, I still recommend raised beds or pit method to get your herd started rather than just cutting them loose. If you want to populate your yard or garden start with a sweet spot, and introduce them a handful or two at a time to other parts of your space.
Jumpers can also be raised in bins just like other species, and I have had a lot of success with this method. Jumpers tolerate the Summer temps better than red worms but don’t handle sub 40F as well. Keep in mind all earthworms are composters, will surface to feed and breed. While earthworms share these characteristics, what makes them differ is their ability and need to tunnel, the range at which they operate, and temperature tolerance.
I have included a couple of pictures of one of our Jumper Starter Farms. This is designed to ship and gives you a healthy way to start and takes the guess work out of starting from scratch. We take a sample of our beds (bedding and a few hundred worms of different sizes) to give you a solid start and something you can replicate as your population grows. When you see small worms and larger ones it’s a good indicator that you have a healthy happy environment that your worms are reproducing in. Depending on your needs and what you are trying to do, you will want to experiment and introduce worms in your soil to see which methods work best for you. I would encourage you to focus on one spot and expand a handful or two of worms and bedding at a time when you see your worms growing and reproducing from there.
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 gracilis) 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