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Bin Raising Alabama Jumpers

9 Nov

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.

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Worm farming. Fun for the whole family.

27 May
 Thanks to Bryan in San Antonio for keeping us posted with all the cool worm composting projects he and his family have going.  
From Bryan:
     I wanted to up date you on how things are going with my worms. The worm tube in my planter seems to be functioning although managing the moisture level needs a bit more attention then I had expected. The high watering needs of the plants dictates that no extra moisture can be added to the tube, at lest for now. Like you said, you have to experiment. As you can see in the picture I had sent you earlier, I had placed a piece of panty hose over the top to keep out flies and other insects. A small number of gnats and ants have managed to get in. The worms in the tube are thriving and multiplying so that’s a good sign. Taking your advice of dividing the worms has helped to continue their rate of reproduction so much in that we have started our third bin two days ago, and probably have enough to start two more. We are all having a fun time of it.
    Soon after starting the first bin I decided to place two worms in a potted pineapple head that I had started. The soil in the pot had become hard and I wanted to see if adding some worms would help, and also if the worms would survive. After a little over a month, the soil is soft and the plants growth has accelerated and the new leafs look great. As of yesterday, we have started brewing worm tea in the typical fashion, 5 gal bucket, aquarium pump and aeration stones and molasses.
  The collecting of coffee grounds from Starbucks has begun, so far I have filled a new 30 gal trash can that I purchased at Wal Mart for around $10.00  about half way. We are also saving our egg shells as well as collecting them from a local bakery.  We use a blender, small food processor, and a mortar to grind them to a fine powder allowing for almost instant availability to the worms. I guess I’ve crossed over the sanity line somewhere.   I do have one question you might be able to answer?  Question* If compost worms i.e. red wigglers were thriving in a plant, flower or vegetable bed would they at some point start eating the roots of the plants?
     Looking forward to hearing from you soon your friend.
                                                                                           BRIAN
Wow.  You are a worm farming machine.  That is outstanding work.
 
I have some worms in some potted plants, as well.  There is a chance they could eat some of the roots.  Just keep adding organic matter so the worms will have plenty to eat.  Keep an eye on the plants health, and thin out the worms from time to time.  I think that kept in check the plants will benefit more from the worm castings than harm can be done.
Thanks for the update,
Kyle

Worms doing well in Houston heat

24 May

From Mark

My worms seem to be thriving now. Have dozens of them in every handful of compost. How quickly will they reproduce? How long before my population outgrows my 20 gallon plastic container? They are in my garage and it is getting a little warm, so I put a frozen gallon of water in it every day to keep temp in high 60s. They seem to like it. I keep one jug in freezer and one in bin and rotate every day. I am ready to harvest my first batch of compost in a few weeks. Mark.

Great to hear.  Excellent idea with the frozen water bottle.

Your worms should double in # in @ 90 days.  You can start a new bin at any time.  While harvesting castings is a good time to take inventory, see how they are doing, and start a new bin.  You can get another 20 gallon container or multiple 5-10 gallon ones.  Now the fun begins, watching your worms multiply and produce castings. 

Thanks for the update. 

Kyle
http://www.TexasRedWorms.com


Help. I’m losing my worms.

21 May

Below is a question I received via email, and thought I would share it.

Question from reader:

I have a problem with my worms and was wondering if you can help. I recently purchased a worm composter manufactured by Tumbleweed called Can-O-Worms. It has two working trays that have holes in them to allow worms to migrate upwards and also allows liquid to filter down into a collector tray. I have discovered that a lot of my red worms are dropping down into the collector tray and then dying. I also am finding several worms dying in the working tray (their bodies look as though they have been pinched). Have you ever heard of this? Is this a design flaw of my composter? I am very interested in worm composting and would welcome your advice.

TexasRedWorms.com :

I’m happy to try and help. You only have a problem if you are losing more than a few.  It’s normal to lose a four or five every once in awhile, in the bottom tray. You’ll usually have a few curious worms, and they are highly sensitive to barometric pressure.

The pinching is not something I’m familiar with. The only predators are centipedes and moles. If you do suspect a predator, diatomaceous earth can be added to your bedding. This is safe for you and the worms but will kill insects and Arthropoda. You can find it in most garden sections, be sure and stay away from pool grade. The pool grade is too fine and can be ingested and can be dangerous. If your losses are more than a few, I might need some more info. What, how much, and how often are you feeding? Temp of bin? Is it too wet? What other critters do you see in your bin?

 From reader: Thanks for your rapid response. After reading your email I immediately went out and cleaned the collector tray. I counted about 18 dead worms. Today (two days later) I only found 2 dead and one alive. I was pleasantly surprised with the few numbers. Maybe things are stabilizing. I’ll keep you updated. I can only assume that the pinching I talked about is caused by the worm trying to squeeze through a hole much smaller than it can manage.  I have found worms pinched in half on the surface with guts exposed and bleeding.  At one point I was wondering if maybe I caused these injuries by scratching the surface to see how the worms were doing. Are they so delicate that I should not be probing the bed? Maybe these last couple of days by leaving them alone is the result of the few casualties. But then I wonder how is it possible for your worms to survive the tumbling action of your worm harvester? As for centipedes, I don’t know. I haven’t seen any. I started this worm composter about two weeks ago.  So far I have only fed the worms the original coir bedding, lettuce, banana peels and coffee grounds.   Today at 3:00 PM the temperature of the bed is 70F. The instructions of the bin calls for flushing the bed once a week with a pail of water. Since the water freely drains into the collector tray I didn’t think things could get too wet. What is too wet? Thanks again for all your input,

TexasRedWorms.com :

Good, those numbers are more like it. 2 rather than 18.

The worms should not be pinching themselves trying to squeeze, and are
not going to get killed by you scratching the surface. The only thing
I can think of on the pinching front, is if you might by accident be
clipping them with the tray? They can also be gripping when the tray
is pulled off and be getting pulled apart. I am pretty gentle when
pulling them out of the screen. They wrap up and coil to hang on, I
will have to unwrap them sometimes because they will hold on tight.

The weekly flush I’m not familiar with? Why do they want you to flush
it? The flush could have sent some of the 18 worms to a watery grave.

Holes can get stopped up with castings, real wet bins get real fudgy.
Too wet will clog drainage holes and make harvesting more difficult.

Hang in there, we’ll get you rolling, and it will be a breeze.

Red Worms vs. Nightcrawlers for Composting. What’s the Difference?

15 May

Red Worms (Eisenia fetida)European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis), and African Nightcrawlers (Eudrillus eugeniae), are all excellent composters.  These worms vary in size, w/ Red Worms being the smallest and possibly the least picky.  Red Worms ease of care and ability to handle a wide range of temperatures make them a popular composting worm.

European and African Nightcrawlers are larger worms.  European Nightcrawlers are popular w/ fisherman, due to size.  You’ll find their larger cousin (Canadian Nightcrawler) in bait shops, as well.  European Nightcrawlers can be used for composting, but thought to be less efficient than Red Wigglers or African Nightcrawlers.

African Nightcrawlers are a tropical worm that thrive in warmer climates, need to be kept in temperatures above 70F and will start to die off at 60F.  They are the choice for many commercial worm casting producers that have access to climate controlled facilities.  All three species or varieties can be prolific in the right conditions, and make excellent composting worms.

Add Alabama Jumpers, Red Worms to your soil or raised bed.

19 Apr

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.

Worm Tubes, Worm Pit, Outdoor Worm Bed, Flow Through Worm Bin.

Worm Composting Bins and Garden Worm Tubes

31 Mar

Brian in San Antonio was kind enough to share some pictures of his worm tubes that he placed under the eves of his home and buried about 18″.  He drilled several holes in the  bottom 18″ buried portion of the pipe for drainage.

I just wanted to thank you for your help and encouragement starting worm composting. I went ahead and mixed 50-50 cow manure and peat moss in my tube and added a hand full of your red worms, and built a two bin system for the rest of the worms. two worm I added to my potted pineapple plant as an experiment. I figured I’d let the worms settle in for 3-7 days before adding vegetable mater. take a look at my pictures   and let me know what you think. thanks again brother. BRIAN

Here are some more pics of his two bin system.

Above: drainage bin to catch excess moisture from worm composting bin.

Thanks to Brian in San Antonio for sharing your pics and ideas.

Let us know if you have any questions about composting w/ worms.  Red Worms, European Nightcrawlers, and Alabama Jumpers available at TexasRedWorms.com for composting, gardening, and fishing. For more tips on what to do when you receive your worms check out our Care of Worms section.