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State Master Gardener Composter-Specialist Training June 13 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden

13 Jun

Worms are for more than just fishing.  I’ll be at The San Antonio Botanical Garden tomorrow to discuss composting with worms.  We’ll be talking about how worms can take kitchen waste from the trash can to the garden and add life to your soil and plants.  Soon you’ll be backing up your pickup to scavenge manure piles and livestock stalls to feed your own brood of humus producers, and you’ll be producing some of the finest vegetables and plants around.

Turn your lawn into a earthworm oasis

9 Jan

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.

Worm your way out of an ugly yard.

5 Jan

Thanks to Roy Bragg at the San Antonio Express News for his story on Texas Red Worms.

DIY Worm Chow

12 Oct

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

Worms and Environmental Science

7 Oct

Yesterday TexasRedWorms made a visit to Mrs. Mein-Johnson’s Environmental Science class at MacArthur High School in San Antonio.  We introduced European Nightcrawlers and Red Worms into a couple of raised beds. Mrs. Mein- Johnson’s class has recently been studying soil samples in their soil lab.  Students have also been tending their Fall gardens in planter boxes behind the baseball field.  True to San Antonio the pepper crop is yielding some nice results.

They will be monitoring the benefits of introducing worms to their gardens and I look forward to seeing their results.

Nightcrawlers vs. Red Worms: Summer Performance

12 Aug

I have spent the last couple of weekends harvesting castings from my red worm bins and european nightcrawler bins.  I had tried to hold out until after Labor Day, when it’s only 95 outside.  The heat can add stress to harvesting castings for you and the worms.  Exposed worms can dry out and die quickly.

Loaded down with finished worm castings I was left with little choice.  The girls pitched in and really helped speed things.  My harvester that was built last winter, really came in handy.  We were able to crank through 100+ pounds in no time.  The girls picked worms stuck in the harvester screen. On a side note: Use cooking spray on the wire mesh to help keep the worms from sticking.

In picking egg capsules and smaller worms from two separate harvest runs (red worms/ european nightcrawlers),  I was surprised at the performance of the nightcrawlers.  The cocoon or egg capsule production has definitely slowed down for the red worms compared to other times of the year.  Compared to the red worms, the nightcrawlers had about triple the amount of eggs.  That’s right, from what I have seen this Summer, the European Nightcrawlers have outperformed red wigglers in reproduction.

This past Winter and Summer have been the most extreme temperatures I have seen since beginning worm farming.  The good news is that with a little planning and preparation worms can flourish in just about any part of the country.

Protecting your worms from the Summer heat.

5 Aug

This Summer has been brutal, and can be very stressful to your worm bins and beds.  Redworms perform best in temperature ranging from 40 F – 80 F., and keeping them moist is essential to their survival in these less than ideal conditions. Don’t drown your worms, but  error on the side of wet in this blistering heat.

I posted earlier, how to keep worm bins cool by adding frozen water bottles.  This works great, but w/ temps hitting 100 in the shade this week, I began having to use more and more ice bottles.  I was running out of freezer spa, and was able to convince my wife to let me bring my smaller bins indoors.

My larger worm bins kept in full shade, have faired well.  Size of the bin is a big factor.  Larger bins or containers will naturally have more volume to allow for greater insulation and protection from extreme temperatures.  Smaller bins will “feel the heat” and not have as much buffer or room for protection.  I keep old rugs on top of the bedding that are sprayed down daily to keep moist and cool.  Add a few more inches of mulch to in ground worm beds and keep as moist as possible in these tough conditions. The mulch added to worm beds or flower beds will add organic matter, protection, and an additional moisture barrier.

Easy DIY In ground Worm Composting Bin

21 May

With a few minutes and fewer tools you can set up your own red worm composting system in any raised bed.

Materials:

Tin snips or box cutter

Plastic planter or bucket

Shovel or other digging tool

Stone or cover for the in ground bed

Worms

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.

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.