Archive | RedWorm Farming Tips RSS feed for this section

How do I get rid of ants?

5 May

A frequently asked question I get from worm farmers and gardeners is, “How do I get rid of ants”?  Ants can be attracted to the food waste in your compost pile or worm bed.  The good news is that a healthy compost pile or worm bed is going to have a lot of beneficial bacteria and microbial activity that the ants won’t like.  So in most cases they are there for the food scraps, and will move along shortly.  If they don’t move along and decide to set up shop, or you just want them gone, I recommend diatomaceous earth.  Food grade Diatomaceous Earth or (DE)  are  finely ground remains of tiny ocean critters called diatoms.  DE can be sprinkled around any area where you want to get rid of insects or other segmented bodied critters.  The tiny powder kept dry will stick to the ants or other bugs and make tiny cuts that will dry them out and kill them.  Wet DE won’t stick, so keep your powder dry.  Also, be sure to get food grade and not pool grade DE.  Pool grade is super fine and can be dangerous when breathed in.

photo

 

DE is natural and won’t harm your worms or you.  Other ant killers that contain chemicals might be harmful to your worms.

 

de

 

 

Maggots in my worm bin?

30 Apr

Below is a picture from a customer who asked the question, “What are these in my bin and are they harmful to the worms”?  These are probably black soldier fly larvae.  They are a little unsightly, but are good composters in their own right and are not harmful to your worms.  These tend to show up in my manure piles when the weather heats up.  I will remove them most of the time from my worm bin if they show up, but it is not necessary.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.22.27 AM

DIY Raised Worm Bed.

28 Apr

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.

wormbed

 

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).

happyworms

Worms for the Garden

27 Apr

clayworm2 claywormThis 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.

clayandcaliche

Paul’s worm bin in North Carolina

9 Apr

A big thank you to Paul in North Carolina for sending us these pics of his compost tumbler and worm bin.  Great work!

IMG_9282 IMG_9284 IMG_9285 IMG_9292

How to keep your nightcrawlers from “nightcrawling” out of your bin

4 Mar

When you start a new European nightcrawler bin, these little fellas will do just as their name suggests and night crawl all over the place.  On several occasions I have woken up to worms out of the bin.   There is a simple little trick you can use that will help them stay put. Place a lamp or light source above the bin at night and they will be good girls/boys and “stay”.  After a few days, maybe a week or so they will get settled into their new home and be “trained” to stay put.

photo

Houston Based Startup Turning Juice Bar Pulp Into Black Gold

4 Oct

Solaris Ag Base from Houston, TX is producing worm castings from juice bars all over the Houston area.  Anson Woods and his team are expanding their operation into a warehouse facility.  Worm castings (black gold) the perfect fertilizer produced from nutrient dense juice pulp and coffee grounds by Anson’s worms.  Instead of filling up dumpsters, this waste is being used to produce soil enriching and life giving worm castings packed with pH neutral and beneficial micro-organisms.

Congrats to Anson and Solaris Ag Base on their continued success, and thank you for choosing Texas Red Worms as your composting worm supplier.

Take a look at this pic from Anson’s original worm farm.  What a gorgeous set up!Solaris Ag Base

Michael’s Rabbit Hutch Worm Bed

23 Jul

Thanks to Michael in Cypress, TX for sharing the pictures of his rabbit hutch and worm bed design.  Great work and thanks for sending.

photo3 photo4 photo photo2

Image

Red Mites and Red Worms

16 Jul
Red Mites killing a red worm

Red Mites killing a red worm

Red mites on watermelon rind.

Red mites on watermelon rind.

I’ve encountered these red devils before but not at this level.  Unlike most visitors in your worm bin, these guys are parasites to worms.  (see top picture).  Red mites flourish and can become a problem in a bin that is too moist, has too much food, or too acidic.  Don’t panic if you have a few mites, but a bin that is has been neglected and unkept in these conditions can pose a problem.  My outbreak was caused by overfeeding before we headed out for our July 4th vacation, and was left to fester for more than a week.  Getting rid of a red mite infestation can be a challenge.

I’ve tried several methods and have shown below a little experiment I began today.  I scraped the top of some red mite infected bins and partially filled some small shoebox containers.  From Left to Right in pic below 1. control 2. diatomaceous earth 3. watermelon rind 4. agricultural lime.

1. The control bin will be left open and scraped from time to time to see how long it takes to get rid of the red mites.

2. Diatomaceous Earth has been applied to top of #2.  DE needs to be kept dry in order for it to stick to bugs and make tiny cuts that will dry them out and kill them off.

3. Watermelon rind placed on top to attract red mites and discard.  I will replace with a new one and repeat and see how this does.

4. Ag Lime dusted on top.  Ag lime is alkaline and will hopefully bring the acidic bedding closer to neutral.  The high alkalinity concentrated on the top should burn up the red mites and not harm the worms.

4 methods for getting rid of red mites

These methods have been used before and should all work.  I just kind of wanted to see them head to head.  We’ll see how this turns out.  The good news is most of the red mites have been dismissed without harming too many of my bins and worms.  Additionally, I learned a valuable lesson about overfeeding, and next time I’ll use more composted manure and less of my worm chow mix.  My mistakes were 1. overfeeding 2. too wet 3. too much peat moss and too little composted manure (which made my bedding a little acidic) 4. My infected bins were unattended for a week.  Had I caught them sooner it wouldn’t have been much of an issue.

 

State Master Gardener Composter Specialist Training June 12

3 Jun

Vermiculture/Worm Composting Presentation is scheduled from 3-4PM on Wed 12 June 2013 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (Education Bldg or Auld House depending on room availability-TBD)

Kyle Harrell from TexasRedWorms.com will be presenting from 3-4PM focusing on setting up a simple worm bin, along with the benefits/challenges of vermicomposting in Texas.