The popularity of worms has grown along with the castings they produce. Stores like Walmart, Farm and Fleet, Tractor Supply, as well as many nurseries now offering pure earthworm castings.
Sure, I was a skeptic at first. Does worm manure actually work or is it all hype?
Worm Manure is Not Fertilizer
Using worm castings will not instantly make your plants burst out of the ground. While it does contain more nutrients than what’s in the soil, the fact is… it’s not fertilizer! It’s a soil amendment. They give a slow release of nutrients to plants.
What you will notice is greener more vigorous plants with less bugs and disease. The plants will produce more flowers and better tasting fruits and vegetables. They’re are 100% organic so you know your not using any harsh chemicals.
Worm castings don’t contain weed seeds if screened correctly. The best way to use them is by adding them to your existing soil. The reason is castings have a grainy texture and don’t give good root support to plants.
How do you get worm castings?
The process is known as vermicomposting. A fancy word for using worms to breakdown organic materials into a useable soil amendment for plants. Setting up an indoor vermiculture is the only real way known to get a consistent quality worm casting.
Raising worms outdoors in long windrows is an option for making worm castings on a larger scale. There is more variables that come into play. The weather of course has a big impact on how quickly the worms process the waste. You also can’t control what is being added to the windrows. You end up with rodents, sticks and other things thrown into your worm piles.
Heavy equipment is needed for large worm operations. You have to have the machines to be able to move large amounts of waste. You also need a large motorized trommel to separate the worms from the castings. You can expect a lot of heavy lifting running a large scale worm operation.
Indoor Bins for Vermicomposting
As I mentioned early, in order to create a consistent worm casting you need a controlled environment. Pest free, temperature controlled operation, where you can calculate what you’re feeding your worms. Theres a lot of different options for bins. I like to use stackable bins. They take up less space and can easily be moved around. You can also harvest the worms much quicker.
You can make your own bins out of plastic buckets or Rubbermaid containers. Or you can purchase them online. The worm factory is a good bin for someone just starting out raising worms.
Indoor composting with worms.
Vermicomposting takes practice and chances are you’ll be sacrificing a few worms in the process. Composting generates heat and worms will die if it gets too hot. They need to be able to move away from the heat source.
Moisture is another concern when dealing with bins. Most of the bins used for vermicomposting are plastic. Plastic traps moisture and you can quickly create a swamp environment for your worms.
I’ve discussed the problems you can have with raising worms. In a future post, I’ll tell you how to control the moisture in your bins. How to avoid killing your worms by generating too much heat in the bins. I’ll also discuss the ideal temperature and humidity for the worms.