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This article’s going to be really full of good information for you guys so learn about worms, learn about how composting is really good, and learn about if you guys cook at home and have plants, you guys should be worm composting and making your own precious vermicast, one of the most nutritious things you can put in the garden, but more importantly, take a chunk out of what you are throwing away, because when you throw things away, it really doesn’t go away, it doesn’t disappear, they don’t send it into space, it goes into the landfill, it rots, creates methane gas, really not a good thing. No better way to use your food scraps than to enrich your soil or even if you don’t have a garden, create vermicastings and give to friends and neighbors to enrich their soil or just throw in the park when no one’s looking.
There are many different things to help you compost with worms, including actually several different styles of systems that they’re showing, and including three different types of worms. You guys know, they have three different types of worms for sale, but there’s many different kinds of worms,and these three unique varieties of worms are very good for your garden, and also for breaking down the trash. So maybe the first thing I want to do is show you guys the worms, because that’s the reason why I’m here, and worms are a part of your ecosystem in your garden right? We want to have biologically alive soil, including bacteria, including microbes, including nematodes, including worms, including arthropods and all the different creatures that are down in the soil doing their job and this is part of a biologic organic garden that I like to teach you guys, and worms are an essential part. I mean if you set up your garden properly some of the worms will come on their own and find a home in your nice environment that you’re giving to them, but one of the things I really like to do is implant the worms and get some worms and just put them into my garden so that they can do their work and if you provide a really good environment for them, guess what? They’re going to breed and multiply. I like breeding and multiplying, and so do the worms. So let’s check out the worms breeding and multiplying today.
Alright so now I want to show you guys the different kinds of worms, and I’ve got three different kinds of worms here, I’ve got the composting worms which are the kind that are going to basically break down your food scraps and turn them into nutrients for your garden,and one of the ones that’s really common that many of you guys may know are known as the red wigglers, and those are in here. But besides just the red wigglers I also have some Indian
blues, and these are another kind of worm that are tropical worms, so you’re not really going to want to get these if you live in Michigan, because they don’t like freezing. But if you guys look there you can see a whole bunch of the worms moving around,and the fast-moving worms are the blues, and the slow-moving worms are the reds. And you know I recommend a diversity of worms in your garden if you live in a climate such as a tropical climate where you don’t get freezes that’ll support both these kinds. So it’s best to always have a diversity because what you’re going to find is whether you’re growing your worms outside in your raised bed garden or whether you have worms in a worm bin, the conditions that you create for your worms are going to be more conducive to one or the other kind of worms and one or the other kind of worms will dominate the bin. And by having more varieties, that way you have higher chances of success. And if you are successful with your worms and they really like what you’re doing, they’re also going to mate and lay eggs. Worm eggs look like almost clear little round balls, almost like little bubbles, and those will hatch into worms for your garden, and you could put them out in your garden and they’re going to basically reproduce and multiply, and then you’ll be able to divide your worms, have another worm bin and give them to friends, and that’s really cool.
So the composting worms that most people are familiar with, and the other kind of worm that I really wanted to show you guys today are these guys, and I’ve always had these worms, and I’ve had the red wigglers in my garden, but I’ve had these other kind of worms in my garden that are kind of bigger and fatter and all this stuff, and I’m not a worm guy, I didn’t go to school for wormology or whatever they call it, but I saw these guys and I don’t really know what they are until today actually, but these guys are called amenthis, and these guys actually are not composting worms per se, but these are garden worms and they’re aeration worms, very important, they primarily aerate your soil, makes air in your soil that creates air channels that are good for the plant roots, that are good for the microbes down in there, and they might eat some kind of wood shavings, pellets, and maybe even some coffee grounds, but they’re not really around for composting food waste, so if you get these guys, and I would recommend you get these guys. If you don’t have these guys in addition to the red wigglers, take these guys and bury them out in your raised beds. I like to probably bury for a four foot by four foot raised bed, I would probably bury a couple of ounces in each bed to give them a home and if you’re treating them well, they’re going to breed and multiply and do all that aeration which is especially important in a no till gardening like I recommend.
So I guess the next thing I want to share with you guys is worm habitats for your reds or your blue worms. Alright so now you guys got to see the different kinds of worms, and you only want to put the reds and the blues in one of these worm habitats or worm homes, because the other kind, they’re for putting in your garden so you can do the aeration and all that kind of stuff. They will not survive in one of these habitats. Now there’s many different choices you guys can get for a worm habitat, or simply a worm home. And I believe that by having a proper habitat and feeding them and treating your worms properly, they’re going to thrive, and if you’ve had a worm habitat before and your worms didn’t make it, that’s because something probably went wrong. You overfed them, you didn’t have enough aeration, maybe you’re not giving them enough grit, because they need some grit to clean themselves out much like we need fiber, there’s so many different things. I’m not the worm expert but there are many different worm habitats for your budget, and also more importantly for how much food waste you’re generating.You don’t want to get a huge worm bin if it’s just you producing a little cup full of food waste every couple of days,right? That’s not going to work. You want to get your worm bin or your worm habitat sized properly. But in general what I’ll tell you is this,the less people you have in your household, the smaller your worm habitat’s going to be. So for example, for one or two people this is something you guys could even make at home. I mean literally it’s just a little tote bin with holes drilled in the bottom, a couple of things to bump this up of the bottom so it gets a good airflow, once again very important, and you’re going to catch the liquid that comes off the bottom, also known as the leachate, very important, this is known as leachate or worm pee or more specifically actually it’s what the composting or rotting food is just draining off. And some people say it’s good for gardening, some people say it’s bad for gardening. I tend to think that if you dilute it properly you could just put it on stuff, but it’s not any kind of major fertilizer.That we’re going to talk about actually in a little bit.
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The vermicastings and also the worm tea or compost tea that you can make with the vermicastings is much more important to your garden than just the leachate. So yes this is a smaller system, and one of the things that I have learned about was providing bedding for the worms, that’s super-important, out of maybe some shredded newspaper and having a nice layer in there so that you can get some airflow in there plus the worms like to live in this, and then you’re basically going to do lasagna style worms. You’re going to put in the bedding, then some food,and then some more bedding and you’re going to keep stacking it up on top. And one of the things I also learned, very important is don’t feed your worms every day. I know we like to be fed multiple times a day, but too much food in your worm system can overload the worms, and they’re going to go “Oh my gosh, there’s too much food, I’m freaking out” and then you might lose your worms. So you could lose your worms for overfeeding, you could lose your worms for under feeding, you could lose your worms for having too much water, and also if you overfeed it’s going to stink, and nobody wants a stinky worm bin, right? So if you’ve had worm bins in the past, and it stunk, you’re probably overfeeding because the worms aren’t able to digest food that quickly, and in general you know you’re going to also need to get the proper amount of worms to start with. If you’re putting in a lot of food, you’re going to need a lot more worms for them to digest the food.
So it’s very important to talk to somebody who knows how much worms you’re going to need to put in. For example in a big system like this, the worm café, which is my favorite style system, because it just makes things really easy, it drains out all the liquid on the bottom, you’re going to need about one pound of worms to start with. And this is just not one pound of worms with the bedding, this is one pound of worms straight up. Because a lot of places will sell you worms and they’ll say “Oh yeah, one pound of worms,” but it’s one pound of worms with their bedding, and I’ve bought worms like that before, 39. 95 or whatever, went to a local lady she gave me a whole bunch, and I looked through there I’m like “Man there’s 20 worms in here, I got ripped off. ” So it’s much better and always better to buy worms by the ounce, and yes it’s going to cost you more, but you really know what you’re getting, you’re getting live worms that are going to do the job of breaking down your food, and plus if you treat them properly, they’re going to mate and make eggs like I showed you earlier, and create more worms that you can put out into your garden, give to friends and even make more worm bins to compost other stuff through the vermiculture on your property because the reason why I like to compost with worms is because it’s feeding them, it’s removing a food source that I would need to get rid of that’s not going to a landfill, but more importantly I’m creating the really rich vermicastings or the worm poop. And to me as a gardener, that’s the most important, I believe everybody out there should be using some worm castings in their garden, it is quite essential. The other thing I want to mention to you is that the worm castings that you produce are only as good as what you’re feeding the worms, super-important, super-critical, I learned this from someone who basically makes worm castings on a commercial industrial level, and sells the highest quality worm castings that I’ve found. He feeds the worms things that are rich in cellulose, so like shredded cardboard or cardboard slurry as well as things high in chitin. Very important to get some of those additives in there when you’re feeding your worms. So these are some of the different systems. Also another thing very important that I learned is when you’re feeding you’re only supposed to feed two to three times a week. That’s it. I know you guys make food waste every day but don’t feed your worms every day, you might want to take your food waste, put it in a sealed container in your fridge or sealed container in the freezer, and then if it’s in the freezer take it out and thaw it out before you feed it to your worms, this will kill any kind of bugs and all this kind of stuff, fly larvae that may be in there if you freeze it, pull it out, let it thaw out and you’re going to have more of a bug-free worm habitat. The other thing that’s very important is you want to put the paper shreddings on top every time and have a nice layer. You want to leave it nice and fluffy so that you can get some good airflow, because this is very important for the worms. Another thing that I learned, a tip about feeding is when you’re feeding, say that you’ve got a worm bin here and it’s really long, you’re going to want to feed, one day you’re going to feed in the front half and put the shredded paper on top, and then you’re going to wait a day or two,and then the next time you’re going to feed in the second half, so now the worms have to keep traveling back and forth to get the food, and if you lift up the first half, it’s almost fully gone or you can see somethings happening and it’s not smelling, then it’s a good time to add back to feed them again. But if nothing’s really happening, don’t overfeed your worms or put too much food scraps in your worm bin, because it’s going to get stinky, and nobody likes a stinky worm bin, especially your wife, your husband in some cases. So yes they’ve got basically a few designs of the worm habitats, they’ve got the vertical design, which is the one I just showed you, the homemade version, the worm café well as the worm hangout.Every different kind of worm habitat has its own pros and cons, and I’m not going to go overall the pros and cons in this article, but information on the website will help you select the proper worm habitat for you so you can be optimally successful.
The worms consume food and more importantly make the worm fertilizer. And what I really want to talk about next, is the worm fertilizer or the vermicastings. So let me go ahead and show you guys what it looks like. So now what we’re going to look at is the vermicastings, and what in my opinion is one of the best nutrients or fertilizers if you want to call that for your garden, and that’s the worm poop. I mean worms would be in your ground naturally if there wasn’t topsoil degradation, there wasn’t bulldozing, and there was naturally a lot of organic matter on your property. And they’re in there to basically make nutrients for your plants,and this is how nature systems work, and this is what I’m trying to duplicate in my garden. And I know some of you guys actually don’t have worms and you can’t make your own, so that’s why you can actually come here and get some really good vermicastings. And I want to let you guys know that vermicastings and even things like compost are a living product, there’s a lot of different microbes and bacteria and all these different creatures living in the vermicastings, so they definitely need to be treated properly. I’ve gone to places where they just have piles of worm castings and they’re sitting in open air and they’re drying out, and this is not good, they should remain moist, so I keep a covering over it to retain some of the moisture that we’re now going to go ahead and pull off to reveal some really nice black vermicastings, and I want to pick this up and show you guys, I mean look at this stuff man, this is nice and dark, rich vermicastings. And the main benefit of the vermicastings, and yes it contains some nutrients in there, but the main benefit is you’re bringing in the biologic activity that may not be happening in your garden if you’re not gardening in a microbial happy fashion.
I like to use products like vermicastings, and add in some with my soil mixture when planting plants, especially when germinating new seedlings, I really like to put in with new seedlings and even when transplanting, like if I have little pots that I bought, and I dig a little hole and I’m putting in my plant, you know I like to put in a handful of castings with a handful of rock dust, and those are my two main things I like to put in that always have to go in. So besides just using the vermicastings, another thing that you can do with your vermicastings if you don’t have a lot of them, to extend them and make them go longer and basically brew your own biology is the compost tea made with the vermicastings. So let me go ahead and show you you can makeyour very own compost tea at home as well. So what we’re looking at now is the way that I recommend and every week treat my garden to a bath and infusion of compost tea. I recommend you guys do it at home if you can, but if you’re not able to you can buy high quality worm casting compost tea, and when I say compost tea I’m meaning using worm castings to make the compost tea that YOU can spray all over your garden on the plants and in the soil to increase the biological activity. So now what’s going to happen is you’re going to basically speed up nutrient cycling in your garden so your plants are going to grow more vigorously, they’re going to be healthier, they’re going to produce more delicious crops for you to eat, and of course there will be greater pest and disease resistance as well. So yes, get compost tea or better yet, make your own with your own vermicastings.
So the last thing I want to do in this episode is share with you guys some books that are vital for your success in gardening. The first one is actually “Worms Eat Our Garbage,” and this perfect if you have kids or you’re a teacher and have a classroom and want to introduce how worms work with your kids. So this is classroom activities for better a better environment, “Worms that Eat Our Garbage. ” Next is for you guys that are gardeners out there and hopefully all of you guys watching this episode are gardeners out there, two very important books, “Teeming with Nutrients,” and “Teeming with Microbes.” These are two books that I live by, these are two books that my whole gardening philosophy is based upon, it’s basically by the food-soil web of gardening,and worms play a very important role in the food-soil web and without them, the food-soil web literally wouldn’t work, because if you take one piece out of a puzzle, it’s not going to be complete. And worms are a big component of that puzzle. And I definitely recommend you guys get these books.
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Now another thing you guys might have read about on our site is Azomite, and yes you could buy the Azomite here to put in your garden. It’s a bit expensive to buy but the reason to use Azomite as well as a worm farm and compost conditioner, is that it basically provides a mineral or something with grit to feed the worms;that’s very important for them. You could also use something like eggshells which may have salmonella contamination so you’re supposed to leave those out for a period of time, and then grind them up in a coffee grinder so that your worms can better digest them.
[azon_inpost asin=”B001B2W8RO” tpl=”tpl_4″]Down To Earth 6-Pound Granular Azomite 7834[/azon_inpost]
So I’m glad to share with you guys the different kinds of worms and houses, and I want to hopefully encourage you, no matter where you live, to get a worm habitat today and start farming worms, but more importantly, get some of those aeration worms, and get those in your garden as soon as possible.