Last spring when I planted my tomatoes I put worm castings in each hole before I put the plant in. Worm castings are a form of composting that are from (do I dare say it?) WORM POOP! I paid $25.00 for a 5 lb bag for this POOP at one of our local nurseries and I thought, next year I’m going to do this myself and save the money. Plus you don’t have to turn it like regular composting (now there is an idea I like-less work)! Worm castings protect the plants from soil borne diseases, conditions the soil and is a mild natural fertilizer with 1% Nitrogen. People also use it in their compost teas for their plants. I created a vermicomposting area a few weeks ago in my abundant free time (lol)! Here’s how I did mine.
I found out we need a certain type of earthworm called a Red Wiggler (decided not to show the worms-not a pretty sight!). It is a different from our regular earthworm (although they are great in the soil as well). This red wiggler worm has a huge appetite and will eat manures, peanut hulls, oak leaves, humate and other ingredients such as kitchen scraps-non meat-they are vegetarians!! lol
I put together an outdoor vermicomposting area right next to the chickens so they can go to work! Some people put them in special bins inside their people house (not chicken house) so they don’t freeze. Forget that noise-although if you don’t mind…
I decided to use straw bales to ‘frame’ my outside area. I heard they will go into the straw in winter and lay their eggs and they come back (I think they freeze and their babies come back) when it’s warmer but I had this soil cable that will keep the soil about 70°F and decided to try it to keep them from freezing this winter and keep them working. (Crack that whip!) We’ll see if it works this winter. Here I put the cable down (above pic) .
Then I put some hardwire cloth over it and wired it on with some twistie ties from my garbage bags. Make sure the wire is underneath the hardwire cloth. I did this so when I shoveled the compost out later, I won’t accidentally cut the wire.
Next I covered the wire with straw and newspaper to make a bedding for my new wiggly friends. I wet down the area so the materials were damp but not soaking wet. Worms like their environment moist but haven’t learned to swim yet!
After that I put some food down for them. What else but pumpkin! I have lots of that! Looks like they won’t starve this winter! (I heard they love pumpkin-good thing!) I wonder if someone talked to them and the worm said, “We love pumpkin”. I mean how do we know for sure ?!! I also put in some old chicken manure, squash and coffee grounds for variety! Then I had a friend give me some of these wigglers and I put them on top of this so they would burrow in and feast! I forgot to take a picture of this and when I went back less than 1 minute later to take a picture they were already ‘down under’ this stuff.
Last I put more straw over the whole pile and wet it again so everything was moist. Now I check every week and pull up the top layer of straw and add more ‘food’ as needed. Also be sure to keep pile moist so sprinkle with water periodically. This winter when the hoses are frozen I will take a sprinkling can out to wet it. If you don’t get a soil cable, don’t worry, just follow the rest of this post.
One last thing to make it easy to separate the worms from their castings next spring, I divided my vermicomposting area in half and put a board between the two sections-you can see this in the very first picture at the top of this post. They are in the left section now and later when I see the castings I will stop feeding them on the left side and put the food on the right hand side. The worms will migrate over to the new food source leaving the castings for me to take (at least that’s the theory). I hope they are reading this too!
So now I’m a worm farmer! I can’t wait till next spring to get my very own free worm poop! YEE HA!!