Having a worm bin of red wiggler earthworms to process kitchen waste into nutrient-rich plant food is a very nice thing! Here is some info from the facebook group (
Question: 1) How many of you use worms or worm castings for your gardens? 2 )Who do you purchase them from? 3) What is the qty and cost?
I've never used them. I've seen them at Stegall's Nursery.
Worm castings are a great addition to soil; however, they are usually pricey. I usually see them for around $50 for a 50 lb bag - I'd try an organic nursery like Rhodes, but I can't say that I've seen a bag at any nursery north of Austin.
From a microbial perspective, worm poo is so great because it is fortified with lots of microbes from the worms gut that would otherwise not be present. Microbial activity is almost always entirely absent in a bagged product, like worm castings you might find at a nursery. It will have the nutrients from the compost - but those nutrients would have been the same in a different, cheaper compost because the nutrients come from the compost feedstock not the composting method.
What I do instead is work to attract worms by adding lots of compost to my soil and spraying compost tea. Soak your soil in compost tea, keep the soil moist and the worms will come. This attracts the native worms to you garden bed, which will survive our harsh weather and will provide lots of worm castings for free.
I've gotten it at Rhodes before- but I can't remember how much I paid......
I picked up a bag at North Haven Gardens a few days ago. They have 4lb and 10lbs bags.
I'm playing around with vermicomposting. I purchased a pound of worms for about $30. I put half of them in my regular compost pile and the other half into a self made worm composter made from milk crates lined with weed barrier. I'm a bit concerned about them surviving in our heat, but so far so good. I won't know until fall how they are doing in the main compost bed cause there is no way compost will be turned during summer temps! But they are doing good in my crates and just mowing through the kitchen scraps I feed them. I am keeping them very moist to help with temps. So far I haven't used the castings but have harvested lots of "worm tea". (My bottom crate sits on bricks in a rubbermaid container to "catch" the run off) I also agree with Obie Lansford regarding attracting worms to the garden beds. I dedicate one square each season to trench composting. I think that helps feed the critters and microbes and keeps them where I want them.
Thanks Karen great info!!!
Contact Heather Rinaldi @ Texas Worm Ranch. http://www.txwormranch.com/
She knows her stuff.
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Check out http://txwormranch.com/
Thank, Greg--we use the castings we produce in our own organic gardens, so...I want to produce the best!!! You can benefit from that:). We feed our worms a diverse range of food stock--everything from coffee grounds to wood chips to restaurant waste and juice bar waste. This creates a wide range of microbes (we check under microscope), nutrients, enzymes, acids, and plant hormones. Obie is right, if you buy castings in a sealed plastic bag from the nursery--how can those microbes survive without oxygen? We harvest ours as close to selling as we can,and bag in a breathable bag so the beneficial microbes will still be alive.
I would love to have an open house tour for this group--possibly a Sunday afternoon in the Fall to show you our Facility and Gardens. Meanwhile, email me at email@example.com
if you would like to buy castings. $20/10 lbs (covers approximately 100 square feet of garden space or can be used as 10% of your seed starting or container mix.
I built a raised bed. If I take steps to attract earthworms, do they have the necessary climbing equipment to get themselves up and over the sides?
They'll come up through the bottom - worms love raised beds!
When I built the bed, I removed the grass. Not quite double digging, but but a pretty good de-sodding. Does that matter?
No...what matters is that you do not have a sterile soil ecosystem and that you aren't putting a bunch of chemicals (fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide) down which also kills the soil ecosystem. If you have good organic compost, have mulched thickly, and have a variety of good organic material, you should have good microbial action in your soil. (good) Worm castings--not necessarily what you buy in a sealed plastic bag, via their high density of beneficial microbes attract deep burrowing worms.
great info here! I was going to say start your own worm farm and get red wigglers from Heather, but that's already been said! Here is some info I put together about this too: http://blog.briangallimore.com/2011/03/composting-worms/
I'll add that I'm amazed at how tough my worms are. I go weeks without even checking on them. Their home was recently invaded by a mouse. They have been through several summers and winters and keep on munching their way through and making lots of poop for my garden!