Harvesting worms

Written by Matthew on August 1st, 2014


 

Look inside a worm egg!

Written by Matthew on July 18th, 2014


 

A trashy problem

Written by Matthew on June 16th, 2014
Post By Matthew Wilson

Post By Matthew Wilson

Throwing away food scraps creates many problems. First of all, it is wasteful. Food scraps can easily be recycled back into fertilizer which is used to make more food. Every year farmers dump thousands of tons of synthetic fertilizers on their farms. These synthetic fertilizers can be replaced with compost. This produces a closed and sustainable loop. Waste in garbage cans also has several practical problems. Trash stinks and attracts flies, rats and other pest. It takes a lot of time, effort and machinery to bag (plastic bags = more waste), transport, compact, transport again, and then dig a big hole to bury all that trash.  Furthermore organic waste produces methane (20 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) and fills up landfill space.

20% of trash is compostable, however only 8% of households compost. Restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores and many other companies send thousands of tons of waste to the landfill every day. Traditional composting requires lots of time, land and heavy equipment to efficiently handle the organic waste. Furthermore, waste has to be separated at the source and transported to the composting facility. Due to the large land requirements, compost facilities are located many miles from the waste source.

Small scale on site vermicomposting of organic waste represents one of the best alternatives to landfill disposal. Vermicomposting is scalable and versatile. Vermicomposting can be done at home in a simple container or by using one of the many available worm bins. The Worm Factory 360 is an excellent example. Also vermicomposting can be done on a larger scale at places such as restaurants using worm bins like the Worm Wigwam. Furthermore, vermicomposting can be done on industrial scales such as that which is being done at Oregon Soil Company.

You can start composting your garbage at home today. It’s super easy and it can pay for itself with all natural organic fertilizer. If you garden it is a no brainier. The Worm Factory 360 and a pound of worms is the easiest complete kit for worm composting available. However, if you have some used containers laying around that you would like to re-purpose into a worm bin, that works as well. Most important is just to start somewhere and make a goal to send less to the dump and keep that good fertilizer for your garden!

 

 

Alabama jumper worm identification guide

Written by Matthew on March 8th, 2014

Alabama Jumpers

aj-alabama-jumpers-detailAlabama Jumpers are great worms that are hard to grow commercially, but do really well in the garden.

This post is part of a series on worm identification. Click here to see first page.

Alabama Jumper worms  can be monsters in size.  They commonly reach 6-9 inches long and about 1/4 inch in diameter. They are the muscular looking worms that can jump fairly aggressively. They have slightly metallic sheen which makes them easy to spot. They can be found in many parts of the US. Specifically zone 7 and warmer. They can survive cold conditions by burrowing very deep into the ground.

You can look for these worms in old leaf piles. Also you can attract them by placing wet cardboard on the ground. With any luck after a week or so you should be able to find a dozen or so underneath.

The anterior section tapers to a point giving them a pointed shape. I think this is also what makes them so adept to burrowing through very hard packed clay soils. This is one reason they are so great for gardens. They make tiny caves throughout the ground which enables water, air and nutrients to penetrate to plants roots. They also help soils to drain. They carry their castings deep underground and build canals that transport air, water, and nutrients deep underground helping plants grow.

They are difficult to grow in commercial quantities, but are frequently collected by professional worm “pickers” and resold. They are not quite as tolerant to shipping as red wigglers and european nightcrawlers. They make a good fishing worm, but are very costly due to the difficulties in growing and shipping them.

 

The European Nightcrawler. How to identify Eisenia hortensis. AKA European Red Wiggler

Written by Matthew on September 16th, 2013

european-worm-detailThis post is part of a series on worm identification. Click here to see first page.

The european red wiggler worm, Eisenia hortensis, formerly know as; Dendrobaena veneta is a red worm that averages 3-5″ long when full grown. The worms size depends largely upon the conditions that it is grown in. They average about 1.5 gram per worm (.05 ounce), but can weigh as much as 7 grams each (1/4 ounce).

Immature european nightcrawlers are commonly sold as red wigglers, but it is not the red wiggler worm. This causes some confusion when purchasing worms. Also the eruopean nightcrawler is commonly differentiated from the red wiggler by calling it the “big reds” and the red wiggler “little reds.” Both worms are technically red worms.

The european nightcrawler is a good composting worm. It is especially suited to composting fibrous materials.

Due to it’s larger size it is favored by fisherman. It does well in a garden and can survive with less organic matter than the red wiggler. It is also able to dig in semi compacted ground, but not very hard packed.
European Red Worms 300X300

 

 

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Red wiggler worm identification. What red wiggler worms look like.

Written by Matthew on September 9th, 2013

red-wigglers-detailThis post is part of a series on worm identification. Click here to see first page.

Eisenia fetida is the common red wiggler. It is the most common worm sold for composting.

Physical description of red wiggler

It is smaller is size 3-4 inches long is average length for an adult red wiggler worm. They have alternating bands of darker and lighter red. This coloration is lighter between the bands. They have a slightly flat bottom. with the rest of the body being round. The tail is sometimes a lighter color often with a yellow tip. This coloration comes and goes depending upon what they are fed.

Red wiggler live cycle and characteristics

The red wiggler worm is great for composting for many reasons

  • It likes to stay put
  • Reproduces fast
  • Not picky about temperature
  • Not picky about food
  • Adapts to change of environment quickly
  • Consumes food at a fast rate
  • Stays near surface
  • The red wiggler prefers temperatures around 70 F
  • Lays small egg cocoons pictured above. Each cocoon can hatch 3-4 live worms in about 30 days. Adult worms can lay one or two cocoons per week.
  • It takes about 45 days for the red wiggler to reach sexual maturity
  • Each worm is hermaphroditic

Eisenia fetida

Eisenia fetida


 

What type of worm is this? Worm identification guide.

Written by Matthew on September 4th, 2013

Ever saw a worm and wondered “what type of worm is that? Over the next few weeks I will be completing a worm identification guide.

The following list will eventually be links going to pages about that type of worm.

Commercially grown worms

  • Eisenia fetida AKA: Red Wiggler Worm,Tiger Worm, Trout Worm
  • Eisenia andrei AKA: Red Wiggler Worm, Tiger Worm, Trout Worm (cannot be distinguished from E fetida without a microscope, as such they are considered by worm farmers to be the same)
  • Eisenia hortensis AKA: European Red Worm, European Red Worm, Red Worm, Jumbo Red, Dendrobaena veneta (Old scientific name) **Update now I think they changed this worms scientific name again. Eisenia venta is the new proper name best as I can tell. If you know for sure let me know.**
  • Amynthas gracilus AKA: Alabama Jumper, Pheretima Hawayana (Old scientific name)
  • Eudrilus eugeniae AKA: African Nightcrawler
  • Lumbricus terrestris AKA:Canadian Nightcrawler, Dew Worm
  • Perionyx excavatus AkA: (not readily available and many worm farmers consider it to be a pest)

 

 

Gardening. It’s so healthy.

Written by Matthew on August 7th, 2013

Gardening has become so much fun for me in the past couple years that I can hardly get myself to do real work. It didn’t use to be this way though. My soil way hard clay and very compact. To do anything involved very hard work or using mechanized equipment. Then I became a worm farmer about 5 years ago when I started Worms Etc. I had often heard the compost was good for the soil and that worm compost was the best, but I didn’t really believe it I guess.

Then I put down a thick layer of worm castings over the garden and made raised beds. WOW, what a difference. Very few weeds and they come out so easy. I never do any tilling, I simply use a fork to loosen the soil before planting.

When you see the results of your effort come out of the ground and then on the table it is quite a rewarding experience. Oh so healthy too. Fresh vegetable and fruits are I think without question healthy and good for the body. Gardening is good for the mind and keeps you flexible and strong. Start gardening today.

You can plant something almost year round. Spring is the obvious time, but many thing do best planted in the fall.

Thanks for reading, Matthew.

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Planting pole beans without a trellis. The super easy way!

Written by Matthew on June 22nd, 2013


 

Make your thumb a little greener.

Written by Matthew on May 23rd, 2013

Having a green thumb doesn’t come via a special gardening gene. Anyone including you can have a green thumb. Although it does take some time, effort and experience, with time you can learn to have the most beautiful garden or houseplants around. Here are some tips to get you started.

Worm castings as and compost are full of organic matter which plants love. Organic matter hold nutrients and releases them slowly as the plants need them. Furthermore they keep the soil loose and retain moisture. Twice a year add worm compost to your plants. Simply add a 1/4 inch layer on top of the soil around the plants. Within a few years you will have some very rich soil.

Water, but don’t drown. It is a good idea to water outdoor plants deeply and less frequently, than to water lightly often. This encourages roots to go deep. Also watering in the morning is best since it gives the leaves a chance to dry rather than staying wet all night which can encourage leaf diseases.

Don’t give up and experiment around. Try different varieties of whatever you are growing and see which one grows best in your area.

What other suggestions can you offer? Please leave you comments and suggestions.