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A trashy problem

Monday, 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

Saturday, 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.

Worm Castings Video

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Video by

Can-O-Worms Composter System Review and Instructions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
can o worms composter

can o worms

The Can-O-Worms composting system is a well made stack-able tray worm composter. It is made out of sturdy thick black plastic and all the pieces fit together well. It comes with a very complete and informative set of instructions. Can O Worms Instructions The lid is extremely tight fitting and worms are very unlikely to escape. The Base is well designed and includes a tap to drain off any excess liquids.

The manufacturer did a great job thinking the system out. They included everything you need to vermicompost with the Can-O-Worms except the worms. They send you knowledge, bedding, the bin and even thought to have the packaging double as a temporary cover for the tray holes on the first level.

As I have often stated, worms do not need a mansion to live in, however if you are serious about vermicomposting and want a high quality composter system for your worms to produce lots of high quality vermicompost, then this is the system for you.

Buy your Can-O-Worms composter here

Plant Growing and Soil Admendment Research

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Hoophouse for worms

Greenhouse Construction Underway

One of the major reasons I got into worm farming is my passion for farming and in particular my love for gardening. For many years now I have kept a garden and enjoy gardening very much. I will admit to my slackness in removing weeds in the past, but fortunately I have learned techniques that prevent weeds from even growing in the first place. I never imagined that I would be able to sell enough worms to make a living and started the worm farm thinking that composting would be my number one profit maker. However because of increased environmental awareness, composting worm sales are really strong. I guess that it would be possible to only sell worms and be quite successful. However that is not my end aim and my passion for growing plants dictates that I develop a line of products that will help everyone grow the best plants possible at their own homes.

As posted on the website I am building a large greenhouse like shelter that will be used to grow worms in, but I am going to set aside a fair sized portion of the building for research into growing plants, fruits, and vegetables. The end aim of this research will be to produce the best line of potting soils and soil amendments available anywhere. These products will all use worm castings and revolve around worm castings’ ability to bolster plant growth and health.

While we already sell castings online and some potting soil, I am really excited about selling on a large scale. Its a great product and our continuous research is sure to make it better.

Hoop House Style Greenhouse Construction Basics; Building a Wiggler Worm Barn

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
hoop style greenhouse

Hoop House

After trying a lot of different housing options for the worms, I decided that the best option in my case is to use hoop style greenhouse buildings. Hoop houses, as they are often called, are semi-circular buildings made from curved semi-circle rafters and are usually covered by clear poly-ethylene film. Not only are these buildings strong, but they are also inexpensive compared to other structures; furthermore, the hoop house can be covered in poly during the winter and then covered with shade cloth for summer use.

The main structural components of the building are the rafters, also called hoops. These can be made of wood, steel, or even pvc pipe. I recommend the use of steel pipe covered in a rust proof coating. EMT conduit is widely available and relatively inexpensive. It is used to route electrical wires in buildings and can be purchased at electrical supply houses and at many well known home improvement stores. The other main structural components are the purlins. Purlins run the length of the hoop house and tie the rafters together. They are commonly between 1 and 5 purlins in a hoop house, but I would recommend at least 3. Purlins not only add extra rigidity to the building, but can be used as anchors for lights, fans, sprinklers, or hanging plants and other items on. The size and spacing of the purlins and rafters is going to depend largely upon the size of the building and the expected snow load. Also if you do intend to hang plants or other items off of the purlins to make sure they are plenty strong for that as well.

An average rafter spacing for commercially available hoop greenhouse is about 6′. I personally believe this to be to far apart and like to space the rafters no further than 4′ apart. Although this may add a little cost to the building, but I can sleep sound at night during heavy snow and freezing rain knowing that my greenhouse is plenty strong.

The hoop house is anchored to the ground using ground post. The ground post are simply pipes that are driven into the ground that the rafters will attach to. EMT conduit may be used for these as well. In my location the pipes were driven about 3′ deep, but the required depth will depend upon your soil.

This covers the basics of hoop houses, but soon I will be posting the details of an actual hoop house construction that is sure to keep some wiggler worms happy. Also I am looking forward to having a place to grow plants in the winter and having a good building for researching potting soils made with worm castings.

Thanks for reading,
Matthew Wilson

Are these red wriggler worms in my mailbox?

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

So I received a phone call the other day and the voice on the other end says, “Hello, my name is [John Doe] and I received a box in the mail, which I wasn’t expecting, but even more surprisingly the box promised, ‘Live Worms Inside.’ Curiously I opened the box to see if this could possibly be true. Upon opening the box I found a white bag, which I now presume to wriggler worms, and an information sheet with your phone number. Upon seeing this phone number, I called you to ask, why have I this box of worms?”

So I answered him by asking for the order number and proceeded to look up the info. I explained to him that the order was paid for by Mr. So-and-so, but he did not remember the name I gave him, so I gave him the billing phone number. After that I he said, “OK thanks,” and that was the end of the conversation.

About a half-hour later he called back. He explained, “OK I remember the fellow who sent me the worms now, he was a friend of my sons and he had come over and ate supper here one evening and sent the worms as a thank you gift for the hospitality. He saw my compost pile and knew that I liked gardening and composting so he saw the worms for sale on the internet and had them sent to me.” Well the mysterious box of worms was now explained and the fellow used them in his compost pile.

Interestingly enough I have had this happen one other time when an individual bought some worms for his neighbor. So I guess if you are wanting to get someone a gift they will never forget, just get’ em some worms. It will make quite a stir.

Composting made simple using red worms. Indoors!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Composting food scraps is easy and fun to do even in ones home. If you have an outdoor area to compost in then you can certainly compost a larger amount, but even if you live in an apartment you can still compost most of your food scraps.

Items such as newspaper, leaves, cardboard, dried straw, paper towels are considered to be bedding or browns. It is important to have enough of these in every compost pile. Because these items decompose slowly and they have extra carbon they keep the composting process under control and prevent smells. Also when using worms in the compost pile they provide the worms with an escape from the composting process. Worms will live in these materials and move in and out of them as they consume and compost the food scraps.

Most food scraps can be composted as long as they don’t contain dairy, meat, or to much oil or salt. Worms love vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds including the filters.

There are many good compost bins for sale. Some are more complicated then they need to be but any will work. The simple fact is that worms do not require a mansion to live in. I suggest that if you are on a budget (aren’t we all?) to get a plastic tote to keep your worms in. A simple sweater storage box available at most any store works great. Many other sites and people say to poke holes in the bin for air circulation and indeed this may help, but if your bin is not more than a foot or so deep that the hole are not even necessary. If you don’t place hole just simply leave the lid off. If a dim night light is kept on the worms at all times then they should not every try crawling out. A piece of cardboard placed over the top of the bedding in the bin will help keep the bedding moist and the worms happy.

For the first month or so the worms will not use much food. I believe this is because of two things, first the bedding will act as food for the worms and second the worms need a certain amount of living organisms in the bin in order to compost and digest the food. The bin will be lacking in these beneficial organism for a few weeks until the population is established. After a month or so the worms should be consuming their weight in food every week. They may consume up to twice that amount under some circumstances.

Collecting the castings to be used in the garden is easy. The red wiggler worms migrate towards the new food and up. This is of great benefit to us as it makes harvesting easy. In order to harvest casting and leave the majority of the worms behind, simply feed the worm to one side for a week or so and after the worms migrate to that side scoop the section up with the worms and set them to the side in a temporary container. After the worms are set aside, harvest about half of the castings and add new bedding and a little food. Now the castings are ready to be used in the garden and the worms can be placed back into the worm bin. Just add the worms and the material the were in on top of the newly added bedding and they will crawl down into the material and begin eating right away. The castings will likely contain a few worms and some worm eggs as well, but they should not be so many as to effect your bin to much and the extra space will promote the other worms to reproduce anyhow.

You can have a worm bin anywhere. They do not produce any offensive odors if cared for properly and can be placed anywhere a trash can goes. Composting with worms reduce the amount of garbage sent to a landfill, the castings help produce greener, healthier plants.

Common questions people ask about worms and worm farming

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Here are a list of emails that I have received and answered that I thought contained valuable information.

Question: Does the same rules apply to your night crawlers [as to red wigglers]?  And can they co-exist with the wigglers I would really like to start my own small worm farm for fishing. So I will need to get everything I need from you to get started. There is no were around us to get the small wigglers (for my grandkids to catch sunfish) and even night crawlers are hard to come buy. I will have to do a little studying and order some nice worms from you ASAP.

Answer: Continue reading “Common questions people ask about worms and worm farming” »

Worm castings, the best way to make a brown thumb green!

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

What are the benefits of worm casting?

Worm castings, the all natural organic fertilizer

Worm castings are provably one of the best tools available to “Green your thumb.”

Take a look at the results that this amazing organic fertilizer can produce.


ChrysanthemumsPlants on left were grown with castings. Plants on right without. Only 10% castings added by weight was necessary to produce these results!

The largest improvement we often see by the addition of worm castings is in the root structure of plants. Continue reading “Worm castings, the best way to make a brown thumb green!” »