Worms are the cheapest laborers that you will find to help you in
your gardening endeavors. They are efficient and proficient at converting kitchen and
other organic waste into perfect plant food.
what organic gardening always comes back to:
feeding the soil and
the rest takes care of itself"1
Worms are the organic
farmer and gardener's best friend. "Through their feeding
and burrowing activities, they (worms) can affect the decomposition of
organic litter, modify soil microbial communities, and alter the structure
and porosity of the soil, thereby profoundly influencing the availability of
nitrogen in the soil".2
By converting organic matter such as kitchen waste,
lawn clippings, newspaper, cardboard, dried leaves and animal manure
into castings, worms dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to break
down organic waste and return nutrients to the soil from months and years to
a matter of days.
are intimately involved in the cycling of C & N in soil"5
Without the help of worms, "Under normal
conditions, the majority of organic material is decayed in three or four
years, releasing its nitrogen into the available N forms".3
foetida) consumes about their body weight per day in organic waste.
1000 redworms roughly equal one pound. One pound or 1000 redworms can
convert 3 to 4 pounds of organic matter into castings each week.
"Earthworm Castings as Plant Growth
noted that many of the nutrients in waste materials (including nitrogen,
potassium, calcium, and magnesium), when processed by earthworms, are
changed into forms more readily taken up by plants.
"Seedling emergence of tomatoes, cabbage and radish was
much better in vermicompost/peat mixtures than in the
thermophilically-composted animal wastes, and as good and usually better
than commercial plant growth medium."
In addition several ornamentals planted in vermicompost
mixtures flowered much earlier."
"Even 5% vermicompost in
mixture had profound effect on plant growth."4
TO COMMON QUESTIONS:
How many worms do I need?
household of 4 to 6 people generate about 6 pounds of food waste a week.
That will sustain a colony of 2 pounds of worms or about 2000 worms.
can they live? Just
because you don't have a lot of land (or any at all for that matter).
Apartment dwellers can even get on involved with recycling their kitchen
waste. We have maintained a small worm bed in our basement. Follow this
link for complete plans.
& Easy Worm Bin Plans
Will they live in the
ground if I "turn them loose"? It is where they are from so, yes.
However, to give them a fighting chance, they need decent soil in order to
thrive. Sandy desert soil is not. Bottom land that is saturated
with water is not.
If I don't want to
build a worm bin and do turn them loose, where should I do it?
Think like a worm, and you will find a nice home for them. The bottom
of compost heaps are great locations and there is generally plenty for them
to eat and the composition of the soil is easy for them to move about in.
If they are happy they will stay. If conditions in your yard are
nasty, they aren't dumb, they will head for the neighbors.
Because worms are living creatures, we
can only fill orders to locations within the continental United States. Please include a
street address so someone can sign for them (they will die sitting in hot
or freezing mail boxes). Your order will be placed at the farm to
reserve your place in the queue and based upon supply and demand, orders
are usually filled within one to two weeks.
Worms are shipped using U.S. Priority Mail on Mondays and Tuesdays. According to the
post office, you should generally receive them 2 to 3 days after they are
mailed. Please note that shipping is suspended for postal and major holidays when the mail delivery speeds are slowest.
Earthworms by John
National Agricultural Library document, NRI Competitive
grant program 950.2870
Using Manure as a Nitrogen Fertilizer, J.Gerwing &
R.Gelderman, 8/97, South Dakota State University
Castings as Plant Growing Media, R.Sherman, 6/97, North Carolina
National Agricultural Library document # S592.7.A1S6,
T.B. Parkin & E.C. Berry
Suppressive effects of a commercial earthworm compost on
some root infecting pathogens of cabbage & tomato, M. Szczech,
Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 1993, v10 (1)
Earthworm by John Mertus - http://www.infoplease.com/t/sci/earthworms/
Composting with Redworms - http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/Redwormsedit.htm
Build a Worm Compost Bin - http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/wormbins.htm
U.C. Davis Earthworm Information Page