• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

TucsonMJGrowblog

Growing Pot where it's Hot

Getting by with a little help from my friends–Vermicomposting with earthworms

I have a compost tumbler that does a good job of breaking stuff down like melon rinds and corn cobs in the heat of the summer. That compost pile hits 145F internally. However, in the winter, not sooooo much. This is where the help from the little friends come in–earthworms to the rescue!

During our winters we have a few months of brisk weather that will easily support a worm bin. What I did was simply buy a pound of worms on ebay for about $30. I added them to the existing slow-to-compost winter waste from the kitchen as well as other stuff worms need like cardboard or newspaper for Carbon content. Too much greens will suffocate the bin in nitrogen and too many coffee grounds is too acidic. You need a mix of stuff.

A healthy worm bin will have the population double in size about every 60 days and they CAN consume their weight daily in food scraps. A pound of worms goes through a pound of stuff in about 3 days is what I am seeing IRL in my environment. I’m also hedging my bets with some worms in an indoor bin on the side, just in case of a mishap/disaster.

For us soil growers, the MOST expensive soil amendment is earthworm castings. That’s the stuff that’s left behind from them eating the decaying matter & processing it out. Some gardeners call it “black gold” as the price is $15 a pound or so.

Here I have had the worm bin in operation for about a month. I stuck in a large spoon in a random area of the bin & these came out in one scoop

earthworm content after 30 days

Once the worms have done their thing for a couple of months you empty the tumbler into a catch trough and sort out the worms to put back into the bin. A spare fork from the thrift store works well. Once you have the harvested goodness you add that to a distribution holding bin ( small plastic trash canĀ  for me) and consume that in the garden or for starter pots.

My typical soil mix is as follows:

4 parts cheap bagged topsoil

4 parts vermicompost

1 part each of chicken manure (composted) , steer manure, mushroom compost, vermiculite and perlite

 

Come spring to summer when temps start to rise I’ll need to move the worms to a cooler holding bin in the garage or shady spot. I also have some “blue ice” cooler packs to keep it below 90F so the little worms don’t bake.

Baby earthworms

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