So just how hungry ARE red wigglers? Hungry enough to consume half their weight in kitchen waste (vegetable scraps, fruit, coffee grounds, oatmeal, egg shells etc.) every single day!
After consuming the waste the worms produce wonderful, rich, castings that make an awesome organic fertilizer. What are castings? Polite speak for worm poop.
Many urban dwellers are closet worm farmers. A fancy arrangement like the one shown below looks great and produces nutrient rich worm castings for your potted plants or balcony garden. This one is dubbed The Worm Factory and manufactured by Nature’s Footprint. It’s the one I keep in my apartment closet.
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How many worms do you need? Weigh out your daily kitchen waste to get an idea of how much you produce, divide by two and you have your answer. You don’t need to get them all at once, however. Start with a couple pounds of worms and they will rapidly increase (or decrease) their population to match the available food and space.
How many worm castings can one worm farm produce? A tower-type like the one shown above should produce at least one tray-worth of finished compost and castings known as “vermicompost” every three months.
If you want to save money and don’t care about fancy looks, a search on YouTube will show you lots of videos on how to make your own worm farms using Rubbermaid totes.
How do you use your compost and castings? As a fertilizer vermicompost can replace commercial products for adding nutrients to your potted plants. Worm castings are rich but will not burn your plants. You can work a few tablespoons into your soil before potting up a plant or add a few tablespoons as a top dressing around your existing plants. When you water the nutrients will be released into the soil and make its way down to the roots. You can also add a few tablespoons to your water to make a liquid fertilizer.
Not only do the castings provide nutrients they act as a fantastic soil conditioner. The castings increase the good microbes and stop any toxins from spreading. They also bind with any heavy metals and prevent them from being released too quickly. Worm castings act like a sponge, retaining excess water and releasing it as the plant needs it. Many pests and diseases can be prevented by the consistent application of vermicompost to your pots and garden.
Do you have to use red wigglers? Yes, yes you do! Dew worms and other earthworms found in many gardens will not thrive in the conditions offered by a worm farm or eat as much or produce as many castings.
It’s all about the red wiggler.