Planting with Organic Compost: How to Use Worm Castings

The spring is the time to start using your compost from your worm bin. Your red worms have been busy all year eating kitchen scraps and creating valuable fertilizer. How do you apply worm castings to your garden and lawn? Can you use compost on seeds and bulbs? How much compost do you need? Harvesting Compost You need to retrieve the valuable worm castings (worm poop) from your vermicomposting bin. If you have a tray-based composter, harvest from the lower trays. If you have been feeding the worms in the top tray, there will be few worms in the lower trays. Remove the lower trays and dump them into a wheelbarrow, bucket, or sack. For other types of composters, harvest finished compost from the bottom. See our page on harvesting compost. The fresher the worm

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Revive Your Vermicomposting Bin in the Spring

As winter fades into spring, vermicomposting bins will start to warm up. Warmer temperatures make the composting worms more active. If they froze outdoors during the winter, new baby worms might hatch. Spring is the perfect time to refresh and renew your composting bin. Your spring gardening will require fertilizer and the worms have made it for you! What can you expect? Do you need to add bedding or water? How can you tell if you need to order more worms? And is that composter still serving you? Gather Information Look inside your composting bin and dig around. Do you see any living worms? Do you see tiny brown specks? These specks are probably worm eggs. Baby worms should be hatching soon! You should see black, crumbly material. This is worm poop, called “black gold”, “worm castings”,

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Use Compost to Grow “Starts” in the Spring

Compost helps starts grow strong! Gardeners often grow “starts” in the late winter and early spring. These are tiny plants grown from seed. Planting starts before the spring growing season gives your plants a boost. Later, you can plant the juveniles outdoors. How do you make starts, and how does compost help? How much compost should you use? Where can you get compost? Which Plants Should You Start? Peppers, tomatoes, onions, head lettuce, leeks, eggplants, and cucumbers are more likely to survive and thrive if they are started indoors. Coniferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli are also great for starts. You can buy seedlings in the gardening store; however, growing your own from seed is cheaper. Store-bought seedlings are available in only a few of the most popular varieties. You will have a much greater variety of seeds to choose from. Also, you have total control over the little plants’ conditions. Therefore,

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Pros and Cons of Composting with Worms

If you are thinking about composting with worms, you will need to weigh the pros and cons first. Some folks start composting to reduce trash and help save the environment. Others are motivated by the end product: nutrient-rich compost for gardens, indoor plants, and lawns. Parents and teachers engage youngsters with a vermicomposting project. Whatever your reason, composting worms have both pluses and minuses. The most common concerns are waste reduction, odor, time, and cost. Reduces Waste Composting diverts organic waste from landfills and incinerators. You can compost food trimmings, leftovers, spoiled food, coffee grounds, compostable napkins, compostable takeout containers and utensils, garden trimmings, and certain agricultural waste. Pros: Composting requires sorting out organic matter from the trash. Sorting is easily accomplished by tossing vegetation into a container. Unsorted trash develops a terrible odor, due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. Foul odors attract pests. Collecting trash requires time, fuel, trucks, and expense. Landfills lack enough oxygen for proper composting. They are prone to buildup of flammable methane gas. Garbage is essentially entombed for eternity. Burning mixed trash is an utter waste of valuable organic matter. Incineration creates air pollution and toxic ash. Cons: Participants need instructions on what can be composted and how to separate it. Unlike recyclables, compostables start to break down quickly. Collection is highly time-sensitive at room temperature. Stored compostables should be refrigerated or frozen. Organic matter that has already been mixed in with other trash is difficult to separate. Composting Worms’ Odor You might be …

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Best Ways to Dry Out a Wet Worm Bin

When your worm bin is too wet, what are the best way to dry it out? At Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we have heard this question many times. The vermicomposting bin’s moisture level is crucial to worm health. We have been raising worms on our farm in rural Pennsylvania for more than 40 years. In that time, we’ve developed a simple protocol for drying out a wet worm bin. Let’s start with the primary question: is the worm bin too wet?

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Worm Composting Bin Troubleshooting Guide

When something goes wrong with your worm composting bin, this Troubleshooting Guide can help! Bookmark this page and return whenever you think something is amiss with your worm bin. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is the #1 supplier of composting worms in the USA. We’ve been growing and selling worms for more than 40 years. Click on the problem to see solutions.

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Vermicomposting with Worms Grows More Food

Simply by doing what comes naturally, worms are helping humans. These small invertebrates eat organic matter and excrete fertilizer. This process improves soil quality and increases crop yields. Farmers, institutions, and householders have learned how to harness the power of composting with worms. Vermicomposting is cooler and faster than composting without worms. How is composting with worms helping smaller farmers grow more food for less money? Vermicomposting is gaining popularity among smaller commercial farmers worldwide. These farmers have healthier soil, and healthier crops, and produce more food per acre. Better crops mean more produce to trade or sell. Small farmers become more self-sufficient when worms help them. Cost of fertilizer goes down. Since worms replenish themselves, overhead is lower. Vermicomposting has become especially important in third world countries, pulling farmers out of poverty. Vermicomposting Scale How does vermicomposting scale up? A small worm bin

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Composting Worms Promote STEM in the School Classroom

A composting worms project at school provides many opportunities to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the classroom. The school curriculum often covers the lifecycle of the earthworm. Students will retain more if they have hands-on experiences with the worms. A composting bin allows students to compost organic food waste generated at school. The composting process results in worm castings, a fertilizer for growing new plants. The project can easily pay for itself if the worm castings are put up for sale. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm shows you how to get started with a classroom composting project. Customize the Project Teachers can pick-and-choose the scope of the project and which STEM elements to include. A minimal project would involve setting up a worm bin and depositing classroom waste. Many STEM elements can be included such as measuring trash volume before and during the project (math); worm anatomy;

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Composting Worms and Freezing Cold Weather

When the weather outside is frightful, you may worry about how composting worms survive the freezing weather. Winter temperatures can fall below freezing in most parts of the continental United States. What happens to composting worms in low temperatures? Is it important to prevent Red Worms or European Night Crawlers from freezing? How does temperature affect the composting process? When It Is Cold When temperatures plummet and stay low for a long time, everything

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Foods That Can Hurt Composting Worms

Composting worms make food scraps break down quickly, but some foods can hurt them. Vermicomposting with worms is increasingly popular with people who want to reduce trash, produce free fertilizer, and save resources. Therefore, vermicomposting fans have a vested interest in keeping their Red Worms or European Night Crawlers healthy. Worms can break down a wide variety of organic materials, with a few exceptions. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm explains which foods can hurt composting worms. In a Tight Space In the wild, worms will wiggle to a suitable food source. They have an entire smorgasbord outdoors. A composting bin is a tight space. We set up this

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