Where Do Composting Worm Babies Come From?

Ever noticed a band around some of your composting worms? This band shows that the worm is mature enough to reproduce. How do composting worms make babies? How long does it to make worm babies? And how can you encourage the worms to breed? The red worm, Eisenia fetida, is a champion composting worm. Nestled in the confines of a composting bin, red worms happily eat your kitchen scraps. In return for these tasty morsels, they excrete valuable compost. The resulting “black gold” is the best compost for your garden and indoor plants. It Takes Two Red Worms to Tango On the one hand, red worms have both male and female characteristics. Botanists call them “hermaphrodites”. On the other hand, they need a partner to make babies. They cannot reproduce all on their own. Having DNA from two parents helps keep the offspring strong. When the conditions are right, two red worms line up against each other, facing opposite directions.  Their bands, called clitellum, secrete a mucus film that envelops both worms. Each worm receives sperm, which they store for later. After several hours, the worms go their separate ways. The clitellum then secretes albumin, a chemical that makes the clitellum start to harden. The worm starts to wriggle out of the clitellum. On the way, the worm deposits its own eggs and its partner’s sperm in the clitellum. The resulting lemon-shaped sac is called a cocoon. Sperm from one mating session can fertilize several cocoons. Waiting for the Eggs …

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Fertilizing Soil in the Fall: Applying Organic Compost and More

The fall is the time to get a jump on applying soil amendments, including organic compost and worm castings. Did you know? Getting full benefit from natural soil amendments can take weeks or even months. Compost you apply in the spring might not be fully activated until mid-summer. The soil in the spring stays muddy for quite a while. Dryer soil in the fall is easier to work. You will have tons of garden and yard work to do in the spring. Getting your soil partially ready in the fall frees you up for spring chores. What to Apply to the Soil

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Making Compost: Differences Between Vermicomposting, Anaerobic and Aerobic Composting

Did you know that there are different types of composting? Aerobic composting and vermicomposting require ventilation. Anaerobic composting works without oxygen. How do you make compost? Which type is best for households, farms, businesses, institutions, and schools? How Composting Works Composting takes advantage of the natural process of decomposition. When leaves drop on the ground in the fall, Mother Nature breaks them down. Ants and other insects, bacteria, and fungi do their work. Soon, nothing remains except brown matter, which becomes part of the topsoil. This rich organic matter nourishes plants, helps regulate water saturation, and creates air pockets.

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How Do I Catch Worms for Fishing and Composting?

Earthworms make great fishing bait, and they also speed up composting. Maybe you are tired of using artificial lures or over-paying for small quantities at the bait shop. Or perhaps you’ve decided to start composting kitchen scraps. Adding European Night Crawlers or Red Worms to the composting bin will make the waste break down faster. Either way, you can catch the worms yourself or get them cheaper online. Types of Worms First, you want to figure out which types of worms to catch. There are around 182 taxa of earthworms in North America. Of these, two are especially useful: The European Night Crawler is called Eisenia hortensis or Dendrobaena veneta in Latin. This earthworm grows to 6 inches long. They grow to the diameter of a pencil. It has a bluish, pink-grey color with bands or stripes. The end of its tail might be pale yellow or cream. At Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we call them “Super Reds.” These are especially good for fishing because they continue to wiggle for quite a while on the hook underwater. The smaller Red Worms are also known as red wiggler worms, manure worms, panfish worm, brandling worms, tiger worms, trout worms, tiger worms, red Californian earth worms, and Eisenia fetida. Red Worms are smaller and thinner than European Night Crawlers. These champion composting worms are ideally suited to turning waste kitchen scraps into finished compost quickly. Get Ready for Worms When you get ready to go worm hunting, prepare a container with holes …

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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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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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