Giving your vegetable garden extra advantages helps ensure success. Certain plants thrive if you give them a head start before planting them in your garden. Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and lettuce are examples of plants that can benefit from starting indoors. Did you know that using compost from worms in your starts helps them grow? Composting worms break down organic materials and produce valuable organic fertilizer. More about that later. Let’s start with the seeds.
Where to Get Seeds
Scope out the health food store and garden supply store for seeds. You will also find plenty of seeds online. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has a selection of heirloom seeds. Generally, smaller seeds are easier to start. Think tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, etc. Root vegetables are more difficult to start.
Containers for Starts
Start containers are sold at the local garden supply store. Save money by making your own. To make start containers, save little yogurt containers and punch holes in the bottom. Or collect toilet paper tubes, cut 4 short slits, and fold them in to seal one end.
The containers need a medium for growing the seeds. The word “dirt” may come to mind; however, your little seeds will need a nutritious environment with good drainage and airflow. Thus, we suggest this mixture:
Equal amounts of:
- coconut coir, and
- vermiculite, and
- finished compost or worm castings.
Vermiculite will be at your local garden supply store. Coconut coir is at the store, too, or you can buy coconut coir from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Instead of vermiculite and coconut coir, you can buy a seed-starting mix at the garden center — then mix it with finished compost or worm castings.
Finished compost is a dark brown or black material that remains after vegetation has broken down. This can be made using “hot” composting in a composting pile or traditional composting bin. However, hot composting tends to be quite smelly and takes lots of time. Usually, you must “turn” the composting pile to access the finished compost at the bottom. You might be able to skip the mess by purchasing finished compost at the gardening store or from Uncle Jim’s. Or, read the next section, which explains simple ways to harness the Power of Composting Worms to make your life easier.
How to Get Compost from Worms
Worm castings are the waste that composting worms produce after eating vegetation. Also known as “worm poop,” these black granules are prized by gardeners and farmers as a valuable soil amendment. Mixing worm castings into the soil helps the plants reach their peak potential. Fresh worm castings contain nutrients and soil-friendly bacteria. They create air pockets that help with airflow, moisture retention, and drainage. Therefore, worm castings are also called “black gold,” and they are in high demand.
You may find worm castings at your local garden supply center. You can order worm castings from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. But the only way to get a fresh and self-renewing supply is to start your own vermicomposting bin. Order everything you need from Uncle Jim’s website. It takes a while to get a worm bin to produce black gold, so if you need worm castings immediately, best to order them.
Water and Wait
Mix the growing medium together, add to the small containers, and plant the seeds according to package directions.
And now, we wait. Place your starts in a sunny location, or under a grow light. Keep them moist. Soon, they will sprout. When the plants are big enough, transplant them outside in the garden.
Make Your Own Compost From Worms
Having a vermicomposting bin ensures that organic fertilizer will be available for your garden. Worms break down kitchen scraps and garden waste more quickly than “hot” composting. Worm castings contain additional soil-friendly bacteria that help plants grow strong. Learn more about composting with worms on Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm’s blog. Uncle Jim recommends the Red Worm Mix for composting, and Super Reds for composting and fishing bait. A special tray-based composting bin makes harvesting the finished compost a breeze. Using worm castings for starts is just the beginning. “Black gold” is also perfect for your garden, lawn, and indoor plants.