Cool Article on the How’s and Why’s of using Worm Castings

The Tasteful Garden article does a great job explaining the use of worm castings, how worm castings are produced, and other topics. It’s a lot of great information. The article discusses how to use worm castings and from my experience, the input is pretty spot on.

As worm farmers for worm casting production, we spend a lot of time focusing on the guaranteed analysis of the worm castings themselves. Possibly, it would be of greater interest and benefit to see analytical data collected from the foods grown with the use of worm castings?

 

Enjoy the read and let me know your thoughts. Click the link to read the article.

Great Article


Mother Earth News article

Mother Earth News does a nice job on providing more ideas for those who are looking to make compost with OR without worms. As we get into the fall with more leaves dropping, now is the time to capitalize on cheap worm bedding/food and stocking those compost bins or vessel composters up!

 

 

compost-spreadhttp://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/how-to-make-compost-zm0z12onzsor

 


Part 3

As I wrap up my short story about my Worm Farming adventures, I would like to share my production levels and some other hopefully helpful insight on raising Red Wigglers for casting production. Also, my plans for expansion. We have several composters and worm bins in action. For the space that I have to devote to the operation, I have found the Worm Wigwam to be the best bin for my needs. Although, I currently do not have anymore room at the location I am at to expand, I do plan on expanding in the future. As of now, I can produce approximately 25lbs of screened Red Wiggler worm castings a week.

For castings production with Red Wigglers, I am of the opinion that long narrow rows are the best approach for larger operations. I could be wrong, but it’s likely not very cost effective to have several WigWams (10 units which equals about $6k+) as a commercial operation. My opinion for large scale is go with home built setup. Only you will know what kind of space you have to work with or how big of an operation you want to have. I am considering trying to make long bins out of 275 gallon totes. It seems like one could cut those in half, cut the plastic off the bottoms, and have the worm suspended off the wire cage. You could harvest from below like the WigWam.

Another idea for large or long run worm bins may be to use pallet rack shelving. I am more partial to this idea because it less engineering AND if you decide to get out of the worm business at any time, you would still have some nice shelving for other uses. Going from the picture of the shelves to the picture of the commercial size worm bin would not would not be a big stretch in manufacturing. commercial-worm-binpallet-shelving

 

 

 

 

 

 

However I decide to expand, I will do my best to provide video’s and blog notes on the matter.

In other expansion news, I would like to share another goal once I have these larger worm bins in place. My plan is to bring rabbits into the equation at some point. There are a some benefits to raising rabbits in addition to meat production for a worm farmer. Since the rabbit manure is considered a “cold manure” one could suspend the rabbit cages or hutches over the worms and allow the rabbit waste to directly feed the worms. This would hopefully reduce some of the direct feeding to the worms. Plus if you are you are good at handling furs, you could sell the pelts for extra income as well.

It is interesting how become busy at one project and business has led into other ideas for sustainable living and farm income generation. I am always available for any question through my Contact Us page. I would love to hear about your path with raising worms too, so feel free to share!

rabbits-and-worms


Worm Farming Path part 2

Somewhere along this point I began to realize that monetizing on Worm sales, waste pick-up, and Worm Castings sales, was incongruent with how I wanted to farm the worms. What I found out is that bin management for Worm Casting production and bin management for Worm sales (bait shop) are two different practices. Again, it can be done, once some experience is gained but in the beginning, for me it was a little unrealistic. I have a pretty small area to work in and this quickly became an issue with the bins I am using (WigWam).

I narrowed my sights somewhat in the beginning to solely focus on worm casting production. My thought being that the marijuana industry in the U.S. would buy enough of my worm castings to keep me busy. I began reaching out to growers in the legal states and sending sample bags. Turns out at the time I was doing this, the growers were pretty secretive about where their grow locations were. A lot of time can be spent trying to locate the right place and the key people. This led me to the eCommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay and others. I flirted with the idea of going to the local farmer’s market here in St. Louis but I have customers already coming to my home to purchase Worm Castings and Worms. If you are thinking about worm casting production, the cost of shipping becomes pretty important and plays a big role in the reflected sales price.

As a side note, one thing I always had in the back of my mind was if I wasn’t able to sell enough worm castings, I could use the worm castings in my garden to 1) have a better garden or/and 2) raise some vegetables to sell. Either way I was moving toward my goal of being a farmer.

Some other things to keep in mind if you want to focus solely on Worm Casting production is a constant diet and bedding for the worms so that you can create a consistent product, screening, packaging and labelling, shipping, and points of sale. Sometimes I think it would be great to have a bulk buyer(s) because it may elliminate some of the extra work of selling smaller bags. But I can tell you that being in the local market like stores, are just as fun and rewarding as selling online and it’s nice to be able to pass along the savings on shipping to the customer.

In Part 3 I will discuss more where I am currently in the biz and my future plans.

 

 


Worm Farming Path part 1

I wanted to take minute and share my path with Red Wiggler Worm Farming for the production of Worm Castings. My process has somehow evolved a little differently than I had originally planned when I got into Worm Farming. I thought this may be important to share because someone out there may have the same ideas or possibly it will help someone.

I am no expert on running a business or a farm for that matter but I had owned successful businesses in the past. When I initially got into raising Red Wigglers, my plan was to capitalized on food waste pickup, sell worm castings, and sell Red Wigglers to bait shops for fisherman. Seemed easy enough. I had always wanted to be a farmer but since I was not born onto a farm, none of my family farmed, nor did I own any suitable land, I viewed Worm Farming as a low cost entry into a skill and lifestyle that I wanted to have.

So I began with a few rubbermaid totes and some Red Wigglers from Uncle Jim’s worm farm. In 2013 when I started, I was living inner city in St. Louis and had no transportation. I started calling on restaurants and produce markets near my house that I could transport food waste from on foot, in 5 gallon buckets back to my house. It worked and still does but I couldn’t really monetize the waste pickup like I thought. Largely because I couldn’t really provide a regular pickup (because I was still working a full time job as an airline pilot) and because I didn’t offer a waste receptacle more than a 5 gallon bucket. As you may know, worms can’t eat some things so asking a potential client to #1. do business with you and pay you, #2. separate their waste for you, and #3 you will pick it up when you can; this doesn’t exactly scream a solid business plan. Most places in the food industry do not want harbor rotting food waste just because you’re making badass fertilizer. But I still believe it could work under different circumstances.

 

 


A Book on Worm Farming

I have read just about all the books out there on the subject of raising worms. If you name it, I’ve probably read it. I would like to pass along what I considered a pretty informative and comprehensive guide to anyone looking to get into the Worm Business. The book is “How to Start a Profitable Worm Business on a Shoestring Budget.” 

This link is to an eBay sale because this is the cheapest place I have located the book. Regardless as to whether you are wanting to raise Red Wigglers, Euro’s, or another type worm, this is great resource. The author, Stephan Kloppert, shares a lot of creative ways to get started and run a worm business. He also shares several years of knowledge along with various marketing ideas. I was really impressed with the amount of time and energy put into the book and I think you will be too.

Worm Book


Honda Tiller FC600 Overview

I picked this Honda tiller up at the Home Depot here in St. Louis. I am very pleased with it so far and think that it will add a lot of value to my gardening in the seasons to come. I have been renting the Honda F220 the past couple of seasons and have had pretty good luck with. I was able to find this larger model (the FC600) used from the Home Depot’s tool rental department and I jumped on it. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about the tiller. I’m no expert and it is fairly new to me but I do have the manual and some experience with these and I am always happy to help if I can! Happy gardening.

 


Honda Generator eu2000i Overload

I know this doesn’t seem like it has much to do with worm farming but, this was a test to see if I could run an electric chainsaw off of my generator. Of course this has more to do with sustainable living and working the land. My logic is, once I have harvested the wood I need for fuel, the scrub (ie the small limbs) can be cut up used in my vessel composter and outdoor compost piles and eventually become worm bedding. Nevertheless, the test that I am running here had to do largely with electrical loads and capacities. Since the electric chainsaw that I am looking at is a 15 AMP chainsaw, I wanted to see how the Honda generator handled the load. Just so you know the Honda eu2000i is rated for 13.3 amps. The Dewalt circular saw I was using in this video is a 120 volt 15 amp saw.

I found the test to be enlightening and I hope you will too. Feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments.


Worm Castings on Hale Haven Peachtree

In zone 7b a customer is using our Worm Castings on his Hale Haven Peachtree. He also provided some photos for us to see how he applied the organic fertilizer to his established tree. The tree was planted 2 years ago and is starting to bear fruit now. The peachtree was purchased from Stark Brothers nursery, which coincidentally is the oldest grower/nursery in the U.S. I’m partial to these growers because they are in Missouri like MidAmerica Compost Co. and started out as a small local business like us. A special thanks to this customer for sharing his photos and results of using our 2lbs of Worm Castings. It’s great to see more people taking personal responsibility of their own food production! Great work.

Hale Haven Peachtree with MidAmerica Compost Co's Worm Castings applied

Hale Haven Peachtree with MidAmerica Compost Co’s Worm Castings applied

IMG_5238

Freshly harvest Worm Castings added as tree begins to bear fruit!


Using Worms in the Garden

I often get asked about putting Earthworms or Red Wigglers into the garden. Earthworms (nightcrawlers) are wonderful in the garden. Give them some leaf litter to live underneath and they will constantly digest your garden soil, aerating it to relieve soil compaction and adding lots of trace minerals and other plant nutrients in the form of their famous Worm Castings. Appreciation of these worms is one of the big reasons I use shredded leaves as the mulch of choice in my raised beds. Almost every time I move some of the mulch to one side, I’ll see earthworms scurrying away to hide.

But allowing such worms outside a good garden gets tricky. There is a strong consensus in the scientific community that many of the nation’s earthworms are not native to the Americas, but came to our shores from Europe and Asia in the soil accompanying transported plants; and “The Worm Book” notes, in huge numbers when the ships of early settlers used soil for ballast and let it loose in The New World. These practices apparently re-introduced earthworms to areas where they had thrived in prehistoric times, but had been wiped out during The Little Ice Age.

I mention this because it leads us to consider using a native worm in your garden. As opposed to buying worms and placing them into your garden. Since nightcrawlers are likely to be more native to your area, consider them in your raised beds and gardens. The best method to gather them is after a rain on a cooler evening or night when they have surfaced and can be collected without digging.

Although I am a big fan of the Red Wiggler, the local Nightcrawler is your best bet when looking for ways to help your garden soil. The Worms help to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. They break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use. When they eat, they leave behind their castings which are a very valuable type of fertilizer for your plants that will last longer than the chemical fertilizers.

So the next time it rains at your house, give your property a look over and see if you can locate a few native worms to collect to place into your garden. You will be surprised at the benefits you will see in your plants. If you want to keep them there or attract more, just place a few veggie scraps below the soil (to reduce unwanted pest) and cover with some leaf litter. When you go back to that area, (give it a week or so) you will have plenty of worms to use!