Sunday, May 4, 2008

Red Worms for Composting

Red earthworms for composting are now available at The PURE Gardener- ask cashier for more information. They can be added to your kitchen composter, vermi-composter, or your outside composter ( provided that the composter is put in the shade and not allowed to go over 80 degrees.. They also can be added directly to your garden ( but they will not over winter).
Earthworms eat and burrow twenty-four hours a day! All of this tunneling aerates the soil (getting oxygen to the roots), allows for easier root growth, and improves water retention. They are a natural tie in for cold composting. Earthworms help keep the soil loose. Mother Nature doesn't own a spade! Earthworms consume ordinary soil and cast it back with more nutrients available to plants. These "castings" release their nutrients slowly and do not leach out with watering. Read below for directions.



These earthworms will eat the soil in your garden and cast it back with 5 times more nitrogen, 1.5 times more calcium, 3 times more magnesium, 7 times more phosphates, 11 times more potash and 40% more humus.

Plant nutrients from earthworms (odorless castings) retain moisture, don’t leach out with watering and are released slowly instead of in one large dose. Worm castings feed plants for weeks, even months. They will neutralize acid or alkaline excess and they don’t use up organic carbons, as chemicals often do.

Looks like Mother Nature knows what she’s doing!


On their endless journey through your garden (worms don’t sleep), earthworms leave behind a vast network of nutrition-lined tunnels which are valuable air spaces. This gets oxygen to the roots and allows the roots more room to grow. The castings-rich soil will hold more water so there’s much less run-off. Hard packing is impossible -- Mother Nature does not own a spade.

All Plant life benefits enormously from nutrition and aeration by earthworms. Production goes up. Color is better. Fruits and vegetables taste better. Susceptibility to disease goes down. Best of all, you get more pleasure from your gardening and your garden.


Garden Areas: Dig 6 inch diameter, 1 foot deep holes several feet apart though out the garden. Fill with water and let drain. Put one or two handfuls of worms in each hole, fill loosely with soil and compost (cuttings, table scraps, etc.) This will give the worms a quick meal. Water the area and apply mulch if possible over and around the holes. Keep the area watered.

Tree and Shrub Treatment: Dig several 6 inch diameter, 1 foot deep holes around the drip line of the tree’s branches. Continue as above.

Compost Pile: Place worms on the bottom of 4 inches of loose soil. Keep damp as you continue to add decaying organic material. Red worms need betweedn40-80 degrees to survive.

For best results, add some organic material and shredded newspaper along with the worms to get them feeding. You may use moist corn meal, coffee grounds, table scraps, grass clippings, or other organic material.


Anonymous said...

Where do the worms go in the winter?

The PURE Gardener, Inc. said...

Unlike local earthworms that burrow deep into the soil, Redworms cannot burrow deep enough in the soil to survive winter in the northern states. If you use your worms outside in a compost pile, be sure to bring a bin of them inside for the winter. Redworms are preferred over local earthworms for composting because they do not burrow into the ground, they stay at the top continually eating scraps and decay matter and usually do not leave their homes.

Julieann said...

I have the little worms in my compost . Will they grow to be like the big worms? Are the big worms better?

Anonymous said...

The worm question was asked for my mom's friend in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was jealous that her friends worm bin had big worms.

The PURE Gardener, Inc. said...

With out seeing your worms, it is hard to tell whether they are baby night crawlers or redworms. I am not sure what type of worms inhabit Colorado. I prefer redworms because they don't mind being disturbed, eat way more than earthworms and are perfectly suited for vermicomposting. However, I have experienced that they willnot survive well in temperatures under 40 degrees or over 80 degree.

The following is from "Seeds of Change". It may help answer your question.

Put Worms to Work for Your Garden
(and help save the planet too!)
by Scott Vlaun

Worms in a palmAristotle called them the "intestines of the earth." According to Darwin, who spent 39 years studying worms, "It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures." While some might disagree, it is certain that these fascinating animals have an important role to play in the organic garden, and may also help us towards a sustainable future for the planet.

For many of us, our introduction to worms came as we collected them for fishing bait on the wet grass in the early morning hours. As organic gardeners our relationship with these soil dwelling creatures continues as they appear (hopefully) whenever we work the soil, quickly burrowing to get out of the light. Another increasingly common worm experience these days is vermicomposting, or using worms to digest waste organic material in controlled situations, creating a rich organic fertilizer in the process. Both encouraging worms in the garden, as well as using them to compost wastes can be excellent ways to increase the vitality of your garden, but are distinctly different processes involving distinctly different types of worms.

The common earthworm, or night-crawler, that is found in rich garden soils is most likely to be Lumbricus terrestris, while the red wiggler worms used in vermicomposting are generally Eisena fetida. A close relative, Eisena andrei, is also used for this purpose as are a few other species. Commercial red worms purchased for composting may contain both E. fetida and E. andrei. Earthworms are as poorly suited for vermicomposting as red wigglers are for life in the garden (at least in northern climates), so it's important to have the right worms for the job.

Worms In The Garden

There may be no harder worker in the garden ecosystem than the earthworm. Earthworms are voracious consumers of organic materials and leave a nutrient rich manure called castings in there wake as they work their way through the soil, cycling nutrients between the soil surface and as deep as six feet below. As the castings are neutral in pH, healthy earthworm populations can help to mitigate problems with either high or low pH. In addition to producing up to half of their body weight in nutrient rich castings every day, earthworms also improve garden soils by creating channels which help to aerate the soil and improve drainage, while their slimy, nitrogen-rich secretions help to bind soil particles and increase moisture retention. A soil that is host to a burgeoning earthworm population is likely to be nutrient rich, highly friable, and a joy in which to garden.

handful of wormsEven though the earthworm is actually an 18th century European immigrant to North America, it has since become fairly ubiquitous across the continent. Rich organic soils are reported to harbor up to a million earthworms per acre. So if you want a healthy earthworm population in the garden, it's generally not so much an issue of "importing" worms as it is providing optimal conditions for them to prosper. Avoiding practices that damage or discourage worms, such as applying chemicals, excessive rototilling or spading, as opposed to using a digging fork which leaves the worms unharmed, can also help increase populations.

For earthworms to thrive, they need an ample supply of organic matter, adequate moisture, and oxygen. Additions of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil and thick mulches of shredded leaves, grass clippings, and other organic materials will encourage worm activity by providing food and habitat. In soils that have been severely depleted or heavily treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides it may take many years to build healthy populations. If good conditions are present for worms and none at all are spotted for a year or two, it might help to bring in a can full of worms from a neighbor's garden for "breeding stock." One of the best gifts my wife and I received when we got married was a can of fat earthworms that we tucked under a pile of mulch in our new garden. The population has continued to grow ever since, and after five years, we rarely turn over a fork full of soil without seeing a worm or three.

Worms To Save The World And Enrich The Garden

Seeds of Change worm farmA large part of the organic waste generated worldwide ends up choking landfills, producing harmful greenhouse gases as it rots, and creates serious disposal problems for local communities. From kitchen waste to livestock manure, there's just no "over there" to put the stuff any more. Enter the red wiggler worm. From small bins in pantries and cellars, to large-scale commercial vermin-composting operations, billions of red wigglers are literally eating our garbage. On the output end of the system, the use of nutrient-rich, worm casting based products, instead of mined chemical fertilizers, further helps to protect the earth, air, and water from toxic pollution.

Unlike Earthworms that burrow deep into the soil, red wigglers work just below the surface of the soil "litter" converting organic materials into a rich fertilizer. These amazing creatures can eat up to half of their body weight every day and can double their populations in as little as three months. They can eat everything from vegetable scraps and shredded newspaper, to coffee grounds and filters, teabags, and aged manure, but generally not meat and dairy products, although some vermicomposters report success with them in small amounts. The worms can survive at temperatures from around 50–90°F (10–30°C) but near 70°F (20°C) is optimal, so in northern climates year-round vermiculture is an indoor activity. A well maintained worm bin has little or no odor though, so that shouldn't be a problem. The important thing for a pest and odor free bin is to feed the worms only what they can eat and to keep the surface covered with wet burlap or other material.

With the rise in popularity of vermiculture, the internet has many valuable sources for information, (see below for a listing of websites) and books are available from bookstores and libraries. Seeds of Change sells a ready made worm farm or if you have time you can build your own. We also sell red wiggler worms and The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor which has detailed explanations of how to start your worm composting operation. Seeds of Change also is proud to offer Laughing Crow Worm Compost this year. We have found it to be an excellent soil amendment both in the garden and for container gardening and by supporting their operation we are helping to keep tons of waste out of landfills.

Whether in the soil or in the worm bin, put worms to work for your garden this year. You'll reap the rewards of healthier plants and a healthier planet.

Scott Vlaun

Heidi said...

Hi, I just walked up to your location this morning and asked your staff if they had "red wigglers". The young woman showed me your refrigerated case of bugs and worms, but your worm container said "earthworms" which is a more generic term making me think it wasn't the same thing as a "red wiggler" for vermicomposting. She didn't know what a red wiggler was or that it was a type of earthworm. Since the website and staff conflicted information. I didn't buy anything.

So what type of earthworms do you carry? Are they indeed the red wiggler type?

Not trying to be difficult, but I'm a beginning gardener and I'm using the terms that I have learned via the Internet.

The PURE Gardener, Inc. said...

Hello Heidi,
Thank you for your interest in our red wiggler composting worms. We have sold only red wiggler composting worms for years. The sign on the top of the cooler identifies them as red wigglers. The packaging carton says earthworms so that any of the different kinds of worms can be packaged in them. We have only offered red wigglers because they are so efficient at what they do. We have some on order which should be in within a week to ten days. If you would like some sooner, I can take some out of our working display that is at our warehouse. Just call and ask for Craig, and I can have them ready for you.
Since you are a beginning gardener, I would also appreciate an opportunity to explain how you can make compost tea with your worm castings. Plants love to be watered with compost tea from your very own fertilizer factory!

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