Amazing world of worms

Worm castings from red wigglers like these make great fertilizer — and worms are good pets, too.

By Jessica Morrow
Flapjack Chronicle staff

Fans of wiggling critters say worms are what the world needs to be aware of to help keep a clean environment.

That’s right — worms will help restore energy back into our earth from their worm castings, says Kelly “Compost” Karaba, member of the Humboldt Permaculture Guild. The worms give rich nutrients, and they are easy to care for.

“Slimy creepy crawlers are indeed the easiest pet in the whole world, leave for vacation and they will be fine,” Karaba says.  Karaba holds independent workshops on worm castings.

Ensida Feidenta is the species name of the worm known as the red wiggler or tiger worm, named for its stripes.

Karaba mentions that over feeding the worms can create mold and flies, and to always bury the food waste under bedding. Be sure to feed once a week, remember the worms will run from the sun but not from those bright banana peels. When the bin is full, stop feeding for a month and then “black gold” will appear.

“It’s perfect plant food,” Karaba says.

Karaba has been breeding worms for 10 years.  For people who don’t have worm harvest machinery, Karaba mentions stacking a series of bins on top of one another, known as the continuous flow system. The worms keep crawling up and thru the bins to new food, leaving their castings at the bottom. Keep switching the bins out. Another process Karaba mentions is “scalping,” using the sunlight to herd the worms, while skimming the rich castings from the top of a tarp. These red wigglers reproduce fast and they can be found at local garden shops or from a worm breeder.

Hsu student Max Petras, 24, senior year in the engineering department uses worm castings as fertilizer.

“Earth castings work great, you can see the results in days,” Petras says. He adds the castings to plants off all types, perennials and annuals. “The microbiology of worm poo really gives it the boost they need.”

Petras says that he will continue using this process and wants his own body to be eaten by worms and deposited back into the earth.

Another source, Sam Engler, 24, visitor from Twins City, Minn., says that he learned a lot about the worm castings technique when he used to live in Trinity County. Engler continues to use this process, leaving a bin full of worms in his twin city backyard.

“I prefer worm castings as far as nutrients go, it’s the best possible thing,” Engler says. He noted that there are a lot of people in the local area who care about the environment, and he is grateful for what he has learned about red wigglers and awareness.

Harvesting Process

 1) Obtain a bin for shelter

2) Make holes around bin for airflow, keeping water from pooling inside.

3) Temperature needs to be between 50-80 degrees and 60 -70 percent moisture level

4) Add either coconut fibers or shredded newspaper that the worms will eat

5) Add desired amount of worms

6) Go ahead and feed worms your food wastes


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