Last summer my husband bought me a worm composter, something I knew absolutely nothing about. We got 6,000 worms, put the bedding in, added some food and crossed our fingers. I soon found out that I had a lot to learn about worms. Luckily, we bought a juicer about the same time as the composter, so I started giving the worms the pulp from the juicing mixed with shredded cardboard from all our Standard Process supplement boxes. Standard Process uses unbleached cardboard for their packaging, along with earth-friendly dye on their labels, so I felt okay about using those in compost that is ultimately going on my food crops.
After two months or so I got a tray full of rich, lovely, dark, crumby humus. Success! I ran into some trouble after that because the trays were either too wet or too cold, but over the winter I perfected my methods and the worms are now producing a finished tray of compost about every two months. In the summer it will probably go quicker. I found that if I use vegetable scraps that are not juiced, in other words I’m not using pulp but scraps full of their natural water content, the trays are too moist and will actually sprout whatever seeds are in there. The worms will try to escape the moisture, and subsequent packing of the tray material, by going down underneath the bottom tray where there is no food.
So I spent much of the winter months moving worms back into the upper trays and airing out the trays. When worms are stressed by their environment they’ll form into big squirmy balls that are every girls nightmare! I had to move the whole contraption to my guest bathtub and put a heater in there to keep them warm enough then move the balls of worms up to the food.
Here’s something I found amazing. When I started all my seeds last month I added a little worm compost to the seed starting mix. I put the seed trays on heating pads as usual and left them in a corner of the dining room to germinate. I figured it would be at least a week or more before I’d see any seedlings popping up. To my astonishment, more than half the seeds germinated in just two days! Within five days most of my seeds were up and they were ready to be transplanted to bigger pots within two weeks of my first putting them in the soil. I’ve never had seeds germinate and grow so fast.
My goal is to start producing enough humus to amend my garden soil regularly. I’m convinced now that there is something special and potent in worm compost, so the maintenance of the worm composter is worth it to me.