Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Earthworm Superheroes

Several years ago I used to watch a cartoon called Earthworm Jim. (Yes I'll admit I watched cartoons in college!) It was based on a video game that I never played but I guess was somewhat popular at the time.  In the cartoon Earthworm Jim was a space traveling superhero worm valiantly ridding the universe of bad guys like Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Evil the Cat.  Great names for super villains don't you think?  While inside his suit he could accomplish everything a normal person could.  He had arms and legs and carried a laser gun.  OK maybe normal people don't carry laser guns but I think you get the point.  Earthworm Jim, along with the Tick (another super-silly superhero cartoon about a super strong yet dimwitted superhero dressed in blue) was just a humorous work of fiction, after all earthworms aren't superheroes right?  Of course they are!

Earthworms are the superheroes of the garden. They are planet Earth's composters taking organic materials and turning them into something even better than gardener's gold, worm poop!  Worm poop, also known as worm castings and vermicompost, has so many beneficial microbes inside that it is like compost on steroids.  The bacteria in the castings coming out is in a much greater quantity than the material that went in and that is great news any plant lucky enough to have the castings spread near them.  The castings also act as a great soil conditioner improving the moisture holding capacity of the soil. By using worm castings you are feeding the soil not the plant which is exactly what you are supposed to do.  The plants take the nutrients from the soil whereas the synthetic water soluble magic blue colored water will get your plants drunk on artificial nutrients and deposit salts into the soil.  Salt isn't good for plants! 

I've decided to give worm composting a try.  There are fancy worm composters you can purchase online through various retailers at a range of prices but there are also some inexpensive options out there.  I hope you'll follow along on yet another of my gardening projects over the next couple of weeks: Vermicomposting!

10 comments :

  1. Dave,
    There is a gardener near me in Chatham County, NC (another writer, too) who has been raising earthworms for years. I've lost the bookmark to her website since my PC crashed, but she just absolutely loves raising the worms for gardening.

    Cameron

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  2. Dave,

    We loved the tick! He was too funny, but my all time favorite is Dark Wing Duck. But on to your garden topic. I have been trying to pay attention to the worms in my garden! I read someplace, but don't ask me where, that a sign of good soil was about 17 worms psf...not there yet but aiming that way! I just haven't the space/place for a worm composter right now...Where will you put your worm composter? Is the garage too cold?

    Gail

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  3. Hi Dave, like Gail, we loved the Tick too. I think we have sons the same age who were into that sort of thing at the time. I tried to do the worm bin thing a few years ago but made two big mistakes, using worms from the garden and keeping it in the too cool garage during winter. And too wet. It was a gloppy gooey mess. I know you will do it right and get the right kind of worms too. We will be watching to see how you do it!
    Frances

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  4. Looking forward to following along with the worm farming Dave. Should be fun!

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  5. I hope the garage works out because worms are not coming in the house! Maybe you can get a heat lamp. :)

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  6. Doing some blog catch up today! I like the new look for 2009 Dave! I will be interested to see how this worm farming goes.

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  7. Right Said Dave! I have a small space in front of my house for composting and the worms decompose them really quick and no odor! They're such sweethearts! Without them we wouldn't have a garden!

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  8. It's really hard to garden organically without some kind of manure, and worms have a lot of advantages for that - you don't have to buy feed for them, and they don't crow at daybreak for example. When we kept rabbits we had tons of worms, now not so much.

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  9. I have been excited to try vermicomposting for quite a long time. So, I took the plunge in late October. I was so thrilled. However, within 4 weeks or so, I was breeding a houseful of fruit flies!! I didn't know what to do. So, I took the extreme measure of adding the whole tub contents to my outdoor compost pile (which means, they're enriching the compost pile by means of their decomposing bodies). I'm in Iowa and we're in the middle of a very cold winter.
    So sad. Wish you much better rate of success!!!

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  10. Now you are going to start posting about castings and newspaper shredders. This will be fun to watch.

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