In times like these, the value of wellness can not be overstated. Nearly overnight we’ve found we’ve taken our health for granted. But were we really healthy in the first place? Either way, a global shift in health consciousness means soon, feeling even better may be our reality.
The whole-self thrives when given a chance for renewal. You and your body deserve it. And now seems as good a time as any to get to it. Better, in fact.
Does your immune system have the support of vitamins and minerals from local producers you trust?
Despite advances in agricultural technology, conventionally grown foods in the US still leave millions reliant upon supplements and medications. Are you one of them? I admit, I am. But, why, and is there anything we worm farmers can do about it?
What Hinders a Healthy Harvest
The source of both the problem and the solution lie right underfoot. So, yes indeed, we can do a lot. Let’s take a quick look at where our food takes root to begin.
There, creating the uppermost layer of earth, is the soil. Not to be confused with plain old dirt, soil contains a mixture of minerals, organic matter, living organisms, air, and water. This is the worm’s natural habitat. Every bit is essential and every bit affects the things in and around it.
Case in point, today, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical run-off flow right into our food supply by way of farmland soils. Commercial farming leeches the land of nutrients and destroys balanced ecosystems. Many areas once bursting with life are now “farmed to death”, empty, barren wastelands. Yikes!
But let’s take heart! All is not lost. Fortunately, backyard gardens, and farms can flourish and feed us well again! Yes, even the ones with lifeless, hardened, and depleted dirt. And a single pound of compost worms is all it takes to start the healing process.
The Cure: Enriched Soil Engineered by Worms
You are about to see how raising compost worms easily supports a sustainable, bottom-up solution to improving your family’s health. The very same red wigglers you and I raise, create enriched soil, heal the earth, and us in turn.
Lots of people herald the use of red wigglers for purposes of waste management. But with Eisenia fetida compost worms, you can do so much more! Their precious poop is really great stuff.
It acts like a vaccine, building protection around plants, improving their resistance to disease.
Speaking of disease, the truth is that even before COVID-19 stopped us in our tracks we were a nation of sick people getting sicker. Our first-world-status hasn’t been protection enough. Dollars aside, the solution to this problem is so simple, it’s practically embarrassing.
Healing nutrition through healthy food is the only out, and red wigglers help it happen. Only quality, enriched soils yield the sustainable harvests and balanced ecosystems that hold our food chain together. And wouldn’t you know it, Eisenia fetida turns even the most depleted dirt back into sweet soil!
Recipe for Success – How Worm Compost Enriches Our Soil
Remember those 5 main parts of soil? minerals, organic matter, living organisms, air, and water. When these are out of balance, our plants and health both suffer. But, oh happy day, the tide turns once red wiggler compost joins the mix.
Did you know, compost worms need grit in their diet to help aid in digestion? They get that grit from bits of sand, eggshells, and other mineral-rich sources. What they don’t absorb, they pass from their bodies in worm casts. Surprise, surprise, casts are loaded with the very same minerals plants require for strong growth.
Abundant nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium are introduced when worm compost is added to the soil. This “black gold” is also an excellent source of trace elements like manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon, and nitrogen as well.
Generally speaking, organic matter makes up most of a soil’s bulk. It provides the infrastructure for the entire underground ecosystem our nutritional wellness rests on! In the worm bin, organic matter includes such things as kitchen scraps, yard waste, and paper recyclables. Worms consume and transform all of it into the naturally rich and safe fertilizer we call worm compost.
High-yielding food plants need fertilizer to feed the root systems that draw nutrients non-stop. Without a consistent source of organic matter, hungry root systems fail, and otherwise strong, fruit-bearing plants become weak.
In the garden, on the farm, and throughout our landscapes, worm compost delivers organic matter as healing nutrition for depleted dirt.
Organic matter is essential, but what’s inside it can’t be ignored. Soil-dwelling microbes are a powerhouse of a force. They very much deserve their moment in the spotlight.
At any one time in the worm bin, billions of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and protozoa work together to speed-up digestion and decomposition. Both in our bins and in our garden soil, these billions not only eat, but are eaten.
In a natural ecosystem, microscopic organisms slowly but surely draw larger and more diverse beneficial creatures to nutrient-rich feeding grounds. As the first in line, microscopic living organisms play a crucial role in supporting the foundation of our food chain.
It seems oxygen has become something of a commodity these days. I can’t help but draw a parallel between the soil’s need for oxygen and our own.
As of today, ventilators in the US are in short supply. Demand is high. Oxygen is a lifeline.
First from the ocean, or from our own green trees, all of Earth’s living things require adequate oxygen. Those trying to make it in lifeless, compact soil, struggle to survive. But even the hardest, most compact dirt can be made to “breathe” and give life again.
Red wigglers tunnel and breathe creating a network for “ventilation” wherever they live. Compost-amended garden soil holds more air and supports a greater diversity of life.
Even more tangible than air, water is another element we can’t live without. It’s both a transportation and delivery system, a messaging system, and what holds together all the other elements of worm compost.
When it comes to soil, too dry or too wet will give a farmer headaches. Fortunately, worm compost added to troubled soil really alleviates the pain. It improves a soil’s ability to both retain and drain moisture – giving said farmer 2 fewer things to worry about. Noice.
Garden Soil + Worm Compost = Healthy Eating
You’ve heard it said, you are what you eat: garbage in, garbage out. It’s just as important to remember: good stuff in, good stuff out. Because, ultimately, what we pour into our soils, we pour into ourselves.
I take comfort right now, in that while much of life around me seems out of control, the garden hasn’t missed a beat. This landscape fueled by worm compost enriched soil boasts lush lawn, abundantly productive veggies, gorgeous full blooms, and the support of a range of natural wildlife.
Spring, summer, and fall give up their harvests of crisp, ripe goodness. Not one of them comes awash in chemicals. Not one is weakened by heavy metals or toxic overload. Each flavorful and fragrant ingredient is testimony to the workings of the worms below.
With worm compost as a vehicle, hosts of living organisms get dead-dirt living and healthy foods growing. Powered by clean energy, today’s gardeners, worm farmers, and “green-lifers” lead the way. Clean energy? Yes. We pick-up our groceries from the store, but it’s the clean and natural earth that gives birth to the nutrients we really need.
Control what goes into your own edible garden landscape. Visit our website for more information and learn to raise compost worms to work there too! Ditch those chemical fertilizers and be a part of your own healing. Make the earth-wise choice and remember,
When I give the earth what it needs, it gives right back to me.
Now that we’re in this together, let’s not lose touch! Sign up now for our free monthly newsletter and stay in the loop. Each month The Squirm Firm will send you a timely update. There you’ll find tips, tricks, and expert advice on your favorite worming hobby!
Happy worm composting!
Good luck with your garden this year! Working in our garden has been a great comfort during these difficult times. We’ve yet to start our worm farm, but I am really interested. My main concern is what happens to the worms once winter hits. I live where it’s frigid in winter and I wonder where I’d keep my worms. What do you think? Thanks.
Worms form a “hamburger” over the winter when they huddle together for warmth. In my large Hungry Bin, my red worms survive the winter no problem here in Virginia. It’s zone 7B. For colder winters, you may want to use short plastic storage bins and put the worms under the bed in winter.
Thanks Heather! I also live where worms would perish if left outside throughout the winter. The Worm Factory 360 that I use is able to come inside during the colder months. Lots of people use their basement, a heated garage, or actually insulate and add warming units to keep their worm herd thriving. The footprint of my worm bins is small enough that they can also fit under my kitchen desk. I like that because I can easily throw food scraps in any time. There are so many creative solutions! Here you go, check these out- we have more ideas in these 2 articles: https://thesquirmfirm.com/prepare-worm-bin-winter/ , https://thesquirmfirm.com/indoor-winter-worm-composting/ . I hope you find yourself up and running a worm farm soon!
I live in western PA, zone 5b, and have my worm composting outside in a compost pile. During the winter the worms go down deep and emerge in the Spring when the soil warms up again. I am a Master Gardener with Penn State and was very surprised the first time I tried this. Easy as pie!
Hi, Barbara. I’m so curious to know which type of worms you are using in your compost pile. I am also in zone 5 but always bring my worms in to overwinter because red wigglers, unlike common earthworms, do not bury themselves deep in cold weather. By nature, they are considered “surface” dwellers and are native to subtropical areas where they never adapted such behavior. Red wigglers die around 40 degrees F, but their cocoons full of babies actually survive freezing temps and then hatch when it gets warm again in spring. But a big compost pile also can generate a good amount of heat… ?? Can’t wait to hear more!
They are definitely red wigglers, Francesca, not earthworms. I’ve been doing this in two locations on my property for two years now and they definitely come back (up) in the Spring. Of course the soil under my composting areas is rich, deep and not compacted.
I live in Vermont where we have long, cold winters. I started worm farming with the 360 (I have 2) in January. My worm bins stay in the house, so they are kept warm. I have had no problems with this; there is no smell. I have a counter compost bucket that I add to daily and weekly then “process” that so it is small for the worms. They have thrived and continue to multiply.
Hi Jacki- Thank you for sharing your method! I love that you went for it right from the start with 2 of the 360s. Can you tell us, how does that amount of space work for you? How many are in your family? How much waste do you add on a regular basis?
We started raising composting worms in July 2022. Then we suddenly had an infestation or army ants in our apartment complex in the yards and many apartments. Before I realized it, the ants took over my family room and back porch, which are connected my a brick wall, screened windows, and cheaply made outside door. My worm bucket was on the back porch and was infested. My most of my population was devoured. The ones I could save were moved into a new bucket and moved inside after the ants were killed from the apartment. I let the previous bucket alone until I was able to get started again (2–5 gallon buckets with hole drilled into them, shredded paper, cardboard scraps, leaves, sand, soil, worm-safe ground food scraps, sprinkling of distilled water and a handful of local earthworms dug up from a farm). That was in Sept ’22. We added 250 red wiggers and 100 European Nightcrawlers from a different well known harvester in Oct ’22. By Thanksgiving ’22 we had at least 1000 worms in the 2 larger buckets and as of yesterday, it has many bay and juvenile worms plus mature worms. We finally acquired a screen to separate the casting and we have 0.75 gallon of casting from the 3 gal bucket.