Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Worms are Key to Natural Farming

Worms are the sign of soil health.  They dig holes so oxygen gets to your plant roots.  They turn organic material into vermicompost and leave worm castings, a very rich soil nutrient.  These are earth worms.  The more the merrier.  When I stick my hand into my garden beds and see lots of earth worms, I know my vegetables will thrive.

Worm Farm

Pictured above is our small scale vermicompost farm.  It is a hotel for our composting worms.  These are different from soil worms.  The primary job of compost worms is composting. Perionyx excavatus worms, for example, are small, red- purple worms that prefer an environment of decaying organic matter rather than soil. Compost worms reproduce quickly, consume large amounts of organic material, and tolerate the environment of a worm bin. 

Jennifer and I put fine cut kitchen waste and shredded newspaper into the top layer of the farm several times per week.  The worms quickly turn it into worm castings that we use as fertilizer or as the base for creating aerated compost tea.  The worms keep moving up to the higher layer to eat the new food.  By the time the top shelf is full, the bottom shelf is pure worm castings and has been vacated by the worms.  The benefits of aerated compost tea include: "helps suppress foliar diseases", "increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant", and "speeds the breakdown of toxins". It's "even been shown to increase the nutritional quality and improve the flavor of vegetables".

The bottom pan collects the leachate (liquid) that we spray onto our gardens.  It repels insects, diseases and makes everything we spray it on bloom.  Jennifer's orchids are so healthy and full of blooms.  We don't need fungicides or insecticides, like she used to need when she fertilized them with chemical fertilizers like "miracle-grow".

A couple of good articles for vermicomposting are:



  1. glad to see you referenced the benefits of vermicomposting.......testimonials are sometimes lacking evidence.......still tending my soil with compost, shovel and what ever Bill tosses my way! Citrus and avo's are going off! Happy gardening..as it should be!!

  2. Earthworms have 5 pairs of hearts- that means ten just like our fingers and toes. They are lovable.