It’s hardly a farm, but we do have six 35’ x 6’ long worm beds heaving with the juiciest dendrobaena worms working away!
The worm beds are a very important part of our little farm and the children love to be involved.
We feed our worms with all the alpaca poo which is collected daily. With 36 alpacas that’s a lot of poo! We also encourage the children to bring in all manner of vegetable waste, including vegetable peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, leaves, hair cuttings, and grass cuttings – (providing you are sure the grass has not been sprayed with a chemical.) It is a wonderful way to recycle waste. The worms take no time at all munching through that lot as they eat about half their own body weight each day!
The worms castings are the excretions left behind by the worms after they have digested the organic matter we have fed them with.
Worm castings are packed with beneficial soil microbes and other soil organisms that are instrumental in restoring health to depleted soil. They help to stimulate a plants growth.
Every organic gardener knows how important worm castings and vermicomposting are for the wellbeing of their garden. (Vermicomposting is the process of the worms turning our organic waste into high quality compost.). You can be sure that by adding the worm castings to your land you are getting a chemical free soil. Worm castings are one of the greatest fertilisers that exist.
Worm casting tea is terrific. I use it as a foliar spray or a soil drench. The benefits are many. It is a natural fertiliser which can increase plant size and yield. It acts like a fungicide and can prevent plant diseases, protecting plants from aphids, white fly and mites. It is an environmentally friendly method to replenish the soil. To make worm tea at home you will need the following equipment:
- A 5 gallon plastic bucket
- An aquarium pump large enough to run 3 bubblers.
- Several feet of air tubing
- A gang valve
- A stirring stick
- Organic runny honey
- Muslin for straining
- Another bucket for decanting the tea.
It is crucial that you do not use chlorinated water. The chlorine will kill the beneficial organisms you have spent time in raising. If possible use rain water, otherwise leave tap water standing in a container for two or three days, or you could run the bubblers in the water for an hour to rid the water of chlorine.
When the water is safe (chlorine free) half fill the bucket with worm castings. Do not compact it down too firmly as the bubblers need the castings to be loose in order to aerate it efficiently.
Cut a length of tubing and attach one end to the pump and the other to the gang valve. Cut three more lengths of tubing long enough to reach comfortably from the rim to the bottom of the bucket. Connect each one to a port on the gang valve and push a bubbler into the other end.
Hang the gang valve on the lip of the bucket and bury the bubblers at the bottom, under the worm castings. Fill the bucket to within 3 inches of the rim with the safe water and turn on the pump.
Add a large tablespoon of organic runny honey to the mixture and stir well. The honey feeds the bacteria. After stirring remember to re-position the bubblers underneath the castings. Stir the tea a few times daily, always replacing the bubblers.
On the third day, turn the pump off and remove the tubes. Leave the brew to settle for about 30 minutes and then strain through the muslin into the other bucket. I usually find it helpful to nestle the muslin inside a large strainer which fits on top of the empty bucket, otherwise it’s difficult to hold the muslin and pour at the same time! Pour into spray bottles and use straight away. Compost the sludge.
The castings can also be mixed with potting soil and used for houseplants, hanging baskets or containers. It also makes a fantastic lawn conditioner.
A little information on the worms themselves!
The worms we breed are called dendrobaena worms or “night crawlers”. They are the most popular worm used for fishing. They are hardy and can survive in cold water for a long period of time. Dendrobaena are light sensitive and wriggle around madly, making them very attractive to fish. Just what the fisherman wants! It is recognised as the worm amongst fishermen.
We sell dendrobaena worms and castings from the Beehive Shop (pre-order) or online at www.vermi-worms.co.uk