Posts Tagged ‘organic gardening’

Worms don’t lay eggs, they produce cocoons which contain multiple fertilized eggs.

Earthworms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. To mate worms align themselves  head-to-head and exchange sperm from the clitellum (thickened glandular band at the anterior end of adult worms). After mating  the clitellum produces a thick mucus ring which  hardens and begins to form the cocoon.  The worm’s own egg is then deposited into the forming cocoon as it begins its slide over the head.  It then seals at both ends forming a small pearl-like cocoon.

Each worm will continue to produce cocoons (without needing to mate again) for as long as the donated sperm supply lasts.

In the case of Red Worms (Eisenia fetida), each cocoon typically produces 2 -20 baby worms, which under favorable conditions hatch out in  2-6 weeks. Temperature, moisture content, population and acidity of soil determine how long it takes for a cocoon to hatch. If poor conditions prevail, cocoons can remain in a dormant state for years.


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The Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin is designed with two different tiers. When the  first tier fills to the line inside the bin, you add the second tier and start feeding and add some new bedding. The worms will usually go wherever you are feeding them but oftentimes there are a few that stay behind. Here are a couple of tips from our Master Composters to speed up the process of harvesting:

1. Irresistible Foods Method: Add some melon or avocado to your bin. The worms will not be able to resist and will all  congregate in the same area  to eat. After a couple of days, physically move them where you want them to go.

2. Sun Method: Dump the contents of your bin on a plastic tarp outside in the sun. The worms do not like light so they will burrow to the bottom. You can even make cones of compost and take off the tops to speed up the process a bit.

3. Slurry Method: One of our Master Composters suggests putting some of your vermicompost in a bucket of water. Once in the bucket, the worms and compost will separate and you can quickly rescue your worms and put them back in your bin. Pour out the extra water and add your compost to your garden!

4. Waiting Method: Your worms will eventually move to other areas of your bin as long as you continue to feed there. If you happen to accidentally grab some worms with the vermicompost don’t worry too much about it. Red wigglers reproduce very quickly and your bin will not be affected.

Have any other tricks for harvesting?? Leave a comment and share them with us!

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The September Composter Quarterly Newsletter is available online! This edition features information about the next Master Composter Course, the Solana Center’s newest worm bin, and information about upcoming events and workshops. To view this edition click here or visit the Composting 101 page for an archive of the Composter Quarterly Newsletter.

The next Master Composter Course starts September 30th! Click here to read more!

In this edition: The next Master Composter Course starts September 30th! Click here to read more!

Don’t miss the next edition!

Click here to sign up to receive the Solana Center Composter Quarterly Newsletter!

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wb27The best method of harvesting varies depending on the type of bin you are using. Some bins, such as the Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin, are designed with two tiers so the worms climb to the next level. This tends to work really well but for bins without an extra tier or for bins with worms that just won’t migrate here are a couple of harvesting methods our Master Composters suggest:

1. Fruit Method: Worms go crazy over avocado and melons. Place the food on one side of your bin. Within a couple of days the worms will swarm over to the food. Then, you can either collect the castings behind them or physically move them to another tier. This method is especially helpful if you want to start another bin.

2. Relocation Method: Move all of the contents of your bin to one side. Add a new layer of bedding on the far side of the bin and begin feeding in only that area. See photo above.

3. Cone Method: Place a tarp on the ground in a sunny area. Dump the contents of your bin onto the tarp. Build cones with the contents of the bin. Because worms do not like the sun, they will move towards the ground and you can collect the tops of the cones. You can continue creating cones until you have the amount of vermicompost you desire.

4. Slurry Method: Dump the contents of your bin into a bucket filled half way with water. The water will help separate the worms from the vermicompost and you can reach in and go worm fishing!

5. Screen Method: Use a 1/4 inch screen to sift the vermicompost. The vermicompost will fall through the screen and the worms will remain on top.

Can’t get all of the worms out of your finished vermicompost? Don’t worry. Worms reproduce very quickly (8 redworms can produce up to 1,500 babies in just six months!).

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Want to do more with your compost? Brewing your compost to make compost tea and adding it to your garden offers a number of benefits. It is easy to make and can replace the use of chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. It increases the amount of nutrients available to plants and soil and helps to prevent foliar diseases. Compost tea has even been found to increase the nutritional quality and improve flavor in vegetables.

Supplies Needed:compost-tea

2- 5 gallon bucket

1 gallon mature compost (worm or traditional)

1 aquarium valve

1 gang valve (divides air supply into several streams)

4 gallons of water

3+ feet of aquarium hose

1 ounce unsulfured molasses

Cheesecloth, nylon, or old pillow case

**Aeration equipment is especially important because the organisms use up of the oxygen quickly. Without extra oxygen the organisms will become anaerobic and the tea will begin to smell and will harm plants when added to soil.

Where to Start:

  1. Attach 3 pieces of aquarium hose (each about 12” long) to the gang valve. Place the gang valve on the outside of the bucket, making sure the hoses reach the bottom of the bucket.
  2. Add your finished compost to the bucket. Ensure the hoses are completely
  3. Fill the bucket with water up to six inches from the top. If you are using city water be sure to aerate it first by running it through the pump for at least an hour. Chlorine will kill organisms needed in the tea.
  4. Add the unsulfered molasses. Stir vigorously to aerate the tea.
  5. Turn on the pump and let the mixture brew for 2-3 days, stirring occasionally. Your tea should smell earthy. Add a second pump and aerate more if your tea smells bad.
  6. Brew you compost tea! Let the tea sit for about ten to twenty minutes after turning off the pump. Strain the tea through cheesecloth, a nylon stocking, or old pillow case into the other bucket. Spray on plants immediately

Brewing Compost Tea from Taunton Press


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