Table of Contents
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Join Nicole and Pauly Piccirillo of Worm Farming Revealed as they talk about the ins and outs of successful worm composting!
What You’ll Learn
- How to start worm composting
- How to make healthy soil
- Worm Castings (how to create how to apply, how to store it)
- How to make and use aerated worm tea
- Minerals for worms (DE, Azomite, Eggshells, etc)
- Different worms species and which ones are best for composting
Pauly is just like anyone else who has failed at gardening by using chem fertilizers. He wants to use only natural methods to grow food, and is an ambassador of healthy soil. Pauly aims to teach, inspire, and empower others to be as successful as he is.
Pauly also wrote The Beneficials – Heroes of the Soil story. The screenplay that has won 1st in the 2019 Moondance International Film Festival, and is the only story of its kind written for the big screen.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- Worm Farming Revealed eBook
- Pauly’s Squirmin Vermin YouTube
- Worm Farming Revealed Website
- Email us! [email protected]
*Denotes affiliate links
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Welcome to the Backyard Bounty Podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com, where we talk about all things backyard poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living, and more. And now here's your host, Nicole.
Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host, Nicole, and today we're joined by Pauly with "Worm Farming Revealed". And today we're going to talk about one of my favorite topics. And that's composting worms. So Pauly, thank you so much for joining me today.
Well, thank you for having me. It's good to be with you.
Yeah, I'm excited to do this episode. So I would imagine that with the nickname of "Dr. Worm" that you are kind of the authority in compost worming?
Well, yeah, I know quite a bit about it. Because I've been doing it for so much. And I've just, I've wanted to share my knowledge with the world. So I started the website, and then I've done some videos on YouTube, and then decided to write some books. And I've talked with a lot of people, I've always get a lot of questions and kind of just put myself out there. And I'm in the community, as far as emailing and social media. I'm not an actual doctor, I just play one on Facebook. So there's a funny reason behind the "Doctor Worm". And that's there's a song out by, They Might Be Giants, and it's called, "They Call me Dr. Worm". And if you ever listen to it, it's it's almost kind of who I am. And it's just this little cartoon worm who likes to play the drums. I play the drums. And it just really fits me perfectly. And I thought you know what, that's me. I'm Dr. worm.
There you go. That's fitting,
I do have some knowledge in it. And I just want to teach everybody and I want to heal them of their gardening woes.
So how did you get started in the worm composting sector?
Well, I think I'm quite a bit like a lot of people who are gardening and then they fail. Years ago, I failed at gardening using chemical fertilizers. And I just knew that chemical fertilizers wasn't the answer, because it wasn't natural. Growing up as a kid, my dad, my uncle, they had a one acre farm that they they managed by hand, and I would help out all the time. And then growing up, I kind of got disconnected from that. And then I told my wife one day, I want to grow some tomatoes. And she said, "Okay, go for it". So I grew some tomatoes in the backyard, and they were pathetic. Like, this isn't like how it was when I grew up. So I just started this search. And like anybody does, they just try to get their hands on a bunch of information, whether it's books, or online, and I just jumped in and I've discovered nature has the answer. And the answer was under my nose this whole time. And it's it's worms because they absolutely are nature's tillers, they go in and out of the roots, and they aerate the soil, they till the soil, they bring waterflow throughout the roots. And best of all, they deposit all kinds of wonderful beneficial microbes like bacteria, protozoa, fungi, beneficial nematodes, that is plant food. And I thought to myself that okay, this is the answer, this is what I have to do. Because I know chemical fertilizers aren't healthy. I don't know what they're doing to our body. And it was just once I started using the castings, it was instant success. And I never looked back since.
I saw some pictures on your Facebook page, have the biggest peppers, and watermelon and cucumbers that I've ever seen in my entire life. So I imagined that, that it seems to be working well for you.
Yes, it is. I mean, it's not only the size of it, but it's its quantity, and its quality. And then when you taste it, it's so much better than store bought, it's even better than some of the produce at the farmers market. And I always I always tell I always tell everybody, there is nothing better than what you grow yourself. And that and that's really when it comes to trusting you know, wanting to know who who you can trust as far as natural or organic at all points back to you because you were you were the one that you can only really trust.
Sure. And one of the great things about using worm castings is once you have a system set up, it's really a plentiful system that you don't have to worry about buying. You know, even people that that grow organically, they still have to go buy their organic fertilizers and stuff, but this is a self sufficient system that you can give your food scraps to Have an almost unlimited source of fertilizer for your own garden.
Absolutely. And one thing I would I want to make clear is that there's a lot of good people out there, there's a lot of good people who could take bring their produce to the farmers market. So I'm not knocking any of those. I'm just, you know, when you you don't know who anybody is, whether it's online, or it's offline, the only person you know, that you can really trust is you and the food that comes out of your own soil. But there's a lot of great people out there. So I don't anybody to misunderstand me there.
No, no, I didn't take it that way at all. But I mean, it makes sense. You know, you just don't know whether not only if somebody was to grow their garden, but maybe they accidentally put something you know, if you were looking for organic, maybe they accidentally use something that wasn't organic, or, or you never know, so not that somebody necessarily did anything intentionally. But no, I and I think it's great to grow your own vegetables for all the other benefits of just the self sufficiency and incorporating your family and your neighbors. And I think it's a great system. So I get questions about this all the time. So somebody wants to get started with their own compost worms, really kind of where, where's the first step? Where should they begin?
Well, you should first begin, I think is, you know, listening to your podcast is a great way to start. And just kind of figuring out is worm farming for you? Because we're in farming. It's not just for gardening purposes, a lot of people do it, because they want to culture worms for fishing, or they want to culture worms because they want to recycle their kitchen scraps, or they just want to keep their kitchen scraps out of the landfill. So they'll start a worm farm and they'll they'll feed it to the worms. And then once it's all broken down, and it turned into worm poop, or worm castings, or vermicastings, they just use that and either put it out on their lawn, or in their potted plants, or in their garden, they're using it somehow. But at least it's not going out to the landfill. So there's actually a plethora of ways or reasons to to want a worm farm. And that's one of the things I talk about, in my book is the many different ways in the many different reasons why people would want to do it. But to really answer your question, getting as much information as possible is the key, because you got to decide, is this for me do I want to do it. So it depends on what your reason for would be. And for me, it is for my garden. And it is to recycle, I don't do a whole lot of fishing. On my website, there is a free guide that walks you through and kind of tells you step by step the education and it teaches you what we're farming is all about and how to culture worms. Now, obviously, there's a lot of other stuff on my website, you know, all for free. I give away a lot of information. I've got YouTube videos, and I also have a book that really teaches you how to do it. And what I would do, there's two things that you can do and that's you can go out and you can get worms in your backyard by lifting up rocks or looking under leaves. That's that's really for shoestring type budget, people who aren't going to get worms through a supplier but really the best ways to get composting worms from a supplier. That way you know, you're getting composting worms because you can't just go out and you know, lift up a rock or look under logs and start grabbing worms because if you do that you're probably in depending on where you live, but you probably aren't going to get the composting worms that you need. You have Earth dwellers type of worms which are nightcrawlers you have lateral burrowing worms, which are typically known as Alabama jumpers or some kind of a jumper and those eat soil and they eat dead carbon material. And then you have composting worms that are found in rich decaying nitrogen type source foods. And those are what you want because they do very well in confined spaces. They do very well in in crowded spaces with other composting worms, and they're very tolerant to wide temperatures, and they're very docile. So those are the type of worms that you want is composting worms and I would really, really suggest that you get them from a trusted supplier. So talking about those those two different ways. It just depends on what your budget is. And you can get them anywhere from like $20 up to $40 per pound dependent on who you go with, my website has a worm farming directory that I've been working on for several years now. So if you want to find a local supplier in your area, you can just go to the website. And Nicole, I don't know if you're going to have links for people, but that can be a link that you can give so that somebody can actually find a local supplier in their area. Or they can go with a link that I could give you for for trusted worm vendors.
And so I imagine that these composting worms, those are typically the red wigglers that people have probably heard of?
Yeah, red wigglers. Those are very small worms, but they're very powerful when it comes to eating decaying matter. and turn it into worm castings. They're one of the most docile, the most prolific, actually, I wouldn't say they're the most prolific because there's actually work out there, this more prolific, it's called the blue worm, which I would tend to stay away from those, because sometimes they can just leave the worm bin for no apparent reason. And you don't know what might, I mean, they could be all but those are very prolific worms. But I would stay away from those when you were a beginner. But yes, the red wiggler, or the European Nightcrawler. And the European Nightcrawler is a much bigger worm, they're like, two to three times bigger. And if you're a fisher, they're great for fishing, they're one of the best fishing worms, even sometimes even better than a Canadian Nightcrawler. Because especially out in the ocean, they can last much longer than any other worm on a hook in salt water. But, I mean, when it comes to fishing, I mean, I don't know a fish that would turn down any worm.
But it depends on what what you're fishing for so...
And could you potentially combine the two, the red wiggler and the European in one bin?
Yep, You sure can, you can combine, actually quite a few composting worms. And the only thing that you have to consider is that one worm will eventually out populate the other species. And when it comes to the red wiggler, it will out populate the European Nightcrawler. And if you have the blue worm, it can out populate the red wiggler.
And we can maybe talk about the different types of bin systems next, but how many worms? should somebody start with? Is it dependent on the system that they have? Or is there kind of a set amount that somebody should start with?
Well, that's a great question. Some people are afraid to get into it. And other people are like, "Well, I'm not going to get into anything, unless I go big". And I know there's a lot of people out there doesn't matter what industry it is, but they don't want to do it unless they can go big. And I really, I mean, that is not the the key to success, the key to success is to take on a little bit at a time and get good with that prove yourself be responsible in those little things so that you can take it to the next level the next level in the next level. So I only I always caution people just start out with I would love to sell, you know, 10 pounds, 20 pounds to somebody if they wanted to buy it. But I don't think that's very ethical at all. So for somebody that's a beginner, I would only start with one pound of let's say red wigglers. Unless you want to fish, you could start out with one pound of the European nightcrawlers. But one pound to two pounds. Depending on how hard you want to attack it and how quick you want to go with it. If you have the money for two pounds, then do two pounds. But really, the standard is is one pound, get familiar with that understand what your composting worms want, what their habitat is, because you got to remember you are there you're setting up their habitat and they're not out there in nature, they don't have the space at all confined into about two to three square feet. So just get good with a one pound of worms and you know, take it from there. And also it depends on on how big your container is. Even if you have a really big container, I wouldn't go more than two pounds but if you have a smaller container, worms I will say the red wigglers, one pound per square foot.
Okay, so that would kind of then if it's a pound per square foot, then that's going to be dictated in what kind of system or container that we grow them in. And I've seen different things like a stackable bin system and people just using Tupperwares, and then like a bag system that you can empty out from the bottom, what would be the best for a beginner?
Well, for a beginner, there really is no system that I would say, you need to go with. It just depends. There's a static system, which is just, it's just a closed system, let's say a box, I normally suggest like a 32 gallon Rubbermaid. And if you want to link, I can give you a link to where to on my website, how to build one and set it up, okay, that's called a static system, when it's just like a Rubbermaid container. It's just a closed system. Then there's another system, which is a flow through system. This is things like the worm factory, it's a tray system. And it's just a stackable trays where you fill the first tray, and then the worms, compost that down to castings. And then you add another tray on top of that, and they climb up into that tray and start eating the food, the kitchen scraps and the the carbon material. And then you add another tray on top of that after a couple months or three months. And then they turn that into castings you just keep you either keep stacking the trays, or you harvest the very first tray at the bottom that you started with three months ago. And then you dump that. And then you add fresh material bedding and food in that and then you put it back on top. For the worms. Again, I love those systems, especially the worm factories were very great for me, I think there's some people that just don't like it, because I don't know, they just can't, they can't seem to get it. But then there's other systems that you can start out with, which is called a continuous flow through system. And that's basically just one system, almost like it's kind of like the Rubbermaid, the only thing that's different is that it has a false bottom. And what I mean by that is it has some sort of grid system underneath, where you can go up underneath, and you can scrape away the worm casting to let it fall down for collection or for harvesting. And then you add food on top. And the worms migrate towards the food source, which is up. And as they consume that you can go underneath and you know, after a month or whatever, and scrape away the bottom. And the great thing about that is that the worms are never disturbed, you're not in there like a static bin like a Rubbermaid or you're not in there with a flow through system, such as a tray system, you're not in there, you're not disturbing the worms very much, you just go in, and you just scrape away the bottom, and then you add food to the top. So there's really three, I guess there's a static system, like a Rubbermaid or any type of container, that's just a box type container, a flow through system, such as the worm factory, a tray system, and then there's a continuous flow through system. And as far as production of castings, or the easiest number three, the continuous flow through system would be the best for somebody who wants it the easiest. Now these systems aren't the cheapest, but I'll tell you this, people that start out with a static bin or a Rubbermaid, those are one of the hardest systems to get right. I'm not saying worm farming is hard. It's not, I'm just saying it's it's one of the more difficult systems to get right because they're they're closed in there and you got to add the food on top and or in pockets and here and there and move things around and then harvest your castings. It's a lot less forgiving than these other systems. But the the pro to that is that if you can get the static bins down and you can be real productive with that you can do anything.
Yeah, I would definitely have to agree with you that but on that topic, I started with a static bin not knowing any better. And it was a challenge, to say the least. And I definitely learned a lot. And I ended up with one of the stackable bin systems that I got on sale when a local store was going out of business. And that has been so much easier and I like it so much better. And it's it's made having the worms more fun and less of a chore. So I've definitely been enjoying that it's a much better, much easier, much more user friendly than the static system. And I'm a beekeeper and in those that are familiar with beehives, the boxes stacked on top of each other. So I call my little system, my worm hive because to me, it's like my beehive. And so that's fun for me to do.
Yeah, that's pretty good. Uh, what you know what I would say, with all of these systems, the biggest challenge is feeding. And you know, what foods do you put in? At what times do you put them in? That's one of the biggest challenges for anybody. Not only beginners, but those that have been doing it for a year, two years. I've had people tell me, I've been doing this for two years and all sudden my system is out of whack. What's wrong? And you know, I just kind of go over the basics with them. And you know, after 10 years of being online and answering questions, the majority of problems always comes back to people are adding too much nitrogen rich foods. And the nitrogen rich foods are your kitchen scraps. Anything that's carbonaceous is like deadfall leaves, paper, cardboard, straw, hay, all dead, of course, and dried out coco coir. Those are all your your carbon materials, and it's also your bedding. So I like to stress is that remember that your bedding is also food. Anything that you put in the worm bin is food. And even though it's not your kitchen scraps, and they're eating shredded cardboard, or shredded newsprint, they're eating that and they're loving it that is adding way more carbon than nitrogen is going to save you every time when you're feeding worms. So when you're feeding the nitrogen rich sources like the kitchen scraps, if it's really moist, and wet, like fruits, you want to try to limit that or maybe squeeze some of the the juices out before you feed it. If it's vegetables, you're you're going to do much better. But when you add those kitchen scraps, that's also adding moisture, so you don't have to worry about it drying out too much. But when you add the food, you want to add in just a couple of pockets, maybe a couple of handfuls at a time, cover up with the shredded cardboard or the or the carbon a good two to three inches and just let the worms eat it. And then once you see that the food, the kitchen scraps are almost gone or they're gone, then you can add some more. And that's one of the biggest challenges of a worm farm is knowing what amounts to feed the worms and the more you do it, the more you get used to the worms and their feeding habits, the more you'll you'll you'll get better at it.
So kind of maybe taking a small step backwards. You mentioned the different bedding material. I've always used either peat moss or the cocoa coir and I prefer the peat moss. It's easier and the biggest issue that I've had with the cocoa coir is it gets really heavy when it's wet. But I don't like the idea of the peat moss not being a sustainable product. So what do you think are some of the best bedding choices?
Well, just your brown type of cardboard or paper or bags or newsprint. The reason why I say that is because I mean cardboard is everywhere. And I know a lot of people are concerned about the printing or the glossiness I would stay away from the glossiness as like magazines but not that the glossy is any problem but the because the glossy is really actually just a clay. But what I always tell people is that the more organic or the more brown that your carbon is, the better, the more nutritious and the more organic and natural it is for the worms. So as far as bedding. Yeah, I mean, I think coco coir is great. It can be expensive, just to keep it down on the more frugal side is just your shredded newsprint, cardboard, paper bags, the browner the better. And now if you have an indoor system, the problem with the dead grass or the deadfall leaves is you're bringing all of the outside critters, the microbes in and the microbes. You're bringing that in side to your house and that's all kinds of insects, insect eggs, insect larva, insect cocoons, you don't know what you're bringing in and should somehow you're been get out of whack, you're going to be running into some issues. So I think it's best unless you really know what you're doing, if you've you've been doing it a while. Keep it down to the shredded cardboards and paper or newsprint. But the ink if anybody's worried about the ink, every industry uses a soy based ink. And keep in mind, anything that you put in there really isn't going to be organic is going to be natural. If it's food related and you know exactly what it is, it's going to be natural but it may not be organic.
I think it's interesting that you said that the coconut coir tends to be more expensive because here especially apparently, it's a product used in the cannabis industry. And I don't know how they use it. But it's very easy to find here and a compressed block is extremely cheap, it's five or $10. And it will give you more bedding than you would need for, I don't know, maybe a year or, or however long depending on your individual system. But it's, it's really affordable here. And I was wondering, when you use the shredded paper, if you've had any issues with it kind of becoming compressed or matting down into something that was more solid than the worms were able to work with.
I haven't had that issue with coco coir. And I've I've used a lot of coco coir. Being somebody who is a reseller of the worm factory, I can get the coco coir. And I've always used quite a bit of it, but it just depends on how much weight you have on top of that it can compress. So maybe you want to harvest your castings a little more frequently, or don't be afraid to go in and kind of fluff things up a little bit to make sure it's not getting too compressed, a tray system can tend to want to, you know, once you get too many trays stacked on top can compress things down. So you want to make sure you're doing some harvesting frequently before that before the castings with the coco coir gets too compressed.
Okay, and what about moisture, right? That's, I know, a pain point, even for me still is regulating the moisture. But how do you know when your bedding is wet enough? And when you need to add a little bit more moisture to it?
Well, if you have a meter that you can measure the moisture with, it's usually around 80%. But the best test is to go in and fill it with your hands. And if you can, if you pick up the bedding, whether it's the castings, or the bedding, which is your carbon, and you squeeze it, and you can get a drop out, that's perfect. I mean, if you're squeezing it, you got to squeeze it real hard, you get that drop out, you're perfect if you squeeze it, and it conforms to your hand when you let go and you see that that ball of castings or bedding it retains its shape. That's good, that's what you want. And then you can crumble it up again, and it'll fall down into the worm bin. Now if you pick it up, and you can't get any water out of it not a drop, then you probably need to have a handy bottle around and spritz it, just make sure it stays nice and wet. You can over wet it as long as you don't overwhelm it too often. And it's too dry if you can't get any water out. Hopefully that helps.
Yeah, I feel like a lot of people add too much water. And I know when I was using the static systems that that I ended up doing that too. But that's the one thing that I like about the bin system is if you add too much water, a lot of times it can drain into that bottom collection that you don't always have in the static system. So that also helps. I always say I love them to death by trying to give them a good watering.
I did too. I mean, I was I was very unsuccessful when I first got into worm farming. My first order I killed them. And it's really funny because and it's a point I'm making the book is that so many of us who teach others, we were not successful, our very first time we failed. And maybe that's why we're such good teachers. When it comes to worm farm you just because we we know what it's like to fail. And we don't want to see that happen with anybody.
Mmm hmm. So I know that you kind of touched on it earlier. But so so let's say we we've got our worm bins set up, and it's got the right bedding, and we've got the worms in it. And we talked about feeding our worms, which is probably why we have them to begin with, well to make the castings and to use our kitchen scraps. But is there anything that we cannot feed them?
Yes, there are things that you cannot feed them. But let me caveat this, you can feed worms, anything and you're going to see YouTube videos, you're going to read it all over the internet, that worms will eat anything. And you'll see people feeding worms, everything and it's true, they will they'll they'll eat anything that you feed him. I don't care what it is. I don't care if it's dog poop. Human "humanure" is what I call it. jalapenos, onions, I mean, anything, they'll eat it. But I have to caution people, those who are beginners, I don't recommend doing that when you're a beginner because right now, the best thing for you to do is just keep it simple and only feed the worms, things that come of course straight from the ground. In the book, I have a chart that lists all these things to keep out of a worm bin, because you know you just you don't want it anymore. Feed the system, you want to grow your worms and get as many castings as quick as possible so that you can continue doing that. And then once you get well established and you you understand what your worms want, and you have a good feeding regimen, then if you want to introduce other things that are quote, unquote, forbidden to put in a warm system, then go ahead and do it. But the things that you generally want to keep out are meats, dairy products, anything spicy, salt, anything salty, things that tend to be really acidic, like lemons, you know, and again, I'm not saying you can't feed them, because you can put them in a worm bin in moderation, you can put them in a worm bin, and eventually, it will neutralize anything you put in there is going to neutralize, and then the worms will go in, and they'll start to, to feed on it. It's not really the worms feed on it. But the bacteria are breaking down the components of let's say, a lemon or lime, they're breaking that down, and they're neutralizing it. And they're bringing the pH and the alkalinity down to a seven or a six, it's making it more palatable for the worms. So what I just caution people on that stuff, I'll never say that you can't feed it to the worms, you absolutely can. But you don't want to start out that way. Because you're going to add it to the warm system, you may add it like onions, or garlic, you may add too much. And you're wondering why aren't my worms, what's wrong with my worms, they're like, they're like leaving the system, or they're way down in the bottom of the system. Or they're all bunched up around the sides. I don't know what's going on, but they're not eating the food. The best thing is just stick with mild types of foods and add plenty of carbon. And I always tell people keep your carbon to nitrogen ratio 20:1 up to 40:1, if you are a big recycler, when you're first starting out, you only have so many worms a pound two pounds three pounds, they're not going to keep up with your kitchen scraps. It's not hard to have an outside compost pile. So if you have meats, and you have acidic foods and spicy foods, and oily foods, put that outside in your compost pile, because the creatures out there, mostly the flies, they're going to love that. And once it neutralizes the worms will move in, and then start feeding on it.
And for our indoor system. I've seen people that recommend chopping up their food scraps or running it through a food processor. Is that something that you do or have you found that it's just the same to put like full size scraps into the worm bin?
I don't run anything through a blender. Occasionally I would free something because if you have something and you don't want to throw it away, or you don't have an outside pile, I've got a huge outside compost pile because of having goats and chickens. Freezing it is a great way of hanging on to it until you can feed it to the worms. And what happens with the freeze is that once it freeze, you know the water expands and it just breaks everything up. It just burst those cell walls of the fruits or the vegetables, and then everything is going to break down much quicker, meaning the microbes will move in as long as you kind of spread it out maybe a little bit and cover it back up with your bedding, the microbes are going to be able to break down that that softer tissue faster. I've noticed with my banana peels, freezing and not freezing versus one that I've frozen, the one that I've frozen is consumed quicker. Now this also depends on how many worms you have, and what the conditions are, how moist it is in the bay, what your temperatures are. So some people will say there's not a difference at all. I've done the test and there's no difference kitchen scraps or kitchen scraps. But it just depends maybe they had more worms attacking it. Maybe they had certain types of bacteria that consumed it quicker or not as fast but generally, freezing can help the process quicker blending it. The problem that you can run into some people will add too much. The worms may not be able to keep up with it quick enough and it can end up going anaerobic which is lack of oxygen and it's going to attract flies. The worms it's going to be come more acidic, the pH level is going to be really low and it's going to cause issues in your worm system. And if that happens, then you need to add plenty of more carbon material and minerals. That's one thing I haven't talked about yet is minerals. minerals are extremely important for three reasons. One is worms don't have teeth. They're like a chicken when it comes to how they process their their food. They have a gizzard. So they depend on the gizzard to grind up the food. So they need those little stones. And the other reason is, nutrition. minerals are a wonderful thing to add. Because you know, we all need minerals, it's just smart, it's very important that you add minerals. The third reason is if you do have an issue with the worm bin being too acidic, you can add like agricultural lime, and it'll bring the pH level where it needs to be because you'll release the carbon from the acid, and it'll just help balance it out. So minerals, I want to make sure that your audience knows to add minerals, ground up eggshell using a spice grinder is wonderful. It'll serve the purpose of all three of those points that I was just making.
Is there any other minerals that we should be adding?
I got two favorites that I like to use, and that's Azomite. The reason why I love Azomite so much, that's a volcanic mineral. It has 70 plus trace minerals, boron, zinc, copper, magnesium, I mean, the list is too much the name but the worms are lacking in anything as a might is great. Another one that I like is diatomaceous earth, a lot of people they, they kind of raised their eyebrows when I say diatomaceous earth because they think, oh, that's going to kill the worms. Diatomaceous earth all it is, is the fossilized remains of diatoms, which is a microscopic plant life, but it's just silica, so all life needs silica. The cool thing about the diatomaceous earth versus anything else that is silica is that this silica is in a plant like form, so the worms will be able to consume it rather easily. And as long as your worm system doesn't become dry, well it won't kill the worms. But if your worm system becomes dry, well, you're going to kill your worms anyway, because worms always need a moist environment and diatomaceous earth is used to kill insects because it dries out their waxy cuticle on their body. So they end up you know, dehydrating and dying, but you never ever let a worm system dry out. It always remains moist. So it's no harm to the worms. And it's not like a lot of people tend to believe where it's it's like crushed up glass. It's not that type of silica. It's just a plant like silica. The great thing is that when you put it in, the Azomite and the diatomaceous earth that when you put it in your worm bin, and you're going to use your castings to give it to your houseplants or your garden plants. You're giving your plants a great form of mineral, great forms of trace minerals. And then when you eat the plant, the minerals are in such a colloidal form a colloid is basically that the plants are going to uptake those minerals very easily the microbes are going to consume the minerals very easily. So that's a huge reason to add those minerals to the worm bin, you've got dolomite you got green sand, you got crushed up eggshells, and in my book I have 19 different minerals that I explain in depth, even biochar, I explain it in depth, even some of those minerals you need to completely stay away from because they can be caustic to your worms.
Okay. And so, how do we know when the worm castings are complete and ready to harvest?
Well, your worm castings will look kind of like ground up coffee grounds, wet round up coffee grounds. And when you first start a bin, it depends on how much material you add. But let's say you have just a static bin, a Rubbermaid, you want to go down, you want to move everything away, just dig down and look and see how much castings you might have. If you have a good, I don't know four inches, it really depends on you, and how many castings you're wanting to harvest. But if you have a few inches, you can collect those and you can start harvesting them. I've got a link on my website, this one lady, she likes to put like, you know what onions come in this this like a plastic mesh, you can put that in your system, fill it with some of the worms favorite food like like melon or cantaloupe rinds, and then the worms will come up into that mesh, and they'll feed on those rinds. And then after a week, maybe two weeks, as long as your rinds aren't gone, you can keep adding rinds, but you can pick up that whole mesh that has your worms in it and you can put them in another system, you can start collecting your castings, you can start harvesting them what a lot of people do if it's a static bin is they'll take the out or they'll scrape the top off and just set those worms and whatever food isn't broken down, they'll set that aside. And they'll they'll dump out all of the castings and up on a table to put a light over it. And then they'll start collecting the castings. The worms are, they don't like the lights, so they'll go down as far as they can down to the bottom. Well, you can just collect when you're done, you got, you got the castings that you want, you put you just put them back in the static bin and add your more carbon material. And then you're good to go again, and it can be from the time you start, it can be three months to six months, I can't really tell you because you know every worm system is different. But if you're maintaining it properly, it can be three to six months, it just depends on how many castings you want when you harvest them. If it's wintertime or fall, you don't have any plants, what I like to do is I have a plastic Rubbermaid that has a few holes in it so that it can get air and it can gas off properly. I'll take those castings and I'll put them in the worm bin, I'll add a few worms so that the worms can keep moving in and out and refining it more and more so that everything stays fresh. I'll harvest some worm castings, I'll put it back in there. So come springtime, you're ready to use those fresh castings.
And how do we actually go about using them?
That's another link that I can send to you. But you want to add castings. If you're planting a seed or you're planting a seed laying, you want to add anywhere from 15% to 25, up to 33% worm castings along with whatever else medium that you use. Some people use peat moss, regular garden soil, potting soil, other types of compost, I've have a couple of videos on my favorite mix and what I use to grow the big giant fruit that you see in my pictures. But it's not all just worm castings. It's also the warm tea that I put on it.
And what exactly is worm tea?
Worm tea is harvesting your worm castings. And then what I like to do is is a use a paint strainer, I suspend them into bubbling or aerated water. And then I add a catalyst or a food source, which is molasses. And basically what I'm doing is vermiculture is culturing worms. Now I'm culturing microbes, and what I'm doing is I'm giving the plants their favorite food, the beneficial bacteria, nematodes, fungi and protozoa in a liquid form. So instead of the worm castings being a time released process, which you know, it takes a while to, for the plants to absorb a solid, now they're absorbing into their plant roots, a liquid form of the microbes, they're just doing it much faster than what the castings will do. And using them both in tandem, will give you awesome results.
Is it possible to burn a plant with the castings if we were to accidentally put too many in our garden?
Nope, impossible. This is just natural. This is a plant's natural food source. I like to say that worm castings are as natural to a plant as breast milk to a baby. It's just a planet's natural food source. You can't put too much, you just can't use too much. It's just like, I don't know. It's like, it's like watering a plant, you can flood a plant, but you can't really water it too much if you have proper drainage.
Sure. So obviously, there's a lot of components that can go into starting your own worm bin and maybe some more questions that people might have. So what resources do you have on your website? And how can people get some more information about starting their worm bin and maybe troubleshooting some things along the way?
Well, if they go to WormFarmingRevealed.com, and they want to start out I have a free worm farming guide that they can either read online or if they sign up for the newsletter, then they'll receive a download in their email. There's questions and answers section at the website. There's other web pages that just have a lot of information. Or they can purchase the paperback book "The Worm Farming Revolution". It's an ebook. It's a Kindle. It's a paperback. And I'm actually working on an audio book right now and today I just finished the first section of the audio book. eventually it'll be available on YouTube. And the great thing about the book is that it's got all the minerals, thats the 19 minerals that I discuss with checkmarks, or X's to tell you if it's good to use or not. And actually what purpose the minerals have in a worm system, and also have a chart in the book that helps you pick out the species of worm that you want. It's like, well, should I use this type of worm? What What do I even want? Do I just want to recycle do I want to fish do I want to eventually add them in my garden? I have a worm selection chart that covers six species, and it tells you all their behaviors. And if they're docile, or it's just a great chart to kind of go through and see what worm is best for you. And then I've got other books that talk about making the worm tea that's online, too. But I spend more time in the book, the book is titled "Worm Farming Revealed Secret Recipe for High Yields in Pest Resistant Plants". And I talk all about the worm tea, I talk about my specific garden mix. And this is basically my method and my methodology right there in the book. And this is exactly how I do everything to get the big fat fruit that you see in the pictures, the high yields and the pest resistant plants. And of course, I've got the YouTube videos, there is a Facebook, which I don't spend a whole lot of time on Facebook, but it's there. So I mean, if that's your means of getting more information, I'm there too. And I do want to mention that, you know, all of this stuff is educational, that I do have something out right now, that is it's entertainment. I'm now in the entertainment industry, which is a screenplay that I've written for companies such as Disney or Pixar. And it's already won a couple of words from film festivals, and it's called "The Beneficials". And it's all about what we just discussed. When it comes to microbes, it talks about how microbes are a plant's food source, rather than the synthetic chemicals. So if you go to my website, and anything that you purchase, whether it's a T shirt, or the books, anything helps promote the screenplay that I'm trying to get out to the studios and the networks.
Well, I know that you had sent me a copy of your online ebook, and that has a ton of great information. So I definitely recommend anybody who is either thinking about getting started or just recently started with their worm farming, definitely check that out. It's affordable, and it's full of great information, and it will definitely get you started on the right foot. So it's amazing.
If you don't mind me adding this, the worm farming revolution book is the largest online right now. And it's the only one in color as far as I know. And it has all of my links in the book. So you're not just getting the book, you're getting links to my videos, and you're getting links to university documents, and social media groups. You know, I've been around for a long time. And everything that I know is in this book, and you're going to get things in this book that's not on the website, or in my videos.
Yeah. Definitely just filled with information and an amazing resource, I definitely recommend it. Well, Pauly, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today and share just a little glimmer of your knowledge. And I really appreciate your time today.
Thank you very much for having me on Nicole. It's been fun, and I enjoyed it very much. And I hope your audience has learned a lot and it gives them a sense of direction of knowing exactly what they want to do as far as either recycling or taking their gardening experience to a whole nother level or being successful at growing natural produce and be more sustainable.
Absolutely. I think this will definitely give some pointers to those that are getting started. So I appreciate it. Thank you. And for those of you at home thank you so much for listening to Backyard Bounty, and we'll see you again next week.
Thank you for listening to Backyard Bounty, a podcast by HeritageAcresMarket.com. Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on the show. please email us at "[email protected]". Also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at Heritage Acres Market. All the links mentioned in this podcast will be included in the description. See you again next week!
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