Worm Farming

Yesterday the Mad Farmer Homestead became a vermicomposting homestead. In case you are not familiar with vermicomposting it basically is “worm farming”. Worms are placed in some kind of container, usually with varying types of worm bedding materials and then fed with kitchen scraps, shredded newsprint, all sorts of things really. Once the worms process the input materials they extrude output materials. In case that’s too vague they eat lots of stuff, process it, and then poop it out (I’m not a huge fan of the Oxford comma, but this post feels like it’s going to be peppered with them, so feel free to let me know how you feel about it).

If you know Miss Mercy at all you would know that she loves worms. Big worms, small worms, any worms at all really. Growing up her dad owned a bait shop and because at the time she was young Nike had not yet been accused of using child labor for personal gain, her dad would send her and her brother out after a rain storm to collect Night-crawlers to be sold at their bait shop. Oddly enough, from the Mad Farmers viewpoint, it is hard to reconcile her collecting worms to be used as fish food in her younger years and her current gentleness when planting in the garden and making sure no worms are harmed in the process. The Mad Farmer has plenty of childhood memories that don’t make much sense when taken in an isolated context. There is no accounting for which memories you look on fondly I guess and it’s really more background info at this point.

Miss Mercy is a Master Gardener and is familiar with vermicomposting and, because the Mad Farmer has been researching Permaculture and ways to improve soil and plant productivity, the Homestead has been interested in vermicomposting for a while. The Mad Farmer’s sister, the Swamp Gardener, had gifted the Homestead with a commercially made worm bin. The unit stacks, has a spigot for collecting worm tea (nutrient rich liquid created by the worm byproducts) and multiple trays for allowing the migration of worms to new medium and the collections of worm castings (poop) for use in the garden. A princely gift that lacked two things: actual worms and the knowledge of how to work it (and possibly an overwhelming amount of other projects, but I guess that might be three).

Two years ago the Farmer created a structure at his homestead that he has dubbed the “Pub Shack”. A picture of the structure is the featured image on the TinySustainableLife blog. The Pub Shack has a garden shed on one end, a Key West themed bar/entertainment space in the middle section and a small deck on the far end. In the bar space there is a refrigerator made of a converted chest freezer. The only reason this comes into play is that one day the compressor on the freezer failed. The Mad Farmer had watched multiple YouTube videos on converted freezers to vermicomposting bins so of course the homemade freezer conversion was more appealing to the Farmers “tinkering” nature than the fully functional worm bin that had been gifted to the Homestead.

So fast forward, the Mad Farmer has watched videos, done online research, looked at books, and converted the freezer to a worm composting bin, filled with growth medium, kitchen scraps and set up for success. Squash, carrots and other edibles started growing in the bin, sowed by the introduction of kitchen scraps, but so far no worms. Then, because Miss Mercy has contacts everywhere there are Master Gardeners, worms became available. You might have heard the expression “When the Student is ready, the Master will appear”. The Mad Farmer equates it with “If you Build it They will Come”. Either way, a Master Gardener who was ready to pass on their worms overheard Miss Mercy discussing the project and, suddenly, hundreds of red wigglers appeared at the Homestead.

The worms are currently learning the layout of their new home. The Homestead is excited to have access to worm tea and highly nutritive worm castings. Miss Mercy has been super excited and overly concerned for their well-being. The Mad Farmer is hoping he has better success on his first foray into vermicomposting than he did with beekeeping (you can see why Miss Mercy might be overly concerned). How will it work out? How will worm farming enhance the Homestead? What happens next week on the same Bat Channel? Stay tuned to find out…

P.S. If you are a worm farmer yourself, we would love to hear about your experiences. Just leave us a comment.

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