Worm composting |Backbone Valley Nursery |Central Texas Gardener

Thanks so much for sharing that beautiful
garden space in the beautiful city of San Antonio. Great to have you on Central
Texas Gardener and right now we’re going to be turning our
attention to a black gold of sorts. It can be grown in your own garden, created
in your own garden. I’m joined by Jessica Robertson from a backbone Valley nursery in Marble
Falls. Welcome back to Central Texas Gardener,
it’s been a while. It has been, thanks for having me. We’re talking about black gold you were talking about worm casting. Worms! Fun worms, yes. This is as down to earth as it get in Central Texas Gardener. It is, it’s like the three
ring circus of the soil. Well there is a three-ring circus taking place in the soil right now in
every garden. Absolutely. And we can really improve that
dramatically by bringing in warm castings and I remember when I first
started hearing but organic gardening people literally did talk about this is
it was black gold. It really is. Earthworm
castings they are the black gold of compost basically. they contain thousands and thousands of
different species of natural microbiology that are very important to the soil food web. They help to improve drainage, they help to cycle nutrients, they help to
fight pathogens and disease to keep your plants healthy. They also are
nature’s water conservationists. So they actually help to hold on to
water in the soil and release it a little bit at a time which going through the drought we just went through as really important and these These are all great things. I get the sense that you’re a little bit of a soil web geek here. I am, I sort of a compost nerd. I understand you actually met your
husband in a compost workshop. I did, I fell in love with my husband talking about compost tea, compost and worm castings. That says a lot about your
commitment I think. Commitment to the soil web. It’s
amazing stuff. You’ve brought along some samples and I
want to hold this us up a little bit. You talk about black gold people who
understand gardening can look at this and see this beautiful black material.
Don’t you just want to smell it and touch it? It’s like dry coffee grounds almost it’s beautiful. It’s such a beautiful fluffy feeling material. Right, right and it provides so
much to the life of the soil. They do, it does actually it’s very very beneficial to the soil. So how did you get into all of this part of gardening. A lot
of people are into the plants, or into the design, they like the flowers, they
like the pollinators. I’m kind of a little bit of everything. You’re in the roots. I have my degree in biology and biochemistry. And I’ve always studied soil
microbiology and the way that soil microbes help to cycle nutrients.
I’m a certified plant maritime I love plants in general so it
kind of all applies to me for sure. And what a great way
to educate kids about the life of It is so so important. It’s amazing when I do workshops with kids and worms they’ll go from not wanting to touch them
to playing with them to telling me when they get
home they’re gonna ask their mom if they can have worms for pets. So it’s really important to get them dirty. And a great project for families to do together and
speaking of which we’re surrounded by a worm hotel which is
about as cute as it could be. I could see the kids really
getting into this and this the speaks to how people actually create environments for worms. So they can literally harvest the
castings. Yes, creating your own worm bed or worm container composting system is very easy. Worms just need basic things that humans do. So
they like darkness something like a dark environment. They
like moisture okay, they like warmth, they need to be
loved. Doesn’t everybody need some love. Yes we do. And they need food. There are certain things they like to
eat and things they don’t like to eat. Avoiding the extremes though. Exactly
avoid extremes. So if you wouldn’t want to be sitting in the sun you know your worm box doesn’t want to
be sitting in the sun either. People think worms
and composting and it being a very dirty sort of thing it’s actually very clean. If you do it correctly if doesn’t stink, it doesn’t leak, and it’s very easy to take care of. It’s a great way to use kitchen scraps. So it’s all part of recycling in a
very profound sense. Yeah exactly you know it is literally
like a garden to farm to table and back to the garden. So it’s very easy to make worm castings and use them. You’ve talked about some the compulsory
equipment but we have these boxes here and I want to just lift this up. So people can see the inside. You have screens on the bottom of this.
So what do you put in here and how’s that work actually? You could have just a one bin system if
you wanted to, I’ve made them with regular Rubbermaid Tupperware containers. Holes drilled in the side and
the bottom because they need air they need oxygen. Or you can do a bin
system, this is exactly what this is in here. It will come apart in sections. So you build into the bottom bin. You
start with these then you work your way from the bottom up. Okay. So you put your worms in your bedding
material. Okay so tell us about bedding material. Bedding material is just simply something for them to live in. But they also will eat and consume the bedding material. Okay and
these are recycled, found thing so newspaper is perfect, cardboard
tear those up into little bitty pieces, coconut core. Okay so you
brought this is a block that expand when you put in water, right? Yes it sure does. And you can just introduce the worms to this and say get
going fellas? Pretty much. They just need something moist and something for them to live in that emulates soil where they’re naturally found. Peat moss works very well okay. Coconut core, I’ve used old phone books and torn those up and put them in as well. And then of course food. They need food. Sounds as simple as it could be. What’s worm food? Worm food can be anything from kitchen
scraps, to coffee grounds and coffee filter,
eggshells. They have worm parties I love going in there and digging around and you see they have little parties in there. There’s a little flashing ball. Almost. They’re kind of like hungry teenagers, where there’s food they’ll all be where, they call their friends, and then it’s a worm party. Okay okay worm parties are a good thing
alright. Well it sounds relatively easy. I know
you teach about this all time we have a lot of workshops at Backbone Valley Nursery. We do, I’m very big about education. We
have tons of workshops anywhere from the soil food web,
composting, worm composting to fairy gardens. You name it we do it. But this is one that I can see
that you’re really passionate about and it really speaks to again, one of
the most basic components in the garden, which is the life of the soil. We tend
to overlook that so much of the time so that I think this is
a really critical first step. Tell me a little bit more about Backbone
Valley Nursery. I’ve seen images, looks like a fantastic
place. I like to think so. We’re kind of off the beaten path. So we’re more of a destination garden center. We’re 14 acres. Fourteen acres! Yeah you can come out there and get lost. We have a orchid greenhouse. That’s my other passion is growing orchids. We have a shade house. I do a blond and e-newletter that you can sign up for on
our web site. And we have gardening lectures and workshops pretty much all year long going on at
every single weekend almost. Do you do worm counseling? I don’t do worm counseling. I wonder if I can charge some pretty good money for that. You counsel the worm herders or worm farmer. Yes the three-ring circus. I guess I can be the circus leader. Getting back to
the worms just for a moment though people wonder where to get the worms? What kind of worms do I get? You have to have a specific type of worm. Okay. So these are not earthworms, these
are not night crawlers. They are a red worm or red wiggler. Red wigglers. Yes, yes Eisenia fetida is the botanical, or not that botanical, but the species name of it. Yes, and you can buy them online a lot of places will sell them by the pound online. You
need one pound worms to consume two pounds of food a day. Two pounds of food a day? You’d be surprise how much they actually eat. Double their body weight? I’m telling you know they’re like hungry teenagers. Yeah, very hungry teenagers. You do need a specific type of worm. They
need to be a composting worm otherwise they will not do what you’re
purchasing them to do. But then you have the end result
which is again this beautiful material that people can use in their
gardens and And just thinking about this how far does this go in a garden? You know if you have a small container how far does it take you? A ten-gallon container worm bin, very small easy to do you can harvest anywhere from three to
five pounds, or gallons excuse me, of castings about
every 30 to 60 days. So it’s important to harvest your
castings regularly because worms don’t like to sit in their own waste, just like we don’t like to sit in our own waste, and it’s actually toxic to them. Okay so use it. Yeah, yeah and you can use a simple screen either an eigth inch screen or a quarter inch screen to harvest
your castings. Very similar to something like this. And very easy to do at home. Alright well again Jessica thank you so much for being on the program. This has been a lot of fun and I’m sure very instructional for a lot off folks out there. Coming up next is our friends Daphne.

2 thoughts on “Worm composting |Backbone Valley Nursery |Central Texas Gardener

  1. Thank you for the video….I do have a question to ask. Is it harmful to introduce the Red Wiggler worms to your garden?

  2. I love her passion and she is a great educator and communicator. Very knowledgeable, inspiring and easy to understand. Thanks for this video. 👍

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