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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Feeding Your Red Wiggler Composting Worms

Red Wiggler worms love to eat. In the right conditions, they will consume and digest 50 percent of their body weight in a 24-hour period.

But to keep them healthy, Eisenia foetida should be fed a proper diet of vegetable and fruit waste. Citrus fruit matter should be used in moderation, though. Too much citrus is a bad thing for Red Wigglers.

In addition, your worms will appreciate some fiber with their veggies. Shredded newspaper and paper towels, along with cardboard is a good choice. Use common sense, and don't pile in too much paper.
It is important to chop the food waste into very small pieces, as the Red Wigglers have no teeth to help them grind through larger chunks of food.

It is also a good idea to consider adding some paper products at the same time you add any moist food products to your worm bedding to help absorb the excess water contained in the food. You don't want your habitat to get too moist, because overly moist conditions can lead to pests and an unpleasant odor in your worm bin.

Coffee grounds and tea bags, and ground up egg shells (in moderation) are good add-ins, and aged animal manure can be added judiciously. Be careful not to over-do it and upset the delicate balance of the worm bin, however.

Starchy foods, like breads, potatoes. pasta and rice, can be scarcely used, but this is a risky step best avoided by beginners. The best course is to stick with the basics, and practice moderation when adding variety to the worm menu.

There are some things you will want to avoid at all cost.

Stay away from dairy and meats, and oils or greases. Obviously, harsh chemicals and non-biodegradable materials are problematic, as are human and pet waste. Once again, common sense is the best practice.

Other tips to consider:

Let your waste material sit for a while, allowing it to degrade a bit before adding it in. The worms really don't munch on the carrot peels and pepper slices. Instead, they are noshing on a microbial slime that forms on the rotting matter.

This is a little strategy that pays big dividends.

You might consider purchasing a compost pail to collect kitchen waste and other organic matter, where you can let it simmer and ferment for a few days while the microbial colonization process begins to take place.

Now that I've shown you how to feed a hungry bunch of composting worms, I'd like to hear what kinds of food your little guys enjoy the most. Tell us in the comments section below!

Friday, April 4, 2014

What Are Worm Castings?

Worm castings, or worm humus, are the nutrient-rich end products of the vermicomposting process. During the process of vermicomposting, biodegradable materials are broken down with the help of certain types of worms. The worms act on the organic materials by eating them and digesting them. Not surprisingly, the end results are the worm castings or what is actually worm manure. While many may be disgusted at the idea of what are worm castings at first, they will be surprised and fascinated to find just how advantageous for plants these worm droppings are.

Worm Castings Are Nutrient-Rich

Studies have shown that worm castings are far richer in nutrients than most gardening soils. They have greater amounts of nitrogen and phosphates that promote plant growth, and are also rich in bacteria and enzymes that are beneficial for the plants. All in all, worm castings have been found to be important for the growth of healthier plants, for the improvement of soil texture, and for providing water soluble nutrients to the plants.
Gardens that have made use of these natural fertilizers have been found to produce plants with an increase of 20% in plant growth and up to 150% increase in root mass. These results were gathered from a garden that used just one part worm castings to 9 parts soil. Imagine what more worm castings could do for your plants.

What Are Worm Castings’ Soil Benefits?

Worm castings have been found to provide nutrients that promote the growth of healthier plants. On top of this, the organic material has also been found to be greatly beneficial for the soil that it is used on. The overall physical structure of the soil is improved, thus attracting more deep-burrowing earthworms than what are already present in the area. Soil benefits also include an increase in water holding capacity, better germination, plant growth, and crop yield, and an improvement in the root structure of the plants.

Produce Your Own Compost and Worm Castings

Now that you know why natural compost and worm castings are essential for the health of your plants, it is time to learn how you can produce your own at home. The first thing that you will need is a bin that will serve as the container for your biodegradable materials and the worms. You should be careful in selecting the bins for your own compost system as some materials, such as metal, can be harmful for the worms that you will use for vermicomposting.
This brings us to the next essential ingredient for your compost system: the worms. Not all worms are ideal for producing worm castings and compost. If you are not sure what type of worm to add to your compost system, ask the experts or do some research. Red wiggler worms are some of the most commonly used for composting. Under the right conditions, they can produce their own weight in castings and compost in a period of 24hours.
Finally, you will need biodegradable material and other foods for your worms. Vegetable and fruit wastes are some of the most ideal foods for the red wiggler worm. However, citrus fruits should be used in moderation as too much of them can be bad for the wigglers. You can also use shredded cardboards and newspapers as these will add fiber to the worms’ diet. Moldy bread, as well as old leaves and grass will also be appropriate for your worm composters, but do stay away from meat wastes and dairy products

Buying Your Vermicomposting System

Thanks to the wide use of vermicomposting, many gardening stores now offer products that will help your own worm castings at home. There are also a number of websites that offer tips and how-to guides for those who are just introducing themselves to vermicomposting. You can check out out some of the links at the top of this page for more information.
Of course, you can also ask experts or those who have had experiences with vermicomposting. This way, you will not need to waste your time, energy, and your money on products and systems that do not work. Remember that while vermicomposting may appear to be a very simple and straightforward process, it should not be underestimated in any way. Check out our selection of worm composting bins and get started creating your own worm castings today!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Worm Farm Composting For Kids

Taking care of your own compost system is very easy to do, so much so that even your kids can have a part in it. Let’s face it, kids love to get dirty, and most of them seem to have an inherent fascination for creepy, crawly things such as worms. So why not let your kids have and enjoy their own vermicomposting system as well?

Why Teach Vermicomposting to Kids?

Teaching kids about vermicomposting and letting them take part in their own worm farm composting project is a great idea not only to help you get assistance for your composting system, but also to teach them core values such as responsibilities and respect for life. Give simple responsibilities to your kids such as checking on the compost system once a day and refilling it with fresh biodegradable material.
You can also teach them to better segregate their wastes as fruit and vegetable wastes will be used for the compost system. Another value that you will be able to teach your kids is about recycling. Teach them to turn newspaper and cardboard scraps into foods for their worms. They will also learn to find other food sources for their pet worms, but make sure that they consult you first so that you do not put any harmful material into the compost bin.
Of course, letting your kids take part in your worm composting system will also teach them about the value of life and how they should respect it. After all, worms are such small creatures that are often taken for granted or turned into subjects of disgust. Letting your children know that even these small creatures can produce something that can help Mother Nature grow will help them appreciate all the living things in this world. They will also learn to handle things carefully and hopefully, they will also spread the knowledge to their other friends and playmates.

Through a Child’s Eyes

Vermicomposting is a very simple process that does not need to be overly-elaborate, especially for children of a relatively young age. If you want to teach your kids about vermicomposting, there is no need to go over the whole biodegrading process and the other scientific processes that go on inside the compost bins. Try to explain the process in the simplest way possible or rather, tell it like a story. After all, composting is simply about feeding the worms with organic material so that they can produce worm castings which are good for the plants and the soil.
You can also introduce the idea of vermicomposting to your kids by bringing them to worm farms that are near your area. Even more simply, ask your kids if their teachers ever discussed composting at school and if they did, are the kids interested?

Prepare your Compost System

Before you start introducing your kids to the world of worm farm composting, you should first make sure that everything is all set up and prepared. Prepare your compost system first by allotting a space in the house or in your garden, and set up the necessary equipment including the worm composting bins, the biodegradable material, and the worms. Make sure that everything is in proper order; otherwise, the kids will explore by themselves and things can get really dirty.

Prepare Your Kids

Your kids can have a part in your worm farm composting efforts, but make sure that they have an interest in it first before you force it on them. As soon as you mention worms their interest will probably be piqued (especially for boys), but if they do not show any interest in worm bins and composting, making them work on compost systems can turn them off even more. Start out slow by showing the kids what you are doing with the compost. You can also show them some of the worms which should get them to wonder what you do with the slimy little creatures.
Another way of developing interest in your children is by allowing them to take simple parts in the project such as making them put their vegetable and fruit wastes into the compost bins. If they are not already interested in the worms and what they are doing with the biodegradable materials, they will become curious over time and then you can teach them about the wonders of composting.

If you want to get started worm farm composting with your kids, check out our various composting worm bins today! We are sure to have one that will fit your needs, and can help you to decide on one if there is any confusion in your mind.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Do Red Wiggler Worms Eat?

To keep your wigglers healthy and happy, you need to answer this question: “What do red worms eat?”
The reality is, they eat just about everything! Well, except for meat, fish, dairy and processed foods.
The key to feeding your composting worms is a balanced diet of slightly aged and finely chopped scraps.
Below is a pretty comprehensive list that answers the question: What do red worms eat?
  • The staple of the diet is leaves, preferably rotted and shredded a bit, which can be used as bedding and also serve as a food source.
  • Vegetable scraps and peels, the slimier and smaller the pieces, the better.
  • Coffee grounds and filters – Hey, red worms love their caffeine kick in the morning, too!
  • Fruit rinds, cores, skins, rotted or just left over, including banana peels, a red worm favorite.
  • Tea bags, used and still moist, work well – be sure to remove any staples, though!
  • Breads and grains can be used, but be stingy with them at first, until you are sure the worms like your presentation. They should be moistened a bit, before adding to the bin.
  • Manure is another item that can work well, but you should proceed with caution. Add sparingly, and stick with rabbit and horse manure, if available. Or … don't use any at all!
  • Dry dog food, moistened in water, is an nutritious meal for the worms, too. So if the dogs bowl has some left over, dampen it and add to the mix for some variety.
  • Cardboard, oddly enough, is a great source of food. The worms like to chew up the moistened paper product, and are especially fond of the glue that holds the corrugated product together.
  • One last item to add once in a while: finely ground up egg shells. Be sure they are cleaned of any egg residue first, and grind the shells into a fine grit. Worms don't have teeth, and believe it or not, these gritting little particles will be beneficial to the digestive process (of course, the end product of the digestion is the coveted and nutrient-rich worm castings!).
NOTE: The addition of egg shells should be done very sparingly. Also, the addition of a cleaned and in-tact shell fragment or two can be provide welcome shelter to the smallest, youngest worms in your bin. Feel free to add a little shell structure and see what happens!
As a point of emphasis, remember that worms do not do well with meat products and fish, as these items can attract a variety of pests that you DO NOT want in or around your house (think rats). They also cannot properly digest dairy products. Avoid these items at all times.
Also, fight the urge to add any processed food to the bin. This will only cause trouble for your worm army.
Some foods to AVOID:
  • Meat and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Greasy scraps or left-overs
  • Non-organic or processed goodies (think Twinkies)
  • Citrus fruit, including lemons, oranges, grapefruit
When faced with considering “What do red worms eat?” the best course of action is to add new foods sparingly. Don't upset the delicate balance of the worm bin, and monitor the worms to determine which menu items are well-received. Adapt the above lists to suit your worms.

Friday, February 28, 2014

What Do We Really Know About GMOs?

Just because there is a section labeled "ingredients" on your food wrappers doesn't mean they're telling you everything you need to know.

GMO producers claim that their technology is necessary to feed the world. This may be true to an extent but the United States alone wastes 96 billion pounds of food every year.

Bowl full of GMO fruit
The fruit looks delicious, but do you know what's inside?
Chemical companies are drawing farmers in by offering genetically engineered seeds at a discounted price. The catch: these seeds are doused in accelerating agents and they need to be maintained with additional chemical products. Farmers are concerned about the effects all of these chemicals may have on their soil, but once the farmers commit to buying the seeds they commit to the use of pesticides. The EPA is now regulating actual crops grown under these conditions as pesticides themselves.

Although this increase in the growth of crops may be producing more food, it is detrimental to the economy and the environment. Chemical companies are benefitting from the farmers buying pretreated seeds and pesticides, and from all of the people that eat the farmers' crops. Overall pesticide use across the country has increased exponentially over the past 20 years. And it's no wonder genetically engineered crops use more pesticides in their production than non-genetically engineered crops! What happens if farmers decide they don't want to use these products anymore? Too bad for them. They are made to sign a contract with the chemical companies that holds the farmer to the product for the entire life of the farm.

We really have to wonder what's actually going on here. Do we know all of the chemicals in these pesticides? No. Do we know their long-term effects on our bodies? No. Are big companies like Monsanto intentionally keeping this information from us? Yes. Companies that use GMOs are trying to deny mandatory labeling. They might as well wave a red flag that says, "We use harmful ingredients!"

This is an important time in our lives. We need to think: do we really need to use GMOs in order to adequately feed everyone? Clearly, no. We are wasting almost half of it, and there are still millions of starving people in the world. There are better, safer options.

Imagine more farms growing organic crops, and less car producers. Imagine more people buying local products and less processed food being imported from foreign factories. Imagine food being grown by sun, water, and careful hands, rather than by chemicals.

Comparison of carrots grown in a casting/soil mixture vs regular potting soil
Comparison of carrot growth in 20%
worm casting vs 0% worm casting.
The difference is impossible to miss!
You can grow your own organic (GMO free!) food at home with a little help from our little worm friends here at The Squirm Firm. Worm Compost (also known as worm casting) is one of the best alternatives to chemical fertilizers around, and will give plants a wide variety of benefits. It's incredibly easy to produce your own worm casting at home with one of our worm composting bins. Apply castings to your plants and they will grow bigger, faster, and better than ever before, and they will be totally organic.

What other things can we do as individuals to combat the spread of GMOs? Post your answers in the comments section below and the person with the best idea will receive an exclusive discount code for any worm composting product in our store!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Get The Most Out Of Your Worm Bin With These Sweet New Composting Accessories

The Squirm Firm is proud to announce the release of our new product line. We wanted to make your worm composting bin even easier to manage by providing some sweet worm composting meters and tools. Click on any product below to view it in our store:

Worm Compost Moisture Meter ($9.95) – Too much guesswork involved with keeping your worm bin perfectly moist? Not anymore! This Moisture Meter will give you a reading of the moisture content of your worm bin on a scale of 0.0-10.0. This reading will tell you exactly what to do to keep your bin in tip-top shape.

Worm Compost pH Meter ($9.95) – Like the Moisture Meter, this meter tests the acidity of your worm bin and indicates the pH on the screen. This helps you find out if you are over- or under-feeding your worms. Over-feeding can be dangerous to your wigglers, and you don’t want to kill your composting buddies!

Worm Compost pH+ Moisture Meter ($14.95) – This 2-in-1 Meter can be used to test both the moisture content and the pH level of your worm bin. With this meter you will always know exactly what needs to be done to keep your bin in prime condition and keep your worms working at the maximum rate.

Worm Farming Accessory Kit ($30.95, 20% off kit contents) – Our complete kit has everything you need to optimize your worm bin and get your little worm friends producing as much castings as they can, while also giving you the tools to manage your worm bin as efficiently as possible. The kit includes 1 Worm Compost pH + Moisture Meter as well as the four items listed below. 20% off each item when you buy as a kit.
Worm Compost Thermometer ($7.95) – Our thermometer will help you find out the temperature deep inside of your worm's composting environment with an extremely simple to read gauge. Gauge has indicative pictures with cute little red worms that will immediately tell you if your worms are at risk due to extreme heat or cold.

Worm Compost Harvesting Scraper ($3.95) – Harvesting your compost can be a messy task unless you have the right equipment. Our Worm Compost Harvesting Scraper makes it a breeze to scrape out every last bit of worm castings without getting your hands coated in the worm casting material.

Food Scrap Handling Tongs ($5.95) – Before you feed your food scraps to your worm population, you need to let it sit for a few days so it can begin to rot and become easier for the worms to eat. Unfortunately, sometimes this means feeding your worms some pretty nasty (to us) stuff. Our Food Scrap Handling Tongs allow you to keep that rotting food away from your hands to make sure you stay clean and safe.

Worm Compost Turning Claw ($5.95) – Lastly, our Worm Compost Turning Claw allows you to fully turn your worm bin in a matter of seconds. Simply run it through your worm beds a few times in different directions and any tight anaerobic areas in the bin will be broken up so your entire bin gets the oxygen it needs to work right.


I hope everything is going well for all of you, and that these new worm composting accessories make your worm farming experience easier and more enjoyable than ever before. Are there any problems you are having in your worm bin? We are going to do a series of blog posts about common worm bin issues and we want to know what our customers have trouble with the most. Post any issues in the comment section below:

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Squirm Firm Blog is now live!

Welcome to the The Squirm Firm Blog, our new publication we've designed to provide you, our wonderful readers, with information to help you easily live a more natural, environmentalist lifestyle.
We will be posting all sorts of information that will be of interest to any true naturalist. We will have postings on a wide variety of topics to help you keep your family healthy and our Earth pristine:

Organic Life:


There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the safety of some of the unnatural chemicals used in traditional food production and processing, or of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Many companies lie about the health risks of their food so they can make greater profits, endangering your health in the process.

We help make it easy to sort through all of the disinformation and get you and your family on the right track to eating the food you should be eating: organic food. There are many benefits to eating organic which we will cover in-depth in future articles.

Natural Gardening:


One of the cheapest (and most fulfilling!) ways to eat organic is to grow your own food at home. We will provide all of you gardeners out there with tips, tricks, and how-to guides in our articles to help ensure your plants can flourish without the use of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The food we will help you produce will be completely organic and absolutely free!

Worm Composting:


Compost is one of the best fertilizer alternatives for use in natural gardening, and worm compost packs more nutrients than any other compost. Our worm composting articles will help you to produce your own worm compost at home for use in your garden. You will produce lots of worm compost of the highest quality by following the simple advice we have to pass down from our experience in the worm industry.

Sustainability:


One of the best ways to reduce your impact on the Earth is to live sustainably.  Living sustainably means you try to use less of the Earth's resources . We will provide you with an assortment of ideas to recycle your trash into treasure. You will save money, produce less waste, and use less energy by following our Sustainability articles. You will be more self-sufficient and nearly eliminate your impact on the environment.


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