Worm Bed Benefits: Learn About Worm Beds In Gardens
The first thing that you need to do when making a worm bed is to select the right type of soil. There are several types of soil, which can be used for different purposes. You will have to choose one according to your needs and budget.
Some types of soil are better than others depending on what kind of plants you want to grow or if you want to plant something other than worms.
There are two main kinds of soil: organic and inorganic. Organic soils contain living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects. These live things provide nutrients to the soil through their activity.
They help break down dead vegetation into its component parts which then become available for use by plants. Organic soils are beneficial because they help increase the fertility of the soil.
Inorganic soils contain no life forms whatsoever. They consist solely of rock, sand and gravel. They are not very fertile, so it’s best to avoid using them for growing food crops like vegetables or fruit trees.
In fact, many farmers don’t even bother planting anything in these areas! However, there is another type of soil called “hard” which consists primarily of rocks and dirt with some clay particles mixed in. This type of soil is good for making a garden bed, although it can be somewhat difficult to work with.
So, which soil type should you use?
The answer depends on what you plan to plant and how skilled you are at working the soil. Most people agree that worm beds should consist at least partly of organic material such as dirt, humus, peat moss or compost. The best type of soil to use is a mixture of equal parts compost, peat moss and garden soil. However, you can also use just one of these ingredients or even substitute something else for part of the mix.
Other kinds of soil that can be used alone or in combination with the above ingredients include:
Sphagnum moss: acidic and light in weight.
peat: dark in colour and not easily broken down by micro-organisms.
garden soil: contains plenty of organic material and is easy to work with.
manure: rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK).
hay: high in cellulose which is an important nutrient for plants.
The next thing that you need to do is to create a hole in the ground that is deep enough to accommodate your needs. You need to make it at least 8 to 10 inches deep and wide enough to hold a bucket. The depth of the hole affects the temperature of the bed.
A deeper hole will be colder than a shallower one, so you may need to place a board or another material over the bottom in order to retain the necessary heat.
Once you’ve created your hole, you need to line its sides with something such as wire mesh, wooden boards or even flattened cardboard boxes. This is to prevent the soil from caving in on itself. Then, all you need to do is fill the bed with your chosen ingredients and you’re ready to go.
If you want to provide proper drainage, dig a trench along the sides of the hole and place stones in it. This will help keep water from pooling at the bottom of the bed and rotting the leaves that fall into it. You can also line the bottom of the bed with plastic to help keep the soil from getting muddy or caving in.
That’s all there is to making a worm bed! All that’s left to do now is populate it with worms, which I will explain how to do later on in this book.
Time to move on to creating a compost pile. These are created for the express purpose of recycling kitchen scraps and yard waste such as grass clippings and fallen leaves.
The most important part of making a good compost pile is ensuring that the materials you put into it are “carbon rich”. These materials include:
newspaper (without the glossy paper)
dead plants (no green material such as green weeds or grass clippings)
straw (not hay!)
These items should be placed in your pile in a layer about 2 feet thick. You can place smaller bits of material such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells and crushed bones (from fish or chicken) between the layers. You should make your pile in a roughly square shaped mound that is 3 to 4 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.
A good size for most home gardeners.
You also want to ensure that the materials you include in the pile are “carbon rich” as I mentioned above. Things such as fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed bones (from fish or chicken) and eggshells are all examples of these types of materials.
As for the ratio of carbon to nitrogen rich materials you want to aim for a C:N ratio that is roughly between 200:1 and 400:1 but no greater than that. You can achieve this ratio by including far more carbon materials than nitrogenous ones or by including equal amounts of each. Failure to do this may result in the production of ammonia which can be toxic to plants.
You also need to turn your pile at least once during the initial stages while you are waiting for enough material to build up and before the temperature inside the pile gets too hot. You can turn it with a pitchfork, or if you’re really ambitious you can use a plow to divide it into sections and then turn each section individually.
Now, once your pile has reached the required size and temperature (which should take about a year if you make it 3 feet high, 3 feet wide and 4 feet long) you can start to use it.
You can either start taking pieces out of the top and using those or you can turn the whole thing into a single layer and then harvest from there. If you choose the second option then it is preferable to leave the pile to “cure” for a year afterward to allow the ammonia produced during the breakdown process to dissipate. In any case you will need to turn it several times during the first year in order to ensure that it cures properly.
You can use your compost on most types of plants but it is especially good for fruiting plants such as tomatoes and peppers as well as plants that have a large root system such as courgettes. It isn’t good for plants that have a small root system such as lettuce or for plants such as Broccoli that have a shallow root system. It also tends to be quite high in nitrogen and too much nitrogen in the soil can damage these types of plants.
You can also use it on your lawn to improve its texture and color.
Now that you’ve created some compost you have really started to become a productive member of society!
You can use the compost on your plants or in your garden to increase fertility and improve your soil.
You will need:
Garden fork (optional)
Container for compost (optional)
Timeline: Creation: 2 Months
Step by Step
Optional tools The type of container you use to collect the compost in is up to you, however if you’re making it yourself then some sort of container is probably going to be useful as you won’t want to be climbing in and out of your pile all the time. If you are using a container then the next step is to line it with something such as plastic sheeting to make removal of the finished compost easier. Procedure If you are using a container then line it with plastic sheeting or some other similar lining material.
If you don’t then just skip this step. Take your materials and put them in the container or onto the sheeting. To do this you may want to break up any large chunks or chop up any bones. Add some water to the materials and mix everything thoroughly. You can use a garden fork for this if you wish. Wait a few days and stir thoroughly again. The idea is to keep mixing everything until you are happy that it is all broken down properly. This may take weeks so you will need to be patient. When it is ready for use or if you are using a container then you can remove the sheeting or container and place the compost in your chosen location.
Congratulations, you now have your own compost that you can use to improve the fertility of your soil and grow a successful crop.
You can repeat this process for a few years to build up a good supply of compost in order to grow your food. If you are feeling really confident you can even sell some of your produce to your neighbors, just be careful as if anything goes wrong and they get sick from it then you could find yourself being blamed!
By this time next year you will be able to build yourself up a small patch of land to feed your family. You’re doing great and can’t imagine how you ever lived without growing your own food.
Just think, in another 4 years you will have moved up to dairy cows and sheep. You’ll have so much milk and cheese that you won’t know what to do with it all.
Your little farm is turning out to be a great success.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can try your hand at beekeeping as well.
You’ve got a little more land than most folks round here so if you keep expanding then you can get quite a lot of produce to feed your family and any excess you can always trade at the market when it rolls around.
You are really enjoying running the farm, it’s hard work but it’s certainly better than working for that jerk at the burger joint. You wish your parents could see how far you’ve come, you can’t imagine they’d ever imagined you’d turn out like this when you were little.
Well, you best get back to work.
You’ve got a lot to do.
You’ve been so busy recently that you’ve hardly had any time to visit your old friends from school or even your sister at college. You really should make the time though as it’s important to keep in contact.
Of course if you’re too busy then the perfect solution is to hire some more help, after all you can’t expect to do all the work yourself.
You now have a few options open to you:
You could try hiring some of the locals, however there isn’t much work in the area and most either have jobs already or have families to support. You could advertise for workers in the newspaper and interviewed those that applied. You could take on more family members that need to pay off a debt they owe your family.
You could also buy a slave. Slavery is illegal in this part of the country but it still continues in secret. It isn’t cheap though and if you can afford to buy a slave then you can probably afford to hire someone better than a slave.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll be glad to get some help around the farm as it is getting harder to manage on your own.
1 You decide to hire some of the locals.
You bring one of your horses to a walk as you approach the small town. It’s no problem for you as you know the way, but it would be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the area to find this place. Especially in the winter when the leaves have fallen and there is less green to be seen.
You roll down the window on the passenger side of your truck and smell the fresh air as you pass by fields and hills.
This place has always been your favorite and you intend on retiring here one day. Of course, a lot can happen between now and then, but you try not to spend too much time thinking about that.
You turn down a dirt road that leads through the woods and towards the fields. You pass by a few dozen cabins along the way and give a small wave to the people you know by name. Most of them are retired and in their 60’s and 70’s although you see a few younger ones with young families.
You pull up alongside one man who is splitting wood and ask if he would like a ride into town. The man smiles and nods, loading his logs into the back of your truck before climbing in beside you. As you drive along you can hear the various clicks and clacks as he tries to start a conversation with you. You give short simple answers as you continue down the dirt road until you see the main road up ahead.
You turn left and head towards the town. Although it only takes a few minutes to get into town your passenger seems to shrink back into his seat a bit and continues to try talking to you, but now he is addressing the back of your head.
You have learned over time that it is just best not to talk to people. They have this misconception that because you are a friendly guy that you want to talk to them and it just isn’t true. It’s not their fault, everyone wants to be liked and people see what they want to see.
You are a friendly guy, but only to animals and your pets. To everyone else you are a little stand offish, after all there is only so much time in a day and you like to spend it doing things you enjoy. Not talking.
You pull into town and find the usual spots to park. Stealing a spot from a tourist isn’t beneath you so if you see one pulling out you jump in immediately. You tell your passenger that you will be right back and head into the closest store which is the pet store.
The girl behind the counter smiles and says “hey Ben how are you today” she then looks down and holds something against her stomach as if she is trying to hold in a laugh.
You walk up and see a litter of kittens in a box she is holding. You take a second to look at each one before pointing to one that looks like a fluffy ball of gray and white fur. “I’ll take this one please.” The girl behind the counter smiles a smile that stretches from ear to ear.
She says that her name is Allison and leads you around the counter and into the back area.
You always think it is strange when people work in stores that sell things for pets, but don’t own one themselves. Allison leads you into a break room where there is a small box with a grey and white kitten inside. You open the box and she tentatively comes out and steps up into your arms.
She begins to purr instantly and you pay for your new pet before heading out the door.
Allison wishes you a good day and you set off back to your truck. You put the kitten in the box on the seat next to you and she curls up and goes to sleep. It’s then that you remember that you forgot to get cat food.
No matter though as there is plenty of time today since your mom won’t be home until late. You drive home enjoying the peaceful sound of the kitten sleeping.
You pull into the driveway and park in the garage. You carry the kitten and her box inside and set them down in the kitchen. You go back out and bring in your bag with your fishing gear and put it away before heading into the garage to get your bike from the corner it has been resting in for the past few months.
You have a small Yamaha PW 50 that you learned on, but rarely get to ride it anymore. Nowadays it only comes out on nice days so you can ride around the neighborhood. You ride down the street a few blocks to see the new houses that have been going up.
It has been all renters for the past year or so, but now they are starting to sell and you want to see what sort of people they are going to be.
You stop at one house in particular and look it over. The yard isn’t in very good condition and there is a beat up sedan parked in the driveway. It looks like it might belong to the owner or builder as it has a company name on the side.
You can’t really tell what the deal is with the house, but you can tell it needs a lot of work and won’t sell very well. You ride a little farther and come to another house that is identical to the first.
You circle back and pull into the driveway of this one. This one at least looks like it has been taken care of. The yard is in good condition and the car looks to be in the middle of a oil change.
You sit there for a minute just watching the cars come and go down the road. A thought strikes you and you open your bike’s throttle up wide and let the engine roar.
A man comes running out of the house with a shotgun in his hands. He jumps into the car in the driveway and peels out throwing rocks and dirt everywhere. You can’t contain your laughter and you lay it over the handlebars as you ride away.
You figure that was enough spying for today.
You take your time getting home and along the way you stop at a park and get some of the grime off of your face and change your shirt. You finally get home and carry the kitten and her box inside. You take her into the kitchen and set her and the box down.
You go back out to the garage and toss your stuff into a corner.
You have just started up the stairs when you remember that you haven’t eaten anything since this morning and that you are now absolutely starving. You head back down to the kitchen and open the fridge. You look inside but find little that interests you.
You remember that your mom keeps an abundance of food in a cabinet above the stove. You open it and find several canned goods and even some boxes of cereal.
You help yourself to a single serving of mashed potatoes and gravy, a packet of peanuts, an orange flavored vitamin pill, and a cinnamon toaster pastry. You consider taking more, but decide one helping is probably all you should take since you don’t know how long it will be before she notices it is missing. You wash it all down with a single bottle of grape juice that you find in the back of the fridge.
You go back upstairs and find your bag where you left it, just inside the front door. You lay down on the carpeted floor and fall asleep watching light from the window paint patterns on the ceiling.
You are jolted awake by a shrill scream coming from somewhere outside. Your heart is pounding and your ears are ringing. You stand up and notice that it is dark outside now.
You couldn’t have been asleep for very long. You can hear someone yelling somewhere downstairs. You can’t make out the words, but the voice sounds like that of a woman.
You want to run back to the park and hide in your secret spot until everything goes back to normal or at least until school starts again, but you can’t bring yourself to go down the stairs. You reason that whatever is going on, is probably happening at your house right now. Your mom needs you and it would be wrong to leave her.
You muster all the courage you can find and head back down the stairs.
As soon as you walk into the living room you see a man and woman shouting at each other.
“I told you I heard something!” the woman screams.
“You always hear noises, that doesn’t mean there is someone breaking in!” the man answers.
The woman turns and looks at you. She has long blond hair and beautiful blue eyes. Your mom has always told you that you have your father’s eyes, but if this is your father then all of your brother’s and sisters must have his eyes, because they share this woman’s eyes.
The man turns and sees you as well. He is several years older than the woman, with dark hair and eyes.
Who are you?”
the woman demands.
You open your mouth to answer, but no words come out. You try again and only stutter. Your throat feels tight and your eyes start to burn.
You turn and dash back up the stairs.
After reaching the safety of your room you hear voices again. This time they are both male and they are having the same argument as before.
“I told you we needed to get him first!” the older man says derisively.
“Shut up or he’ll hear you.” the woman answers.
He already saw us, we might as well just introduce ourselves.”
“Not until the time is right! I know it’s been years, but I know what I’m doing.”
You hear footsteps coming up the stairs. You try to open your window, but it has been painted shut and you don’t have time to mess with it. Your only option is to hide.
You jump onto your bed and pull up the loose floorboard. You crawl under it and pull it back in place. You are in total darkness, with only the occasional dust tickle in your nose to remind you that you aren’t dreaming.
the woman calls out. “Isabella, we need to talk.”
The floorboard shifts slightly and you can feel cool air blowing into the hiding place.
“Izzy, if you’re under there something bad has happened and I need to talk to you. I promise I won’t yell or get mad.”
The floorboard shifts again as she sits down. You hear sniffling as she blows her nose.
“My poor baby. You didn’t deserve any of what happened. If I’d only been smarter or faster, none of this would’ve happened.
But I’m here now and I’ll protect you. No one will ever hurt you again.”
You can hear the sincerity in her voice, but you don’t understand.
If she’s your mother then why did she let them take you? Why did she let them hurt you? Why couldn’t she save you?
You stay under the floorboard and wait for her to leave. Eventually you fall asleep and don’t wake up until you hear your father calling for you the next morning.
You spend the next two days locked in your room. Your parents tell you that the police will catch the burglars soon and that you shouldn’t worry. You aren’t worried, you’re terrified.
You don’t understand why you can’t go anywhere. Why you can’t see your friends. Why your parents are lying to you. You just want to escape this hellish nightmare.
Eventually the police do come back. They tell your parents that they have arrested a suspect and he has made a full confession. After they leave, your father comes up to talk to you.
He says that now that the burglars have been caught, you can return to your old life. However, he says that in order to do that, you must forget everything that has happened over the past two days.
you ask in disbelief. “
How can I just forget everything that happened?
It was like a movie or something.”
He sits down on your bed and speaks softly. “
What do you think happened to the burglars?”
“The police got them.” You say.
“Yes, they did.
Do you know what happens to criminals like that?”
You shake your head and notice that he is sweating profusely, like he does when he gets mad.
“They get put in jail.” he says through gritted teeth. “
And do you know what happens in jail?”
You shake your head again.
“They get punished.”
What does that mean?”
“It means that the police catch more than just burglars. Sometimes they catch murderers too.
And do you know what they do to murderers?”
You shake your head for the third time. You feel like you’re going to be sick.
“They kill them.” he says softly. “They kill them and no one will ever find out because they’ll be dead.
Forever. Just like you. If you tell anyone about any of this, they’ll think you’re a liar and you’ll end up in jail. The police will catch you and they will kill you. Then they will throw your body in the woods for the animals to eat. No one will ever find it.
Do you understand?”
You don’t say anything, you just nod slowly.
“Now, I’m going to leave and let you go back to your room. We’ll act like none of this ever happened. If you ever try to tell anyone, you’ll end up just like those two burglars.
You nod again. He smiles at you and pats your head before leaving the room. As soon as you hear the door close, you rush to the bathroom and throw up. You stay there on the floor for a few minutes before returning to your room.
You’re scared, confused and still don’t understand what happened. You know you’ll be blamed if anything ever comes up missing, so you move all of your toys into your closet for safe keeping. A few days later, everything seems back to normal.
Your mother asks if you are still interested in taking guitar lessons and you say no.
You never learn to play the guitar.
You never tell anyone about what happened, not then and not ever.
You spend the rest of your childhood and teenage years trying to act as normal as possible. You focus on school and try to have a social life. In college, you meet a girl and fall in love.
You propose to her after graduation and a few months later you get married.
Doing all of these things with your wife brings you a great deal of happiness. You have a career you enjoy and you and your wife try for children. After two years of trying, you have a baby boy.
He gives your life meaning and purpose. You think about the events that happened when you were eight very rarely, and they become more vague with each passing year. You’re able to rationalize what happened and convince yourself that it was your imagination.
You and your wife are happy together until she dies of cancer when you’re in your sixties. The pain is overwhelming and you don’t think you’ll be able to go on, but eventually the pain subsides and you live the rest of your life solo.
The years march on and eventually pain becomes your constant companion. You fall and break your hip, requiring surgery. You get a staph infection in the hospital and are very lucky to survive.
A few years later you break your hip again, then later break your wrist, then re-break your hip after it had healed the first time. You start using a walker but fall down the stairs and break your other wrist.
By ninety, you’re confined to bed and need help doing everything. You have wonderful caretakers who help you, but the only time you feel truly happy is when your son visits. He’s married with children of his own now and doesn’t live too far away.
Your mind continues to weaken and you sometimes forget what year it is or where you are, but whenever your son visits, you’re always happy and know who he is.
You pass away at ninety-six from a combination of causes. Your son and daughter-in-law are with you. The expression on your face is one of happiness and peace.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Complete Guide to Working with Worms: Using the Gardener’s Best Friend for Organic Gardening and Composting by M Appelhof, J Olszewski – 2017 – Storey Publishing
Elementary school garden programs enhance science education for all learners by L Nancarrow, JH Taylor – 1998 – Random House Digital, Inc.
The Worm Farmer’s Handbook: Mid-to Large-Scale Vermicomposting for Farms, Businesses, Municipalities, Schools, and Institutions by L Nancarrow, JH Taylor – 2012 – Ten Speed Press