Friday, Nov 21, 2014
Agri Leader

Wiggling worms work wonders


Published:

While fishermen love to fish with worms, kids love to play with them and birds love to eat them, worms play an even bigger role in our ecology, including decomposing organic matter, moving organic matter deeper into the soil, improving aeration and water infiltration and aiding soil structure.

Plus, they are also a food source for reptiles, insects and moles. And when placed on the end of a hook, they are also a food source for fish. Not bad for a cold-blooded animal that doesn’t have arms, legs or eyes.

There are a lot of earthworms on the planet. All in all, there are about 2,700 different kinds of worms. On an acre of land, there can be more than a million. They exist off of food, moisture and oxygen. And they also have, to some degree, the amazing ability to replace or replicate lost segments. Worms can also eat as much as they weigh every single day.

Besides assisting with composting, aerating and shifting organic materials downward into the soil, their poop (castings or manure) is rather amazing stuff. It is full of nitrogen, an important nutrient for plants, and is used in everything from potting plants to seedlings. The more worms you have, the healthier your soil.

African nightcrawlers, Hybrid Red Wiggler, Eisenia Foetidas are three types of Red Wiggler worms that can be used for vermicomposting — the process of using worms to produce rich compost from kitchen wastes. This process is becoming a popular choice for horticultural soil amendment — thanks to assisting with naturally breaking down organic matter located in compost piles, and leaving behind their natural fertilizer castings.

These three types of Red Wiggler worms are all available from Best Buy Worms, a family-owned worm farm located in Masaryktown. The farm also raises chickens, cows, pigs, cornish hens, turkeys and sheep. They currently have over 10,000 square feet of worm beds with plans for expansion.

Customers can pick up or the worms can be shipped. “We sell worms, and other products, like worm casting and composting bins directly to customers,” said Dee Blaha, of Best Buy Worms, who owns the farm with her husband, Mike. Some customers stop in and pick up 100 worms for a fishing trip, or they buy them by the pound for their compost pile. The farm also ships to locations all over the world.

“We ship to Hong Kong, Russia, Africa, and the Carribean,” added Blaha, who explained that worms are sold by the pound and do not require refrigeration.

The farm also offers an educational experience. “We have a Worm University, with classes in how to breed, feed, keep, market and ship worms,” said Blaha. Also offered is a Worm University Class Manual that can be purchased via website. Farms tours are available on Saturdays by appointment, for a small fee.

Other local worm farms include the family-owned Our Vital Earth, Inc., located in Apopka. Our Vital Earth also sells Eisenia foetida as well as Rubellus worms, along with worm castings, worm tea (urine) and other products. The farm offers family fun nights and educational workshops, as well as tours and classes on raising worms.

Worm farms can be a viable choice as a small farm or alternative enterprise option. The 2007 Census of Agriculture states that there are 41,407 farms in Florida that operate with less than 179 acres each (USDA, 2007), which is defined as a small farm. An upcoming Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference will be held on August 1-2, 2014 in Kissimmee, which may offer more insight for those who are interested in worm farming or other enterprises.

While worms are great for our ecology, and our compost piles, they’re also perfect to catch Florida bass, catfish, sunfish and other fish, right here in the “Fishing Capital of the World.”

For More Information:

Best Buy Worms

Mike & Dee Blaha

16362 Wilson Blvd.

Masaryktown

352-796.0459

Our Vital Earth, Inc.

6919 Plymouth Sorrento Road

Apopka, FL

1-407-814-9218

1-800-237-4780

http://ourvitalearth.com/ove/

Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference

http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/smallfarms/

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