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Wormy Squirmy! Oh No!!! There’s Worms in Fort Bend County! What is this all about?!!! Vermiculture! Created and presented by: Margo “Mac” McDowell, Certified.

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Presentation on theme: "Wormy Squirmy! Oh No!!! There’s Worms in Fort Bend County! What is this all about?!!! Vermiculture! Created and presented by: Margo “Mac” McDowell, Certified."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wormy Squirmy! Oh No!!! There’s Worms in Fort Bend County! What is this all about?!!! Vermiculture! Created and presented by: Margo “Mac” McDowell, Certified Master Gardener and Certified Master Naturalist Fort Bend County Master Volunteer Coordinator Texas AgriLife Extension Service Co-Presenter; Kenneth Fletcher Certified Master Gardener, FBMG Rainwater Harvesting Specialist

2 Texas AgriLife Extension Service County based outreach of Texas A&M University System Provide information and educational programs on: Agriculture and Natural Resources  Includes Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers Family and Consumer Sciences 4-H and Youth Development

3 Who are these guys? - These worms are known as Eisenia Foetida! (I SEE nee a FET id a). These worms process large amounts of organic materials in their habitats of manure, compost piles or decaying leaves. They are also fast reproducers. Why is this so important? They are “composters.” They don’t mind being handled. They don’t mind being pets. They can survive in a bin. They eat our garbage!

4 Why do we need to teach about these yucky creatures! Introduce Recycling to Children Importance to environment Introduce an Ecosystem shows living organism’s needs Reduces waste in landfills

5 How do I get started? 1.Decide on a bin Regardless of choice, aeration is an important function of the controlled environment.

6 Considerations for a bin: Location, location, location! Common materials are wood & plastic. Must have ventilation because redworms need lots of oxygen. Ideal bin is shallow because redworms feed upwards so the more surface the more nibbling! Do not use container that used to store chemicals – no pesticides!

7 Worm bins need to have an “aerobic” environment. This means oxygen is present throughout the bedding. When bedding becomes packed and pushes all the air out of the layers an “anaerobic” condition occurs. Worms become unhealthy as well as the other microorganisms.

8 2. Prepare the “bedding Worm beddings are important – they provide: Moisture Medium in which worms can work Bury their garbage Air 3. Use Newspaper! Squeeze out as much water as possible, then place in bin Readily available & no extra cost! Tear into strips and soak in water

9 Additional bedding materials: Leaf mold Composted Animal manures (horse, rabbit or cow) Additions to bedding: Add handful or two of soil This provides grit to help break down food particles within the worm’s gizzard. Also provides soil bacteria, protozoa and fungi which aid in the composting process.

10 Worm Facts: No bones, no teeth, no arms, no legs - definitely slimy! Worms keep themselves moist, and need a moist environment. I have 5 hearts!


12 Hearts Clitellum

13 Digestive System Worms grind food in their gizzard by muscle action The ground up food is mixed with enzymes in the worm’s intestine. This breaks down the food into the bloodstream for use where needed. Undigested material, including sand, soil, bacterial and plant residues passes out of the worm as a worm casting.

14 What do I feed my worms? Apples Cabbage Pears Watermelon & rinds Coffee grounds & Tea Potatoes – but no butter! Lettuce Celery Pineapples Egg Shells All kinds of fruits – mangos, bananas Cantalopes! I love strawberries!!!

15 What NOT to feed your worms! If you feed your worms some of these food, you’ll end up with some pretty smelly worm bins! Meats Buttery Foods Oils Dog/Cat manure Fish Poultry Butter Margarine Mayonnaise or salad dressing Colored/glossy paper Pine needles Peanut butter Wood chips No Dairy Products No Bones/ Twigs or branches

16 Always bury your food in the worm bin or… Fruit Flies is what you’ll get !!!

17 In the beginning, check your worm bin every week to see how fast the worms are eating the food. The more worms you have, the more food they’ll eat, and you can judge that by keeping track of how much food you are giving them and how fast it disappears. Stats: ½ LB. food per day for 1 LB. of red wigglers Because you’ll have less than one pound of worms, just give handfuls of food and see how fast it disappears.


19 Physical Decomposers Arrive in the pile after lower level decomposers have ‘worked’ material Grind and chew remaining organic material Mites, snails, slugs, millipedes, sowbugs, whiteworms What are the other “things’ in my bin?

20 What’s Happening in the Pile? Organic matter is decomposed by living creatures Starting materials converted to ‘less complex’ forms It becomes “unrecognizable” humus

21 Microscopic Decomposers Chemically convert organic materials Mostly single-celled organisms – Bacteria considered most productive – Fungi – Actinomycetes – Protozoa – Rotifers

22 Red Wigglers were fast reproducers?!!! Redworms can be mature and produce cocoons in eight – ten weeks!


24 Do the math! Once it breeds, a worm can deposit two to three cocoons per week for 6 months to a year. If that’s the case – then if a two-month old breeder laid two cocoons a week for 24 weeks, and two hatchlings emerged from each cocoon, one breeder would produce ______ worms in six months! 96 2 cocoons x 24 weeks x 2 hatchlings Before the first two months are up, the first hatchlings will be able to breed. These could produce two cocoons for 16 weeks with two hatchlings coming from each…

25 Harvesting ! “Exploring! & Gathering! of the “Black Gold!”
















41 ProblemCauseSolution Sour SmellToo much waterAdd dry bedding Ammonia SmellToo much nitrogenAdd dry bedding Gnats & Flies Exposed Foods Overfeeding Cover food with damp newspaper Reduce amount of food (especially citrus Worms are dying Too wet or too dry Extreme Temperatures Not enough air or food Check condition of bedding Move to a controllable environment; add more bedding Fluff bedding/add food Mold formingToo acidicReduce citrus Worms escaping Bin conditions are unhealthy Overcrowding See all above Make new bin Water Collecting at the bottom Poor ventilation Too many scraps with high water content Remove lid more often Add less coffee grounds & watery scraps Worms Eat My Garbage, Mary Appelhof and The Composting Cookbook by Karen Overgaard

42 Additional References: Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Appelhof The Composting Cookbook, by Karen Overgaard

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