Secret Wormer - Brooke Warkentin

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When, Why, & How I started start worming‌

I purchased my first worms August of 2018. For years I’d been struggling with our poor soil, that raised bed gardening only helped with a little bit. In 2016, when shopping for plants, I spotted a bag of worm castings. I spent the next week looking into it and decided to give the bag a shot. It helped some but didn’t do nearly as well as so many people online raves about, but it better than nothing so every year I purchased another few bags. Finally one winter I stubbles upon a web site dedicated to growing in poor soil using castings. This guy went from no lawn and sad looking weeds to an amazing lawn and garden by using compost worms in trenches around his garden! It the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but knew it was more than I could do…or so I thought. He went through building a simple worm bin, feeding, caring and loving the worms all the way through to harvest. When I saw how easy it seemed I did a bunch of reading, set up my bin, read some more, collected food scraps, read some more and finally ordered some worms from Amazon. I’m also an avid fisher-lady. My dog is my fishing buddy and we go every chance we have a few moments to get away. When I read that ENC’s out performed all other worms, on the same web site, I decided I had to give those a go. I purchased my first batch that winter and had 2 full bins by the following spring. I used them and always ended up selling what I had left to others at the local pond. Many of those people still call me for worms when they head out. So far nobody wants to raise them, but maybe soon.

Personal Goals

I started selling my ENC’s to a local bait shop late in the fishing season last year and have a plan in place to keep them supplied at the start of the season. I’ve been using a system similar to Matt’s to increase the population and will start fattening them up a couple months before sales start. I’ve only recently gotten into red wigglers. I currently have 2 breeding bins and 6 “worm mix production bins” going. When I sell reds it’s been a worm mix, meaning all reds but in a system with plenty of worms and other life. So far I’ve had trouble keeping up with demand. People here in Northern CO seem very interested in worms and love the idea of a starter culture. It takes about 1 1/2-2 months for the colony to fill most of a 10 gallon bin. I’ve had plenty of referrals from happy locals too. My goal is to have 20 production bins and 5 breeding bins for the reds by the end of summer. I’d also like to set up more of the production bins for ENC’s as I can see this as a good way to get the fishing people into it. In the next 5 years I’d like to have a large CFT so I can also sell casting, but we will need more space for that.

Biggest Lesson Learned

After all my reading prior to buying worms I still didn’t know a blue from a red from an ENC. What I got were blue worms. As poor as the blue worm is touted online they were great for me. I started with 250 in a 5 gallon tote and had my first harvest 4 months later, with millions of little worms. From there I expanded my bins to house 4lbs of blues in two bins and countless living in our outdoor compost pile. The hardest thing was when thunder storms rolled in they would bolt! Hundreds of worms on the kitchen floor. It was awful, especially since my husband didn’t know I had them, I figured he’d be fine if he never saw them. I got them put away before I was thwarted and they settled in after some dry bedding was added to the top. I’ve since created a way to contain them where they cannot get out no matter what. I use a clear bin with a gasket on the lid. Holes are drilled for air flow in the lid and a piece of cotton muslin is laid between the lid and bin. The lid latches on creating a “water tight” seal. My husband now knows about my wormy secret and was actually surprised at the lack of smell. It took over two years for him to realize I had them and by then I wasn’t giving them up!

I Wish I Knew Earlier

I really wish I had known how easy worm farming was years earlier. It would have saved so much money on subpar castings.

My Worm People Wish

I would love to see many lush gardens in and around our city growing food and flowers using worm castings. It'd be so nice if people knew how amazing casting were and they didn't need all these chemicals for a great garden. It'd also be awesome to see the overflow of food going to those in need and those people taught how to do it themselves so they could grow more of their own food.