I do some composting with worms, but I don’t maximize my worm or worm casting production. I am interested in the worm tea and the beneficial microbes it provides. If poultry were allowed in Chattanooga, I would likely try raising worms as a food source for ducks. Since I am only feeding plants, I’m not a high volume producer.
I have six plastic buckets I am using for worms. They are four-gallon size and were gifts from my sister-in-law who purchased kitty litter in the buckets. They are in two stacks of three. The bottom bucket in the stack catches one kind of worm tea. There are two upright tin cans in it so the next bucket sets higher. The cans allow more volume of liquid to be collected in the bottom bucket. The middle bucket in the stack has 1/16th inch holes drilled into the bottom. This allows it to strain the worm tea. It is where my original worms started out. Some dirt, leaves, and vegetable peelings also went into the middle bucket.
The top bucket has 1/4 inch holes drilled into the bottom. This allows the worms to easily migrate up. More dirt, leaves, and fresh peels go into the top bucket. It also has a lid with 1/16th inch holes drilled in it. The holes allow rain in and as the water flows through the worm buckets it becomes a brown tea in the bottom bucket. I use this tea for watering seedlings. It isn’t a rich source of nutrients so doesn’t over fertilize young plants. At this time of year when I have a number of plants awaiting our frost-free planting date, I pour collected rainwater into the worm buckets to get more.
The second kind of worm tea I make is a brewed, aerated tea. I take some finished castings from the bottom of the middle bucket and remove any worms. I put a couple handfuls into a cloth and tie up this tea bag. It goes into a five gallon bucket of water along with some molasses to feed the microbes. Worm castings are the best source of microbes for plants that I know of. I put an aquarium aerator line in and let it bubble and brew for a day or two. If its slimy and odorless it’s a good batch. I use this mainly as a foliar spray but also as a root drench when transplanting.
Most of the worms I started with were ones I collected from the driveway after a rainstorm. I also traded a plant for some red wigglers a friend had. Red wigglers are usually recommended for worm bins, but both kinds produce great microbes in their castings.