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Garden club hears benefits of worms
Barbara Minchey pulls handfuls of worms from a bin during her recent talk on worm composting at a Richmond Hill Garden Club meeting. - photo by Photo provided.

The November meeting of the Richmond Hill Garden Club featured Barbara Minchey, who demonstrated setting up a worm-composting farm.
Minchey, a former Richmond Hill resident currently living in South Carolina, brought her own worm farm to the meeting and gave club members starter worms for their own projects.
Minchey claimed that worm farming is “easy and fun” and “free” and also provides benefits to the garden and environment by reducing waste sent to landfills. She highly values the worm castings, the compost from the worms’ diet of vegetable peelings and egg shells.
She said that when she is ready to “harvest” the castings, she looks around her yard to determine which plant “deserves this present.” They contain helpful microbes and organic life, the best kind of water soluble nutrients for plants. Unlike chemical fertilizers, worm castings never burn plants. Unlike chemical fertilizers, worm castings do not wash through sandy soil quickly. The nutrients in worm casting remain to be absorbed by the plants.
Minchey’s worm farm is consists of a 30-gallon storage container with a lid and holes drilled in the bottom. The container rests on another lid to deter worms that might escape and any seepage from the farm itself.  Setting up the farm requires shredded newspaper, worms and vegetable scraps. She advised soaking the newspaper overnight and mixing it with a small amount of dirt or composted manure, which she prefers. A bag of top soil or composted manure can be purchased at any garden shop. The dirt and newspaper should be placed in the container before adding the worms. Food should be placed in one area of the tub only; the worms will deposit their castings on the other side.
Worms are available for purchase from many suppliers online and local bait shops. The worms multiply rapidly if given sufficient food. Minchey said red wigglers are the best, as some other kinds of worms are not native to our area and can cause problems in the landscape if they escape.
Minchey said her farm is self-sustaining as long as she continues to add food for the worms. She keeps hers in her garage so that the temperature remains relatively constant. If the temperature of the farm rises into the 90s or falls into the low 30s, the worms can die.  Likewise, the farm needs to remain damp. She noted that although she has a steady supply of compost from her worms, that supply is small.  People who need a larger supply may need more than one farm.
The Richmond Hill Garden Club meets on the second Wednesday of each month in the Wetlands Center in J. F. Gregory Park. The next meeting that features a speaker will be in January.

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