Invite Worms to your Yard

The annual Southside Master Gardener Association Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, May 6th from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot in front of the Halifax County Extension Office, 171 S. Main Street, Halifax. All types of plants will be available including annuals, herbs, perennials, vegetables, shrubs and trees. The sale will offer an educational exhibit on bucket vermiculture with pre-drilled worm buckets for sale. Gardeners are used to struggling with the heavy clay soil that is so common to the Piedmont and all through the coastal states. We dig and till it, amend it with leaves and fertilizers, but it takes years to develop a good deep layer of soil loose enough to produce healthy plants. Worms can help. Just by their action of tunneling, worms add air to compacted garden soil. Even better are the worm castings (or the stuff ejected from the south end of a worm heading north) that they produce. Worm castings are instant compost, rich in digested nutrients to feed hungry plants. A great way to increase worm activity and generate a lot of castings is to install worm buckets in garden beds. The idea is simple: drill ½-in access holes in 5-gallon plastic buckets and sink them in the ground, leaving about 6” above the surface. The buckets become mini-composters, filled with a starter mixture of shredded paper, a little aged manure, grass clippings, kitchen trimmings and a few sprinkles of water. The top goes on and within days worms will enter to go to work on all that food. Once or twice a week, more vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and weeds can be added. When it’s time to harvest the fluffy compost, feeding is stopped for a couple weeks to encourage the worms to move out long enough for the bucket to be scooped out. Worms will happily work all summer and then go back deep into the soil when temperatures dip. It’s important to note that worm buckets operate with common garden worms, unlike the larger vermiculture bins that rely on red wiggler worms. An advantage to having lots of smaller buckets scattered throughout the garden is that the native worms condition and improve the soil in their area. Red wigglers often don’t live through the winter unless you have space to bring them indoors. Other perks of worm buckets are their portability (take the fluffy compost where you need it) and their location right next to areas you may be trimming veggie leaves or weeding (pop the refuse right into the bucket). Master Gardeners will offer pre-drilled worm buckets at their annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 6th, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. on the lawn in front of the Halifax Library on Main Street, Halifax. Come learn about adding these handy buckets to your garden. Worm “tea,” an organic brew that provides beneficial minerals such as nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and phosphate to plants, will be available. Worm tea has also been shown to be a natural fungicide and insect repellant that keeps away mites, aphids and white flies. Red wigglers will be available for those who prefer to set up traditional worm bins. Stop by the Bake Sale table to purchase something to nibble on while walking through the sale. Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions throughout the sale. If you want more information or are interested in the Master Gardener program visit, like on Facebook, contact the Halifax Extension Office at 434-476-2147 or e-mail at