Looks and sounds like a heavy duty topic, right? OK, it is, but hopefully it will help you understand why using the worm’s casts in your gardens and on your house plants will pay off big time in the long run for them and you.
There are many tiny organisms, bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, enzymes and protozoa living in the worm’s gastrointestinal systems aiding in the digestion of the foods wastes you are feeding them. They are microscopic and thrive by the hundreds of thousands within a single worm.
The worm produces numerous enzymes which aid in its own survival, including an insectiside and an antibiotic.
These enzymes emulsify or make liquid- like their food intake, with mucus produced in the worm’s gut and sheath the castings when expelled through the anus. Plants are able to absorb the insecticidal and antibiotic enzymes through their roots to further utilize them in the plants’ ongoing battle to ward off insects and disease. The antibiotic enzymes also protect humans ( that’s us !) from harmful bacteria while we are working in the bin. There is really very little harmful bacteria in the worm bin. It can be introduced into the bin by aiding items like your pet’s wastes, which are a big no-no as they carry diseases which in turn can harm us.
Worms have so specialized respiratory organs. They breathe through their moist skin. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are diffused through the skin to and from the circulating blood stream. Lack of moisture in the worms’ environment restricts the breathing process. Prolonged dryness will cause death by suffocation. One of the things worms have taught us over the years is that direct sunlight can lead to death in less than three minutes.
We have all seen worms on a sidewalk, curled up and dead. Originally they have been living in a moist area of your garden. Once the rains start or the sprinkler system goes off, there will be too much water for the worms. They can’t swim. Too much water and they will drown. The rains will also cause the ground and surrounding leaf litter to vibrate and worms do not like or tolerate vibrations well. In either situation, with too much water around them, they will make their way to higher ground to survive. Once there and the sunlight comes out, it draws the life-giving moisture from their breathable skin and death is going to happen unless you are walking along, see the worm struggling and put it back in the garden.
> The worms’ enzymes and antibiotics are working in your favor, both in the garden and for you.
> How much moisture you have within your worm bin is critical to the worms ability to work well within the bin. 55% to 75% moisture in the bin is just about perfect.
I hope this helps you understand your worms better.
Until next time, when I write about the worms reproduction and development: enjoy your worm bin and I hope you learn from it.