Worms in Aquaponics grow beds? Seriously? We aren’t gardening in dirt here people. But its true, putting worms in your grow beds is one of those “next step” things that will help your garden go from being good, to being great!
Worms are amazing little creatures. They eat just about anything and the end product is some of the most fertile and rich food that plants can eat. Worms are thrown into compost piles to hasten the break down of nutrients and you can always find nice juicy worms wriggling around in any dirt garden.
In eating through the dirt, the worms are actually taking the dirt/food/compost and turning it into a form that is much easier for plants to digest. How does this work in Aquaponics? The same way! The worms in Aquaponics grow beds will eat the fish waste and break it down faster into a form the plants can utilize better. They also eat the old roots and other organic material that makes it into the grow beds. They are also great for clearing up the anaerobic areas of your beds, the ones where the water just doesn’t flow as well.
Well, that is all well and good for dirt gardens, but we grow in water! How do the worms live in water? The answer is not all that surprising. As the water travels through your grow media, there are thousands of tiny pockets of air. The worms will use these while foraging for the next delicious batch of rotting roots or fish fertilizer that needs to be digested and broken down.
Worms are surprisingly resilient. They are excellent at gauging their food supply and they breed only based on the availability of food so you won’t see writhing masses of worms in your beds. In fact, once you place the worms in the grow beds, its likely you’ll never see them again!
Not all worms are the same. The right worms for Aquaponics Systems are specifically called Red Wriggler Worms.
Some tips for putting worms in your grow beds:
*Buy from a reputable source. Buying local is always ideal, but there are several online retail stores that will ship worms and their sellers are highly rated. Do some research and make sure you are getting a good product. My local Aquaponics store sells worms for Aquaponics Systems in these cute little bags that are perfect for keeping the worms moist on the way home.
*When you put the worms in your beds, divide them up equally between
all your beds. They will not travel back and forth between beds because they will dive down into the grow media.
*After putting your pile of worms in the grow beds, place a bowl over the top of the pile of worms. They will naturally want to be in dark places and burrow down into your grow media, but the bowl will keep it dark, keep them safe from predators, and encourage them not to move out around the surface.
*After 24 hours, check under your bowls. They should have moved into the grow media and you can go about your day, knowing that your worms are now contributing to the growth of your plants!