Chuck and Linda Connelly were interested in starting a new business. They recognized the growth of organic agriculture in our region and were wondering if a new business venture could compliment that movement. Chuck first learned about worm castings online and decided to investigate the viability of starting a worm casting production business.
About a year and a half ago, he and Linda started C&L Organic Fertilizer. At that time, they were experimenting doing worm casting production in 3 gallon buckets and it was a lot of work. In the spring of 2014, their operation moved to 107 Eagle Drive, Cashton, WI, so that they could be closer to other organic agriculture businesses in the area and have more space to increase production.
Today, they operate an impressive worm casting production system. They’ve sized up their worm casting production methods and are now using large bins instead of buckets. To each bin, they add peat moss from Wisconsin Rapids, organic feed from Cashton Farm Supply, and about 7,000 African Night Crawlers, which is about 20 lbs of worms. These worms, which are much larger than typical red wriggler composting worms, have a voracious appetite (they can eat 1½ times their body weight a day) and can eat through the entire bin of moss and feed in about two weeks.
Once the worms have eaten all the food and turned it into castings, the mixture is sent through a machine that separates the finished worm castings, worms, and the refuse (things the worms aren’t able to digest). Finished castings are ready to use as a 100% organic fertilizer and the refuse is used as garden bedding or mixed in with potting soil. The worms are added to a new composting bin with new moss and feed and the process starts again. The Connelly’s hope to continue growing their worm population to about 1 million worms, which would allow them to produce about 4,000 lbs of worm castings a week.
Benefits of using worm castings:
- Safe and ordorless; non-toxic to children, pets, and wildlife!
- Long term and sustainable solution to feeding and lawns: castings help build the health of the soil.
- Insect Control: several microorganisms found in worm castings work as effective repellents for a large number of insects.
- Fungus and Disease Control: microbial life in castings eat destructive fungi and produce beneficial fungi.
- Water Retention: castings do a great job retaining moisture, making lawns and plants less resistant to drought – saving on irrigation.
- Dry castings can be applied anytime or temperature, without worrying about “burning” the plants.
- Castings build healthy soil and repair damaged soils.