Recently, Shaul G posted in our Worm Farming Alliance discussion group about a YouTuber who calls himself “Papa Blue Shirt”. This gentleman is big into growing microgreens and baby greens…with a twist.
He adds composting worms to all his grow trays!
Naturally, this caught my attention and I decided I had better check out some of his videos.
Here is one that shows his basic process for setting up new trays with worms:
For a full list of all his worms + greens related videos I recommend checking out the Papa Blue Shirt Worms in Microgreens Playlist.
I myself have dabbled with microgreens in the past, and I’ve certainly had lots of “volunteer” plants sprout up in active worm bins (eg. the crazy pumpkin sprouts I wrote about in my “Worm Bin Microgreens” post), but I’ve never purposely grown greens with worms in the mix.
Obviously, the soil mix used to grow greens is a far cry from the rich environment found in a typical worm composting system, so I naturally wonder where the worms will get their nutrition – and what sort of contribution they will actually make to the growth of the greens.
Papa Blue Shirt says they help to control mold growth in the trays, which seems reasonable – especially given their limited food options.
Whatever the case may be, I KNEW this was something I needed to test out for myself!
Luckily, I still had some nifty microgreens trays my friend Alan Yokiosha (Urbafresh) sent me a couple years ago. I also had a bag of potting mix + “pit moss” used for my last microgeens experiment.
I always have lots of old seed packets kicking around, and I figured it would be fun mix up some different greens – arugula, a mesclun mix, romaine lettuce, and kale
My trays are definitely smaller than the ones Papa Blue Shirt uses, and they have the added disadvantage of being transparent – so the worms will have a rather small zone in which to completely avoid the light. That said, I am starting with a lot fewer worms (than PBS puts in his trays) – and they are from my coffee tub system so they are already used to having limited space.
For the sake of providing the worms with a bit more nutrition I decided to add a small quantity of poultry feed pellets down in the very bottom of the tray. To keep things consistent I did the same in the no-worm tray as well.
My soil mix was fairly dry, so once I filled the trays most of the way with it I added quite a bit of (rain) water and let them to sit for a while.
Once I felt the soil had a decent moisture distribution I added 15 worms.
[Note: I just happened to snap a picture of two adults, but most of the worms are actually very small juveniles.]
Next, I added a bit more soil and a similar mix (and quantity) of seeds to both trays, before adding a cover layer of the soil mix and watering again thoroughly.
The trays will be sitting in a (DIY) styrofoam grow chamber that sits on top of my heating mat. I don’t have the best growlights but the white walls of the box should help a fair bit. Lights will be turned off at night, giving the worms the opportunity to roam around a bit more.
I’m pretty excited about this experiment. Always fun growing things, and I am really interested to see how the worms do in this type of environment! I honestly don’t predict any earth-shattering differences between the trays, but I guess we shall have to wait and see.
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