April 10, 2011

Worm castings business blooming

A Maine berry farmer produces the fertilizer to supplement his income after a honeybee die-off.

By CRAIG CROSBY Kennebec Journal

(Continued from page 1)

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Richard Reed of R&L Berry Farm in Readfield is Unco Industries’ only commercial producer of “cultured night walker castings” in Maine. “It’s clean, there’s no odor, and a little bit goes a long way,” he said of the fertilizer.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

"It's just like you when you go to the bathroom," Reed said. "You don't go all over the house. They come to the surface to poop."

The castings are placed into sealed bags of 1 to 30 pounds and sold wholesale and retail. Reed sells the castings at his farm on Berry Road, and on eBay.

The product also has drawn interest from Longfellows Greenhouses in Manchester and from a greenhouse in Unity.

The castings retail for $1.99 per pound.

"It's a matter of getting time to get to all the stores," Reed said.

The castings, which have no smell and don't leave a residue when picked up by hand, look like little pellets.

When added to the soil, those pellets act like wood blocks in a bucket, creating lots of air pockets for the free flow of nutrients and water. The castings themselves act as a fertilizer.

"It's clean, there's no odor, and a little bit goes a long way," Reed said.

He knows from experience. He added castings to a spinach plant last fall and has been thrilled with the results.

"You ought to see it," he smiled. "It's gigantic." Apparently the worms are adjusting well. They produce a staggering 800 to 1,100 pounds of fertilizer every two weeks.


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