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Vermiculture - partially composted horse manure

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Here is the second idea that I would appreciate feedback upon. My chief question is do I have to innoculate with compost worms?

I intend to set up four windrows for compositiung the stable waste that is dumped from now on. Each windrow will run east - west, a total of ten feet wide (to allow walking space on both sides), and six of so feet tall.

The windrows will be separated by dividing walls made out of the stable waste that is compositing on site now. These walls will be four feet wide, again 100 feet long, and perhaps three feet tall. I intend to plant various things in the top of each dividing wall, perhaps first putting on a layer of well composted material - soil mix some six or so inches thick. The area around between the plans would be covered by burlap (bags from a coffee roasting business).

My hope is that the divising walls will be thorugh muchof the hot composting, leaving slight amounts of hay and a fair amount of wood chips from bedding left in the compost. Other parts of the walls will have larger amounts of "fresh" manure and hay. Assumie the proper moisture content is present.

QUESTON ONE. I wonder if I need to buy worms and inncoulate the syestem with those words. My recent turnings of the piles has revealsed active worms even at this time of year. Does anyone have any experience or reference material insofar as natural colonization by worms of such compost piles?

Part TWo

The fresh stable waste that is dumped will be dumped 2/3 of the way towards the back. It will be moved further back as I turn it. At the end it will wind up flush with the dividing rows, in which once again we will be growing various vegetables, flowers, shrubs and tree seedlings.

Question TWO - will this set up allow for the migration of the worms into the newer material?

Many thanks,


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I am just starting worm farming but you need to get a good mix of Carbon and Nitrogen rich materials to get the worms eating optimally and to attract them naturally. Most windrow type farms add material to the top and then when they are ready to harvest the compost they remove the top couple of feet because that is what holds most of the worms. I think you can get them to migrate horizontally but you need to offer them something that attracts them that way. I would suggest working in some carbon based material (cardboard) and add some food variety to the new spot (garden scraps) to move them that way.

Like I said I'm a rookie but this what I have read, watched and talked about with other worm farmers.
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hey Kevin. From what I understand, if you haven't done anything but put the manure in windrows, and the worms are already there, I think it's safe to assume that you don't need to add any more. Worms migrate to food, and away from parts of the pile that are too hot. My guess is that there is sufficient carbon from the undigested plant matter in the dung. If you want to innoculate the piles with something that will help, try Black Soldier Fly larvae. Unless I've misunderstood what I've read on these fora, they like fresh dung more than worms, and worms love what the BSFL leave behind, as long as they don't have to interact directly (something about the worms not liking an enzyme directly present in on the larvae).

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Location: Indiana
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The worms that you have may or may not be composting worms. Either are fine but the composting worms will populate the windrows better and yes they will get to the fresh stuff.
The issue will be timing. You would have to purchase a bunch of worms to handle that amount of manure right away. If you do have composting worms and are patient, they will reward you.

As for the BSFL -- most horse manure is a mix of high carbon bedding and horse stuff. The BSFL would do well with the horse stuff but not the sawdust/wood pellets.
BSFL tear up the soupier dairy cow or pig manure.

When I tried this with worms, we were unable to keep the windrow moist enough so our progress was too slow and the drive too far for me to stay interested.
2 years later the worms are all over the pile (5' x 3' x 50') and doing well. I have visitation rights and will be bringing several tubs home this weekend.

Good luck.
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