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Vermiculture: Worm composting

 
Posts: 32
Location: Alberta Canada 3b I think....
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ok so how many worms it in that much wieght? I have found a lady in Edmonton that sells a litre container with worms, food and soil in it. She estimates that there are 30 plus worms in a container. She sells that for 10 dollars. She is saying that on average, people are buying 2 of these containers. Can anyone here estimate how many worms are in a half pound? Or give me an opinion on whether spending 20 bucks and getting 60 some worms is a worthwhile investment? I dont know what is a good price. Around here, vermicompost isnt a very popular thing. I will be the first in my town area that I know about that will be running a worm bin that I am aware of.

Thanks for the continued help
 
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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1 pound is estimated to be 1,000+/- worms, it's estimated they can double their population ever 3 months with optimal conditions.
i'd gotten mine at $9/lb through ebay. there are people on there selling at even $50 a pound,(and now $90/lb with your seller! that is ludicrous)
another good site is http://www.redwormcomposting.com/ . bentley lives in canada somewhere. also sells worms, quite expensive in my opinion but he really knows worms!

checked ebay and most prices are higher now. http://www.ebay.com/sch/Yard-Garden-Outdoor-Living-/159912/i.html?_sop=15&_from=R40&_nkw=red+wiggler
 
James Barr
Posts: 32
Location: Alberta Canada 3b I think....
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So I got a 'starter kit' from a local worm farmer the other day. The worms came packed in her compost. She said that she did that to help prevent shock. Is it normal for the worms to stay in one place for a long time before moving? Also, I am worried because when I check them out in their compost, they dont move very fast at all. Is there a reason for that or is it normal for a new bin?
 
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This is an old question, but I'm answering just in case someone in the future runs into the same thing. Sometimes worms get dried out or puny in shipping. It should take less than 48 hours for them to perk back up once they are watered.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
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Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
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This is now an old thread too. Got cabin fever yesterday & started an indoor worm garbage disposer. Haven't kept indoor worms in a number years so though it wise to read up. Some good info in this old thread so ... bumping it into 2019. (almost)

I went with simple construction using 2 empty storage containers. About 10 gallon size. They stack inside each other. Added drainage & vent holes to the top one. It also has a top cover. Filled it about half full of leaves. Then some shredded paper & cardboard. Wet that down good until it was moist. Followed by a layer of garden soil with the worms placed in the center. After the worms dug down to get away from the light I added coffee grounds & food scraps. Easy.

My initial purpose for these new critters is kitchen waste processing. Ultimately to breed more worms to populate outdoor worm pits & for chicken treats. They are excellent for use with cow pies & chicken straw for building quality soil fast.









 
pollinator
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Hiya guys

I would like to use my garden waste to produce worms to feed to chickens.

I was thinking off using a large blue barrel, and start emptying it during the winter months when the worms stop breeding.

My question is in regards to rotating the barrel, is it a good idea to rotate the worms or best just to let them go where they want?
 
Mike Barkley
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Rotating earthworms in containers? I hope we're not discussing rotating as in a tumbling composter. Presumably we're talking about swapping the container. When the container is full there are several good options. One method is to dump the contents on a tarp or something similar. Any exposed worms will dig down. Gradually remove the top layer of castings. Then wait for the worms to dig deeper. Then remove some more material. Repeat several times until most of the castings are removed. Add fresh bedding & food to the container & put the worms back in. Another method is to stop feeding them & let them almost completely finish processing the contents of the old container. Place a new container with fresh food & bedding on top of the old container. The worms will find the new food & move in through the drainage holes. That will take a few days or even a week.

Haven't fed worms to chickens yet. Intend to do that starting this spring. Building a large outdoor worm pit so I plan to give them shovelfuls of the wormy compost daily & let them have fun digging through it. Doesn't get much easier than that. Worms don't completely stop breeding in winter. They do slow down though. They simply dig down deeper to avoid freezing.
 
Jay Mullaky
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The pit idea sounds very interesting.

I watched a few videos on YouTube of guys catching large amount off worms using electric probes that cause the worms to come to the surface.

I have one area of land, approx 15 acres and it is packed full.off enormous worms. When fixing up a ditch I couldn't believe the size and quantity.

The videos I have seen have been DIY jobs but If I could buy a divice that would cause the worms to surface I would be able to collect huge amounts.

I am also wondering do people buy/grow caterpillars? After watching the swarms which appeared on my oak trees and kale I am wondering would it be a cheap way to get some 'natural' food for chickens, just pick a handful off caterpillars every now and then and Chuck them.in.to the chickens.

I am hoping I will be able to source a legit version of the DIY electric probe
 
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I have not read all three pages of this thread so here's hoping I'm not repeating.

I keep it simple. I have three 30 gallon garbage cans that i heave the worms into. I have put carboard and paper but the worms love cow plops. I mix the plops in water and make a porridge with a paint mixer.

I invert the can lids and put a hole in the top (bottom) to catch any rain.

That's it. I am gone a month at a time so it's good luck charlie, i hope you survive.
Right now the worms are dealing with some snow and freezing. Yet they live.

I had considered putting ( used) toilet paper in the can but i didn't want to be finding that later. Same with using human waste. Cow plops are fine.

The question is: can i put composting worms in with my root vegetables? I figured that i would build a long raised( bunny proof) bin , fill it with poor arizona soil, compost worms,  and fresh cow plops and let them work their magic. I might toss some buckets of juniper leaf to continue the experiment.

I have also put worms in a hole in the ground to see where they go. They have food and a plywood cover.
My area has a lot of potash. If you hear anything about "tremors" size worms in arizona i don't know anything about it.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
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but the worms love cow plops



They sure do. It seems to be their favorite food.

The question is: can i put composting worms in with my root vegetables?



Yes.

 
gardener
Posts: 950
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I have a question regarding worm composting and internal parasites.

Is treating manure with worms sufficient to kill internal parasites such as tapeworms, pin worms, etc?



Have you had a reply to this yet or found answers please?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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I was given a worm bin for a birthday present from one of our sons. They deliver to europe and send worms by post. Great site.
We are going to get another one to put poo from our composting toilet so that we can make sure it is broken down before putting it on the garden. I don't  have a problem applying it direct but just in case I'm  wrong...... also our dogs eat it if they can get at it. Then come for cuddles....

https://www.wormery.co.uk/wormeries.html
 
Mike Barkley
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The humanure handbook addresses the subject in depth. Interesting reading that will ease your concerns.

 
Posts: 59
Location: Piedmont, NC
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I lazily started a worm bin in a California apartment years ago. One rainy morning i found two red wriggling worms on my way to the car. I called my spouse and asked her to drop them into a five gallon tree pot that i had been dumping leaf litter into. From then on, for over ten years, veggie scraps went into that bucket and the worms thrived and reproduced. Every now and then i would dump the bucket out and manually separate worms and undigested stuff from the castings and use the casting in my potted plants. My conclusion is that worms are not fragile critters that need careful management of environment but they can cope with really hot and dry situations as well as freezing temperatures, plus random feeding without much fuss. I'm sure OPTIMAL casting production occurs with a managed environment, but i wouldn't let optimization get in the way of doing. I've bought a commercial worm farm now because i am dealing with a larger volume of scraps and the farm promises easier separation of castings from worms and undigested matter, and because it's in a more obtrusive location.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Mike Barkley wrote:The humanure handbook addresses the subject in depth. Interesting reading that will ease your concerns.



Thank you Mike!
 
pioneer
Posts: 84
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Keeping worms alive in WI winter without heat??? Haven't yet built the bin, but we really have no place to keep it warm, and I want worms for my chooks during the winter. We've got a an unheated barn and sheets of 4"-thick foam left from the house build. Could we insulate somehow? Appreciate any suggestions from other cold-climate folks.
 
kevin stewart
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Two winters ago i left my wrigglers out in the open in a tall storage bin.(i unloaded them from the truck and left them out)
Some nights it was cold enough to freeze but it warmed up by day and when i dug my hand into the soil they were wriggling.

Eventually i moved them to the greenhouse where it isn't warmer but i felt better about it.

This winter i have three garbage cans of worms but I've been gone since thanksgiving. So I'll just hope for the best.

My only concern is that i leave the lids inverted to catch rainwater for them and if it freezes after a rain i will have worm ice cubes.
 
gardener
Posts: 994
Location: N. California
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I just started my worm bin in May. (so far so good)  I did lots of research before I started, and from the info I read earth worms like to go deep into the soil and that is why they don't do well in worm bins, where as red wigglers like to be in the top 3" of the soil.  I think if you are going to put them in the ground then earthworm will be fine, besides what have you got to loose, if it doesn't work you can always buy red wigglers.

I watched a video on you tube called 'How to build the ultimate plastic free worm composting bin.'  basically he builds 3 wooden frames with wire on the bottom , and a lid.  He puts the bottom tear on the ground with the bedding and the food scraps.  As time goes by he will put the next tear with the bedding and food scraps, ect. ect.  The worms move up to compost the food and bedding and you can remove the bottom tear once the 3rd tear is added and it should be full of worm castings, and almost no worms.   I would put the link up, but don't know how and to tired to figure out, but I liked it, it's worth the watch.  I have not built it yet, but have all the stuff.  I will try it both ways and see what works better.  

I considered the wood bin on top because I worried about my worms cooking to death in the heat, but so far they are doing fine.  I have the double plastic bin type, and on super hot days I put 1 or 2 of those hard plastic ice packs between the bins.  I don't feed my worms as often as my research said.  I put scraps in once a week.  When I first got it I kept checking, sure I would need to add more, but it didn't take me long to realize once a week, at least in the heat is enough.  

I started my bin with half decomposed wood chips, some paper and cardboard, and some compost.  So it is taking a little longer to harvest the casting, but I was going for quality, not quantity.  At least that is what I hope for.  
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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We are trying a new (to us) method of burying a container riddled with holes into a compost bin, putting the wormfood in the container with tiger worms. The idea is the worms can migrate through the holes into the compost and come back for food.  Our control to see if this works is in one bin, there are two food containers, 1 with worms, 1 without, to see if the wormless container becomes populated.  It is so intestesting to see how these wonderful little creatures work!
 
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Hello,
I have created a free worm composting support network. People who want worms or information ask neighbours who have a worm compost bin.
Go ahead, it's free, and sign up if you want to help spread worm composting.
https://plus2vers.com
 
Posts: 18
Location: Aiken SC 29801
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I ordered some worms, and here's a recent letter I wrote to the lovely sales lady, Erma.

Howdy Irma, 👋☺️💞
Wanted to give you an update on our lil'red critters.
Those poor lil'suckers got sent from PA, straight into Dante's Inferno. Right off the bat the temps began rising past their boiling point, right after I'd put'em in my handy dandy worm "rotating condo" and they were all set up for the long haul. (An antique metal trash can with the metal lid cinched down, n turned sideways up on my fliped upside down lil plastic 4 wheel yard cart, 🎡😁)
That lasted all of a week, before the temps had me draggin the whole kit'n kaboodle inside for safe keepin. 🤓
Once our wiley wigglers were set up in the middle of the livingroom right in front of the big house swamp cooler with their new indoor adjustment/digs, me - 2 dogs - one cat - and 250 east coast transplants, were all good to survive the summer. 😎
Until the swamp coolers bearing went kaput. 😭💸
I ordered a new one but the old one was too 'welded' to the shaft by age, rust and corrosion to budge. At all.😖
So here we sat. Temperatures inside our home/last hope/safety net passed 110 degrees daily. 🌡😵🔥
(But it's a dry heat 🤣)
This went on for over 3 weeks.
I froze(ish) a couple'o bottles filled with water in my shoebox sized freezer and switched them out of the worm condo twice a day to keep them from being boiled alive. Each time there were many hanger oners clinging desperately and wrapped around or stuck to the bottles and always a puddle of'em underneath, when I would switch them out.
The 1st day after their rescue from the unbearable temps outside - to the unbearable temps inside, my house suddenly filled with gnats, then flies, (which were dealt with by my new handy dandy fly catching machine) leaving only a few gnats behind, but the instant influx of big tan and brown water bugs who've unfortunately remained, freak me out every time I go into my kitchen.🤯 There's no doubt that my shrieks have been heard clear cross the mountain. 😂 I'm steady thinkin on a plan toward roundin those freakishly big, plump suckers up and feed'em to our survivalist worm transplant experts/guests.😏
Dealing with being boiled alive in a trash can was bad enough, but for a week they had some deadly uninvited interlopers, of the fire ant variety. 🤕They were drawn in by the pineapple and other fruit n veggie debris/culinary extravaganzas. I, and no doubt our worm survivalists, were covered head to toe daily and nightly in ant bite blisters, until the fireant poison I sprinkled sparingly at the base of the can, did it's work after about a week, and we were freed from further fiendish fowlplay.

2 days ago a friend sent a small AC, which will help tremendously at trying to keep us all alive until I can get a gear puller after that stubborn bearing. The new indoor temperatures now hover between 95 and 100f.😆😅

Your Wiley Worms are hanging on by the hairs of their chiney chin chins, or the skin on their backs, and have formally filed a protest at being sent away from their happy east coast childhood home to "Unjust Desserts, in the Desert". 🤨
Hopefully you're proud of them, they deserve it, and I am each time I switch out their bottles, and see them collected in masse under each one, gathered at their little survival rally points, waiting patiently for whatever hours devours are next on the menu, and of course, *fall...🥵
😄😅

Hope to hear from you soon, so until our next update,
Much love from Cali💞


Sherakee Classics
864-841-8041
Sherakee ")

Hope you enjoyed it! 😄
 
pollinator
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I have been a successful commercial worm farmer for several years now.

Typically, we worm farmers prefer epigeal worm species - worms that eat the freshly fallen leaves and decaying organic that dwell on the surface of the soil in a natural ecosystem. As our decaying kitchen scraps are most similar to this uppermost soil layer in nature, these are the worm species that preform the best in worm farming operations. Worms that live deeper down in the soil - endogeal worms - consume matter that has already been broken down by the top-dwelling, epigeal worms and also consume more "dirt" (sand, silt and clay). Generally speaking, these endogeal worms are found when you use a shovel and dig down below the surface layer of the soil. They tend to be larger and more muscular as they have be able to move in those deeper soil strata with all the weight of the upper-most soil stratum mass on top of them.

There are a handful (seven if memory serves me right) of topsoil-dwelling, epigeal worm species that are used for home-scale and farm-scale worm farming. One of the most well known and most-often used in my region is definitely the red wiggler (Eisenia fetida), though there are others that are successfully used as well.

Being permaculturists, my worm farmer friends and I have experimented with creating the proper conditions for multiple worm species (including several epigeal worm species and endogeal worm species) to thrive while having them co-exist together in custom-designed, multi-worm species worm bins. Our experiments so far have been successful. An internet search I conducted recently shows that other people around the world are also experimenting with this worm polyculture method with anecdotal success. It may be a while until we have mainstream universities and large-scale monoculture worm farmers running trials to prove the success of our anecdotes.

The polyculture tricks we've learned thus far include mimicking all the layers of nature's soil strata in our worm bins as well as adding more than one specimen of each species so that there exist several "mating pairs" of each worm species in the worm bin.

Over the years, the tricks that I have learned to be a successful worm farmer are: give the worms plenty of bedding, add minerals to their diet, add plenty of carbon, have plenty of aeration, have proper leachate drainage, monitor the temperature of their environment daily, and give them the right kinds of food that they like eating while avoiding what they don't like eating.

You can find more precise details about all this in my Worm Bin Design Plans here in the permies Digital Market.
SAMPLE-Why_Cultivate_Worms_ver8Jun2021.jpg
Why Cultivate Worms by BackyardRegeneration
Why Cultivate Worms by BackyardRegeneration
 
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Hey, I have a question. Which food gives the most nutritious casting? What should I feed my worms to get the best of them? Manure, greens, fallen leaves or all together? Thanks in advance.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I'm definitely not an expert.  I know when I received my worms it recommended giving the worms corn meal, to give them a boost after shipping.  I continue to give it to them now and then.  It would be awesome if I soil expert would answer your question. Until that happens, I will share my thoughts.  With just about everything what goes in comes out. So if you eat home grown organic food, you are giving yourself a great chance to be healthy, if you live on fastfood, not so much.  I use this philosophy with all my animals, including my worm.  They get a variety of my best food scraps.  It just seems like the better quality food scraps would make better quality casting.  The variety is because different foods have different nutrients, so it seems to me I will get a more well rounded balanced casting this way.

In all honesty I have chosen quantity over quality when it comes to the bedding.  I started out using wood chips. In my mind I felt this would give me a more natural quality casting.  Maybe it did, who knows, I didn't have it tested.  But, yes you knew it was coming. It took 8 or 9 months to get usable worm castings.  I would have to have many bins to get enough worm castings that way.  So I have gone to the dark side so to speak. I shred cardboard and use it as the primary bedding.  I do add Coco Core, and some rough compost.  I know there's a lot of controversy about cardboard, and the glue used, and I wish it wasn't so. We have an abundance of cardboard, and the worms brake it down pretty fast. 6 to 8 weeks instead of months.  So for us getting rid of cardboard, and faster results wins over what in my mind would be the "better, more natural" choice.  
Basically in my mind the better quality you give, the better quality you get.  Good luck.
 
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BUT there were a tremendous number of worms, MASSES of worms.  So what kind of worms were these?  They were red and earthworm-sized (not nightcrawlers).  Are these one of the two desirable kinds?  Or were these the kind that everyone seems to advise not using?

It just seems to me that if they crawled out of the ground and into the compost, they would be perfect for what I want them for.

Any thoughts?  Ideas?


When we started our worm bins we cut squashes and watermellons in half and laid them face down on the ground in our garden.  We waited a few weeks until they started to get mushy and they were full of worms with which we started our worm bins.  What could be better then local worms that are already part of your yards ecosystem and set up for success within your climate.    
 
Jack Oostenbrink
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Jack Oostenbrink wrote:BUT there were a tremendous number of worms, MASSES of worms.  So what kind of worms were these?  They were red and earthworm-sized (not nightcrawlers).  Are these one of the two desirable kinds?  Or were these the kind that everyone seems to advise not using?

It just seems to me that if they crawled out of the ground and into the compost, they would be perfect for what I want them for.

Any thoughts?  Ideas?


When we started our worm bins we cut squashes and watermellons in half and laid them face down on the ground in our garden.  We waited a few weeks until they started to get mushy and they were full of worms with which we started our worm bins.  What could be better then local worms that are already part of your yards ecosystem and set up for success within your climate.    



Sorry, I tried to quote the original starting thread, but being new to this I think I messed up.
 
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