• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Fill me in on vermicompost  RSS feed

 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, I usually make a search on this forum before I open my mouth, but I am a little pressed with time today.

I just noticed that now that we are out of hay, our compost pile is mostly cow dung and kitchen scraps, and not much in the way of carbonic.
Then it dawned on me: vermicompost! They'll eat anything and reduce smells and flies (we have the compost pile right next to the cow pen...).

I've looked at the compost pile and I estimate it's some 30 cubic feet. Can someone point to me toward the best setup for this kind of production, between a backyard and serious farm?
Even just a link to a thread here or a webpage. I'm easy. Thanks!

PS: We're in saving mode, so I'd rather use sticks and stones than having to buy cinder blocks or what not, but give me any idea and I'll adjust.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i would go with multiple smaller bins so you can harvest and maintain them easier. while the worms are eating a couple bins. ones ready for harvest. as far as smaller goes it could be a 30 gallon tub to a 500 gallon tub. rather than a huge bin that you have to work on all at once.

that being said wormcastings are the best for seedlings and potted plants, as well as the garden outside.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Two things:

I've heard of an expectation of 40-75 days. If I triple the amount of worms per bin would it happen 3x?

Why does everybody say that rain worms don't work?
 
Rick Wells
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a good video from that 36 hour online permaculture class.

http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Viewer/?peid=ed5c695a835f435197db7f5f33bd733c1d
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard of an expectation of 40-75 days. If I triple the amount of worms per bin would it happen 3x?


as paul likes to say, it depends. it depends if they are happy or not which determines how fast you get castings. plan on your wormbin being less productive at first. once the population gets high ( and they multiply exponentially so the numbers rise fast) they will eat and produce much faster. 3x the worms will cost 3x as much.

the rain worms dont work as they have a different life cycle, leave those worms in the soil. they move up and down in the soil layers, burrowing and such. the red wigglers most associated with vermicomposting are top feeders, meaning they like to feed and live close to the surface ( i.e where you feed in the wormbin)
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I see, well, like I said I was planning on spending nothing. I have both kind of worms in our property.

So, you are saying the rain worms make it difficult to harvest the castings?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rain worms (Nightcrawlers) can't tolerate the hot temperatures in a bin - they need to be free to move up and down in the soil to find the proper temperature and moisture for their metabolism.  Manure worms aka Red Wigglers like it hot and moist so can be raised in a container.  You might be able to raise Nightcrawlers in an open bottom bin on the soil, but they will be free to run away, s I don't think it's probably worth it to try.

I agree multiple small bins are better than large bins.  Worm castings are dense and very heavy and large bins are hard to move and empty.  I plan to make a new set of bins using smaller tubs so I can move them without help.

 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gotcha.

So, what kind of worms do you think this guy is using, since he said he collects the manure from the top, because the worms stay in the bottom?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-EmQ1Ljeag&feature=player_embedded
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rick Wells wrote:
Here is a good video from that 36 hour online permaculture class.

http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Viewer/?peid=ed5c695a835f435197db7f5f33bd733c1d


Oh I hadn't seen this! I'll check it out right away.

 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Sergio, if you have a lot of stuff to compost, look at beds.

Contained beds - http://www.sierrawormsolutions.com/homebin.html
http://www.sierra-worm-compost.com/worm-bin.html

Windrows - http://www.bluebellyfarm.com/
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How do you embed videos in here anyway?
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some of the worms in these pics are WAY to big...
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I got 'em! I got 'em! They are red, they wiggled, they were right under the suface... I'm sure it's them.
Pictures coming soon (Warning: the worms will be naked and they are hermaphrodites, but nothing compared to this Russian porno spam).
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is the best I can do at this time of the day. Here at the tropics the sun sets always around 6. The lens of my camera was in the way of the flash.
In the pics they really look like night crawlers, but these guys are smaller, darker, they have a lighter belly (while rain worms look the same all around), and they wiggled as soon as I would hoe where they were hiding.
DSCN3576.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN3576.JPG]
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, my Red Wigglers wiggled away!

I had put them in a container, lined with tarp and covered with it. I didn't have a proper lid but thought they wouldn't go anywhere. I gave them the choicest chicken manure, cow manure, shredded, brown banana leaves... but this morning I found tons of ants instead and the maggots that were already in the cow manure.

Any insight? Other than "Put a lid on it, dude!"
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It might have been too hot for them, or something else not right.  If they aren't happy they will run away.  Don't put too much fresh organic material in at first, give them little doses at a time.

If they can't escape they might just die if things aren't right.

 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hi sergio,

first, the type of worms; they are always compost worms (ie. eisenia fetida), rain/earth worms do not compost in the way we're after when starting a vermicompost.

The most important difference, rain/earthworms (where i live mainly lumbricus terrestris and lumbricus rubellus) is that they live in the SOIL, and compostworms/manureworms live in compost, or in the litterlayer on top op the soil in a forest. they eat and behave differently. The earthworms just arent of any use for compost-systems. they are essential, and of great value in your soil as we all know, so best leave them there

compostworms in their turn wont do any good in your soils, unless you introduce them in a thick sheetmulched part of the garden, they need to get fed regularly though, or they will migrate elsewhere.

So even the guy in the video was using eisenia fetida (or foetida). When he speaks about worms at the bottom it means at the bottom of the compost, they wont go into your soil, even if the compost is connected/ in touch with it.

these worms can be found in a litter layer or compost heap. the worms that live in thick compost heaps are usually red wrigglers, also in manure, specially horse manure aparently, they can be easily found.

One thing about horse and cow dung though, most livestock keepers frequently de-worm their animals, and guess what, the two weeks after doing this you cant feed their manure to your worms because they too will die or be reduced.

It will take some time to get a reasonable population to start with, how many worms did you find and put together?

generally its good to start with half-way composted materials, nothing fresh*.
Also its good to mix in something that makes sure it doesnt get too wet initially, for example egg-boxes, or the cartons from toilet paper rolls. build it up gradually.
There are numbers of causes to look for when worms are leaving an established wormery (too little feed, too hot, to cold, too acidic, not the right kind of food like peppers or onions in big quantity etc).

But since you are just starting tháts probably it, they first have to realize that they've been introduced to an environment where someone is going to spoil them with the best a worm could want. a little gentle force to keep them in (apart from keeping a lid on) is in place here.

These compost worms REALLY dont like light! Thats when they start to wriggle: when exposed to light. So make sure youre bin is absolutely dark from the inside, no light coming in, just air, and that it is on a place where the temperature during the day and night are quite stable.

Now, to keep them in, in the early stage, you can keep the bin inside the house somewhere, with a light on. Something nice and bright, like neon-lights, 60watt bulbs or some other bright light source. (again, make sure this light does not reach the inside of the bin).

They will now prefer to be inside the bin rather than try to migrate, and will have to get used to that your feeding them in there, they might find this isnt too bad anyway, and after some time (when you notice population growth) the light outside the bin wont be necissary anymore.

Good luck!


* the first stage in decomposing is done by micro-organisms, when it concerns kitchen-scraps and other plant materials the micro organisms will break the cell-membranes, with the cell liquid now draining out, this is the famous worm-pee, which isnt worm-pee at al in fact. This leaves the slime soft plant materials we know from a lettuce that has gone bad.
the next stage is when the worms come into action, they will get started with breaking down the fibres and 'solid' materials.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, I'm a little dejected, then.

All I have is the fat, juicy rain worms I find by the dozen when I dig in the garden, and then I found these other worms in my experimental permaculture field the other week. I was just hoeing and I saw a worm wiggling, just like the ones in the vermicompost videos.

There is no way I can find the right kind of worms for sale in this corner of Costa Rica, where they don't know about anything. Plus, I didn't want to spend money.
I never found them in our pile of cow manure, only maggots. It's true that I didn't examine the road where the horses poop. How can they be so rare? I googled red wigglers; they sure look like the ones I found. But you are right, I didn't find them in compost.

I liked the idea of taking advantage of the famous worm castings, but my real issue is that I've run out of hay and my compost pile has become a pile of cow manure and it's not going down.

What I do know is that when I put a pot in my garden with holes, the rain worms eat the crap out of it, like... literally. Only thing, they poop when out of the pot, so I am left with the plant suspended inside the pot.

What if I keep the manure shallow so it won't become hot, and the worms I found will eat it?

Or any other solution for my manure, thanks.
 
                            
Posts: 43
Location: Pennsylvania, Zone 5B
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My earthworms wiggle like crazy when I dig them up, even though they aren't red wigglers.

If you can't find the red guys you'll probably just have to compost the manure the slow way. without worms, by adding some brown carbony stuff.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wait a second, though. Hot compost doesn't exist in nature, how can there be such a specific kind of worm?

Anyway, I give up. I'll start collecting dry banana leaves.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Personally I would either use pit composting (burying organic material in the garden) or for materials that aren't slimey or stinky, sheet composting.  This way the worms you have can eat the material and leave their castings in the garden.  Less work for you, not having to worry about the worms in a bin.  I have tons of worms in my garden (hugel beds) and they move manure and other material around like mad.
 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Worms need roughly 1 square foot of space per 1 pound of pure worm. If you squeeze three times the amount of worms into a bin, you are going to get a less productive bin with unhappy worms that will run away as much as possible.

Also, you are not going to want to just pile on a bunch of manure and compost because it will get way too hot for the worms. That is why it is great to place the food down the center of the bin when you feed them, so they will always have the sides to escape.

I just wrote a post about How to Build a Bathtub Worm Farm. It is focused more on the set up of a worm bin, and touches lightly on details of worm farming.
 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also, I am sure with a little bit of searching you can find composting worms in costa rica. Keep in mind, people ship worms.
 
Russ White
Posts: 35
Location: north eastern us
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi
Read entire thread, but I'm confused here, forgive me, new to permaculture but I think to solve a problem you have to know what the problem is. Is the problem not enough dries to go with manure to make compost. or to keep down smells and flies from manure pile. When manure piles up in chicken coup I use it as fertilizer.  Simply spread it around it dies out smell and flies go away. Why go to the trouble of trying to do vermaculture. Vermaculture is just a way for those without manures to create fertilizer. Do not get me wrong if I did not have chickens I would try vermaculture. I just wish i had room for cows.   

 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
SergioSantoro wrote:
Hey, my Red Wigglers wiggled away!

I had put them in a container, lined with tarp and covered with it. I didn't have a proper lid but thought they wouldn't go anywhere. I gave them the choicest chicken manure, cow manure, shredded, brown banana leaves... but this morning I found tons of ants instead and the maggots that were already in the cow manure.

Any insight? Other than "Put a lid on it, dude!"


IMO, too hot for them with the chicken manure. Too much nitrogen and ammonia build up which can be lethal/uncomfortable to the worms. Horse, cow, etc. manure isn't as nitrogen rich as chicken, and especially if aged a bit. Add more browns and allow the pile to cool down and for the worms to drive the pace and rate of decomposition. Adjust your feeding accordingly.
 
Ginna Quesada
Posts: 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, does anybody, (specifically rick wells) know how to access the other videos, besides the one for vermicompost?
 
Always look on the bright side of life. At least this ad is really tiny:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/digital-market/digital-market/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!