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Vermicomposting: Question

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Kgb4013
Broxton, GA
(Zone 8b)

May 19, 2011
11:10 AM

Post #8573955

My husband has a few worms outside in an old compact refrigerator. He has had them for a couple of years now & we feed them grits & potato peelings. He thinks that they are not reproducing. Can anyone offer any advice please? He only uses them for fish bait. Sharon, Broxton, GA zone 8
Mountaindweller
Dolan Springs, AZ
(Zone 9a)

May 22, 2011
10:39 AM

Post #8579513

You can check for the little green pods, which are the 'worm eggs'. Also, there should be worms of different sizes,
I think that worms will limit their reproduction to the amount of food, water, and space that they have. Perhaps even their diet will affect that? You could toss in a variety of things-greens, coffee grounds, old leaves, egg shells, etc, and see if they 'jump' on that.
Kgb4013
Broxton, GA
(Zone 8b)

May 23, 2011
5:23 AM

Post #8581284

Thanks!
mraider3
Helena, MT

May 24, 2011
2:10 AM

Post #8583628

Sharon, what type of worms does your husband keep in the refrigerator, and is the refrigerator the container or is the container in the refrigerator? Also, what is the media in which the worms are placed?

Kgb4013
Broxton, GA
(Zone 8b)

May 24, 2011
8:45 AM

Post #8584194

Red wigglers that he bought at a bait store. The refrigerator is just a small compact refrigerator that no longer works. The refrigerator is actually the container turned so that the top opens upward. He just used dirt. Sharon
mraider3
Helena, MT

May 24, 2011
11:18 PM

Post #8585738

Red wigglers from a bait store...we don't see that too often up north. Must be for brim or shell cracker fishing??? Dirt is not the favored medium for red wigglers. They are better known as leaf worms in some parts of the country. For indoor propagation I would recommend peat moss as your medium. If you soak the peat moss over night in a bucket of warm water Sharon you can drain the excess acidic water from the peat moss with a six inch nylon aquarium net. If interested, DMail me and I will give you my version of raising red wigglers.
Kgb4013
Broxton, GA
(Zone 8b)

May 25, 2011
10:17 AM

Post #8586524

Thanks so much and yes he does a lot of shellcracker fishing. Sharon
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2011
5:59 AM

Post #8596254

I have used coconut coir, because when I went to get peat moss the store was out. The worms seem to be quite happy. I do have a little dirt that was left on the roots when I pulled the weeds I used for food.
I steamed the weeds and blended them into a slurry, added some essential micro-nutrients and let the whole mess sit for 2 weeks now. I feed about every 3 days.
I have read where coir is a good substitute. I get mine from a hydroponic store. I have also read where you have to be careful where you buy it. Some coir has a pretty high salt content, depending upon where it is produced.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

May 30, 2011
7:43 AM

Post #8596532

lonejack.. places i put coir in gardens ,especially where my tropicals are.. the worm population explodes.. these are
outside worms (not my composting worms) so they sure do love coir!!
i buy my coir from orchid supplier in cali.. its safe on low salt content.. so you are right on that check that the
coir hasnt had salt water used to wash it..
i use shredded cardboard..for me its free..just my time to shred up.. :)
worms seem to use it just fine as their bedding...
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2011
9:55 AM

Post #8596863

I am setting up a Vermiponic system so am going to use coir because it will break down slower than cardboard.
Right now I am waiting for the weather here in Oregon to warm enough to get going. We haven't had but 1 day over 70 this spring. Worms won't grow, veggies won't grow and I don't move very fast either. This is frustrating, although the stupid weeds seem to love this cold weather because they are taking over the place, this is why I pull them and use them for worm food. Hey, they are fresh and cheap!!
I am also interested in making worm food with local fauna so I can get some experience on possible worm food supplies, without importing it.
My main reason for setting up the Vermiponic system is to see if it can be introduced to missions in Haiti and Africa.
I am trying to determine how difficult it will be to operate a self-sustaining system, this is why I am using plastic buckets because they are available all over the world, and are cheap.
I may be reduced to building a cheap greenhouse just to get the temperature up to where it will work. Maybe a greenhouse to house the worms and start the seedlings, with the water piped outside to the grow-beds.
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2011
9:58 AM

Post #8596870

Haiti and Africa have an abundance of coconut palms, so local coir is not a problem. I have to figure a way to take the husk and turn it into coir. I am sure that it won't be the fine powder we get here in the States, which is OK. Maybe a machete and then pounding the pieces similar to the way they pound their coffee beans.
I wonder if dried coconut palm leave would work as well. The leaves drop from the trees often. I think chopped banana leaves might work for worm food, if shredded fine enough and fermented.

This message was edited May 30, 2011 9:04 AM
Mountaindweller
Dolan Springs, AZ
(Zone 9a)

May 30, 2011
11:27 AM

Post #8597077

Lonejack- I really like the concept of using local weeds to feed your worms! Why pay for what nature has provided? I have an abundance of really tough and nasty wild mustard, and this year it is exceptionally tall and healthy. Perhaps boiling it would accomplish the goal? Anyway, I applaud the whole idea, and hope that you are successful in this experiment. I hope this years' weather is the exception, and not the future rule! I think a small 'hobby' size greenhouse would be nice for your worm beds.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

May 30, 2011
12:10 PM

Post #8597146

lonejack.. i pay some good $$$ for my coir..wish i could get my hands on a truckload of it for not so much..
price i pay for living in utah..lol
i do grow banana plants.. i save my leaves for just what u said.. and my worms do good with them..
i shred them up some.. but worms work thru them fine..
yea..same on temps here.. we had rain almost all day today..and looking at mts
it got cold too.. i think in the valley went down to 39ish..so no freeze..but still COLD !!!
only thing i have thats ok in garden..is lettuce..
dreaming for summer here..
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

May 30, 2011
7:33 PM

Post #8598146

I steam the weeds to kill any reproductive seeds or tissue that might be in them. It is kind of like
blanching when you are freezing them, except I cook them. Yes, I know I am killing some of the natural nutrients, but I don't want the weeds to reproduce either.
I have a lot of weeds, no lawn grass clippings as I don't have any lawn. I am going to run the weeds through my chipper next time, several passes to get the texture small enough for the worms, then steam them; that way I won't be limited to my small Goodwill blender.
This is all an experiment so I will keep everyone posted.
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

December 19, 2011
4:47 PM

Post #8936111

Why are the worms in the refrigerator? Wouldn't that slow worm reproduction?
mraider3
Helena, MT

December 20, 2011
10:03 AM

Post #8936962

I read somewhere about cutting the bottom out of a large plastic drum or pail and inserting the base about two feet into the ground. You can place weeds from the garden or yard into this drum and add some red wigglers to help the decomposition process. After reading this comment I found a 55-gallon plastic barrel laying in the barrow ditch at the back of my yard...somewhat damaged but suitable for the purslain weeds which are a constant pest in my garden.

I also have some concrete wire which would make a nice fire ring for weeds, potato, squash and bean vines, and corn stalks. Since I don't return any of these to the garden I figured their ash might be beneficial. I don't know if weed ash would be a problem, some seeds are pretty resilient.

tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

December 20, 2011
12:46 PM

Post #8937056

Rhapsody616 wrote:Why are the worms in the refrigerator? Wouldn't that slow worm reproduction?


Rhapsody616, note that Kgb4013 said the fridge wasn't working, it's just being used as the container. Refrigeration would definitely be a negative for the worms'.

On the issue of salty coconut coir, coconuts are harvested a lot from coasts of islands where you get a lot of salt spray. Also transport is sometimes in open boats. So there's always a strong possibility of there being salt in the coir. It would always pay to wash it well.

A neighbour of mine used to feed coconut fronds to his horses (green fronds). He said the fronds had a relatively high sugar content. The thick end of the frond is like solid fibrous wood, and that was discarded. But usually before the fronds fall, the tree withdraws most of the nutrients. So the dry fronds wouldn't be much different to other dry leaves.
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

December 25, 2011
12:31 AM

Post #8942052

tropicbreeze--->>> Thank you for clearing that up. I am still new to worms and wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything!!
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 25, 2011
4:41 PM

Post #8942572

I was reading on another web site where you can add some charcoal to your coir. That will absorb any extra salt that
would or might harm your plants.
There has been a lot written about using barbecue charcoal for plants, it seems that some believe that all barbecue charcoal
has petroleum added. I found a comment that gave the ingredients for barbecue charcoal; for Kingford brand. They DO NOT use petroleum except on the briquettes with starter fluid added which is labeled as such. The purest's in the barbecue world would die knowing or using any petroleum around their fire.
So I am going to grind up some briquettes in my coir, not many, about 2 or 3 in a 5 gal bucket. I will get back to you.
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

December 26, 2011
2:27 PM

Post #8943423

I use charcoal from wood fires. Actually from fires out bush, we have fire hazard reduction burns in forests and there's often old fallen trees reduced to charcoal. So I'm sure there's no "additives". I'm a great believer in charcoal. But there are some downsides to using it (although far outweighed by the benefits, in my opinion). It can rapidly increase pH, and it will absorb nitrogen to the detriment of plants. That's while it's fresh. In worm bins it would be the high pH that could be a problem.
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

December 28, 2011
10:15 PM

Post #8946197

Hi mraider3,
I have aa suggestion for the bottom of your drum in the ground.
If you bury it more than 12" in the ground, you might not have a problem.
You might want to put some 1/8" hardware cloth over the open end
in the ground to keep the goffers from doing the back-stroke in your bin.
I suppose you need to add some holes in the top for ventilation as well as
let rain run through.
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 3, 2012
11:00 PM

Post #8953823

hey lonejack. I agree with the depth issue, however we don't have mole or gophers to contend with, and I wasn't planning on adding a lid. The added depth would probably help keep the worms in check, at least until winter comes. Rain is next to nil in the center of the valley during growing season. The spot in question is next to a riser which would provide well water as necessary to aid in decomposition.

After posting about finding the 55 gallon plastic barrel, I found a folding table which had blown off another passing vehicle. I was trying to locate one for a garden work table and there it was. I guess there is some value to living next to a highway. It just seems a bit uncanny how stuff just appears out of nowhere just when you need it. I'm thinking about some payback for the highway gods next season. I discard my corn stalks a couple of weeks before Halloween by propping them up against my rock wall which extends out from my back yard into the highway barrow ditch. People will drive by and ask if they can have some for decorations. So next spring I will plant some colorful gourds on top of the rock wall which has been 'lasagna' layered now for a few years.

Just thought I would toss that comment in for fun!

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