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I just bought a huge plastic crate and added cardboard to the bottom...peat moss...shredded newspaper...wet and squeezed out excess water...then let it sit a week while waiting for my worms to arrive. I have had them for a week and all seems to be well...I think. When I turn the soil I see them everywhere. Now, I have no idea how often to add shredded paper or veggie scraps because I can obviously see they still have newspaper in there. How often should I turn this? How often do they need a feeding...about anyways? Every other day I take the lid off and turn...I find a couple of worm that have crawled to the top...is that of distress? Any feedback would be MOST appreciated! ---Oh and I drilled holes on all sides and put another crate under the one I am using---
It sounds like you started fine. It may be that the mixture is all new and some of the vegetable scraps need to decompose a little. A lot of people in this group recommend using a blender or food processer to get the vegetable read to be consumed more quickly.
I may be all wet on this but I think that when worms are mail ordered, you may get too many for a new set-up. They multiply rapidly. I, out of dumb luck, set up two Kitchenaid tubs (7 years ago) with my shredded newspapers, etc, just as you did AND I put a sprinkling of forest dirt to provide both microbes and grit for the worms. I then ordered the smallest qty -maybe 1000? worms, 2 weeks later. They did splendidly in each container over the Summer and also in my unheated garage in the Winter (Charlotte, NC). I replaced a lot of the old newspaper stuff from time to time. We moved away the next Summer and I didn't tell the buyer what was in the bins.
Worms are pretty easy - avoid getting them wet (the veggies provide a lot of moisture) or too hot in the Summer - mine do fine in the shade outside in our NC Summer. environment.
Worm feeding is more of an art than science. Quantifying anything with vermicomposting is nearly impossible. There are so many factors involved it is impossible to give a good answer to the feeding frequently which will change in time anyway. If you over water you will have water oozing out of the holes you have drilled in your bins...just be careful you don't make a mess. If you overfeed you will get an unpleasant odor which will tell you to back off. A fermenting odor is not as bad as a rancid odor, but in either case you need to reduce the amount of feed.
Refer to old threads for tips and advice. It is easy to download information and start a file. It is amazing how many good ideas come from this forum and others like it. Things you don't read in books, which frankly are a waste of money.
No smell is always a good thing. II add more shredded paper when I turn the bin which is a bout every three months. I tend to fold in the paper that lines the top every month to give the worms more air and put more paper on the top. I add more veggie scraps when the last veggies are gone. I even made a little post to remind me where I put the food last since you are suppose to feed them in a different spot each time. Good luck with your bin!
I've got one for you... I just moved this fall; so when I moved the worms I just stuck them sheltered on the North side of the garage; with a large folded up cardboard box over the top for a rain diverter. In the process of unpacking and getting used to the new house, I completely forgot my worm friends.
We had snow, rain and freezing. Last week I thought I should check on the poor critters, thinking they would all be dead. When I looked at the bin, the cardboard rain cap had blown aside, leaving the bin half open to the rain. When I built the bin I had drilled holes in the top and holes in the bottom to let water run through.
Well when I turned over the top layer, there were hundreds of red worms, waiting to be fed. Boy, these are tough critters.
I had started the bin, using just coir for medium so I could avoid any contaminants that might threaten a vermiponic system I am contemplating.
Well I just carved a trench down the middle of my bin and poured some food that had been cooking all winter.
Worm abuse is against the law!! LOL Happy to hear your little squirm'n virmi'n did well over the winter! I bet they were super hungry!
But my worms seem to be picky. They watermelon and cantaloup is gone in two days... no matter how much I put in! They take forever to eat avocado. I put in a cherimoya skin. It is still in the bin.
I just took the lid off of the bin and put a light over the bin to keep the worms in. I guess I am doing ok with the process. The worms are very busy having babies. I just flipped my bin last night! I placed newspaper, cardboard and a handful of grit in the bin. Then a sprinkle of garden soil. Then I sorted through to find that bloody avocado. TONS of big worms and babies going at it. I placed it on top of the new bedding. I went hunting for clumps of worms.. found them and placed the clumps in top of that avocado along with all the larger worms I could find. Now it was time for my magickal invocation... " Eat that sticking avocado worms"! It was done!!
I do not make compost tea. I realized how many worms I was killing that could be making compost in the ground itself. I took the compost and sprinkled it in the flower bed around my dwarf lemon tree that I had already watered. I wanted the babies and juvenile worms to make it into the flower beds without to much strain.
The thing about watermelons (and other melons too) is that they are mostly water. They quickly break down into water and a very thin sludge of pink stuff and also the green skin. It is the micro organisms' job to further break down all the vegetative remains into something earthworms eat. It takes, as I recall, several weeks.
Now, when you use the blender or food processor or other means, the very small pieces can be converted by micro organisms quickly. If you don't like a dirty blender, then spend a few minutes cutting big pieces into smaller pieces - the smaller the better, but I just don't have the patience for much smaller than 1" squares or lengths (asparagus).
In several places I have seen recommendations to add a small amount (one or two handfulls) of forest dirt or real compost which will have the micro organisms your worms need. That practice has worked for me BUT I welcome other comments from more experienced worm ranchers.
How in the world do you separate the worms from the castings? I need to do this and not sure the best way to go about it. Oh let me tell you what I did...I gathered up about a cup of castings and added it to a gallon of water. Next day I watered my plants and veggie starts...W@w! They are growing faster and greener than ever before!
I have had the best luck using a clear plastic sheet with lots of holes! I put the sheet on top of the new moist bedding and put a few scoops thinly on the plastic in full sun. The worms do not care for light so they go through the holes into the new bedding. Then I sprinkle the compost into the garden and water it in. Any babies you could not save will wiggle on in.
If there is a lot of babies I dig a few good size holes in the garden an fill it with the compost, add a bit of water, cover the the soil I dug out and walk away.
good for starting a worm bin julia !!! i started with 1 i now have 5..but im staying
put at 5..LOL
i use everything those worms make...
my bins have a slightly earthy smell..not like compost..its a good smell.. so.. :)
and a big BOO YAAAA to my bud morgan !!!!
wow..ive been absent for to long.. hope all is well with you and family ...
julia..on separating castings..there are many ways.. some even make separators..
for me..i just take a 5 gal bucket of the bedding..mostly from bottom of bin..
put on cardboard in sun..the worms dig down out of the sun..i scoop up top layer.. and keep
doing this.. i do this when im outside..so it gives me a break from all the other chores..
when i get down to mostly worms..i put them back in the bin..and start with other area of bin..
not real high tech..but it works.. :)
good luck to ya !!!!
I spent two hours separating the casting but got four huge plastic freezer bags...think I will go buy a plastic sheet lol.
I love, love, love what this has done for my plants!
I was a bit concerned because these worms seem to have multiplied so fast. Should I start another bin?
Is there such a thing as over crowding?
yea for u julia!!! :) ya..the benifits for so little effort is sure worth it..
a small investment..our plants benifit so much from the castings..
there are better people here than me to address "overcrowding" in bins..
what i did was when i wanted another bin..i just separated from one..and had another
bin ready and got it going..
ive given several starts of worms to friends now..and i have all the worms i need
you will become even more popular with your gardening friends as you do the same
giving them starts for their own worm bins..:)
good luck to ya !!!!
I loved my worms and kept them in a large "tupperware" bin arrangement in a closet in the house. I tried outdoors - the desert heat and the ants killed more worms than I care to think of.
I fed them in one corner of their box 2-3 times each week - with whatever green kitchen garden waste I had. 1000 worms kept up fine most of the time. Summer could get a little dicey because there was so much green material for them.
I gave them up a few months ago because I never found a way to efficiently separate the castings from the remaining bedding and worms. The slow sift method I'd used for years just became too time intensive. (1 time per month I would harvest about 2 qts of castings. I always thought a rotating 'ticket raffle" spinner would be great - the castings would fall through and the woms could stay behind. Anyone ever solve that problem? And the tiered box NEVER worked.
mightymominc... how is you keep them in the closet with out getting mites? As far as the separation from the worms and the castings I just do not try any more. Again. I just sprinkle them into the garden... worms and all!
We use two small wooden squares each with small squared wire attached to it and then add a couple scoops and we just shake the squares until all thats left is big particles and worms and put those back in the bin and what's underneath is our castings :-) The kids love to do this!