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Vermicomposting: How do you know when there is too many worms in one bin?

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Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

February 26, 2012
12:52 PM

Post #9020876

I have a large rubber maid bin. I bought 3 thousand worms and let them do their thing.They are not hepted on top of each other like the big mass ball of worms I received when I ordered them. They have had many babies so I have tiny little worms in the bin as well. I did notice the the bin was very warm in the middle. I keep them in my garage on a stand. My questions are:

1. How long does it take for a baby worm to become a adult worm? Is it really 6 week?
2. Did the temp jump because of all the new babies?
3. How do you know when it is time to divide the number of adult worms into two bins?
4. Is there any way to make compost tea without killing the baby worms? There is not a section in my bin that doesn't have them and my worms don't migrate to where the food is although there is a larger concentration of them in that area.
5. Lastly they do not seem to each a pound of food a day. May be a week, am I doing something wrong?

Thanks in advance!

Redworm Facts

Eisenia Fetida. Also known as compost worms.

Life Span 2 to 5 years

1 to 4 cocoons per week. 4 under the best conditions.

2 to 3 worms hatch from each cocoon

45 day hatch time

6 weeks for worms to go from hatchling to adult breeder.

Planning:
1000 worms with yield 4 cocoons per week. 3 worms will hatch from each cocoon creating 12,000 worms per week. 48,000 worms will be created a month in a well cared for bed. In 6 weeks that first 12,000 worms will be breeding. You can see how quickly 1000 worms will grow into hundreds of thousands.

Planning:
1000 worms with yield 4 cocoons per week. 3 worms will hatch from each cocoon creating 12,000 worms per week. 48,000 worms will be created a month in a well cared for bed. In 6 weeks that first 12,000 worms will be breeding. You can see how quickly 1000 worms will grow into hundreds of thousands.

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pbyrley
Port St Lucie (+ Wk , FL
(Zone 9b)

February 27, 2012
4:36 PM

Post #9022473

thanks for the biology research. I started with 25 redworms I bought at a country store - they were for fish bait; $2.25.
I have them outside, they dwindle down to a very low number in the Winter but when it warms up and I start feeding them veggie scraps, their populating increases rapidly. No, I won't count them to independently verify your research.

Three thousand worms for a Rubbermaid bin sounds very excessive to me, I think y ou should have 5 Rubbermaids!
rentman
Frankfort, KY
(Zone 6a)

February 27, 2012
7:41 PM

Post #9022686

I started with 500 in a plastic tub, I now have 3 tubs, about 1 1/2 years.
I take a large amount of poo, (from the bottom of the bin) put it on a 4'x4'plywood, covered with an old shower curtain, move it into the sun and in a few min. the worms will dig into the center of the pile (they don't like light). Then I take a layer (maybe two inches) off the top. Let it set in the sun longer and take another 2". Then return whats left with the worms in the center to the worm bin.

You will get a few worms in the poo you use to make tea, and they will die.
Then you put the poo used around your plants.
One way I use the tea is to put my house plants right in the tea (not over the pot) let the soak for 20 min. the into another tray to let the excess tea drain out of the pot.
Let the plant soil dry and when it needs water again I use just water.

Hope this helps...Dwight

Edited to say: I use rubber gloves

This message was edited Feb 27, 2012 10:46 PM
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 28, 2012
5:05 PM

Post #9023832

cool to know someone separates their castings from worms like me..:)
i do same.. really doesnt take long does it.. the worms hate the sun so dig deep into the small piles
i "think" i started with 3# of worms.. not sure how many that would be... i split them between
my starting of 2.. 37 gal rubbermaid tubs. i have 4 tubs now.. i think it was 6 months or so..and i just
split the worms between the 4 tubs.. ive given worms to 3 friends now..
where the worms are now..it gets coolish.. 62F and they slow down eating,reproducing.. when it
gets more into the 70sF they get busy..
?to many worms in a bin..i would say.as you dig thru the bin and you run into major clumps of worms
all over.. i would say you could start another bin..
to my knowledge..i dont think you can have to few worms in a bin.. in that case..id just watch that you
dont over feed them..and bin starts to sour..
good luck to ya !!!!
btw.. still winter here..sigh.. we got snow last nite and this morning.. :( sigh
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

March 3, 2012
11:55 PM

Post #9029064

pbyrley
5 Rubbermaid bins? Really! I thought I might split the bin in two. I will have to think about the five bin thing. I have lots of babies in there so I think I will wait a few more weeks until they are a bit larger. I don't want to kill my babies!!

Thanks for your input!
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

March 4, 2012
12:18 AM

Post #9029068

rentman,

Say... that plywood / shower curtain thing is nice!! How do you think a piece of plywood or firm plastic like plexiglass with holes drilled at the top would work? I was thinking maybe cut the plexiglass or board to about 1/2 the length of the bin and 4/5 the width so it would fit inside the bin its self. Then putting fresh bedding in the second bin and placing a clump of worm poop on top. Will the worms wiggle through the holes into the new bedding?

I was also thinking that I would sprinkle the worm poop on top of a pre moistened flower bed. That way the worms do not have to die... just go into the ground. Maybe the next day I could water again to put the poop in the soil.

I had just been digging pockets in the garden as filling it with the compost and covering it back up with the soil!

Thanks for your input!!
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

March 4, 2012
12:42 AM

Post #9029071

tropicalnut777

"to many worms in a bin..i would say.as you dig thru the bin and you run into major clumps of worms all over.. i would say you could start another bin.."

That sounds like sage advice! I am not there yet but maybe soon. LOTS of little one in the bin not. I keep them in the garage to keep the warmish and active. I found a small thermometer with a probe on ebay that I put in the bin to see what temp it is. I was $2.00 and works well.

I am having a bit of time with my worms through. If I do not leave a light on over the bid some try to leave. The temp is 19C is equal to 66.2F and the pH is correct. They have food, moister and bedding. They have been like that since I started the bin. I added a bit more water because after reading others posting they seem to collect water in the tray... I never have water in the try under the bin. The bin has no cover. Every time I put it on and opened it there were worms lining the walls. But if I take the bin outside the worms seem to stay put. Do they need air circulation? They worms are all over the bin but I have not found a mas of worms so I don't think it is over population.

Again, Any advise is more then welcome!
rentman
Frankfort, KY
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2012
5:37 AM

Post #9029157

My worms have no air circulation, I do have small vent holes in the bins.
Everyone has their own way but I don't think the bedding can be too wet, if you have drain holes in the bottom.
I find a few worms in the tray, under the bin, which always has some water in it. And doing well.
The light will help keep the in the bin, I have not had any trying to craw up the sides ????
My understand on temp is...don't let them get too hot, above 85 or so. I find worms all the time when I dig my garden even now.
I believe you can start a new bin anytime with a hand full of worms...if you have enough to feed them.
I pick up coffee grounds from Starbucks, they love it and I also use them in the garden.
See 'My Big one' next post, not a good composting worm.
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

March 4, 2012
1:32 PM

Post #9029718

rentman,

You are just a wealth of info and thanks for sharing it. My bin has holes on the bottom and along the sides. I fold some the top cover of paper shedding in to the bin as I feed and replace it on the top. I figured that would put a bit more air and fluff to keep form compacting. So maybe my bin was a bit on the dry side. It was never completely dry. I guess we will find out!

Rhapsody

Thumbnail by Rhapsody616
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rentman
Frankfort, KY
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2012
3:55 PM

Post #9029859

I like that photo, Rhapsody. I keep a piece of cardboard on top of my bins, I do not wet it but it comes apart after a month and I put another on top.
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

March 4, 2012
7:49 PM

Post #9030163

rentman,
I have heard of putting cardboard on top of the bin. Can you explain why you do that? I have a piece of window screen net covering the top. When I put the cardboard on top I would find worms on top of it. I did not want them to dry out on top. I thought the cardboard would suck the moister out of the worms and they may not make it back into the bin! But that was back when I put the lid on.

Rhapsody

Thumbnail by Rhapsody616
Click the image for an enlarged view.

rentman
Frankfort, KY
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2012
11:31 PM

Post #9030280

To answer a simple question leads to longer explanations. Which I don't mine doing.
I don't like digging a hole to put their food in and covering it up, so I just pick up the cardboard, put the food on top and maybe a little more wet sheared newspaper, then the cardboard back on top.
The cardboard fits inside the bin and it is replaced when it gets too messy., then it goes out in the garden, under a plant.
I picked up an office paper shredder at an auction and all our junk mail (with the plastic window out) goes through it.
I also use sawdust and lots of coffee grounds. They eat it all sooner or later.

Edited to add,
Yes I'm up most of the night, for the last 3 hours it has been snowing here maybe 4 " looks so nice.
I lived 90% of my life in South Florida and I find I love the snow, reflects the light, I think I could go out side and read a book.
Well it's 27 out there so I'll stay in and listen to my radio.

This message was edited Mar 5, 2012 2:39 AM
blaro
Kingsland, GA

March 26, 2012
6:09 AM

Post #9057267

My worm bin is also a rubbermaid and I keep it in my garage where it never really gets too cold so it gets pretty populated. I normally just dump all but a small handful out around my garden every season and start over with that small handful.
Mountaindweller
Dolan Springs, AZ
(Zone 9a)

April 11, 2012
6:33 PM

Post #9079041

One possible reason for the worms crawling up the side of the bin: I've been told that when the barometer drops that generally means wet stormy weather on its way, so the worms instinctively head for higher ground. Don't know if that helps.
Rhapsody616
Long Beach, CA

April 11, 2012
11:07 PM

Post #9079192

Mountaindweller
Had not thought about that! Thanks. At the time the worms were crawling up the wall it was mid summer... no drastic climate change in Long Beach CA!!

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