I'm new to vermiculture by about a week and change. Basically I gave myself a rotator cuff injury turning compost with a shovel, wanted to delegate responsibility, discovered a worm farm at a gardening supply outlet, brought it home, started reading and emailing, and my most frequently uttered phrase ever since has been, "but they're just worms!" First I had to find the worms. Sixty bucks for two pounds not including shipping them 20 miles up the road?! They're just worms! Then the parade of vendors ready to sell me worm-appropriate peat moss, coconut coir, pumice, special bedding paper upon which my worms may lay their heads (which end is the head?), a special -- no, it can't be... but it is -- ladder so they can climb up to the next bin without exhaustion, and I stopped when I ran afoul of the decorative bins in event I want to keep them in the kitchen. My cooking is bad enough: I don't need a new way to convince guests not to eat at my house. Believe me, I didn't buy any of this stuff, just the bins. A kindly neighbor donated a pound of red wigglers, I put the bins on the porch, damp newspaper in the bottom bin, layer of shredded paper, worms, table scraps (no dairy, citrus or animal waste), a bit of clean earth from my garden and I put the lid on it. I live in the north San Francisco Bay area, Zone 15, temps range from freezing mornings in the winter to torrid in mid-summer but extremes seldom last longer than a few days. My porch has a roof so the bins would never be in direct sunlight or rain, and I'd cover it in frost and ice it when it's hot. Am I messing up? I mean... they're just, you know.
But they're just worms!
Hi, onthe 101
No! your not messing up ! sounds like a plan to me, I have my worm bins in my bed room. Works out great for me. Don't feed too much at one time, don't let you worms bins dry out. When you tell people I GOT WORMS, they look at you funny. Welcome to the wonderful world of worms.
Isn't it just a bunch of crap you have wade through???!!! I can't believe the crap that gets spread around about everything you look at.
I remember a few years ago I was talking to someone who raised EMU. The lengths to which they went to make the dumb birds happy
If chicken farmers had to go to all of the same rigmarole, we never would have any eggs. Come to think of it, there is a bunch of crap out there about whether chickens should be free range or not. Sigh!! After all they are dumb chickens...
I have my red wrigglers in a bin from Lowes. I put some small, about 1/16", holes in the bottom to let excess moisture out and some holes in the top for ventilation. I started my worms in coconut choir. There are some who say this isn't the right stuff, but mine seem to be happy. No I don't see them smile!! It is just that they seem to be multiplying like mad, so they must be happy.
I have a bucket in the kitchen for veggie scraps. When it gets full, I set up a 1 1/2 gal double boiler on the outside barby and steam the
scraps for about 20 minutes, only to kill any seeds that might be lurking. I then chop up the steamed veggies into as small as pieces as
I can chop with a little shovel I own. I add some EM, Essential Micro-nutrients, which you don't need, but i have it so I use it. Let the whole thing get happy for a couple of weeks and pour it on top of the bedding. Our Dog loves the stuff so it must be good for the worms.
I bought a 1/4" foam kitchen floor pad that I trimmed to fit right inside on top of the worm bedding. It seems to keep the guys, actually guys and girls, happy because it helps insulate from light and temp. swings. When I feed, I pull back the pad and pour the food.
I feed about every 2 weeks or when the kitchen bucket gets full. The Old food gets fed and the new takes it's place in the aging bucket with the EM.
In hot weather, I do pour a bucket of water over the worms about every third day. I always keep my bins on the North side of the garage in the shade. In reading about Aquaponics, using media beds, it seems as though worms end up in the media. which is flooded with water every 15 to 30 minutes. They don't drown as long as there is oxygen in the water. This is why the media is flooded and drained. Worms breathe through their skin. They have even found worms living in the return sump tank.
I use my worm stuff for planting medium, right now. I am going to set up a Vermiponics system this next summer.
Very informative, Lonejack. Thanks so much. I'm still not sure how much/often to feed mine but I saw some worms on top of the layer of paper and tortillas (which a friend recommended, easier to move aside than paper plus the worms like them) under the lid. It seems a bit early to be adding a second tray since I've had them for only two weeks, but I did... along with coir, some shredded paper, few handfulls of kitchen scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds whipped up in the Cuisinart. I'm hoping eventually the population will grow enough that I can move more scraps, which was the whole point in the first place. We're in the midst of a ferocious storm so I moved them into the garage. Someone else in the area puts ice cubes in her vermicomposter in the summers, lowers the temps and keeps everything moist when we get above 100 degrees. By the time my vineyard starts budding in March I hope to have the first batch of compost for the vines.
Here are some tidbits I copied from a worm web site.
Red Wiggler Worms by the Numbers
Did you know these seven super facts about red wigglers?
Seven -- The number of syllables in the red wiggler's scientific name, Eisenia fetida (sometimes foetida). They are also known as brandling worms, manure worms, tiger worms, panfish worms, trout worms and many other names. But whatever you call them, they are the best choice for indoor composting.
Six -- The number of continents that are inhabited by red wigglers. While the red wiggler is native to Europe, it has been successfully introduced to every continent except one - Antarctica. The reason should be obvious.
Five -- Number of aortic arches a red wiggler has. The worm does not have a heart; the aortic arches provide the same function.
Four -- Months it takes a healthy and well-fed red wiggler population to double in number. For the reasons, see numbers two and three below.
Three -- Number of months it takes a newly-hatched red wriggler to attain maturity. Adult red wigglers secrete a number of egg cocoons after mating, and after an incubation period of about 23 days, between 4 and 6 juvenile worms hatch from each cocoon. As soon as they are hatched the worms are ready to start their diet of organic waste.
Two -- The number of red wigglers it takes to tango, uh, to reproduce. Red wigglers, like other species of earthworm, are hermaphroditic, meaning each individual has the characteristics of both sexes, but a single worm cannot reproduce. As for how they do it - it's between two adult worms in private.
TURN ON IMAGES One -- Ranking of the red wiggler among all earthworm species for indoor composting. There are 4,400 or more (depending on who you ask) species of earthworm on our planet. The red wiggler is far and away the most popular among indoor composters. Unlike most species, red wigglers live happily in close, highly populated conditions, and they thrive on most kitchen waste.
At Uncle Jim's Worm Farm, we are always on the lookout for your thoughts and opinions on Facebook! Feel free to shoot us an email or call us at 1-800-373-0555 with your questions about vermicomposting!