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Vermicomposting: Hey, Are these my babies escaping???

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lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

January 29, 2013
12:03 PM

Post #9401412

Here it is the last of January in Western Washington. I opened one of two worm hostels and found these thousands of tiny white worms crawling up and out of the building.
Are these my babies heading for what they think are greener pastures? I hope not as they will surely be varmit food ot get lost in the cold cruel world.
Paul

Thumbnail by lonejack   Thumbnail by lonejack
Click an image for an enlarged view.

lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

February 10, 2013
7:59 PM

Post #9414817

Hi all,
When I took the pictures above, I fed the worms from the worm food I had cooking.
A few days ago I checked the worms and the babies were comfortably curled up eating the food.
None to be seen crawling outside.
When the weather warms, I will separate some worms to start my new flow-through bin. Pictures
to follow, as soon as I can find the battery charges for the camera.
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 14, 2013
4:49 AM

Post #9418586

Paul, you planing on using a light for your flow through???
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

February 17, 2013
9:27 PM

Post #9422558

Hi Duane,
We will see if I have a problem with them escaping with the light that is available at the bottom.
I have looked at some of those little round led puck lights. They run for a very long time on a charge.
The batteries are standard AA and can be changed easy.
Paul.
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 18, 2013
12:11 PM

Post #9423265

Paul, never heard of a red puck light. Presumably it's not red light which will not keep worms at bay. I'd be more concerned with worms crawling up the sides of the bin if they weren't happy. Some will probably crawl up the sides regardless without some top lighting.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 18, 2013
12:52 PM

Post #9423309

Duane,
I had a guy run his hands through my worm bin, and he told me he thought it was too dry. He said his wiggler medium is almost like a muddy, slushie consistency. He's indoor farming for worms, not for castings. He's growing wigglers to put into his raised beds.

Comment, please. My media is nowhere near muddy slushy. In fact, it's just a tad more moist than when it's squeezed out from the soaking.
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 18, 2013
4:56 PM

Post #9423585

Well neither is mine Linda, but I have a little different approach than your friend. I collect spent media for potting plants and if I kept my media as moist as your friends I could not remove the dried spent media from the tops of the bins when I feed. You might want to try his method since worms will probably reproduce more quickly. However, the trick is not to flood the bottom of the bin so you can't get air in the lower layer. You don't want your media to go septic. I would wager that your friend may have holes in his binds for that purpose.

I too will go to a wetter medium when spring approaches for the very reason he suggests. One method I like to use to extract the excess moisture is to stick a three inch diameter PVC pipe in one corner of the bin. I have drilled small holes in the bottom three inches of this pipe which are covered with a piece of nylon hose and held in place with a rubber band. I use a turkey baster to remove lechate which has filled the tube and toss it on my rhubarb or goose berries just outside my garage, There was some discussion about this in another vermicompost web site where I had mentioned the idea that the wetter the media the more the worms would produce egg capsules. I was corrected by a guy who said it was probably more food which makes perfect sense to me since I was adding the extra water in the form of wetter food.

My suggestion would be to ease into this Linda and not to over due it until the young worms start appearing. Then you can up the water to food ratios.

I am really glad you have a friend who uses compost worms in his raised beds. There are lots of ways red wigglers can be used in the garden and outdoor composting. I have only heard of a couple of people doing it but I would wager it will be catching on rather quickly. With a 4 to 5 times greater benefit to composting or gardening with compost worms I would still do it even if I had common garden worms.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 19, 2013
9:24 AM

Post #9424312

Thanks, Duane!

Your explanation makes perfect sense!

Please explain "wetter food". How does it get wetter than the slushie we're pouring in? Or, are you just pouring more in than usual?
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 19, 2013
11:26 PM

Post #9425106

Occasionally I will leave a blender full of food sit overnight and the next day there will be a separation between food and water which is normally about 50/50. Simply increasing the ration of water to food from what you normally do is the way I increase one or the other. Or if it's just more moisture you want pour another half a blender in with the food mix. Quantifying the volume of water to add each time is pretty much a judgement call on your part Linda based on what you wish to accomplish. If you over do it, you might add some new soaked and drained choir or peat. I just guessing here but I would presume choir is much like peat moss in it's ability to absorb water like a sponge. Just don't get in a hurry or you might have soup.

I recall a time when I took a bin of worms outdoors and forgot about it. When it rained the bin was filled with water and stayed that way for several days. When I discovered I had left the bin sitting flooded for about a week, I drained as much of the water out of the bin as I could and added some new soaked and drained peat moss to help soak up the excess water. That bin actually out produced all my other bins in worm production for months and none of the worms seemed to have suffered that ordeal.

A number of years ago when I had some long eared sunfish in an aquarium I would feed them whole red wigglers. Sometimes they didn't particularly like them and let them fall into the gravel. When I gravel siphoned the bottom of the aquariums I would always find live wigglers in the discard water. So my theory is they will absorb what oxygen they need throught their skin regardless of how wet their invironment is as long a their is oxygen to be obtained. Problem is once the media goes aseptic or anerobic it's too late.

Probably more information than you wanted to hear Linda. Just in one of those moods. Get carried away sometimes.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 20, 2013
5:20 AM

Post #9425200

Not a problem at all Duane.

Yesterday I dug around in the bin, looking for the worms. I scooped handfuls of medium away from trenches I made, and was getting worried I wasn't finding any worms in the top 4" of the bin.

So, I dug deeper, and looks like there are LOTS of wriggled down deeper, in like the bottom 5-7". Are they usually that far down?

Linda
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 20, 2013
9:14 AM

Post #9425476

Could be Linda, not sure why there are more near the bottom. Could it be temperature? I have several of those digital thermometers which come in handy.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 20, 2013
9:34 AM

Post #9425516

It's relatively cool in my garage. Don't have a thermometer in there, but, I'd guess it averages around 48-55 overnight. Not really, really cold, per se.

I'll put a thermometer in there tonight.

I'm not too concerned, just surprised they're that far down. But, from what I saw very quickly, they were all tangled up, and look like they've beefed up, too!

That's a good thing, yes?
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

February 21, 2013
6:23 AM

Post #9426477

Hi all,
I have 2 worm bins sitting outside in the weather. Both have 1/8 drain holes in the bottom. One has 1/6" drain holes in the top that I placed there for ventilation. One does not have drain hols in the top. When it rains, water will enter the bin with top drain holes and drain out the bottom. Of course, the other will not get any extra water, other than what they get from the food slurry I give them.
The bin with the drain holes in the top is doing much better than the bin without the top holes. The bins sit side-by-side.
Solution, drill holes in the other bin.
Paul.

P.S. Duane, those are LED puck lights I will be using, they are indeed white.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 21, 2013
7:34 AM

Post #9426576

Hey, Paul!

Neither Duane, nor I, have any holes drilled in our garage bins. We don't use the lids either...we do keep a 48" fluorescent light tube over the bin(s) 24/7.

Mine is a small, 10-gallon bin, filled about 7" with sphagnum peat that was soaked 24 hours, then squeezed of the excess water (to leach out some of the acid in the peat).

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Click the image for an enlarged view.

pbyrley

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

February 25, 2013
8:52 AM

Post #9430989

Linda,
now that I am part time in Florida (Zone 9B) I wanted to ask if your garage site for your worms is OK in the hot Summer? When I had Rubbermaid worm bins, I kept them in the woods behind the house in Summer and in the garage in Winter only.

Thanks,
Paul (East coast Paul)

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 25, 2013
9:11 AM

Post #9431016

Hey ECPaul (as opposed to WCPaul)!
I only started my ONE worm bin this past December. So, this will be my first summer experience.

I have a covered patio, however, I'm not sure what to do about keeping the worms from crawling out of the bin without the light on them, if I have to put the bin outdoors in the summer...
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 25, 2013
10:45 AM

Post #9431138

You say the worms are all tangled up Linda. Is this the location where you are feeding. If so, no worries.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 25, 2013
11:41 AM

Post #9431204

Yes, Duane.

They were tangled up in the last side I fed, down at the bottom of the bin.
Plant_Thang
Jacksonville, FL

February 25, 2013
3:08 PM

Post #9431474

Paul,
Worms do fine in zone 9A FL sitting on the concrete floor of a covered porch. They're in rubbermaid tubs with lids and I have no trouble at all with them. They stay on that porch year round, our winter has been extremely mild this year and they're thriving.

Charlie

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 25, 2013
10:07 PM

Post #9431889

Hey, Charlie,
Whatcha feeding your worms?*
Plant_Thang
Jacksonville, FL

February 26, 2013
6:36 AM

Post #9432095

They're eating most of our non-greasy kitchen scraps as well as going thru a lot of shredded paper. They seem to love melons, bananas, berries, like kids with a sweet tooth; coffee grounds, tea bags and crushed eggshells also seem to be favorite foods. I have one blender just for them and puree everything with plenty of water and let it steep a few days. About twice a month I toss in a couple of handsful of well rotted leaves and they get garden debris too. I avoid citrus, onions and garlic scraps, they go directly in the big compost pile. This week I'll be bringing in a lot of zoo compost (composted poop plus hay) and I'll share that with them; one of our friends keeps his worms bedded down in that stuff, my bedding is leaves, shredded newspaper and a handful of regular yard soil. I sttarted with one bin last August and now have three big tubs of healthy red wrigglers. So far I haven't had a problem with pests of any kind and there's no bad odor.

Charlie

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2013
7:43 AM

Post #9432208

Hey, Charlie,
How often and how much are you feeding your bin(s)? I'm still trying to get a handle on how often and how much to feed my new bin. Duane says I'm doing great, but I'm still wondering.

I too have a dedicated blender, and Duane and I both puree the scraps. I'll start bringing some "sweets" to the table, too!

Thanks for the great info!
Plant_Thang
Jacksonville, FL

February 26, 2013
8:56 AM

Post #9432332

Linda,
It depends. I check the bins and if the food supply isn't visible, I add more. I'm guessing about a quart at a time and it's really slushy. I figure if I overdo it, my nose will let me know so I've never actually measured anything. If their shredded papper supply diminishes, I dampen more and add it. I plan to divide them again this spring but instead of making more bins, I'm thinking of introducing the extras into my raised garden beds. Sink a five gallon bucket with holes in the bottom in the centers of the beds, add the worms, compost, food, etc.; cover with cardboard and let em go. Maybe add additional compost and food later on to see if they're attracted back to the bucket. Just thinking. Worms seem to be weather forecasters. If my little critter buddies climb up the walls of their house I know we're in for a storm!

Charlie

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2013
9:32 AM

Post #9432391

Charlie,
How BIG is you bin?? You add a whole quart??

I'm adding barely 3/4 cup of slushie down one long side of the bin, once a week.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm...
Plant_Thang
Jacksonville, FL

February 26, 2013
10:42 AM

Post #9432454

I'm using the big rubbermaid totes Linda and they're pretty big. And deep. Started the first one with about 3000 worms and fed as the local seller here told me to. His suggestions worked so that's what I've kept doing. I dump their food in one corner, cover it back up and let it go. I start checking about four to five days later and when that food level shrinks down, they get more in another corner. When I puree their food I store it in old Folger coffee cans with tight fitting lids and they usually get the contents of a blender jar every feeding. Add leaves and shredded paper as needed. Every time I've cleaned them out, I find plenty more worms and lots and lots of eggs. When the tote is heavy and hard to move, I know it's time to collect more castings. Works for me.

Charlie

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2013
10:50 AM

Post #9432461

Thanks, Charlie!
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

February 26, 2013
6:41 PM

Post #9433026

Hi all,
I have been experimenting with grinding the food with an old food grinder I purchased at a garage sale.
This was after I burned up my bride's expensive Kitchenaid blender.
I have a food bucket in the kitchen, when it is full I grind it up and mix it with a little water to make a slurry about as thick as a heavy lumpy pudding. I add a cap-full of EM, Essential micro-nutrients, stir it up, put the lid on and let it sit for a couple of weeks, outside.
I have a 24 gallon bin filled about 2/3 with coir and soil, I don't believe in news paper or cardboard. I used to work in the paper industry and know how the wood fibers have been treated. Corrugated cardboard is glued with some interesting stuff; some good and some bad, depending upon where it is manufactured. Trouble is, you don't know where it has been manufactured.
Anyway, I feed my worms when they appear on top of the food. I just dig a trench down the middle of the bin and dump the trench full. Then I alternate trenches on each side then down the middle again.

I am at work designing a Vermiponic system to utilize the fish pond in my back yard.
I am using a commercial worm bin my sister owned with the fish pond. As usual, I have elaborate plans,
so we will see where this goes.
Here is an interesting photo study of a vermiponic system done by Amy Youngs in Ohio.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/amymyou/sets/72157624215762979/with/4793349267/

P.S. I guess it is easier to call me lonejack, instead of Paul, wc. I was raised at the foot of Lonejack Mountain
in Northern Idaho.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2013
8:35 PM

Post #9433144

I could call you "Moses!"

LOL!!!

pbyrley

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

March 4, 2013
10:58 AM

Post #9438480

If anyone is an experimenter, I wondered (idly, of course) about dumping the worms and the media out into another Rubbermaid just leaving the residue that would be stuck in the corners and maybe one cup of loose media. Then rebuild the dumped out bin with whatever media you like -coir, peat moss , shredded newspapers and use your normal kitchen waste/blended or whatever. How long would it take to have it full of worms again?

I would guess no more than 6 months from Spring to Fall.

ECPaul

pbyrley

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

July 15, 2013
5:46 PM

Post #9600254

Boy, that scared everybody away , didn't it? If I ever try it I will report the results.

Now my "problem" is that I stay in Port ST Lucie for a month or so, then go back to Wake Forest for a month or so. I like the worms but I am not going to transport them back and forth.

Should I just transport a small container (maybe a quart) to replenish in case all the stationary ones died?
lonejack
Longview, WA
(Zone 8b)

July 16, 2013
2:55 AM

Post #9600660

Hey ECPaul,
This is WCPaul. I don't see why you can't have 2 sets of worms, one in each location. Both sets of worms would easily survive for a month if you fed them well just before leaving.
I often have left my bins alone for a month without checking and they are fine.
I suppose you could feed them some rabbit pellets or, as I have, guinea pig pellets. They are mostly compressed alfalfa.
WCPaul
scbuttercup
(Judy) Simpsonville, SC
(Zone 8a)

November 15, 2013
6:25 AM

Post #9709443

Wow, just popped in to see what folks were doing, I've been vemicomposting 5+ years and leave them outside under shrubs in a rubber maid with lid and holes. No lights and the medium is shredded newspaper. No blender, just uncooked veg and fruit scraps, egg shells, and water when needed. I am in zone 8 so only bring them in garage if we have extreme cold once or twice a winter. They do well, reproduce and no fuss. Couple times a year I have extra to give away. Perhaps they would produce more soil and babies if I fussed but they take care of food scraps and feed the garden so it's good enough. I work full time but have a big veggie garden that is my way to unwind, everything I do with my gardening has to be streamlined because of my schedule. But working folks can have gardens and worm bins too.

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