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vermicomposting

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

Is anyone interested in a vermicomposting sticky? It would be as an alternative to a whole new forum. Intermittently there are req. for info but they are infrequent enough that a it doesn't require a new forum. Typically when people ask, I refer them out but perhaps we could build a little niche here. What do you think?

Maggie

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

A sticky message with composting basics is a great idea! We need both vermicomposting and regular composting basics available.

claypa recently directed folks to this very informative container soil thread in response to the potting soil question. this type of information would be handy to keep at the top.
http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/527353/

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

I'm all for it! I vermicompost indoors in the summer when it's too hot, and put them in the heap in autumn. It would be a good place to post results as this is my first year at it.

Palmer, AK(Zone 2a)

I'm all for it also. I love my worms!

(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

My mother sends food over for my worms all the time... she feeds them more than I do! I have happy worms who are easy, quiet and don't have any odor to speak of... great 'pets'... LOL

Tammie

...if only my 3 dogs were as easy.

Interlachen, FL(Zone 9a)

Yes, as I'm new to vericomposting and need all the help I can get.

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Im also interested! I know teh Dh wont allow me to keep em over winter in our basement, but I would have up to about Oct- an dthen mabye I could give the lil buggers away!
This compost method just seems faster and easier than any other for those of us with limited space and sun...

(Im fairly new.. and yet to figure out Juts which vermiposting thread I should be watching. That and the sticky thing- I'll figure it all out eventually!)

hmmm.. can you throw worm castings directly on a raised bed?

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Hello all, I am VERY new to GA (coming from Netherlands) just reading your thread here cause we have a yard that hasn't been properly maintained for about 20 years! It needs tilling, soil raising etc. etc. BUT can somebody tell me PLSE what the h... is vermicomposting, wormcastings, stickys ????? MAYDAY MAYDAY need advise asap!
Thanks frm newcomer to States. I have started a diary btw with some pics of the yard.

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Hello there Tuliplady!,
And might I say your English is superb! (My english is exemplary, howvere my typing s*cks lol)

Im kind o fin yoru boat, although I know some of teh terms (please correct me if Im wrong, ya'll!)

Vermiposting : composting using worms!
Wormcastings: worm err... manure

The sticky thing? Im clueless about!

Welcome to the states and in particular MY state! :D

Ninnian (from north of you)

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Thanks Ninnian, 2 out of 3 "ain't bad". The "sticky" I sometimes see on a thread, after the title it will say (sticky), meaning ...very long or ?
Sautee Nacoochee?? I know you sautee mushrooms and onions etc. but actually live there.? How far north are you frm Atlanta?

To go back to the thread: are the worms neccessary for making compost or could I do without? Since the yard needs a lot of cleaning up, I will have tons and tons of leaves and pine needles, so it would be a good start for a compostpile I guess but I don't think I am quite ready to work with worms! I just need to come up with a easy and not so expensive way of making something.

Camanche, IA(Zone 5a)

Hi all; I hope we can have our Vermcomposting so every one can join in and help the new one's like (me). I have just made my worm beds, and have leaves and shredded newspaper that I have soaked in water and squeezed out so it is moist and not dripping wet. I made my beds out of 10 gallon plastic tubs, with air holes and drain holes. I just order my worms from the worm man, and hope they will be here Wednesday. I have a light (for heat), to keep the worms happy for the first week. Then I'll start feeding them my kitchen scraps. I hope I am doing it right because I want my worms to be happy! I'll report back in when I have my worms. I hope to take pictures but now I don't know how to get them on the forum. LOL If any one needs any help, or you have some ideas I don't know about please tell me, Then we all can raise worms!! Phil

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

If you make it they will come. In my experience all you have to do is start a compost pile, on the ground of course :~), and the worms will show up to the party *vbg* I've wanted to start a small vemicomposting bin under the kitchen sink for scraps but that's just one more thing on a very long list that I want to do lol.

Lana

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

19flip44 start feeding the bin NOW they eat (the worms) eat what eats the scraps in other words feed the bind NOW not too much but now. So that when your worms arrive the mold and bacteria that they eat are present, alive and eating your scraps.

Would love a sticky, would also love an active head count on how many active Vermicomposters are out there - count me in

Lana - out of all my projects this one was the EASIEST. Sounds like you all ready know what to do - so like NIKE says JUST DO IT. You will love it, being able to compost kitchen scraps in the winter without having to go out to the bin is a real plus. I tend to use the blender on my scraps more in the winter due to its more intense usage.

I have always wanted to try a few (50 or so) on a strictly garlic diet - I have heard that the resulting worms are Trout KIILLERS

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

LOL, my brothers and dh would love "garlic worms", the brothers trout fish quite a bit.

Lana

Quincy, IL(Zone 5b)

Yes, please do a vermicomposting sticky!

I just recently decided to jump in and start vermicomposting, and unfortunately, the worms arrived before the bin, and without any care instructions whatsoever! I've googled "vermicomposting" in an attempt to find care instructions, but there is very little out there. I have a temporary arrangement at this time, and so far they seem to be doing okay.

Also, even though I ordered a pound of red wrigglers, I'm not sure I got a pound. I think I got a pound of dirt with some worms in it (although the worms seem healthy, all pink and squirmy, and they're the right size). I ordered from Green Culture. I haven't called them yet to ask about this. (I bet anything I did not get one thousand worms! A post in the "vermicomposter" thread said a pound of red wrigglers would be about 1000 adult worms. Can anyone comfirm or deny that?)

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

Cool Beans,

I'll get together some initial info/resources to submit for a sticky. I think the amnins actually have to give it sticky status.

Maggie

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

i didnt see this answered yet:

Quoting:
The "sticky" I sometimes see on a thread, after the title it will say (sticky), meaning ...very long or ?


sticky = means it's "stuck" to the top of a forum. Usually done with FAQ's or threads that have a lot of important info and when it's stuck to the top of a forum, it's easier to find.

In most cases, a Moderator or the Admin of the site can make a thread a sticky.

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Aha, thank you TCS1366. Everybody is so excited about the worms, I thought I'll go ask this question again on diff. forum. So.... a sticky is not something I have to learn about how to do it etc, right??

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

LOL... correct. stickies are a good thing - you know it's usually filled with good information.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Hi Folks... Last year I documented my worm composting experience here and it might be useful to you if you're just getting started. Here's the link: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/572855/.

You can also visit my Journal here on DG my clicking my name beside this message. There's a section on vermicomposting.

Last fall I used most of my worm compost around shrubs and perennials, and kept my small bin over the winter in the kitchen. Now that spring is approaching, I've split the population and have the second bin going, hoping to have a big batch of compost ready by the end of May for planting.

Angel, I wouldn't worry about your 'thousand' worms. Once they establish in your compost, they'll start reproducing. It takes an egg casing about two weeks to hatch, and the babies take about a month to reach maturity and start reproducing themselves. In a few months you'll have loads of them. The picture shows adult and baby worms and egg casings (they look like grape seeds).

Because my composter is an inside bin, it's isolated from 'wild' worms and I had to populate it with purchased worms to start. But I've read that composting piles started outdoors, on the ground, will attract earthworms naturally, without you having to buy them.

About terms:

Vermicomposting -- composting with worms, aerobic, relies on worms more than vegetative rotting. Purpose: to create compost for garden use

Vermiculture -- growing worms. Purpose: to produce quantities of worms, usually for sale

Microbial environment -- food and shelter for your worms. They need air, moisture and temperature (40-75F), and food on which microbes grow. It is the microbes, bacteria, spores etc. that provide their nourishment, and they get this by eating the vegetative scraps you provide. They also need a bit of soil to provide grit in their gut to break down what they eat.

Leachate -- excess moisture from the bin which drips out the bottom. This is why you need drainage and aeration holes in your bin, and a plastic boot-tray under the bin to catch the leachate. You can dilute the leachate in water and use it as a mild fertilizer.

Hope this helps.

Thumbnail by andycdn
Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Wow!
Go to Disneyworld for a week... and you have too much to catch up on! Its all good tho! :D

Thank you TCS!!! Its very good to know I dotn have to educate myself on another gardening facet! A sticky is not in my realm of " things I have to know" LOL

Tuliplady, Sautee is pronounced in English as' 'Saw- Tee'. Sautee-Nacoochee is a Uchee/Cherokee Indian name. I love it here in this mountainous area. I am abotu 90 minutes above Atlanta, dependant on what part you measure from. There are days I think I dont live far Enough out! Feel free to write my mail if you want to know anything about the area. Its very popular with tourists.(I try to avoid the touristy areas.. but I do know some about them)

oh! Im so glad we have newbies who want to start up vermicompsoting, and very grateful we have experienced 'worm wranglers' to help us thru teh process! :D

Ninnian

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Gosh, heres a question I thought about just after I hit "send" (of course)

I know worms liek stuff in smallish bits... but do you have to blend them or anything? how small is small? I cant see me making up batches of mush for them every day(or every few with food thats starting to rot?!)

Do they like coffee grounds? I wonder if I coudl get my friends to save thiers for me.. or mabye the local coffee houses?

Nin

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

nin,

You don't need to grind it up- worms actually eat the byproducts of what the other inhabitants eat. This is an excellent site for learning about worms

http://www.wormswrangler.com/article17%20First%20to%20read.html

Maggie

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Ninnian, I might contact you, I am really curious what else is "out there".
I am not ready to start composting or vermi composting yet, but I'd like to learn up on it already. We still have a huge garden renovation to do. You can see photo's in my "diary".

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Maggie, Thank you! Im going to look over that at once!
(hey, I just noticed - Does my zone only show to others, becuase I cant see it)?

Tuliplady, feel free. I dotn know so much about the other areas of Georgia becuase I myself am a 'transplant', but I Love this area.
I wish I had a huge garden area to renovate! Im putting up raised beds now and hoping I can keep my cat san the deer (grr!) out of them. Ill go tromping thru your diary soon also! Thank You!

Nin

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Sorry Andy but your wrong about the leachate. Leachate should not be used on plants espeically house plants that are by definition in a clossed system, leachate is what gathers at the bottom of the worm bin this is NOT the same as tea. From the link margaran provided Kelly Slocum (the worm guru) it states: (The first sentence makes it sound like its a good idea but read on)..................

Leachate from an actively decomposing pile of organic debris will often carry many of the soluble nutrients that had been present in the solid matter, producing a beneficial growth response when used to water plants. It will also carry small numbers of the microorganisms present on that solid matter, as well as small bits of undecomposed organic material. This becomes a matter of some concern when materials like manure or post consumer food residuals make up even a portion of the feedstock in the system. There is the possibility that fecal coliforms and other pathogenic organisms can be present in the leachate, potentially contaminating plant and fruit or vegetable surfaces with which it comes into contact.

Further, the bits of undecomposed organic debris in the leachate will continue to be broken down in the liquid where oxygen levels are very low, through the action of anaerobic microorganisms. As they slowly decompose these bits of material anaerobes produce alcohol and phenols toxic to plant roots.

It is not always possible to tell when leachate will produce a beneficial growth response and when it will cause damage. Without a lab test it is not possible to tell when leachate will harbor potentially pathogenic organisms. As such, it is generally recommended that leachate from compost or worm bins not be used on plants, but rather used to moisten the system if it dries out or to moisten new feed stocks before they are included in the system.

Steeping the finished, stable end product of a composting or vermicomposting system in agitated, aerated water, then adding a nutrient mix for microbial growth makes a true tea. The water is agitated to extract as many of the organisms clinging to the solid matter as possible and the nutrient mix provides those microbes dislodged into the liquid with a food source on which to grow and reproduce. Aerating the water ensures that it is aerobic organisms being supported in the liquid. This blend of food and oxygen in the tea enables the microorganisms to grow to numbers rivaling those found in the solid matter from which the tea is derived. Teas must then be used within a few hours of being generated in order to ensure aerobicity and high microbial populations. Once the oxygen and food are consumed, anaerobic organisms will begin to populate the system, producing alcohols and phenols toxic to plants.

Good tea begins with good, quality compost, worm castings or vermicompost, or a blend of these materials. Provided the solid material is stable and supports sufficient beneficial microbial life there is nothing in these liquids to cause plant damage.




Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Thanks for Kelly's always-wise words, MQN. I have most of her notes but missed that one.

I've used my leachate with no problems, mostly on shrubs and perennials. No deaths yet!

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Outside not such a problem, its inside plants I was worried about, sometimes we (newbies) just take the ball and run, yeah know?

I got into vermicomposting because of her on another (not so friendly forum), nothing could get her going then someone talking about using leachate as a "booster", she would go into this long spiel about the chemical compostion, the true science of it, leaving us newbies & wannbes' in the dust with the techno side of it........

Quincy, IL(Zone 5b)

andycdn - thank you for the worm numbers info

MQN - thanks for the leachate info. The instructions with my worm bin said that leachate could be diluted and used on houseplants, but it didn't say why.

I finally got my worm bin today (10 days after receiving the worms!). The worms survived okay in their makeshift home (a small cardboard box). Hopefully they'll be happy in their new high-rise, multi-level worm bin. :)

A question - according to the bin manual, worms will form up in balls when stressed. Yet in andycdn's thread, someone said that the worms do that when mating. Which is it? Or is it both? There were two groups of worm clumps this afternoon when I transferred them to their new home. I fed the worms very little food while they were in temp housing. They had a little shredded damp newspaper bedding above and below them, and the soil they came in kinda sandwiched in between the paper layers (although the worms distributed it a bit through the paper). I spritzed the surface paper with water every day, and a couple of times dug up the corners and spritzed there too, because the soil was pretty dry. They seem okay to me, not stressed, but I'm no worm expert.



This message was edited Mar 12, 2007 8:41 PM

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

I don't know about stress causing balls of worms- mine do that when they're all pigging out on bananas or avocados that stayed too long.

Maggie

Olympia, WA(Zone 7b)

Nin - worms love coffee grounds. If the grounds are dry discs from espresso makers, I wet them so the worms can consume them faster.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

I think worms like company and bunch up when they feel like it. Sometimes I see balls of 20-30, under the same conditions as when I don't, so I don't think it's stress. As for mating, that's a one-on-one activity, not an orgy!

Although you'll be curious for the first few weeks, try to keep your visits to the bin to a minimum. Because they are sensitive to light, they don't like to be disturbed if you can avoid it. The main thing is to be sure they are happy in their environment. If you see them crawling up the walls or on the lid, they're trying to escape and are not happy. If there's a bad smell, there's probably not enough aeration, or you're using the wrong food, like any animal product. Or you might be feeding too much for the number of worms in the bin. I had this problem, and found that the food was rotting and starting to smell because there weren't enough worms to eat it.

Someone asked about preparing the food by using a food processor to make a 'slurry'. I've heard of this, but it's more work than I'm willing to put in. This is garden compost, not an angel-food cake! I throw in orange peels, pineapple trimmings, apple cores, banana skins, canteloupe skins and seeds, all as-is or, at most, cut into 1" pieces.

Things I don't feed them: dried onion skins (microbes don't grow on them); root vegetables, unless rotting or cooked (they won't feed on a growing root); egg shells (some ppl recommend these to balance the pH, but they don't break down, in my experience); and of course any animal products -- flesh, oils, milk/dairy, eggs, etc. Bread is OK, and they love coffee grounds.

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

I read an hyperlinked article and it totally bummed me out!
Theres no way I can keep a box full fo worms outside under 70 so degrees in teh summer.. not even here in teh mtns!
*grumble* Mabye I'll look at ya'lls suggestions, and think of how to make life more hospitable for native wormies under teh compost heap Ive started. I was thinking mabye Ill rake what I have over a huge peice of cardboad with slots cut out of it here n there.
I'll live vicariously thru my other worm wranglers here abouts. :D

Ninnian

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Ninnian - why can you not keep them in the house?
Nadine

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Ninnian, andydcn brings the worms in in the winter. I bring mine in in the summer and will soon need to do that. I just set up a "cheap and easy worm bin" -- you can google that and get the instructions -- and harvest as many as I can find when I turn the compost next, and put them in. The big brown earthworms are fine outside all the time, apparently -- it's the red ones that don't like heat. My inside ones last year produced some of the most beautiful material you can imagine. And you bury the food in the shredded paper, so it doesn't attract other critters. I had a little problem with fruit flies, but I set a simple trap for them (plastic bowl with lid, with apple cider vinegar in it) and they disappeared in short order. It doesn't produce vast quantities, but it's good stuff, and come fall you throw them back into the compost bin.

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

Hey! Nadine and brigidlily!,
Oh believe me, Ive read that they make swell indoor pets, however my DH has put down teh law. NO Worms in the house! I'm not sure if it's becuase our house is so small and its not completed yet,if he fears 'smell" or if it just creeps him out.(or any combo of teh above)

I think I'll just try to coax them to my newly strated compost heap, and also throw them in teh raised beds Im making as I find em!

Nin

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Nin, I have an outdoor worm bin also, and it gets way to hot for them........ they do bury/go deep.

I plan on building a sunflower "house" around the bin so that as the temps raise the sunflowers can shade them and help bring down the temps my "door" is going to face east - which is shaded by an huge old weeping willow.

I will probably dig in new food additions. Just something you may want to try, I am doing it also to "hide" the bin which really is not that attractive.............

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

You could do a bottomless bin outside then the worms could go deep when it was hot and come up to work when it wasn't.

Lana

Sautee Nacoochee, GA(Zone 7a)

A bottomless bin , eh?... who knew?? (obviosly not I)
Using one of these (which sounds kinda nifty) would one then use regular ol' native worms? I had heard that you dont want to put the red types out becuase they are an import to teh ecosystem. I dont truly know , however. Do you buy these things online?

MQN, do you have your bin where the wormies can go in into teh ground itself? Omigosh.. I wish I could grow a sunflower house.. heck - I wish I coudl grow ONE sunflower without it being mauled and chomped by deer beasts! ::scowls and waves her fists menacingly at teh forest:: 'This year it's Irish Spring for the Lot of you!' *sob!*

Nin

(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

Here's a great link to make your own worm bin.

http://www.digitalseed.com/composter/vermicomposting.html

Maggie

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