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It's also a way to compost plants that could otherwise spread and become a nuisance, like bermuda grass and tomato vines. Once the plant matter is fully fermented, it's not going to sprout. I use a separate bucket for the garden trimmings of concern versus the food scraps.
Dean, shred them up, put in the bokashi bucket with either the starter or activated EM, seal the lid on it and ferment it for a week or two (longer in cooler climates, can get by with shorter time in warmer climates). When you open the bucket after fermenting, the plant material will look pickled and have a fermented aroma. This fermented plant material is then buried in the soil to finish composting.
I recommend you do a test plot with the first batch of fermented Bermuda Grass and tomato vines to test for sprouting. If the grass sprouts, you need to ferment it longer.
garden_mermaid now long have you been using the bokashi composting?
We just started it late summer this year after moving to Texas since I have to do something to get the sand and clay to where I can plant and grow in it
So... somebody tell me where the worms go when the ground freezes?
I have (what I think is) a beautiful compost pile full of grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps and steer manure.
I hoped the worms would help me out, now that winter hit I'm not sure what to expect from my compost or worms.
That's great news. Before it snowed the pile was nice and warm a few inches down. I assume it's still a little warm someplace deep inside or close to the bottom.
I have visions of heaps magical vermicompost for my rose garden next spring.
So do I want to make sure NOT to turn the pile when the temps are down? Don't want those little guys to freeze. Or can they get down into the warmth fast enough that I don't have to worry . . .
Trying to round out the last 5 years of grass clippings in a nitrogen-heavy pile that's way too big. I'm trying to add in as much manure and red wiggler worm castings as I can and spread it out to aerate it so that I can use it all in the spring.
Oh, you hit the mother lode! The worms can move fast enough not to worry. They will be sending out an all point bulletin with that feast! LOL
Dig a trench in the center of that leaf pile and start adding from one end to the other, it'll make it easier for you. The worms won't care.
I don't turn my pile much in the winter, but I'm in a little milder climate than you are. Once in awhile we bundle up and go have a look...too impatient...but it's fun to see the steam coming off the pile. We usually cover with a tarp and hook one end so we can get it off easily.
I just need to get the already-composted peat-like grass chunks integrated with the brows from the leaves and manure. I kind of got them together when I put the manure in, but I'm hoping that it all loosens up a little so that I can keep "churning" it around together. I can't wait until I have worm castings to add in. Yum!!!
I earlier told yall about heating my building where i keep my worms well we finally came up with a solution I am very proud of. My DH took a 50 gallon drum and turned it into a wood burning stove with a kit he bought. now my worms can keep a happy 70 -75 degree temp and eat and reproduce constantly. I am so happy. It's much better then having to run the torpedo heater in there much cheaper burning wood!
I have an attached insulated garage that maintains a temperature range between 40 to 50 degrees F through the winter months, which is the temperature of the worm media as well. I decided to try an experiment using my seed germination heat pad to warm the bins. Within a couple of days I had exceeded 80 degrees F, so I attached the thermostat probe and adjusted to 77 degress.
I would like to experiment with monitoring moisture in the bins as well using a garden type moisture probe that reads in percentage. I have not been able to locate any for less than $100 plus. Has anyone come across a simple garden soil temperature probe that measures in percent for less than $100?
Mibus, I've been working with Effective Microbes and Bokashi for a little over two years now. I brew up a batch of Activated EM from time to time and it in soil drenches and foliar sprays (diluted for both applications). I've also used it to help keep the drains clear in the house, and spray some diluted AEM in the worm bins.
My plants stay healthier and seem to grow better when I use it.
Garden_mermaid are you making your own EM? If so I would love to know how myself then when I do run out of the gallon I have I could just make it up instead of contacting the gal again to buy more...the bakashi I can make once I get the ingredients
the EM I have is called EM-1 from the site I gave for emamerica.
I have used it a lil in the bokashi even though the gal told me it was already an ingredient in it
and then I have mixed it in with water when watering the flowers and bushes I do already have here.
I need to get one of those hose sprayer's so I can cover more ground as I water.
Bokashi is method to ferment food waste (or plant materials from the garden) and is then traditionally buried in the soil near your plants or in a trench for a couple of weeks for finishing. Finishing involves earthworms eating it in the ground. Some of us also put the fermented food waste in our wormbins. I layer it in the worm bedding. The worms love it and the vermicompost created by feeding Bokashi to the worms is richer in beneficial microbes than standard vermicompost.
I would like to try some Canadian Nightcrawlers (lumbricus terrestris) in the garden, but they seem to be sold mostly in small quantities, for bait, and at outlandish prices. The lowest price I've found for a large quantity (online) is at "Ray's Worms & More." Has anyone had any experience with these suppliers, or with Canadian Nightcrawlers as a garden worm?
This is a small urban raised-bed garden, by the way. We are NOT going to attract wild worms, nor is there a field close by where I can hunt for them. :)
I have already added to the garden:
* about 1/2 pound of redworms (eisenia fetida) in June after my first attempt at a worm bin
* about 1-1/2 pound of European Nightcrawlers (eisenia hortensis) in July
* 5 pounds of "garden culture" mix in November. This is a blend of redworms, Europeans, and "Golden Jumpers" (pheritima hayakawa), to cover a range of depths. I have doubts about how well the pheritimas are going to do in a Seattle winter, which is why I'd like to try the Canadian Nightcrawlers.
I worked a lot of organic material into the soil in October. I want to do an absolute minimum of tilling from now on, which is why I am impatient to get a big worm population built up before spring -- as challenging as that may be. :)
Anitra, worms have a "sweet tooth". You might want to try watering the bed with a cup of unsulfured molasses mixed in 1 or 2 gallons of water. That brings the worms running around here. It also adds some trace minerals to your soil (like manganese) and is good food for the soil microbes.
The DirtDoctor recommends adding dry molasses:
"Dry molasses used at a rate of about 20 pounds per 1000 square feet should be all you need to get the earthworms moving in and doing their magic. There's no need to purchase worms. If conditions are good, they will come." http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=174
Well y'all have given some great info and now that it is the holiday and I am not driving my school bus I have time to sit here next week and read up on everything, but I know Santa isn't bringing me any worms hahahaha so I have time to work on doing a few things to get more stuff ready to get some.
Thanks, garden-mermaid. I have been using dry molasses in the garden, and I will keep on it, to encourage the worms already there. :) As I said, though, we are in the middle of the city. No matter how alluring I make our soil, it isn't going to pull worms here out of concrete.
My wormbins are booming, and when I move the compost & vermicompost to the garden come spring some number of worms and eggs are going to go with it. I know they will survive in the garden, too. But they will stay in the top few inches of the soil.
Composting worms (like eisenia fetida and eisenia hortensis, and perionyx excavatus too) are topsoil (epigeic) worms. There are two other main groupings of worms in a natural environment: endogeic worms build lateral burrows through all layers of the upper mineral soil; anecic worms build vertical burrows from the surface of the soil down deep into the mineral layer. To keep the garden soil "naturally tilled" I would like to have all three groups of worms working it. At the least, I would like to have both epigeic and anecic worms.
The only anecic worm that I know of that is both adapted to this region and commercially available is the Canadian Nightcrawler. Pheretima Hayakawa is an anecic worm, but it is also a warm-country worm.
dovey, you might have to call Purina to find out about the Worm Chow. It's mentioned in several articles and websites for commericial worm growers. I suppose it's possible that they have discontinued it. Perhaps it's only available through Purina's commercial feed distributors rather than through the pet food site.
Anitra, what has happened to the worms in Seattle? We started a community garden in the middle of the city on a lot that had been vacant and barren for many years. We we cleared the lot, tilled and leveled the ground, one thing we noticed was the complete lack of life in the soil. No worms, no insects. Six months later, after workin in organic matter and molasses, we had worms.
I'll check it out... although I did Google the ingredients and found Rabbit Chow has pretty much the same thing in it.
Years ago (as in the 70s) my neighbor thought he was going to make his millions with a worm farm, he got set up with red worms and fed them rabbit manure, it was the best. The problem was finding bunny poo sources.
He finally gave up and sold the property, made good money on the land.
Here's my two cents. Sorry I can not source this data. I believe it to be reasonably correct.
Create Healthy, Aerated Soil Naturally!
Nature’s soil aerators, our live earthworms (redworms) improve and condition the soil as they burrow in search of food. Earthworms excrete a highly nitrous fertilizer (called castings), which contain 5X the available nitrogen, 7X the available phosphorus, 3X the exchangeable magnesium, 11X the available potash, and 1.5X the calcium found in 6 inches of top soil.
Use 2-3 worms/sq. ft.
To give positive criticism I find this thread more accurate than the reference to red worms in my post. I find red worms only in my vermiculture area which is totally kitchen waste innoculated with high quality native compost.
When I hear others claim red worm populations in their garden soils I suspect there are also percentages of raw unfinished compost parts in their patches. This is quite OK. I do however agree that the Canadian Nightcrawler sometimes called a Nightwalker and other smaller grey worms are the occupants in the absence of raw compost parts or components.
I have always felt that casts are casts and that they are more equal in value than we need to be concerned about from any differences that may exist. This in my opinion would apply to different worms as well as different ways or processes to grow them.
Black Strap Molasses (cattle feed grade) is a much greater value than the so called dry molasses. Dry molasses is grain chaf and other organic waste with a little black strap molasses added to make a good sounding product. The liquid can be found at most places where they mix or blend cattle feed. Cost about $3.00 gal.
Look for a 2 1/2 gal jug or five gal. container that is square. Add a plastic valve. Five gallons can be bought in the Northeast for $6.00 - $8.00.
Hey doc...I agree with you on the red wiggler from the kitchen or leaf compost bin not being a viable garden worm, but I have noticed a few in my raised beds at the beginning of spring. They are smaller and a deep red color which is a throw back to the ones I started with nearly 40 years ago.
A former walleye fisherman friend in Kansas told me that he had established Canadian Night Crawlers in his yard after 20 years of disposing the excess from his fishing trips. I didn't believe him until he showed me. My garden sits on a gravel and rock shelf that is about two feet under the surface, and with perma frost going down more than two feet I can't imagine ever establishing a permanent worm culture in the garden.
However, with tips from this and the previous vemiculture thread I have added grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds to my 60 cu ft horse manure compost bin. I reported earlier seeing a few residual red worms in the first turning about six weeks ago. Since then I have added several thousand red wigglers from my indoor compost bins along with some bone meal, blood meal, epsom salt, and some pot ash, left over from last season. Our temperatures have been sub-freezing for some time, but when I lifted the cover on the bin the other day there were nice fat red worms on the surface.
Point being is that this year my compost pile will proably have a good number of red wigglers, which at the very least should be of benefit in the mulched areas during the growing season. So thanks everyone for all the great advise. This should be an interesting gardening year.
Based on what I have read from several sources those worms produce their weight in casts daily. Therefore it would benefit us to try to get the night crawlers established. We have them here naturally. Intresting stuff here. In my case I have them naturally in the lawn and actually less than best soils. I pick them and toss them at the gardens where they dig in but do not seem to be overly pleased. Don't know why. We do have ample other grey worms therefore the native cast production situation is in progress.
The major difference in my garden is a PH 7. Out where I have the higher counts of night crawlers there is a PH 6.0- 6.5. and much less organic content. Maybe Mother's mind is set to improve the lessor soils.
There are numerous other extreme healthy soil practices going on supporting giant pumpkins. For instance when possible we start early fall with three to four inches of raw manures, feet of leaves to provide the carbon ratio and a cover crop. Yes for awhile at least this is red worm territory. My organic content is above 15% but it is in absolute gray worm condition. The fall added manures are converted by our spring and we are then back into grey worm conditions. Maybe the night crawlers just are not used to such luxurys. :) Funny but sometimes I think the more I think I know the more I find I may not know...or something like that.
here is a good article on molasses .
very informative .
hi sorry i had to deleate the article
as i was reading it , i was thinking why does he keep talking about herbs ? . Well i found out what kind of herbs he was talking about. yikes
Sorry about that .
if i offended anyone , wasn't my intent. just didnt look at the headliner as i was reading
Doc, thanks for the advice on molasses! I wish I'd read it before I ordered a new 5-gallon bag of Dry Molasses from GreenSense. :) At least the dry molasses does no harm -- and I won't have to order any more. Blackstrap molasses is a lot easier to find.
Garden Mermaid, I may be attracting wild worms. The only ones I've ever found are visibly decendants of the redworms and European nightcrawlers I first let loose there. Then again, those are the ones I'd be most likely to find in the top few inches. There could be others deeper down. But I am impatient! I've ordered a second five-pound batch of Garden Culture, this time from Vermitechnology, that should be arriving in a couple more days. I've also gotten 50 earthworm cocoons from Gardens Alive. When the weather warms up a bit, I'm going to order some African nightcrawler eggs from BWCN Farms. I'm still looking out for Canadian nightcrawlers. Wild ones are welcome if they come! :)
Worms from the garden are definitely colonizing the compost bins I have set around the garden.
This may be duplication. Worm casts contain 5 X the available nitrogen, 7X the available phosphorus, 3 X the exchangeable magnesium, 11 X the available potash and `1.5 X the calcium found in the best garden's top 6 inches of soil. All the living biology they contain or support is significant in addition to the above.
Most of us have to work at it but if we can achieve the presence of eight to a dozen worms of any variety in our soil per shovel full of soil they will add an inch of top soil per year to your patches. High healthy populations in vermiculture practices deliver even more casts than this in a year's time.
The molasses is good for those nutrients too ,except calcium, but it also is good source for Chelete i hope that is the right term something about micro organisms.
I think the two would be a good combo, you can also use the molasses as a foliage spray
if you google it you get some really informative info
i m looking forward to the worms in our garden
Garden gave a great site . that was cute garden, my kids love it.
When applications of aerobic tea are being placed on the foliage both sides of the leaf are important. This is living biology working on the occupational theory of the fact that the good guys can and do prevent the bad guys from getting a foothold. The good guys applied to the foliage will need food so we in fact add two ounces of Black Strap Molasses to a gallon of water. This may be applied at the same time and with the water used to apply the aerobic tea. Feeding in this manor even gives the applied biology an opportunity to grow with the plant. No science cooked magic in a bag or bottle can duplicate this fact.
I apply aerobic teas weekly which include tea made from finished quality compost adding earth worm casts, kelp or alfalfa meal, and a very small amount of fish oil and molasses. This is used in the occupational theory and works just fine for me. I rarely if ever see the dreaded milldew when I do my job correctly.
I might add that I am growing what for some is a difficult plant family which includes pumpkins. We are four years (not advised) in the same and only patch in our back yard. Our PH is 7.0 and we have achieved over 15% organic material in the soil. Yes we have bunches of worms. We use no or extremely little harsh chemicals. I call my doings a healty patch. All of our property is maintained within a healthy system of management for over fifty years.
is crop rotation in your opinion , a way of protecting plants, due to many of the soils around are being over done with chemicals. That due to the fact that alot of the soil doesn't have the proper micorobes and good bacteria to fend of virus ,molds and other wilts .
Just like our bodies, the healthyier we are, the better our bodies can fight off virus .
This has always seem to be my IMHO . My dad has never rotated his raiesed bed ,but has always added organic matter. He doesn't have the problems with his gardens. ? but that is my dad. He is a old hippie LOL :)
I was just curious on that .
i enjoyed your pics of your pumpkins.
We old Dutch fellows believe in the following basics. Manures, composts, leaves, organic fertilizers, biological helpers when needed, trace minerals and cover crops. Yes indeed crop rotation is important as is the elimination of difficult or un-needed plants like pumpkin, squash, cukes and melons.
As you say us old hippies may get away with no rotation by over working the soil building but sooner or later using the same crop...any crop leads to difficulty. The problem is the same crop keeps pulling the same growth needs out of a given spot or acreage. In time that crop has not what it needs to stay healthy.
The old jolk used to be "West Virginia crop rotation was corn over coal for twenty years and a hundred years of jack pine". What we sharpies and jolksters did not know is they did'nt eat the corn. Somehow they managed to have others buy white lightning for a higher profit than eating corn. Note West Va. knew how to find the now famous beltway and who lived beyond it. :)))
okay hubby went and got worms to put in the container I bought for them to do their magic...I know not the ones I was hoping to order but worms none the less. they are in there and it has been almost a week. I know it doesn't happen over night and I am patient in waiting ...what my concern is today I opened it just to look as I have been leaving them alone after getting them settled in and some coffee grounds and orange peels and bread crumbs put in ... it's warm in there nice and warm
I noticed that a piece of bread that Dh tossed in there has white fluffy mold? on it.
is ti suppose to be nice and warm and should I remove that bread?
How warm is nice & warm? If your guessing 80 degrees, that's pushing it, 65-70 would be better. you can check it with a good kitchen thermometer. Is your bedding actually turning into a hot compost pile? If so, just shred some newspaper for them, moisten it and toss it in the bin. They will retreat to the cooler space they need. Leave the bread, worms don't actually eat the bread, they eat the mold. It's all good.
the only one I have to use is my candy one and it doesn't go down that far but I tried it anyway to see how far up it would go and it didn't' move it ...i poked around more in it and it seems it is the bread that is warm the orange peels and coffee grounds are cool to the touch and I found a lil bity worm in there along with a few others so it must be okay ...he only got 2 dozen worms LOL
When the conditions are right those worms can only eat their body weight daily. However they will have young and in time your numbers will increase. Starting with so few the food will not go away very quickly. Think of it this way. Holding a handfull of worms only requires about half that much food in hand on a daily use basis.
I have raised red wigglers in plastic tubs for a number of years, and I keep noticing an unusual layer in the bottom several inches of the tubs. My media is peat moss and my food source is the standard kitchen peelings which I emulsivy in a blender.
The very bottom of the older bins have a layer of stringy like material, and is loaded with worm egg capsule. I can't quite figure out what origin of the stringy material is. I turn my media as I feed the worms, however I leave the bottom several inches undisturbed. Any ideas?
mraider3...Very interesting. I shall await for the response of others to consider what the stringy mass loaded with eggs could be. It is certainly a healthy situation or the eggs would not be placed there by the worms without concern for anything but a good biological situation.
To illustrate my point. Take a gallon of compost and add one tabelspoon full of 10 -10- 10 to it. Take one gallon of compost as is from your pile.
Place them side by side on a screen or in a box with a dozen worms placed in the center. Within no time at all 100% of the worms will be on the un-poisoned side of your box. Worms will not stay in a soil loaded even with relatively small amounts of poison salts from any source.
You can run this experiment using any of the manufactured biocides. They all kill or sicken the very goodness your are trying to build up.
Stick with your worms but do not overlook the compost, manures, trace minerals and cover crops in your gardens and compost piles.
Well doc, since I remove the spent worm media (worm casings) regularly from the top of each of the bins for germination mix, I don't utilize this stringy material until spring when I deposit everything from two of my bins into the outdoor horse manure compost pile. Agreed there is no harm being done here, it appears to be the happy breeding grounds for the red wigglers. I'm just comfounded as to where this stingy material comes from.
can you believe it DH accused me of playing with worms after he went to bed last night.
He took son to work this morning and when he got back he said there was a worm in the kitchen on the floor under the table. He put it back int eh box though...LOL
It must have wanted to see the sights and came out through a bottom hole LOL
Maggie, just finished completely turning over my vermicomposting bins yesterday, so I can't sent a pic. I may have found the answer as to source of the stringy material. Bananna stems! These have a tendency to hang up on the blender cutter blades and they are very stringy.
Recently I started cutting the bannan stems off before blending, and I'm not seeing the buildup like before. How they work their way to the bottom of the bins is still a mystery. Something that interests me is the amount of egg capsules that were embedded in this material on the bottom of the bins. Is it normal for worms to deposit their egg capsules in the bottom of the bins?
I am now doing several things differently: (1) using a heating mat to increase media temperature, (2) completely dumping two vermiculture bins into my outdoor horse manure compost bin early each spring.
FYI...I haven't time to post this in the gadgets section, but I ran across exclusive in a charleysgreenhouse.com catalog called a rotary sieve. Something new out of the UK.
It's 'sale priced' at $64.95, but it looks like a neat little tool for mixing up spent worm media (worm casings) with horse manure compost to make potting soil. The latter is really difficult to mix well and this gadget might be the answer.
Thanks Maggie for the hyperlink to all the new vermicomposting threads. Glad to see this kicking off...can't wait to review these when I get back from JAX. Cudos y'all on putting these vermiculture threads together.
The worms I know deposit their eggs throughout the bins but the moist bottom in especially attractive in a bin as long as it has good drainage. I've found that the "like a wrung out sponge" is fine for setting up your shredded paper strips but as food is added, the bin gets wetter and the worms seem quite thrilled to be there. That said, I have a COW so the wet bottom of my bin is probably much drier than a one layer bin.
Before adding a heat mat my bins maintained the same temperature as the insulated, but unheated garage where I keep the worm bins (40 to 50 degrees F). The bottoms of the bins were typically loaded with unhatched egg capsules until the temperature heated up. By spring the capsules started hatching and I found increasing the moisture levels really got things going.
Since I don't use holes in the bottom of the bins to drain excess moisture, I have two other methods of controling the moisture levels. Adding new media (peat moss) on a regular basis, or in extreem conditions I use a two inch piece of PVC pipe in the corner of a bin with small holes drilled into the sides along the bottom third of the pipe. A piece of nylon hose placed over the tube with a rubber band allows excess moisture to enter the tube, keeping out media and worms. The extract or tea if you wish can be extracted with a turkey baster. I seldom use the latter method unless I wanted some 'tea' for plants.
What setup do you use for aerating the leachate? I've seen a couple different ones but haven't gotten around to setting one up yet. I do think my gardenia and milkweed could use it, maybe it will help boost resistante to the aphids and scale. Do you know anything about that?
I have a question about worms, and hope that one of you experience worm wranglers may know the answer. I just started my bin and keep it in my laundry room near a floor heat vent. The house temp goes to 68 during the day and 61 at night but the laundry stays a little warmer because there are no windows.
Every day, one or two worms crawl up the sides and try to escape. I started with one pound of red wigglers. The majority of these escapees have what looks like a blister somewhere near their middles, and even if I put them back on the top of the bins they just stay there and dissolve.
I've looked at the bedding (shredded newspaper and junk mail) and it seems plenty moist to me, but there is no moisture coming from the bin into the drip pan below. The bin is about an inch above the bottom of the drip pan. My concern is that I added some garden soil for grit, could I have introduced some kind of parasite? The rest of the worms seem pretty happy, I see all sizes of worms and also some egg casings.
Could I be keeping it too dry? I tried the squeeze test on the top bedding and a few drops came out, the bottom bedding looks much wetter.
I have fed them some potato peelings, lettuce, bananas, plantains, cornmeal, coffee grounds and celery. They are eating slowly the stuff but surely and the smell is just very earthy, not putrid.. I use well water at room temp and usually spray it on with a pump bottle.
Sounds like your doing everything right. Do you leave the light on that usually keeps them from escaping and in their dirt. Also your junk mail be careful of colored paper and envelopes. When I stated out I shredded everything including my envelopes in an attempt to be green and even though they ate the envelopes the glue strips were left behind in masses. Well good luck maybe someone else has a better idea.
We've never left a light on for the worms. They've only crawled out if the inside of the bin was too wet, or hot or contained something that irritated them. I'm wondering if the junk mail has something in it that irritates them. You could try adding some drier bedding on top in one area and see if they congregate there. That would give you an idea if the lower bedding is too wet. Try leaving out the junk mail for a month and see if that makes a difference.
Thank you all for your help. I will try leaving out the junk mail for now, I only put it in because the worm seller recommended it. I'll stick to newspaper.
I don't think I have too much food but I will wait until the current banana peels goes away before I feed them again.
Thanks also for the link Maggie, it was very informatiive!
One thing about the laundry room. I was told not to keep a bin near a washing machine or anything that vibrated, because the worms did not like it. That may be why they are trying to crawl out and escape. I may be wrong, but I had read that somewhere. My wormbin will be here soon, and I am struggling with where to place it. Does anyone else have it in the lausdry room without any difficulty?
I haven't run the washer in 3 days, yet there were 5 worms looking to escape this morning, so I don't know how valid that argument is. The worms will have to get used to it because there is no other place except the unheated garage and my bin is so small, they will certainly freeze there, LOL!..
as for my worms and being by the washer they must have gotten over exploring as none have been out for several days now when I peeked in to check them (since none had come out) there are some nice big fat juicy ones in there LOL
so they must be happy with the coffee DH is giving them everyday.
Don't I wish they might do a lil better job at folding then DH does LOL
I have Canadian and umm red something Dh thought he was being nice and went and got 4 containers of worms of wally world for me to start the bin out instead of listening to me say I needed to order ones for composting.