Thanks Margaran, the reason I try to separate is to use the compost and castings and not put the worms in my soil-- is it true that red worms will most likely not live in soil?
Yes, that's true. Red wigglers are not soil worms, they are compost (surface) worms. They will live better in a pile of poo than in soil.
I don't like to waste my worms on soil either. I feed mine leftovers to recycle what I would throw out and to enrich my soil. When I separate out the vermicompost, I pull the worms to put them back into a composting environment to make more poo for my plants.
My operation is the size of a CanOWorms;-) I don't sell them or the vermicompost but I do give it as presents. I just wanted a way to use something more efficiently that would otherwise get thrown away. Also, I'd read about how the vermicompost increases the solubility and bioavailability of the minerals in the soil to the plants- thus less fertilizer needed. My worm population is limited by our weather. If it wasn't so bloody hot down here, I could keep my worms outside. I'm not however going to pay for AC for them.
My neighbor has the "can o worms", they got it last summer and I'm really curious as to how many castings they get. I've been tempted to buy one, but my worms multiply like crazy in the compost bins, and my compost is heavenly.My soil has improved 100% from where it started 5 years ago, red clay-- yuk! I do have raised beds, all fenced,otherwise the deer would have it all.One day last summer I accidently left the gate open to my garden, I was heartsick, the deer got so much of my garden, all 32 roses as well(they're back now though) Oh well, gardening is so much fun, not to mention the great veggies. I love it!!
I would definitely put my bins outside if it was not so hot. The Can OWorms gives me the ability to vermicompost indoors without much hassle. The easiest way I've found to get them to migrate to the next level is work all three layers. When the two oldest are reduced by half, I combine those two and try to keep the combined layer on top. That way, the worms migrate down and sort themselves out for the most part. i don't feel they are so good at migrating up. I also fill the bottom with shredded paper. As the leachate drips onto the paper and the worms migrate downward (as they will anyway), it makes it easier to pull them out of the bottom and throw them into one of the upper bins.
I started out with one bin last year and they multiplied much quicker than anticipated so now I have 5 barrels full of worms. Of course my garbage is reduced because I feed them everything and there poo is great I can't wait to harvest it this spring but I am running out of room for all my lovely poo producers I guess I can try the fishing market I have heard some people raise them for that I just want the poo
fieldsems I sure would try selling to fisher men as I knwo form my brother in law that there are alot of fishermen by you and the bait shop/gas station we always went to in between Paris and Paris Landing would run out at times.
Besides that when we ever make it over to his place on the river I'll know where to go to get worms for fishing LOL
I have a question though the last 2 mornings DH has informed me when I get home from my morning bus route that he has found a worm or two on the kitchen floor...Any idea why this is happening? It's not a big issue and he puts them back in the box ...they are small ones and I checked the box and there are nice fat ones in there now they look so much better then when he brought them home LOL
Mibus2- Teenage wanderlust? Maybe they missed you;-)
What are your weather conditions? A change in barometric pressure will frequently cause wandering. What about temps, food, and moisture? When was the last feed? Are they swarming it? Is there a lot of food they're not moving in on yet? How does it smell? Sweet and loamy or like rotten food? What are your temps doing? What about moisture. The classic description is as moist as a wrung out sponge- you should still get a few drops more. That said, my personal experience and in previous discussions I've had with Ubervermers, the worms seem to congregate where it's a bit wetter. Can you post some pics?
Temp not sure I don't have a thermometer but I do know with my candy one it doesn't even move LOL so guessing at 40-50.
moisture there is condensation on the lid on the inside and it is damp under the cardboard but not like you describe.so maybe I need to add a lil water.
it is sweet smelling not rotten the lil bit of bread in there has mold on it growing nicely LOL
they get coffee grounds form DH every day but there is crushed egg shells in there and some orange peels DH tossed in.
I found one in the kitchen this morning and one in the lid I have underneath the box.
will try to get some pics when I get home form morning bus route.
My first thought is how much coffee does hubby drink? Maybe they're getting jittery?;-)
Not really but if you didn't start out with many worms, maybe they don't need feeding every day? The temp sounds a bit cool to me- 70-80 is considered optimal. You may be right about the moisture but I'd work on the temp first- they'll breed faster if you heat it up a bit. http://www.wormdigest.org/content/view/15/2/
ok so maybe move them from the laundry room into the pantry then instead then they wont get a draft when someone goes in and out to the garage... the house alone averages 68-75 roughly.
I stopped him form giving them coffee grounds every time he made coffee otherwise they would be getting 2 a day instead of one and I have another composting container I use but not for worms for scraps as I do Bokashi composting that takes leftovers sop I have had him put the second grounds in there along with orange peels as he was eating 2 or more oranges a day too and not chopping them up or anything. I figured since he only got me 2 doz worms feeding every day was too much.
camera batteries are dead he didn't charge them so will have to wait till they are charged to get any pictures
Is your house that temp all year? If so, I'm jealous. FYI- if you sprinkle a LITTLE cornmeal on the pile, it will mold quickly d/t large surface area and feed your worms well. Caution- if you add too much- a continuous layer, your bin will heat up. Sprinkle it on like salt & pepper.
mm will have to see if I have any corn meal left I used it with some soda on the roses for black spot
as for the temp of the house I have no idea how it will be in the summer we just moved here the end of July and DH ran the air during the day when I was at work on days it was in the 90's outside LOL...
there is no light in the laundry room so they must be exploring LOL
Mibus2...If you have holes in the bottom of your worm containers, expect to see a few of them wandering from time to time. If conditions get out of hand, espectially too moist, you could see a stampeed. Have personally had some bad experiences with holes in the bottom of bins, that's why I don't do it any more. A light on top of the bins will help keep worms from migrating the other direction. Besides collecting worm casings from the top of the bins is simlified if you use a light. As the surface dries, just scrape a quarter of an inch of the spent media (casings incl.) off the surface, and you don't have to worry about separating the worms. I have four 20 to 30 plastic tubs from which I collect about 50 to 60 gallons of spent media each year for germination and potting mixes.
Have some questions about sterilizing spent media (worm casings), at 200 degrees F for 20 minutes, for germination mixs. Do any of you do that?
I've heard tell of cooking soil to sterilize it- just don't do it in the house was the jist of it;-) The smell of the cooked worm castings was reported to be awful! One question- if a benefit of the worm castings is that they contain lots of good biological activity, won't sterilizing them negate that? Could you just sterilize regular potting soil? Or did I miss something?
The light around the bin is a good idea. Frequently after they've settled in and the population rises, they don't wander as much anymore- assuming the bin conditions are good.
I placed the lab oven outside when I sterilized the spent worm media. Maggie, you're absolutely ritght about the loss of microorganisms. I've struggled with that even on the germination mixes which don't require nutrients, or I suppose microorganisms. I do however have a generous supply of gravel syphoned aquarium water which is loaded with microorganisms and to some degree nutrients based on the results from watering seedlings.
As to purchasing potting soil, I can't see the need, with lots of spent worm compost available. My paranoya with pathogens and fungus comes from reading comments in the seed starting threads here in DG. Personally I have never had a problem using unsterilized spent worm media in germination or potting mixes. My attempts at sterilization have not been too successful, so I'm probalby going back to what worked best for me in the first place.
Maggie, sorry for not getting back sooner. Been visiting family. The vermiculture media I use is peat moss, and by spent I mean the top quarter inch of the media which I remove prior to feeding. This is easily removed with a hand trowel and is loaded with worm casings. I save about 60 gallons worth from four vermiculte bins (20 to 30 gallon plastic tubs) each winter, which I use for my germintion mix. Unbeatable in my openion.
A DG recommendation for using graveled syphoned aquarium water, in stead of tap water, to mix the vegetable and fruit peelings in a blender has made an amaizing difference in the tomato seeds that volunatrily sprout in the bins. I leave a four bulb florscent light on continuously above these bins and the germinating seeds are no longer spindly as before.
mraider how do you harvest your compost? mine are in 50 gallon drums cut in half and it is about time to harvest you seem so knowlegable just wondering how you do yours. last year I did it all by hand very time consuming.
fieldsems...I take small amounts from the surface of the worm bins each time I feed and store in a five gallon bucket which ultimately goes into a plastic 55 gallon trash can. You might check my method of vermiculturing for additional detail.
Morgan, your post came up URL not found.
I bought my worm castings from Gardens Alive. 25 lbs costs about $35, I bought the castings so I could have a ready supply last year.
Here is a link for a pass-through worm bin for those of you that want to only the castings.
I have the barrel and plan on getting on with the rest of the building soon. This way I won't have to buy my castings and will have some to give away.
Has anyone tried using worm tea as a hydroponic plant food?
His servant, Paul.
Paul...Thanks for pointing out my URL mistake. I believe it works now...will be more careful in the future.
I've tried the worm tea as a hydroponic plant food, but I prefer the gravel syphoned aquarium water. Not as smelly and I believe it is more consistent in nutrient concentration than worm tea, especial when watering new seedlings. Wife uses the aquarium water on her house plants as well. She does not care for the worm tea at all.
I collect about 10 to 15 gallons worth of 'worm casings' or spent vermiculture media from each worm bin over the winter for germination and potting mix by simply scraping the top 1/4th to 1/2 inch of dried media from the top of the bins before each feeding. By using a florscent light over the top of the bins it not only helps dry the media for removal, it drives the worms down below the layer I wish to remove.