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!potatoes!
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while not a perfect system, the nested-five-gallon-buckets i've been using don't take up much space, even in a crowded little home i've had no problem keeping them on the floor of the pantry inside. nowhere near the capacity of the big tubs, but able to convert more than you'd think regularly. (also, since i've also got a warmish 'regular' compost outside, i don't need huge capacity)

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applestar
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I stopped at the Smith&Hawken's store closing sale.... and bought their last Can-o-Worms :roll: for 1/2 price :() (Also a compost thermometer and one of those 3-in-1 analyzer gizmos -- pH, moisture, and light -- all for 1/2 price, and a couple of really nice 3' and 4' teak window boxes for amazing prices.... Then I went to A.C. Moore and bought a bunch of other stuff at Columbus Day 50% off sale prices.)

I just have to keep telling myself that I bought everything for 1/2 price or less... :twisted:

Anyway, I guess I'll be starting my own worm factory now.... :wink:

top_dollar_bread
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!potatoes! wrote:while not a perfect system, the nested-five-gallon-buckets i've been using don't take up much space, even in a crowded little home i've had no problem keeping them on the floor of the pantry inside. nowhere near the capacity of the big tubs, but able to convert more than you'd think regularly. (also, since i've also got a warmish 'regular' compost outside, i don't need huge capacity)
a buddy of mine i think used the same method, two 5 gall containers, one for bedding, worms and food and the other to collect leachate
worked like a charm
applestar wrote:I stopped at the Smith&Hawken's store closing sale.... and bought their last Can-o-Worms :roll: for 1/2 price :() (Also a compost thermometer and one of those 3-in-1 analyzer gizmos -- pH, moisture, and light -- all for 1/2 price, and a couple of really nice 3' and 4' teak window boxes for amazing prices.... Then I went to A.C. Moore and bought a bunch of other stuff at Columbus Day 50% off sale prices.)

I just have to keep telling myself that I bought everything for 1/2 price or less... :twisted:

Anyway, I guess I'll be starting my own worm factory now.... :wink:
thats great A_S, let us know how it goes..
it doesnt get too cold over here so i leave the bin outdoors, im thinking you can leave your bin some were indoors (away from ice or snow) with not much of a problem. (i think)
The screen you used looks like the aquarium lid for keeping lizards and such. I have a couple of those from when we used to have gerbils
you nailed it, if you got those they fit right on top of a rubber maid and work good for screening. but it does take some patients that i only have when im drinking :P

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I finally got my Can-o-Worms set up. It's going to be a slow going project since I'm resistant to BUYING worms -- I've been collecting lovely worms from my outside compost piles every time I turn them, but the instruction manual recommends putting 1000 worms in it to start :shock: So my meager "herd" is not going to be eating up the entire kitchen scrap output any time soon, but that's OK, I'll be needing GREENS to balance the "absconded" leaves anyway :wink:

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applestar wrote:I finally got my Can-o-Worms set up. It's going to be a slow going project since I'm resistant to BUYING worms -- I've been collecting lovely worms from my outside compost piles every time I turn them, but the instruction manual recommends putting 1000 worms in it to start :shock: So my meager "herd" is not going to be eating up the entire kitchen scrap output any time soon, but that's OK, I'll be needing GREENS to balance the "absconded" leaves anyway :wink:
I think that is what I would do. I am not a vermicomposter, yet. Worms propagate rather quickly i do believe, so that is not a bad idea. Though aren't there certain types of worms that are better for composting than others? I'm thinking they want you to add 1000 worms to start so they can sell you those 1000 worms, could be wrong.

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The kind of worms you find in unfinished compost pile and under organic mulch is what you want for the vermicomposter -- they're the ones that like to eat decomposing kitchen scraps and wet fibrous stuff like fall leaves and shredded paper. The ones that push up little worm signs/hills in the middle of compacted ground -- the ones that live in dirt (Night Crawlers) -- are NOT the ones you want for this purpose: Leave them in the ground to "till" your garden. :wink:

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applestar, can you find someone locally who also does vermiculture. i got mine for free from the guy down the street. he was more than glad to help me start a bin. much faster than picking them from the compost pile, but hey whatever works.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Great idea soil! I'll work on that (... but I found 3 more while raking up some leaves... :lol: )

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!potatoes!
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i started with only about 20-30 brandling worms...starting smaller means it takes WAAY longer to really get rolling, but it will.

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Thanks!

I keep opening the lid and folding over the moisture mat to peek at the worms :lol:

Today, I decided to stir them a little to see how they're doing, and everywhere I stirred, there was a worm or two. I even felt a big'un when my finger tips poked in the coir bedding. :D Crazy. :roll: :lol:

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Just let 'em do there thing. When I moved here there were no worms that I noticed now there are millions (or so I so I would assume seeing the masses in my garden now)

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This is an incredibly informative thread. Thanks to all who have contrinuted.

:clap:
Zone 4a.

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to top dollar

hey top dollar,,hows your worm venture coming along??
I lost this forum some how,but i am back.
i got a little discussed when i sent my reply to you to my mail,,oh well such is life.
ya know i have all kinds of books that shields publications put out and some of them are pretty darn old,,haven't had them out in several years.
but i remember one thing i read,,is if you want to save the worm eggs,,is to stack corrigated cardboard on it sides in the worm beds and that is where you will find the eggs in the corrigations ,you fill the whole bottom of the bin with cardboard as the worms crawl across them they rake off the eggs and they lodge in the corrigations.
I'm here for awhile Larry
may all your desires be fullfilled

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Don't know what it is (suspect the high carbon contents but don't know why); they do love paper and cardboard. If there's a clump of paper or cardboard, it's mobbed...

The other is melon, especially canteloupe. If you want to get them breeding, this is the food of choice...

HG
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your right

your right helpfull gardener.
i remember the book said that the glue in the cardboard was made from corn byproduct,,so it was probably sweet.
that is why i kinda think that mollass in garden or compost would attract worms.
they are like me they gotta have their sugar fix.
Larry
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Chances are that they are eating not the sugar, but the creatures that are feeding on the bacteria that are feeding on the sugars you are talking about(bacterias FAVE food). Bacteria are sort of the mast food source in soils, like acorns in my local woods, or figs in the tropics; the baseline food that the rest of the food chain gathers around... ain't Nature grand? :D

HG
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reply

I agree,you are right.
Larry
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top_dollar_bread
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Re: to top dollar

muddy45 wrote:hey top dollar,,hows your worm venture coming along??
things are going great, i have started other bins from my original worm bin and im collecting casting like no other. :D
im glad this thread is still alive
[img]https://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac78/top_dollar_bread/DSC01750.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac78/top_dollar_bread/DSC01740.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac78/top_dollar_bread/DSC01734.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i887.photobucket.com/albums/ac78/top_dollar_bread/DSC01755.jpg[/img]
i also too noticed that the worms like to lay cocoons on cardboard, they also like to lay cocoons in the coco coir i started using for bedding.
the fresh EWC really helps make good soil, the cocoons are all in my end product and i get worms living in all my container plants.
you can see piles of worm casting on the top layer of my container soil
happy holidays all...

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to TOP DOLLAR

YA TP it looks like you have a couple of worms now.
have you tryed to raise them out side yet??
Most people with a little stock sense can raise them most every where they want to.
I am really inpressed at your operation top dollar.
well gotta go across the road now and have xmas dinner with the nieghbors.
I wanted to go and have dinner with my 70 year old sister in the nursing home,but i am snowed in now,can't get off my hill till it melts,,no road maintenanxce on my private rd. even though i pay it by the year.
enjoy the holidays and God bless you and yours.
Larry
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No Larry, worms don't eat sugar; their food of choice is soil biology. But bacteria love sugar, and protozoas, nematodes and microarthropods love bacteria. It is not a direct relation, but a food chain that attracts the worms.

When we garden well, we create ecosystems that support life, building food chains and webs that encourage more diverse systems. When we garden badly, (usually involving chemicals) we knock holes in the ecosystem, and Mother Nature, abhorring a vacuum the way she does, fills it with tougher biology than what we killed. Unfortunately, that is usually a bad guy (as in our own species, bad guys are tougher than good guys). So we develop diseases and pests that need more cures, usually also handled badly (knocking more holes in the food web).

Etc., etc., etc.,... :roll: Every time we try to circumvent Nature, we usually screw up. Mark my words carefully here, the technologies that will make our species a sustainable one will all involve natural systems. The ones that will destroy this planet and our species are the ones already in place and accepted by most... :( Technology must find the middle ground or it is simply part of the problem...

HG
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REPLY

Thank You H P for confirming what I already know,,I have studied vermicomposting for over 10 years,,but am always ready to learn more.
I can not use the scientific words to explain things,,but i do understand the workings of a compost bin and a worm bin,i also understand the micro biology of soil and the relationship of the critters in it.. Like i said in another post,i read constantly ,although i don't always agree with every thing that i read.
I am not a scientist,,just a well read dumb country gardener,who likes to think he has a little common sense.
thank you again
Larry
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Pretty well describes me too, Larry :lol:

I have just gotten more scientific about it because of the past couple of job descriptions, but you are sure right about it being common sense...

HG
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So myself and my 3 yr old daughter finally put together our worm bin. She was in heaven w/ the mess. :lol: :lol:

I ran to the local bait shop and purchased (they say 50) but it looks to be about 30 or so worms.

I have a 10 gallon bin did the newspaper/cardboard / soil / worm / more newspaper/cardboard method and set it under our counter in the kitchen.

... oddly, I'm nervous... Right now, it doesnt look like something worms live in. I'm use to seeing them in the ground...

I will check in a day or two - Will I be able to see a difference?

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hmm I would not forget to add moisture for the wormies. add some kitchen scraps to the mix too.

Q:
1. Are worm castings found on the surface of the soil?
2. Why are worm castings so good for the plants. Why are they a good fertilizer?
3. Does turning the compost harm the insects? I wonder if whn I turn the compost I am squishing them.

just a couple dumb questions.
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No dumb questions Sage...

Castings are, not to put too fine a point on it, worm poop, and those little mounds of round balls of soil are just worms taking out the trash. Like every other step in the poop loop, there is nutrient value in the excreta, and some other values like mucilage based soil conditioning and concentrated humus...

Turning MAY injure a few worms if they are up in your pile, but if we are strictly talking about vermicomposting in a dedicated bin, no turning is necessary. Worms do a far better, more complete, longer lasting job of aeration than any human process can possibly hope to; we core aerate soils with a plugger and the holes we poke are mostly filled back in by the end of the day. A worm burrows through soil and it's tunnel can survive for as long as five years!

Nature almost always does things better...

S
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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1) with red wigglers, the castings are everywhere (species check: Canadian nightcrawlers can't live in a bin). To harvest them in a flat bin, you have a few options. I am lazy and have 4 bins or so, 3 of them small. In my small bins (almost trays), I turn on the lights, take off the lid, and after a bit I use my bare hand to scrape off some castings. Those have many cocoons and I tend to add them to containers. In my big flat bin, I move the whole mass to one side, and I start filling the other side. Eventually the worms completely process the old side and mostly move to the other.
My favorite bin is my worm bin bag from instructables dot com. Great project to do with someone who can run a sowing machine.. I'll edit with a pic. With the bag I just open the bottom and harvest the casting that fall out. I feed at the top. Easy as pie. Actually, I often use "unfinished" castings from a plastic bin as bedding in the bin bag. Hey, alliteration!

[img]https://wiki.vermicomposters.com/wormbin/images/4/4a/Wormbinbag.jpg[/img]

2)worms are predators. Ever see or read Dune? To microbes, the worms are just like sandworms. Well, some actually live in the worm I'm told, but that's the basic idea. At the same time, they don't eat all the microbes, and they grind up microbe food so they can eat it faster. Microbe food is what? Plant and animal waste and flesh and
matter. So why do worms help plants? They have evolved to ensure their own survival. More plants, more microbes. They help plants in so many ways it is too much for a forum. If teaching a three year old, wigglers are a great non-emotional intro to the benefits of natural predation. Just like wolves ensure the health of the elk population, worms ensure the health of the microbe population.

3)I cringed when I saw the video clip of Martha turning a worm bin. Bad move. If your bins need air, drill more holes or make a bin bag, and change your feedings. Try drying out the scraps a bit or using different bedding. Ambient humidity and temperature are factors aMing others.

The easiest way to mess up early on is over feeding. Remember they can live on the bacteria in your bedding, so it's almost impossible to starve them. If you have 30 worms, that's maybe the peels from one potato per day, not more. Be patient.

Important tip: Healthy soil and plant matter from various ecosystems outside are very important. For one, the grit is useful, for two, you are introducing local soil biology - the best kind.

I got a million tips, as do others on this site, but especially for a 3 year old, an intro to microbiology from a well informed parent is a powerful gift.
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seagullplayer
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My uncle kept worms when I was a kid for fishing, I am planning on making a bin myself.

My question is about sawdust, can they convert it? I wondered about the PH? I can get truckloads of the stuff...

Thanks,

All the info in this thread is great!
Moved on.

Best of luck to all.

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They don't so much convert the sawdust as eat the things that ARE converting it, so not an issue (IF we are talking about untreated wood. I wouldn't use dust from treated woods at all).

HG
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saw dust ??

you can raise worms in saw dust,,,,,but it has to be aged saw dust,,,the older the better,,,,don't use green saw dust.
i mix aged white oak saw dust with rabbit manure at least 50/50 to start a bed,,,you can also use aged compost in stead of manure.
stay away from cedar types,,be cause of oils and acids in it.
some times if your worms die off for one reason or another thier eggs will hatch and be adapted to thier surroundings.
like i tell folks,when you feed worms put it on top,as not to burn the worms.
keep a heavy mulch on top of beds,slide feeds under
the mulch,,if mulch is thick enough,worms will be active out side all winter long.

Larry
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fetida_freida
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Wow! That's impressive!

Wow TDB, that's an impressive haul. I'm all about DIY set ups when it comes to vermicomposting, but I also love the ease of a manufactured worm bin. I'm not being biased--I love the Wormtopia bin made by Sunleaves. It functions similar to the Can-O-Worms, but it is square. One of my chores here at work is maintaining the worm bin and I've found they really dig banana peels and mango pits! I've put eaten mangoes in there and when I've gone to check on them I've found a whole worm city from cocoon to great grandpa worm living inside those the seed pod. Amazing!

I have also found the book "Worms Eat My Garbage" by the late Mary Appelhof to be an amazing source of information for those who are interested in this great way to create an awesome compost throughout the year.
Do what you love, and love what you do.
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top_dollar_bread
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thanks for the comment fetida_freida

the worms are doing great, i kept one of my bins outdoors this winter and there still moving around, not eating as much but still very alive and im thinking ther breeding more. lots of cocoons...

toil
nice worm bag, ive seen one before but its nice to see some one else is enjoying it

ive been messing around with bedding and food a lot lately, trying to learn what my worms enjoy most and how to make better casting.
i like the shredded paper, fall leaves/leaf mold bedding drenched or fermented in plant extracts, worm leachate and or ACT
and a diversity of weed green mulch, kitchen scraps, forest or cowboys natural char smashed to a dust, river sand/silt & coffee grounds for worm food
the worms eat it up fast and the end product is amazing, ill post images soon on how i go about this..its easier then it sounds :lol:

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Hey Freida

Try canteloupe; they freak... :D

TDB, I can't wait to hear; an interesting recipe that I am still thinking on; lots of carbon (I see how they do flock to paper) and with the studying I've been seeing I think the weed greens may be truly inspired. Good stuff. Keep us posted.

HG
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gixxerific
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top_dollar_bread wrote: the worms are doing great, i kept one of my bins outdoors this winter and there still moving around, not eating as much but still very alive and im thinking their breeding more. lots of cocoons...
Could that be because they are like plants in that they see their doom coming (due to environmental conditions) so they produce seed to carry on the lineage? :idea:

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ok so after reading this post, i think i want to give it a try. somebody chime in and let me know if i am on the right track here...

I take a rubber maid plastic tote thing with lid.
drill a bunch of holes in the sides on all 4 sides to allow air in
layer shredded newspaper, cardboard, coffee grounds, leaves and some veggie scraps
head to the bait shop and find some red crawlers and put em in

cover lightly with a damp cloth close the lid and let em work their magic

is that correct? am i missing something?

Thanks!
Shan -
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Red wigglers (Eisenia foetida) are the worm...

You ask for crawlers you will likely get nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris) which won't live in a bin at all. The right worm makes all the difference...

Do you hav another container to put you drilled bin inside? Early starts can be bumpy and mass escapes from less tha accepetable conditions are not uncommon. And if you are keeping it moist enough there can be liquor run-off (good stuff for plants). But another outer container is a good idea.

But you have the basics :wink:

HG
Scott Reil

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thanks for the clarification. Nope not another bin to put it in, unless i get a smaller bin as the start and then put some blocks in the bigger bin and set the smaller bin on them then the run off can go that way... does that make better sense to do it that way? i guess i can start small and always grow if need be... better to do it right the first time
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wolfie wrote:
layer shredded newspaper, cardboard, coffee grounds, leaves and some veggie scraps
can you elaborate? what you wrote sounds like a recipe for a sour bin. At first, fill it with bedding and only bury a bit of food.
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wolfie
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arent the layers i listed the bedding?
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yes I just want to be sure you are not layering with veggie scraps as well. I was pretty sure you aren't, but since I made a similar mistake... Just do bedding at first, and as the population grows you can feed more. It's exponential, so if you start with twice as much it does make a big difference.
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wolfie
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alrighty, will see what i can put together over the next week and keep ya posted, thanks!
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