Green Mantis
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:shock: Well I'll be darned your'e BACK!!!!! Glad to see your back on the site, I missed your conversations!!! I'm sure everyone did. Don't know about the colour coding?????

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Ozark Lady
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I was thinking one color maybe red for manure and compost, and another color maybe blue for kitchen scraps, minus milk, meat, and eggs.

With them being color coded less chance of a mix up.

I do find worms in the soil, but also in hay piles, I wonder if they are the same kind of worms, or different...

Time to experiment? :flower:

Yes, I had a bit of a rough fall and winter, still not overly mobile, but feeling better bit by bit.

I have been back for a couple weeks, just not so vocal...
But, I haven't been vocal in person either.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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Ozark Lady
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Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

Green Mantis
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They really are interesting to raise. They really do eat a lot after awhile. In the spring I am going to make a bigger bin, and buy more red wrigglers, quite a few this time. But won't be emptying the tub every 2 months, I want them to get lots of nice compost in there for spring planting. With all the snow, and -30 weather, they can happily stay in there and work away! The worm sites you posted ozark lady are very interesting. Fun to go back and see why I started my first ever worm bin.

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rainbowgardener
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Yeah, I'm impressed. My few worms that I dug up in late fall, manage to chew through quite a bit. I put a cup full of kitchen scraps in twice a week as well as adding more leaves now and then.

In the spring, I will dig up more worms and then I expect my worm bin will really go to town!
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grassroot
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ok, this might be a little silly to ask, but i might as well because the only dumb question is the one not asked! is vermicomposting smelly? i have a garage, but it's not heated and i don't want to kill the little guys so i was thinking about just getting a bin or two in my closet so i can start making use of all the scraps I'm letting slip through my fingers (i work in a group home and there are literally too many organic solids/carbons that just get tossed/recycled each day - i may be starting to develop a tic about it lol) i guess i could line the top of the bin with charcoal if need be :roll: .

how many would anyone advise for starting say... a 12 gallon rubbermaid tote bin (i don't mind growing wormopolises). thanks in advance for any help!
"Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss."

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rainbowgardener
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No, absolutely not smelly. The only smell to it is a bit earthy from all the fall leaves I put in there. And I have had my nose right down in it, because I like to inspect, see how it's all working.

I have no idea how many you would need, depends on how much organics you are trying to get rid of, but I would start smallish and see how it all works and then you can add more bins. I just dug up some worms from my garden, but people usually buy them. You can order them on line. I think a pound of worms is around 500 of them. A pound of worms should eat half a pound of food a day, once they are established and happy. As your worm population grows, so will the amount of food they eat.
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cynthia_h
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Purchasing may not be essential; I've given composting worms to a few people who requested them on FreeCycle, so that may be worth a shot. At this time of year in Minnesota, though, most worms may be less active; it all depends on how the people have their worm habitats set up.

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Bobberman
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You can buy red worms by the pound in many places. A pound run about $27 and 10 pound is about $209. You get about a 1000 worms a pound but can buy smaller ones and get more per pound! Shipping is about $10 a pound. I suggest that if you want worms go to the local playground at night after a rain and get a 100 in a half hour.My playground has 1000,s all over the place on a rainy night and I pick them all summer 200 a clip! Keep them cool or they will die fast where the red worms wil tolarate even a 100 degrees! The playground worms are not red worms but will work in the garden or planting boxes!
+++ I ordered a pound of very small worms about the diameter of spegeatt and made a box for them with a screen at the bottom but did not make it deep enough and lost most of the worms! Imay try it again this year since I fish alot!
+++ I found a worm about 10 years ago near my house in a rocky dry soil that was really strange because they moved like a snake very fast and their tail would break off when you tried to grab them. The tail that broke off was about a 1/2 inch long and was good bait for catching small fish for bait! You could not hold the worm in your open hand it would wiggle off fast and would dig into the soft ground very fast! I put them in my garden and have them all over the place now especially in the drier soil!
+++Walmart does sell red worms and they are fat and about 3 inches long. I think there are 30 in a box. They also have a trout worm or a small version of a night crawler. Another place I buy a thin worm is at a pet store where they are called trout worms and sold for the small lizzards and small animals they sell for $3.99 for 50 and our in a dry back soil in a styrofoam cup!
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cynthia_h
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Bobberman wrote:You can buy red worms by the pound in many places. ...I suggest that if you want worms go to the local playground at night after a rain and get a 100 in a half hour.My playground has 1000,s all over the place on a rainy night and I pick them all summer 200 a clip! Keep them cool or they will die fast where the red worms wil tolarate even a 100 degrees!


Eisenia foetida, or red composting worms (also called red wigglers), are litter dwellers. They live between layers of leaves, straw (hence horse manure), or compost. Earthworms--the ones that come up out of the...ah...earth after rain--are burrow dwellers. Their burrows are permanent.

Neither species can dwell where the other one does. Red composting worms will suffocate in the earth, and earthworms will die if denied the earth.

Red composting worms will NOT tolerate 100 degrees. A worm "farmer" would be lucky if his/her worms were to tolerate as much as 85 degrees in their habitat or less than 50 or so degrees on the other end of the spectrum. Mine are in a triple-layer worm habitat in my carport, under an old Army blanket which seems to even out the temperature swings. We got down into the 20s December 2009, and the blanket/carport arrangement worked just fine: no loss of hard-working invertebrates. :)

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Bobberman
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I usually only write something if I experience it myself and I have had red worms ive at abve 100 degrees when the night crawlers tuned to mush! Here is a link that tells you just that! I hope its ok to putthis link up!
+++

http://www.thewormdude.com/tag/red-wigglers/
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Odd Duck
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Bobberman,
This a direct quote from the link you posted [wormguy's blog]. I did put in bold the portion I think applies.

"Regardless of what you read on the Internet or in worm books, worms (In damp bedding) tolerate ambient temps over 100 degrees without any problem whatsoever! I usually have over 100 pounds of worms residing in my garage at any given time. Our local temps exceed 100 degrees quite often in the summer. I’ve never lost a pan of worms due to ambient temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Why? The bedding the worms live in keeps them insulated from the ambient temps. Conversely, I’ve worked outdoor events in 75-85 degree weather where I thought I had shaded my worms well, but the sun shifted, cooking my worms. How does this happen? If the outside of the bin gets warm to the touch, you create a frying pan situation for your worms. As the heat transfers from your bin to the bedding, worms begin to cook."

This is why others have said that worms don't like temps of 100'F. The worms survived in shaded, moist bedding, but direct sun and actual bedding temps of 100'F will kill your worms.

Bobberman, perhaps your worms were fully shaded and their bedding moist enough that the bedding and worms didn't actually get to 100'F, so you had a good outcome. That would be an exception to most experts recommendations and that needs to be made clear to people new to vermicomposting. JMHO
Sharon
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Bobberman
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I guess I will have to check this year the temp in the container using a aqaurium temperature thermastat I use in my soil testing! Gardening is sometimes like politics you don't know what or who to believe! If I use a styrofoam container to keep worms cool it will work only for so long then the ouside temp is the same in the container as the outside temperature and that is a fact!Thanks for posting the part of the article that I was referencing too!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

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applestar
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My daughter found this video. It's for kids, but pretty interesting 8) :wink:
http://pbskids.org/wildkratts/videos/?p ... QbimzDRueH

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rainbowgardener
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Video is little slow moving, takes them a long time to tell you the answer. But I confess, I always believed the myth they bust here, that worms come up in the rain to avoid drowning in their tunnels. So it was educational.

In the meantime, my worm bin seems to be a thriving ecosystem. Found a couple more BSF larvae lately after not having found any for awhile. Today I found a couple of roly-poly's (pillbugs). Very pale, looking sort of like ghost roly-poly's. Because it's dark in there all the time? And a bunch of tiny white bugs walking around, about the size of two periods lined up.. And a couple of seeds have sprouted in there.

I would prefer to have such a diverse colony of insect and other life outside my house, than in, actually, but I'm assuming all the life in the bin will stay in the bin.

I'm still not entirely sure how I will ever get worm castings out of it... it seems like they are mixed all through the food, leaves, etc. But in the meantime, it's now making pretty good quantities of worm tea, which I am now adding a little at a time to the water for my seedlings. Seems like very rich stuff.
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applestar
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Are you doing cynthia_h's divide into 8 sections trick? My commercial bin is circular so I've divided the tray into pie-piece sections, and like she said, by the time I get all the way around, there are harvestable castings in Section 1 even when the entire tray is not completely digested. In fact, I used some for starting seeds yesterday. 8)

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rainbowgardener
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No, is there a link to that?

I bought two bins. The plan was that when I think (how do you tell?) there's enough worm castings in the bottom bin, I would drill a bunch of holes in the bottom of the second bin, put fresh bedding, food, leaves in the new one, set it right down on top of the leaves in the old one. Quit putting food in the bottom one and assume after awhile the worms will migrate into the new one.

Assuming that works and most of the worms migrate into the new bin, doesn't that leave you with a bunch of leaves and old soggy clumped up bedding in the old bin, with hopefully some worm castings mixed in?

In the meantime, I have discovered that along with onion skins and tops, my worms don't seem to like bread very much. There's a chunk of bread, now all moldy, that's been in there a long time, that I may just pull back out. But there was a post here somewhere (that I'm not going to look for right now) that listed things worms like and it included avocado shells. Since we had a big discussion here of how avocado shells don't break down in the compost pile, I tested a piece in the worm bin. As near as I can tell, it disappeared quite rapidly. So yay! My worms can have all the avocado shells they want, since my compost pile doesn't like them! :)

So here's a reason to have both a worm bin and a regular compost pile -- compost pile for the bread and onions, worm bin for the avocado shells! Anyway the worm bin is nice to have now in mid-winter, for the worm tea for my seedlings, since my compost pile is still frozen solid.
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applestar
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Ah ha! Found it! :()
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... 588#115588

Top Dollar posted his methods in the same thread.

Also she talks about what she puts in her worm bin vs. compost pile in this post later in the same thread: http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... 131#116131

grassroot
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Thanks for all the relevant information/posts everybody! I bought two 2 dozen containers for $6.51 this past Saturday at a local bait shop (sparing a few so they can be fruitful, multiply, and i can take their descendants out trout fishing eventually.. :lol: ) . I asked for red wigglers and the guy said they had to keep them in a threaded container (old plastic foldger's bin) because they liked to escape so i was pretty sure these were the right ones (upon google image search they DEFINITELY were!).

they appear to have a peat moss/soil mix in their container which i would think should be fine as i've read soil recipes with p.m. in it. if anything i'd think it would help with moisture control.. which in all honesty is fine by me until i take the training wheels off of my gardening experience-mobile.. these guys are ACTIVE, they keep trying to crawl out of the container even in full light, it's NUTS! i got a real kick out of watching them wriggle with such zest so i think I'm officially getting the gardening bug early (YAY!).

i just added ripped up banana peels and put ripped up damp napkins (pieces no bigger than 1"x1") in for starters. after i get everything ready (12 gallon tote with holes poked in it, corn meal on hand for nutritional backup, spray bottle for moisture control) i'll transfer them over. I'm keeping them out of the sun to be on the safe side, but we had a high of 35 degrees the other day (Minnesota heatwave) so I'm pretty sure i'll be safe :lol: . i get why people garden now, it's so fun to have a control group of natural processes just to watch.
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Tiny white bugs that hop a mile if you go to touch them? Springtails, another sapprophyte (like the pill bugs) and a good sign things are very biologically active. We used to get tons of springtails in the commercial bin I used to tend...

Glad to see GR and everyone else having such fun with the crawly critters; makes me long fora bin of my own again...I may have to start one soon...

HG
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rainbowgardener
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Hmmm .... I don't know if they jump, have to check next time I am inspecting. So far I've just seen them walking around, but I didn't try to touch them.

In the meantime, when you said " Springtails, another sapprophyte (like the pill bugs) " I thought gee, I would have called the pillbug a detritovore, I wonder if there's a difference, so I looked it up to try to educate myself.

I found this:

Saprophyte' (-phyte meaning 'plant') is a botanical term that is now considered obsolete. There are no real saprotrophic organisms that are embryophytes, and fungi and bacteria are no longer placed in the Plant Kingdom. Plants that were once considered saprophytes, such as non-photosynthetic orchids and monotropes, are now known to be parasites on fungi. These species are now termed myco-heterotrophs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detritivore

and this:

“Detritivores are decomposers. According to the ‘real’ knowledge, decomposers consist of detritivores and saprophytes. Saprophytes are what we usually consider when talking about decomposers but technically speaking, that is not specific to them only.

Detritivores are animal that consume that detritus but unlike saprophytes, they cannot decompose cellulose (like most animals). They are forced to excrete anything they cannot digest.

Saprophytes, on the other hand, are basically microbes such as bacteria that digest detritus completely (including cellulose). They usually do this by extracellular digestion.

In the soil, both of these work hand in hand. After the detrivores excrete the waste materials, the saprophytes decompose them further. The detrivores have helped in breaking down most of the detritus into smaller pieces, increasing the surface area for the bacteria to act on.â€
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Thanks for clearing that up. I had always lumped the breakdown process together and used the singular term for all. So shredders like soil mites and springtails are detrivores. Got it.

HG
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rainbowgardener
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Things worms don't like: onions, bread, apple cores. I would have thought the apple core would be a treat, but it's another thing that just sat in there until I pulled it back out. They ate grapes just fine, even with the skin still intact when they went in.

It's been a really fun experiment! :) Who knew that worms had taste preferences like this!? Why would worms like grapes and not apples?
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applestar
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:lol: This is great! You're much more attentive and observant about your worms than I am, so I'm learning a lot from your experience. :D

I think apple seeds have minute traces of cyanide in them. Do you suppose that's why?

Odd Duck
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Hmm, my worms do bread and apple cores just fine. I haven't put in any onion or citrus because of reading I've done. I know some people on the vermicomposting web sites will use citrus and onion in limited quantities, but I've got small bins and don't want to risk it.
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hendi_alex
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My site is very sandy and dry with few if any native red worms. Probably 20 years ago I ordered a big batch from a listing in Organic Gardening magazine. Since that time, we grab worms where ever we find them. I've tossed in red wiggler's left over from fishing. Snag night crawlers when we find them active somewhere. When visiting friends or family, if their yard is active with worms, I'll pick up a few dozen to import the into the yard. Now red worms and night crawlers can be found all over our large yard. I kept a worm bin for a couple of years, but let it go last year. Will build a new container this year and start that process over again. Easy to find worms now as they are in all of my beds, my pots, and in my compost bin.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ruggr10
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I have red wigglers and I've noticed some likes and dislikes for them.

Loves: Honeydew Mellon, Watermellon, coffee grounds, green peppers
Likes: Lettuce and celery leaves, apple cores, carrots, squash, egg shells
Dislikes: potato skins, baked butternut squash skins, cabbage leaves

I thought they would love the leftovers from baking a butternut squash but they are avoiding it. I may take it out. Also, with the cabbage leaves, it may be that it's still very green.

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