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smaxey843
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Location: Goose Creek, SC

I'm starting my first worm farm!

So i've read some very exciting things on this forum regarding composting and worm farms. i've decided to create a "bucket in bucket" style of worm farm to compost and produce worm castings.

I've got the buckets, however they are repurposed bulk icing 3 gal and 5 gal buckets. The icing residue is lingering after a thorough cleaning and i am concerned that the fats and oils in the icing's ingredients may harm any worms i put in soil contained by these buckets.

Can anyone confirm or deny that i will be setting myself up for failure?

Shout out to RainbowGardener, you're advice has stuck with me during my absence from this forum.
I'm new to gardening. I'm very appreciative of any responses. thank you in advance.

Sunset Zone 31
USDA Hardiness zone 8, right in the border between 8a and 8b

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rainbowgardener
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Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

You are very welcome! :)

They generally say not to put oils in your worm bin (or your regular compost pile). But I think that is because 1) they don't break down very fast and 2) they can attract pests. But not that oils would kill worms.

I tend to doubt that the trace amounts left after cleaning would cause any problems.

Congratulations on getting started in vermicomposting. This is the second winter I have kept a worm bin through the winter. So far anyway, I haven't kept them going through the growing season -- it's just as easy to throw everything in the compost pile. I mostly think of my worm bin as a science experiment, it doesn't produce big quantities of worm castings. But all that leachate has been a nice addition for my seed starting operation.

Let us know how it works out for you.
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hendi_alex
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Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

When raising worms in a relatively small container, I would caution against adding too many vegetable scraps and overloading the small system. Dry browns should probably make up about 80% of the mass. You will need to continually remove material when it gets too wet, and add replacement dry material. IMO the dry material can be straw, shredded newspaper or cardboard, mulched or partially composted leaves, etc.

I've never had a small house worm bin, but am basing comments larger outdoor worm bin. My kettle grill worm bin would get very wet, especially when the worms were very active in mild weather. Two or three times per year, I would have to take out old material, and add fresh dry material. The old material with worms was moved to beds, but would leave about 1/3 in the kettle to keep things going. Kind of like sour dough starter!

My old kettle worm container finally failed as the legs rusted out. My new larger worm box is just in its first season. It is about 12-15 cubic feet an so far is doing very well.

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Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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smaxey843
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Location: Goose Creek, SC

Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

RainbowGardener -

I am not sure how it use it yet, but i have the equipment and I'm getting ready to prepare the buckets. There is a video by MIGardener on youtube about converting a three and five gallon bucket into a "vermicompost container". I am imitating this video and I am still looking into the initial ingredients. Do i start with gardening soil or just the news paper / cardboard? i would imagine they'd get kind of dried out and possibly impact their health.


Alex -
I considered leaving it outside however I was concerned about the heat. I am still learning alot of the details and what to do so i may be making some off the wall assumptions without knowing it. How large about was your kettle grill?



Oh btw, where did you get your worms? and do you ever repurpose your worms for fishing??
I'm new to gardening. I'm very appreciative of any responses. thank you in advance.

Sunset Zone 31
USDA Hardiness zone 8, right in the border between 8a and 8b

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hendi_alex
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Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

My kettle grill held about 6-10 gallons. I think that mostly garden soil would be too heavy and would retain too much moisture. Besides earthworms love to eat partially mulched leaves and grass clippings. If mine, if adding soil, would probably not use more than about 10-20%.

I ordered my first batch or two from the classified adds in Organic Gardening Magazine. That was many years ago, and would probably just order on line now, if I needed 1-2 pounds of worms. The worms will multiply like crazy and you don't need many in your small container. Before too many weeks, you will be exporting the worms outside and into the garden.

For the past few years, while I didn't really need any worms, I started collecting them from the wild. My daughter's yard provided many of what looked like two different species. I now have what appear to be three or four species of worms living in the compost pile and in the worm bin. IMO red wiggler fishing worms are fine to start out. Some worms are supposedly invasive and displace native worms, so you may want to read up a bit before deciding exactly what to use, and more importantly what not to introduce.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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rainbowgardener
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Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

I agree with hendi re garden soil being too dense in the worm bin. The first time I made one I used a lot of shredded paper and some fall leaves. The second time I just used fall leaves. Both work fine, except that it turns out when you are bringing fall leaves into your house and incubating them in warm damp, they bring a fair amount of critters with them. My worm bin has been (at different times) home to black soldier fly larvae, some other kind of small fly (not a fruit fly, but about half the size of a house fly), slugs, pill bugs, and a bunch of teeny-tiny critters. I was glad when it warmed up enough to move it outside (winter here would kill the earthworms when they can't bury themselves deep in the soil). It wasn't seeming like it should really be an indoor thing any more.

I just got my worms to start it with, from my compost pile. They eat the fall leaves and kitchen scraps in my compost pile, it made sense to me that they could do the same thing in the worm bin. When I am done with the worm bin, I dump the contents including all the worms into the garden.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: I'm starting my first worm farm!

So smaxey, how did the worm bin work out?

I just got mine set up again for the fall /winter season. I do it now, because the worms are still available in the compost pile. When it gets colder, they burrow down too deep. I am too cheap to bring myself to buy worms, when the compost pile is full of them. But maybe next year I will - putting worms and the compost they are in, into the bin adds other life as well. I went through the new worm bin then and pulled out (bare-handed!) at least a dozen black soldier fly larvae, plus a few miscellaneous pill bugs, white grubs, etc. I'm such a nature girl these days :) . There was a time in the past when that would have been way too creepy for me. As it is, still not my favorite pastime, which is why I might think about just buying worms some day. Presumably they wouldn't bring all their little friends with them. The part that bothers me about this, is I think the chances are about nil that I succeeded in eliminating all the non-earthworm life. But it doesn't have to come indoors yet. I will sort through it a couple more times before then.

So I put down moistened shredded paper, fall leaves, compost + earthworms, worm food (egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels, peach skins), and then more leaves.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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