Friday, July 17th, 2009
After the first few days of Posting the Poll, “Were you successful with your first batch of Composting Redworms”? …. The results are exactly 50-50. Initially I had a voter that voted 3 times and skewed the numbers. By looking up his IP, I was able to eliminate the duplicate voting.
Look at the distribution…Pretty amazing!
Please vote only once, but Please tell your friends to VOTE!
Sunday, April 5th, 2009
At a presentation I gave recently, one of the club members took great notes. I thought I would share her notes here. Very useful, as they condensed an hour presentation into an easy to read outline.
Worm Castings – Natures Finest Soil Amendment
Red Wigglers are eating machines, and their deposits (Worm Castings) make an incredibly microbiologically rich compost. Loaded with beneficial bacteria, all natural, non-burning, and odor-free, Worm Poop is truly a miracle of nature.
“When done right, raising worms takes only a few minutes a week, and very little space”, said Jerry Gach, our March speaker. “The biggest mistakes people make are overwatering, and overfeeding, reducing air flow throughout the worm bin”.
Gach outlined several simple steps to composting with worms.
Drill several holes in your worm bin to allow for air flow, then drill a hole in the bottom of the bin for drainage.
Keep the bin out of direct sunlight at all times.
Create worm bedding by soaking 1 inch strips of newspaper (Lots and lots of newspaper) in water for 24 hours. Then wring it out and fluff it up to about a depth of 6″-10″ in your bin.
Add your worms, keeping a light above them for 24-48 hours to get them to burrow into their new bedding.
Bury a handful of produce scraps into the bottom corner of the bedding, making sure to cover the scraps completely with bedding. Let the worms come to the scraps.
Add food when the existing food has been eaten, and add water as needed using only a mister.
Harvest the castings when they look rich and black, and the original bedding is no longer recognizable (Usually in 60-90 days).
To harvest, simply dump the processed bedding (Complete with worms) on a tarp outside. Make some piles and allow the worms an hour or so to make their way to the bottom of each pile, as worms will always slither away from light. Retreive the worms from the bottom of each pile, and place the worms in some fresh bedding with fresh food to start the process again.
Want Healthier, larger plants? Raise some worms!
For additional information, visit WWW.TheWormDude.Com
Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
I can’t say enough good things about using newspaper as worm bedding. It’s abundant, usually available for free, and it’s easy to tell when it has been converted to castings(Unlike coir or peat moss that tend to look like castings).
The initial pictures are of a bin that I set up using only paper bedding on October 1, 2008. The last few pictures were taken today, March 21, 2009. Same worms….NO FOOD!
I wonder if this is how time lapse photography started?
Why would I starve these poor worms, letting them eat paper and nothing else? This was all done to prove a point. Worms can live off newspaper alone!
Why is this important?
The NUMBER #1 way people kill worms is by overfeeding them. If you knew that your worms could survive on newspaper bedding alone, you never have a reason to overfeed your worms! Even when you know you have some busy weeks coming! Even prior to going on vacation!
In the interest of full disclosure, though the worms survive, they are basically getting an all carbohydrate diet from the newspapers. They survive, although they definitely are skinnier than when fed a balanced diet. Kinda like you and I living on bread and water!
Don’t try this with peat moss or coir! The worms will process both, but they get no nutrition from either. You will end up with dead worms. I’ve tried it and seen the results. Trust me on this one.
Saturday, March 14th, 2009
There are MANY different options when it comes to bedding for worms. Some of the most common beddings include; Peat Moss, Coconut Coir, leaves, manure, straw, Paper(Includes newspaper, junk mail, cardboard), etc. Name a product, and I’ve probably tried raising worms in it!
I’m going to share with you my thoughts on the various beddings:
Peat Moss – Depending on the type you buy, Peat Moss is usually VERY acidic. In order to have your worms thrive in peat moss, it needs to be extremely well soaked, wrung out, and soaked again. The best results I’ve seen using Peat Moss is when it is mixed in a cement mixer resulting in a nice, fluffy texture. Although your worms will process the Peat, they get no nutrition from it, and will eventually die from starvation without additional food.
Coconut Coir – Coir also needs to be well rinsed prior to use. It is a decent bedding, but usually relatively costly considering the size of the blocks normally available. The best results I’ve seen using Coir is when it is mixed in a cement mixer resulting in a nice, fluffy texture. Although your worms will process the coir, they get no nutrition from it, and will eventually die from starvation without additional food.
Leaves – When using leaves for worm bedding, use only leaves without a strong fragrance. I’ve heard stories of people adding just a FEW bay leaves into the bedding and killing their worms! If worms cannot get away from strong smelling materials, they will die (Usually after trying their best to climb out of your bin first)! Worms can do well in leaf bedding. Two problems with using leaves as bedding in my opinion:
1. Leaves are not absorbent, and do not hold water well.
2. Leaves tend to get messy when they break down. Almost oily.
Manure – For the purposes of this article, let’s talk about manure from herbivores such as horse/cow manure. Manure from meat eating animals (Humans, dogs, cats) gets into other issues of pathogen problems and cross contamination. Manure is normally easily obtainable, and can make GREAT worm bedding. But, the reality is that most of us live in cities, and do not appreciate a box of worms living in poop in our house or garage. Additionally, most of us would not like putting our hands in manure bedding when we need to check on the worms. CAUTION: Manure that comes from horses or cows that have been given deworming medication will sterilize your worm bin, killing all your worms. The medication will dissipate over time, but be careful. Like a canary in a coal mine, I would only use manure if it had some existing redworms living in it.
Straw – I don’t like using straw at all. It is terrible at holding moisture, it clumps very badly, it takes FOREVER to break down….forgetaboutit!
Paper – Includes newspaper, junk mail, cardboard. Why am I lumping all paper material together? When wet, all paper turns into a pulp eventually. The worms ingest this pulp. Paper is readily available, it is usually FREE, it holds water well, and it’s relatively clean to put your hands in.
Let’s Experiment raising Redworms in paper bedding!
Check back soon!
Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Here are “Common questions” that people ask when learning about Red Wiggler Worms.
How fast do Red Wigglers eat?
What do Red Wigglers like to eat?
How fast do Red Wigglers reproduce?
How long will it take the Red Wigglers to turn the bedding into Vermicompost?
Where can I place my worm bin (IE. How will cold and heat affect my worms)?
Today, we are going to talk about worms and heat.
I ran a heat experiment with 6 containers of worms in bedding with some rabbit pellets for food.
I kept 3 inside the house (Guest bathroom-Gotta love an understanding wife). The temps never exceeded 79 degrees in the house.
I kept 3 in the garage, where temperatures hit 99.9 degrees during the experiment.
CLICK to see The Worm Dudes Heat Experiment with Red Wigglers
Now for my real world experiences with large amounts of worms……
I can tell you that Red Wigglers can withstand a wide variety of temps. I’ve successfully maintained worms in ambient temps of up to 108 degrees in my garage during hot summer days last year.
From experience, I can also tell you that I have killed worms outside in 80 degree temps?
You’re probably wondering why worms would die at 80 degrees, yet thrive at 108?
Last year, we had a heat wave. At the time, I had around 200 pounds of Red Wigglers. When temps hit over 105 degrees and continued to climb, I panicked. The first thing I did was start adding extra water to some of my bins. Big Mistake! Here is what happens when standing water is left in a worm bin. Some worms start to gravitate to the water. They will rot. More worms gravitate to the water. They will also rot. Soon, you will have a big ball of stinky mush as your worms all start to rot in the standing water. Not fun! Before I realized it, I had over 50 pounds of dead worms….and counting.
Thankfully, I did not overwater all my bins. The bins that I just maintained normally were fine even in the hot temps!
My experience in 80 degree temps was different. I was selling worms at a flea market in 80 degree temps. A guy next to me selling auto parts said, I smell something dead. Sure enough, I felt my tubs and they were warm to the touch. This means the bedding inside was starting to roast. When that happens, the worms cook! The smell he was smelling was my worm stock!
What’s the moral of the story? It’s not the ambient temps that normally kill worms. It’s the radiant temps of the sun beating on your worm bin. If the bin is hot to the touch….your worms are cooking.
Because plastic bins absorb more heat than wooden bins, plastic bins are especially prone to heat problems with even small amounts of DIRECT sun.
Monday, January 26th, 2009
What do you get when you put together?
1 Slightly used pizza box.
5 pounds of hungry Red Wigglers
Let’s find out! Stay tuned!
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
I’ve never been a person that believes everything he reads. Bias abounds! I’d much rather test theories for myself. If pictures are shown to substantiate the theories….even better!
Besides the occasional fun article, I’m going to start posting various experiments with worms.
After thinking long and hard about what to call this, I decided on (Drum Roll Please…..)
EXPERIMENTS WITH WORMS!
Hope you enjoy the name as much as me.
Come back often to see what I’m working on! Should be fun.
Friday, January 16th, 2009
After the San Jose News article, I’ve been bombarded with emails from worm lovers! One of the best emails was from Linda, Co Producer of this spoof ad, and a worm fan that lives only a few miles away.
If you like Farley Brothers style comedy, you will love this.
The Squiggly Wiggly Worm Ranch
Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
Does this look YUMMY?
Does it look Yummy to a worm?
I often talk about Red Wigglers eating less when it is cold than when it is warm. All cold blooded animals slow down when it get’s cold. Even so, Red Wigglers do a pretty good job, even in cool weather.
Often times people feed their worms in winter by just burying chunks of food waste in their bedding. That is perfectly fine, AS LONG as you realize that unlike summer temps when scraps break down quickly, wintertime temps basically preserve your food scraps, much like keeping scraps in a fridge.
Remember, worms are bacteria feeders, and have no teeth. Until the scraps start getting broken down by bacteria, the worms cannot eat them….even a nice, sweet piece of watermelon rind.
How do you get scraps mushy when the temps are cool?
*You can microwave your scraps.
*You can put them in the freezer, and when they finally defrost, the cell structure of the scraps breaks down nicely.
*You can chop them up, increasing the surface area of the scraps, as bacteria processes scraps faster given more surface area.
*You can blend your scraps(Be careful not to overfeed as blended scraps tend to pack a concentrated punch)!
*You can put your scraps in a slop bucket(A lidded bucket with some tiny air holes or a carbon filter).
*You can put some pieces of scraps in your bin knowing that they will take awhile to break down in the cool bedding.
Things are not always as they appear. If your worms seem to be eating REALLY slowly during the winter…it’s probably not the worms!
When it comes to feeding worms, MUSHY IS GOOD!
Friday, December 26th, 2008
It’s always refreshing to see people excited about the potential applications for using worms to solve real world problems! A college student/customer, and genuinely nice guy(Nathan), came to me for advice on a college project he was working on. Here is a transcript of our emails:
As I was talking about over the phone I have an Environmental Energy assignment where I have to analyze a conservation measurement used in my household. I am going to measure petroleum energy saved by reducing my trash poundage through worm composting, but in order to do that I need to measure the worms’ food supply poundage to their castings poundage. In other words the “x” amount of raw table scraps given to the “y” number of worms to produce “z” amount of worm dung. I would normally count the worms in my bin, weigh the initial bedding material, weigh the food input, and finally weigh the castings output over a period, but I only have a week+ to do this project.
Thanks for bringing up the water usage issue. It didn’t even register that I would have to weigh that consumption against my overall conservation in petro. I will note my water usage this next week.
The pictures above are actually from an Earth Day Demonstration that Nathan had put together!
Nathan, if you are reading this, please share your findings and your professors comments on your project.
I would also love to hear about any additional “Wormy” projects you are working on.
Some of the solutions to our environmental problems may indeed be….just under our feet!