Raising Earthworms - Making Worm Poo
Posted 06 April 2009 - 02:55 PM
There was quite a bit of interest in chat for learning more about raising earthworms, and Phungivore has agreed to help me with a TEK. I was just wondering if there was enough interest in the general 'topia community to make it worth our time?
- eastwood likes this
Posted 06 April 2009 - 03:11 PM
Posted 06 April 2009 - 05:15 PM
so i'm all eyes...
Posted 07 April 2009 - 12:02 AM
Can you save me some study?
Posted 07 April 2009 - 12:37 AM
Posted 07 April 2009 - 12:45 AM
Posted 07 April 2009 - 02:53 PM
Sure, sure, I'm sure anyone who looks at an earthworm and then looks at a redworm is just gonna ask, "what's the difference other than size?"
In nature the earthworms live in a burrow, from which they can grab bits of grass or other plant matter and pull it down into the hole to safely eat.
Redworms aren't all that interested in burrowing and tend to churn the soil and make a big mess.
Earthworms will not get along with redworms in a vermicomposter, nor are they a good worm to use for vermicomposting anyways. The redworms will continually mess up the neat burrows of the earthworms, thus driving them out, like some sort of rezoned ghetto overlapping the suburbs.
If you're planning on setting up a vermicomposter, you'll find that ordering a half pound of redworms from www.tiptopbio.com will be a good way to go. That's where my worms come from, though I buy them through a local gardening store, much easier than trying to dig them from the ground, and ensure that you have the right species also.
- Doctor D likes this
Posted 07 April 2009 - 03:38 PM
Posted 07 April 2009 - 06:36 PM
How to make a worm bin bag
Cheap and Easy Worm Bin
Build a Worm Compost Bin
I got bit by the worming bug when I read a thread about doing catfish in a barrel and feeding them worms. If you maintain them at near idle conditions they multiply at sufficient rates. We have a spare 125 gallon tank sitting around and I think we'll kick off some catfish.
Someone already mentioned the book, "Worms Eat My Garbage" and just a quick search on either Vermicomposting or Vermiculture will lead you to all you need to know bout doing worms.
Being a lazy sort, I hate taking the garbage out and the worms save many, many steps. It's scalable from a single person through neighborhoods, businesses, schools. Big or small as you need.
This page proved adequate for my initial curiosity about worms. It's from Washington State University: Composting with redworms...
Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:40 PM
Also,any preferences to wood-vs-plastic?
Posted 07 April 2009 - 08:16 PM
the worms avoid light
and so burrow down
then remove another thin layer, etc.
until finally the worms have no where to go...
Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:04 AM
Some folks need the bin to look like furniture and some just tuck em away in a corner or stick them outside and don't give a hoot in hell how they look, as long as they work.
Use anything that will provide you ease of maintenance, adequate ventilation, good drainage and a way to control your temperature and humidity.
Plastic n wood each have their pros n cons. Wood is going to need maintenance and plastic is known to off gas. Either will work. Stay away from pressure treated wood and use food grade plastics.
Keep bins shallow and go for square footage in surface area. Each square foot of surface can support a pound of worms which can consume about a half a pound of food per day. Shallow bins keep everything nice and airy and prevent compacting of the bedding and castings.
Separating worms from the castings is easy to do no matter what kind of bin that you choose. As Hip pointed out, they move away from light and they will move toward new food sources. Either stimulus can be used to wrangle them to where you need them. Move them up, down or sideways.
I gotta chuckle out of Hip's plan for worm beds under rabbit hutches. I would imagine that the ambient temperature around that set up would be 5 degrees higher than the surrounding area just from all the reproduction going on :loveeyes:
Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:34 AM
Posted 08 April 2009 - 12:07 PM
I've had that running for years now. Plastic is definitely the best choice for a vermicomposter as it won't rot - there's other things in those castings than just worms you know.
The deal is, if you keep your worms in a bag or bin, then like eastwood said, you have to then spend a good deal of time bent over the pile of castings picking out worms. This is entirely unnecessary with the design I linked to. The OSCR is built so that the worms separate themselves from the finished castings on their own. The deal is to make layers across the top of the bed, first veggie/green waste, then a layer of brown/cellulose waste, once the bin is about 2/3 full, you place another bin on top of that and start the layering process in the top bin. By the time you're done filling the top bin, assuming you're just using left over veggie scraps and such from the kitchen (gradual additions), the middle bin will be ready to go. You'll be lucky to find a dozen worms in the middle bin once its finished. Also a weekly light watering of the bin will produce some high quality worm casting tea that plants LOVE. Just be sure to use it within a day or so, or if not put an airstone/bubbler in there to help the aerobic organisms stay alive.
If you want to buy a setup like the OSCR it'll cost you well over a hundred dollars, if you build one using the plans I provided above, it'll cost you about $50 worms included. Less if you have a few rubbermaid bins laying around.
Posted 08 April 2009 - 01:36 PM
What's to stop the worms from abandoning the partially processed substrate in the lower bin and moving immediately into the new material in the upper bin?
Eisenia Fetida are, after all, surface feeders. I always use wire baskets in my outdoor beds to harvest worms (same principle as the reactor) but they seem to move immediately into the new, fresh substrate with little regard to finishing the task at hand (i.e. digesting the unfinished substrate in the existing layer)
Posted 08 April 2009 - 03:45 PM
Eventually, the area's formerly known as layers will have turned into worm castings. The longer something is in the bin, the more time the worms will have to gnaw at it and turn it into worm castings.
Worms don't eat worm castings, or if they do they just turn them into more worm castings. And, eventually, these tend to accumulate at the bottom, just from the shear fact that you're piling new stuff on top.
As I said above, the redworms tend to go all over, they churn the soil they inhabit. Yes its 'surface' soil; common understanding in soil science is that the top 2' of soil is generally considered the surface soil, or more or less depending on the contents, but that solar energy penetrates farther than you think.
That said, the OSCR will never be deeper than 1' at the most. The worms will go from top to bottom eventually, but as the newer stuff is added, its just a matter of time for the castings to accumulate at the bottom.
They will eat the new stuff, they will eat the old stuff. It just takes a while. Don't stir it up. If you mix it up, or bury stuff, you'll interrupt the process and confuse the worms.
You see, they will be fully aware of the locations of the various foods. If you just mix it all up, it'll stay mixed and as long as you keep adding new food to it you're gonna have a mix of castings and food. But if you do the layer thing, ala OSCR, the worms will know where to go poo, not on the fresh food, but down at the bottom with the old stuff.
Posted 20 April 2009 - 11:31 AM