How do you feed your worms?

mendopeteMarch 29, 2014

I thought it might be interesting and educational to find out how our readers/posters feed the herd. There are quite a few methods of feeding and managing a worm bin.

What method do you use? What type of bin are you using? Why do you use this method? What do you feed? What is the frequency of feedings? How do you add bedding? I know, lots of questions....

I use the top-feed method in my outdoor bottomless bins. After a bin is established, all feed, most often horse manure, goes on top. This is covered very well with ample bedding, mostly straw or spent hay. The bedding keeps the flies down, and keeps the bed dark and moist. I feed when the last offering has been partially processed and unrecognizable, usually 7-10 days (when the bin is working good). This method keeps the worm herd on top, allowing me to try and "manage" them. I harvest by removing the worm culture from the top, then removing the vermicompost below.

How do you do it?

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I use the feast and famine method. When I have lots of kitchen scraps not processed and some items whole. I open the bin and jam it all in. I cover with lately telephone pages whole and egg cartons in one inch pieces. Then I ignore the bin and hope the level goes down fast in time for the next batch of kitchen scraps. When I feel like it, I have been scraping the bottom of the worm inn or pushing at the lower sides to get the material to fall out of the always open bottom. The material does not agree with this procedure and likes to stay where it is. Then one day it is like demolition experts set charges and one touch makes the entire contents avalanche out. This has the benefit of making more room up top. If the avalanche material is not presently needed or not well processed I dump the bucket that always resides under the bin right back on to the top of the pile. If the material is nicely processed or if I need material in the spring I put it into a basket with holes and shake out the well processed material to use. The rest gets dumped back on top of the pile. If I have more kitchen scraps than will fit into the bin I may sneak it into the lower collection bucket. Worms are removed from harvested material and put back on top of the bin. Material is aged to let cocoons hatch. If I have fish tank water I dump it on top. That again is flood or drought. Lump wood charcoal is recycled through the bin. I think of this biochar as reef communities of bacteria and creatures. I do not necessarily recommend any of my methods.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:18PM
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I have two bins- One is a large storage container with holes drilled on top and bottom, it's out on the balcony to my apartment. The other is under my kitchen sink, it's made from a old cat litter package (a large "tidy cats" bin) also with holes but only on the top.

For the worms I use "european" night crawlers or Eisenia hortensis. One of the reasons I chose hortensis is that they are bigger than their fetida cousins and another was their tolerance of a wider range of temperatures- it can get really cold and really hot here.

I save my scraps in the freezer, thaw them out and run them through a food processor(most of the time) before burying it around the edges of each bin- layered with ripped up cardboard and old paper bags for the bedding. I add bedding when ever I collect enough in the bucket under my sink... about every 2-3 weeks. When I want to harvest the compost I feed them on one side of the bin only and in a few weeks harvest from the other side- carefully. I use the compost on my balcony plants and houseplants... I also give some away to willing recipients and sometimes I just dump it in the woods next to our apartment building when I have too much :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:43PM
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I have a Nutri Bullet and just run everything through there. I watch my little clan literally jump on their smoothies like they are going out of town. It doesn't take them any time at all since the food is already initially broken down for them. I used to chop and serve. THAT was just way too much work for me and them.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:54PM
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I have one worm bin. I chop all the scraps and freeze, thaw and feed to the lads. No set schedule, just every few days.

I usually spread it out over half the bin rather than pocket feed. I figure they'll have to crawl over to the food, thereby loosening the compost. My bedding is shredded office and newspaper and some torn egg cartons and torn cardboard.

I haven't fed them for a few weeks now, as I want to harvest soon. I have since started a smaller bin in a square bucket that icing etc comes in that was in the recycling bin at a coffee chain. About 2 gallons I guess.

I started it so that I can feed my scraps to someone.

I use my castings in my houseplants, and there is a small garden at our apartment bldg where I'll use it this year. Friends are the excited recipients of my worm poop as well.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:55PM
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I have three rubbermaid style bins, holes along the top vertical rim with a few spaced about 2 inches from the bottom. One is a newer started bin and needs less food and bedding, the other 2 are churning along well and require bedding (shredded newsprint or cardboard rolls from tp) with each feed. Scraps are coarsely chopped, frozen, thawed and drained. I keep a log with each bin to record the date I feed and whether bedding is added or not, since at times my memory gets distracted or I've run out of bedding and this also keeps me from interfering with them more often than they'd prefer. Sometimes I get busy and forget that it wasn't last week when I fed them last- it may have been 3 weeks!

I like the smaller bins because I can still lift them when full and heavy for harvesting.

During warm spells in winter I run out back and fill a pail with collected leaves from the fall, just to give them something different. They really like the leaves. The last time I packed a pile of snow on top of the leaves, it seemed to dampen the leaves quite well as it melted, dont know if the worms found their softer feel attractive or not. They weren't sopping wet, and enough crunchy dry ones that I wasn't too concerned about excess moisture in the bin.

I always find many big worms in the bottom of wet vermicast when I harvest, so maybe it is better to super feed for a while to bring them all to the top? (re: mendopetes method he describes).

I sprinkle every 3rd or 4th feed with crushed eggshells, that's their croutons!

I feed on a ten - 14 day cycle, according to the worm log. Depending on how well processed the prior meal was, I'll shorten the time span.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 2:02AM
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I have been feeding my worms daily with pureed food mixes. They have literally been tearing it up. Now for some reason they are acting sluggish. Am I possibly over feeding. The bin is in great shape and I have excellent air flow.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 6:30AM
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I no longer have my worms, but when I did, I had three bins, two Rubbermaid and one flowthrough.

Usually I ran my kitchen scraps through a hand cranked meat grinder. I found that grinding them finely didn't make much of a difference, and the plate on the grinder would get clogged with fibers from things like banana peels and onion skins, so I left the plate off and just ran the scraps through the auger. This would break them up into fairly small pieces and mash whatever did not break up.

In the Rubbermaid bins I would pull back the mostly undecomposed bedding from the top of half of the bin, lay down about 1/2 inch of food where the bedding had been pulled back, re-cover the food, then add about and inch of bedding (mostly shredded cardboard) on top of that.

The flowthrough got about 1/2 inch of food over the entire surface, then another inch or so of bedding on top of that.

Sometimes I would bury whole scraps, like rotten potatoes, in any of the bins, similar to pocket feeding. I would do this with foods I did not want to grind, but might be smelly, or with something unusual, when I wanted to see how the worms would respond to it.

I would spray the dry bedding at the top of the bin, but, judging by the leachate I was getting out of the bins, this was probably not necessary.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:44PM
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This is the traditional path every vermicomposter follows.

Welcome to the crux of vermicomposting knowledge.

The "I can't believe my worms ate the whole thing! knowledge.

The almost on the verge of "What's that smell?" knowledge.

The "I dug through my bin and found bleeding worms." knowledge.

The Googling "Sting of Pearls and protein poisoning." knowledge.

We want to be on the other side of that.

In our generosity to the worms we sometimes "Walk the Line."

Stop adding food.
Add bedding.
Add back in some harvest vermicompost.

This is how one learns the Art of Vermicomposting.
By going between extremes to find the middle.

Other then smelly bins with string of pearls the other sad thing to have to help vermicomposters with is their excitement at seeing lots of baby white worms. This is often not vermicomposting worms. Adding bedding can help both.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Thu, Apr 3, 14 at 0:08

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 12:06AM
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nexev - Zone 8b

I have 5 gallon buckets set onto my outdoor worm bin with straw piled around them. The buckets all have 3/4" holes in the bottoms and some small holes at the top for air circulation.

I dump our kitchen scraps which amounts to one of the tall folgers cans ever few days into one of these buckets then cover with crumpled wet pieces of cardboard. This adds about 2" of scraps and the same or a little more of cardboard each time.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 12:45AM
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My daughter bought me a worm factory for Christmas. It has a drainage tray, a feeding tray, two trays to be added later and a top. I prepared the factory for the worm herd around 12/21/2014 by placing a double layer of damp newpaper, putting in the bedding of damp shredded newspaper and adding food made up of coffee grounds, persimmon peels, potato peels and celery scraps. My herd arrived from Uncle Jims on a 16 degree day, but all appeared to live. I added shredded damp coconut husks and some garden soil and grit. I dumped the herd into the feeding tray with their shredded coconut husk compost and covered it all with bedding of shredded newspaper and a double layer of damp newspaper and placed the top on it. I added some apple peels and coffee grounds under the newspaper on 12/11/2014 into a second corner. The potato peels are still not eaten but the red wrigglers are actively munching on the softer fare.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 1:46PM
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My bins are inside and I have two-

1. factory 360
2. homemade plastic triple stacked

Both setups are doing well have never lost any worms from the get go, but adjustments had to be made for the homemade setup. [ok maybe a few roamers in the beginning]
I usually feed either in a corner or on one side and once I see a lot of worms on top of the food I start a feeding in another corner seems to work. Because the food seems to disappear at a quicker rate Ive been adding more food at a time lately. This indicates a growing herd in my mind.

I save up left over fruit, veggies, peelings , and other odds and ends. I run them thru my juicer and save the pulp in a separate container till I need it. Just recently though I have changed from discarding the juice side to adding it back in to the pulp to make it more of a slurry.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 2:20PM
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Currently I have 2 bins. One is just a blue city recycling container with a few holes in the bottom, sitting on an upside down rubbermaid lid (for any leachate). Inside the bottom of that tote I made a wooden frame that just fits inside. It has 1/2x1/2" screen on top to allow lots of air circulation through the bottom of the bedding.
My other bin is made of 1/2" ext. plywood and is about 19"x 28"x 14"deep. For added air circulation I drilled a pair of 2" holes at each end as close as I could get to the bottom(which has no holes at all) . Then I put in two lengths of 1 1/2" plastic pipe (with lots of holes drilled through) that run end-to-end just enough to extend through the ends of the bin, then covered those pipes with aspen shavings and finally covered all that with breathable landscape cloth. Bedding in that one was aged horse manure/bedding.
Re feeding, I just put food in every 4-5 days which have been collecting in a 1 gal. ice-cream bucket under the k.sink. Most of the food scraps get chopped up, sometimes I blend it or grate it) I think grated is best because it still allows some air circ.) Some of my observations on foods:
-they go crazy for corn/cobs, pumpkin, yams
-don't see the same reaction to coffee grounds
-raw potato and carrot peels seem to be slow to break down
-still unsure about their fondness for bokashi yet
-hope they like the powdered egg shells I put in with some of the food
-haven't tried feeding horse manure yet but am planning to try that soon since my sister's horse is willing to make a substantial donation!!
One thing I'd like to hear some opinions on is the bedding. Other than when I first start a bin I don't add much bedding other than the occasional moistened egg carton or torn newspaper. When I have added shredded office paper it seems to take quite a while to break down. Being winter right now and bins in unheated garage I don't have any pest issues. My question would be.....if the worms seem to be doing ok, do I really need to add bedding when feeding? Would the bins be even more healthy or productive with the addition of more bedding materials?
I have to confess.....I can't seem to go more than 12hrs. without checking the bins.....I'm just too fascinated as to what is going on!! Something tells me that many of you are the same. Craziness or curiosity?.......I'll stick with curiosity!!
great thread!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 3:35PM
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CharlieBoring, you probably already know, but I wanted to let new owners of Worm Factory's and 360's and self engineered multi level bins know a couple tips I have read that have worked for some vermicomposters. Some vermicomposters put a tray above the drain tray and below the first tray level. Into this they put dry shredded bedding. Any moisture is absorbed and the bedding is given a good start towards being microbe filled. Any acidic or alcohol, or other baddies are absorbed by the paper so oxygen and microbes can temper it and prepare it to be good bedding. When it is time take this tray and move it to the top making it your add food to level. Then add a new bottom level of dry bedding. A second tip I think vermicomposters might want to hear about and decide if it works for them is to take the tray from the bottom, the one with the finished vermicompost and set it as the very top tray for a bit of time. This will allow it to dry out and I am not sure what else.

The worm inn is supposed to be more of a one stop shopping. Food and bedding on top, vermicompost out of the bottom. (If only it would.) No constant shuffling around of square or round shaped levels. Large trays would be heavy. Small trays would be... small. Each shuffle has the potential to drip moisture, worms, vermicasting, bedding, and food scraps. I would want about 28 levels of trays.

"How do you feed your worms?" I still have not figured out the best way to do that yet. ... ... ... But I'm working on it.

If only my dreams of how vermicomposting systems are supposed to work equaled how they seem to work in real life.

hummersteve, "Just recently though I have changed from discarding the juice side to adding it back in to the pulp to make it more of a slurry." I feel much better about that. If it makes the bin too damp... of course you know, add more bedding. The additional moisture prompts vermicomposters to add more, just the right amount of bedding. It's like spaaaaace magic! Yeeah!

harry57, Ah yes. The how to get oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of the bin. I spend lots of hours thinking about this. Like the egg drop... my eggs always break, total success eludes me. But isn't it fun thinking about how to get air into the system?

"hope they like the powdered egg shells" that is so sweet.

"One thing I'd like to hear some opinions on is the bedding. (Glad you asked :-) ) Other than when I first start a bin I don't add much bedding other than the occasional moistened egg carton or torn newspaper. (I am shocked... shocked! I a pretty sure there is some law, yes a LAW, written down, that you must add tons, yes tons, of bedding.) When I have added shredded office paper it seems to take quite a while to break down. (That is because office paper feels it is better than worm bedding. It feels it needs to be recycled into newspaper or a greeting card that costs big money for that little recycled symbol on the back. But mere worm bedding... it feels insulted. Just Don't do it.) (You did not even ask about junk mail. But again, Don't do it. Junk mail is in cahoots with telemarketers. Diss junk mail and you phone will immediately ring, one call per envelope shredded for worms. Rachel from Card Holder Services is a worm hater I tell you.) .... My question would be.....if the worms seem to be doing OK, do I really need to add bedding when feeding? (Yes. Wait. How far away from me do you live? I may have to step it up a bit... YES!) Would the bins be even more healthy or productive with the addition of more bedding materials? (I do not know. Maybe not. But one thing I do know is it is better to error on the side of too much bedding, lovely, fluffy, absorbent, rainbows and flying unicorns bedding than to error on the side of not enough bedding, horrible, packed, muddy, death and destruction smelly not enough bedding. What bedding does is gives you time. Time to notice, ameliorate, self-correct, absorb, room to escape, diversity of substrate, almost as if you had a personal Time Machine and would a if you could a if only machine.) So yes Virginia, you do need more bedding. You are pretty much going to have to quit working in an office, stop reading so much news some is OK, newspaper, consider and start eating a whole lot more eggs, and drinking take out coffee really hot 4 at a time necessitating cardboard coffee trays and coffee too hot diapers. Supper is now at Chili's. Free coasters! All for the cause!" No doubt while I have been working my fingers to the bone somebody has typed... Take five, Smoke 'em if ya got 'em and while your at it add bedding if ya got 'em.

Harry57 you have my personal permission by all the powers vested in me as a 3/4 length poster at this forum and maybe somewhere else I have lost my password to, to check them bins 24/7/365 and even pouring them from one bin to another. I am pretty sure nothing will stop the worms from eating and vermicasting. I do not even disagree with those who feel differently. For all we know they are right... but no exclamation point for them. Exception on office paper for outdoor bins needing lots of bedding materials.

Craziness or curiosity? I wonder which one Charles Darwin had? I'm not going to tell Charley not to play with his worms. If all else fails when the garden wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the worm bin.

-- Minnie Aumonier

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Mon, Jan 12, 15 at 20:27

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 7:39PM
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thanks for the advice on the bedding rules and regs. Have I just been lucky not to have had any issues yet? So are you suggesting that every time I put in a layer of food that I should be putting down a layer of bedding first? If I'm just putting in slightly aged (under the sink in bucket) material that I know the wigglers enjoy, what exactly is the purpose of the addition of more bedding with each feeding? Is it to help get keep air around the food for better decomp., prevent fruit or other flies, to soak up any extra moisture or what 'cause it doesn't seem like I'm having any of those problems. I guess I just want a better understanding of the beddings exact function in a bin.
By the way, I had a brief thought today....... when I think of recycling I think in terms of metal, glass, plastic and paper products. Soooo I think vermicomposting could be called biocycling, (i.e organic materials like food, leaves etc). what thinks ye ?
P.S. Is vermicomposting not even in the dictionary yet 'cause spell-checker always underlines it.......or do I always spell it incorrectly??

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 11:51PM
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Very interesting all the different styles of bins, bedding , and feeding. I guess there is no wrong way providing your herd is healthy and thriving and you dont have any bad smells going on , plus the worms are producing the good vc for you. I guess Im a little oddball as I get excited about the prospect of harvesting the vc. I guess you wouldnt exactly classify me as a newby now but still experimenting with feeding and bedding some, but still manage to keep the worms happy.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 12:45AM
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Harry57, bedding is confusing. I'll try to explain.
In vemicomposting we refer to stuff high in N (nitrogen), like kitchen scraps, as food. Items high in C (carbon) are referred to as bedding. In the proper ratio worms thrive. Horse manure has the perfect balance.
When a new worm bin is started, it is best to have a bed prepared for them. This can be some of the old VC if you been doing it awhile. It can be horse manure alone. If you are just starting, a bed can be prepared by using high C bedding and high N food mixed together a week or two ahead.
After the bed is established, bedding should be added at each feeding in equal proportions with food. All the reasons you mentioned + much fluffier castings and less muck. Dry bedding in wet bins, damp bedding in dry bins.
If I had your bins they would be filled to the top with dry bedding. I would pull it back to feed. BUT they will survive in scrap heap with little bedding.
I wish EQ2 would start a thread JUST on bedding and uses. She is our leading bedding advocate here. Many types and ways to use it. I have never read of a bin problem caused by too much bedding. It cures many ills!

Hummersteve, it is really interesting how many different ways there are to care for worms. They are very forgiving and can tolerate many kinds of 'management'. The journey is the fun part. Learning which bins, feedstocks and management style works for you. in your climate and situation. Experiments! If you get it all figured out, let us know.

Good luck and happy wormin'


Edit to add I agree 100% with EQ2 regarding the 'myth' of not disturbing worms. Peek every day to observe and learn.
They do fine without you once you get the hang of it.

This post was edited by mendopete on Tue, Jan 13, 15 at 2:19

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 2:08AM
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Sounds like I've been lucky not to have any apparent problems. I'll try to add more bedding and just watch and learn. Maybe I've been thinking that by adding a bunch of zero-nutrient bedding that my resulting castings would be reduced in nutrient quality as far as plants are concerned. Perhaps I'm just over thinking the whole thing!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 2:30AM
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Minnie- I really enoyed your post. The tray below the feed tray with dry bedding sounds like a good idea. I looked at my worms this morning and when I took the top off, there were a couple of worms on top of the damp newspaper that I placed over the bedding. Seems strange since the food is below the newspaper. Could that be a sign that all is not well in the food tray? May I should add more bedding? Generally, how long does it take a the herd to consume a cup of food?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 7:22AM
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harry57, I guess I am suggesting bedding because of all of the stories of bin disasters. They all start out with bedding and then feed and feed and feed. They they are very happy because they have tons of baby worms... which are not baby compost worms. And then the bin starts to faulter. Then collapse. They they give the bin away. It is the story of a high percentage of posters who stumble in. They have not done as much homework as you have. Bedding probably does all of the things you described. How do we know bedding needs to be plentiful... Most of us have killed our first batch... or two of worms. Looking back the thing that could have saved our worms in many cases was adding more bedding than we thought we needed. We had all stopped adding enough of that component. Or I could be wrong.

In recognition of throwing all of this information at you and at all new posters, and knowing that most people just want to look at and enjoy their worms I co opted a poem to illustrate the pure joy of wondering what the worms are up to contrasted with all of these facts and figures of add more bedding, add more egg shell, add food only on the 4th Tuesday under a blue moon or you are not doing it right. Sometimes us frequent posters take all of the fun out of it trying to make sure worms do not die.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 8:53AM
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mendopete, "I wish EQ2 would start a thread JUST on bedding and uses. She is our leading bedding advocate here. Many types and ways to use it. I have never read of a bin problem caused by too much bedding. It cures many ills!" Well thank you mendopete. I do try. Maybe I would start a thread on the topic of bedding if I thought I knew anything about it. Mostly I am just writing about best practices as written by the greats, some of which have passed through here, some of who are long timers here, and some who are presently here. Pretty much they all say the same thing with minor differences.

harry57, are you from Pittsburgh?, is that a play on words?

"zero-nutrient bedding" hmmmm. zero-nutrient bedding... I guess you are right there. But bedding is not supposed to provide nutrient. That is the food. Bedding is there to provide... bedding. A place for the action to happen. A substrate providing surface area and moisture absorption and release to the food. I have not heard what I am about to describe as what happens in the human body but this is how I imagine it might work. Think of the food scraps as like a human drinking sugar water. In the intestines the bacteria that work on digesting the sugar water and the enzymes that help and other things that get the energy to the cells need a place to hang out while waiting for the next serving of sugar water. This place to hang out in the gut is called fiber. Think of the bedding as fiber for the worm bin. Surface area. Lots of surface area. How many people can live in one square mile of one story houses? How many people can live in one square mile of high rises? The sugar water or food scraps are like the river confluences cities grow up around. Without the bedding the river floods because there is no quality which balances out the water high and low. I hope that does not sound too much like I am trying to sell you a bridge or 446 of them and that you get The Point and are Inclined to see it my way even if your mom did not knit your red sweater. Or maybe you were born in '57 and have no idea what I am talking about. Go Steelers.

CharlieBoring, I almost think that every once in a while worms like to go on a walk about. It seems programmed into them. When you think about it horse hockey usually is not deposited in large piles but in Pile's O' Muffins scattered here and there around the field. Worms that stay in only one pile and do not venture forth to their vermifest destiny version of "Go West, young man!" are doomed, doomed I say to being the last one on the new gold, er pile o poop.

"Generally, how long does it take a the herd to consume a cup of food?" Well I did put a Tootsie Pop in there one day.

~ Horace Greeley

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 9:32AM
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I have both large and small bins. For the large bins (16-20' long, 2'deep), I usually just dump buckets on top when I am producing waste materials. Every couple years I dig out the material at the bottom. For my Rubbermaid containers I put the fresh food at the bottom of a tub, and dump the contents of a tub with the worms on top. This way the wetter bottom material gets put on top and aerated, and the new food gets covered with worms. I have one 1/2" hole about two inches up on the Rubbermaid tubs for drainage of water. I use no lids. Putting the new material on the bottom discourages things like flies. I also do not cut or otherwise change the waste. What I end up with is what the worms get. Since I have quite a few tubs, each tub might get a new addition of say 3 gallons waste every month or so.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 9:57AM
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Renais1, I like what you are doing with the Rubbermaid tubs especially since the new material is well covered thwarting the efforts of those dastardly fruit flies. Plus as an added bonus by flipping over an established bin you get to see just what is going on in that system. Great fun and easier than tipping cows. Real cows.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 10:26AM
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You're really quite the poet aren't you? Like your analogy of the single story vs. high rise apts. Maybe I haven't had troubles with sour bins, too much moisture etc. because my bigger bin is made of plywood which is wicking up extra moisture and "breathing better" and I have two 11/2" plastic pipes(with plenty of holes) running end-to-end in the bottom of the bin. Don't worry though, I will heed your advice and try to up the percentage of bedding. It would be interesting to set up two identical bins with the only difference being the amont of bedding used and observe the differences in 2-3 months. Two of my three children(girls gr5 and 7) have to do a science project this year but do you think I can talk either of them into doing one using the worms......nooooooooooo!! Maybe when my son is old enough, he'll take it on. Oh and by the way you are correct, I am indeed 57 years young. When I was young I used to love playing in the I play with the worms in the dirt!! And I think you asked if I lived in Pittsburg. Don't know where you came up with that one (scratching head)? I live on Canada's west coast in Vancouver B.C.
talk later,

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 12:34PM
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nexev - Zone 8b

Renais1, that does sound interesting. It would also serve to turn the wet up off the bottom since the natural progression is downward for water with wicking materials only pulling so much of it up. I think I will eventually end up with something like this in my buckets once they begin to mature.

Harry57, another thought on the cardboard/paper benefit to the VC is giving it structure. As Equinox pointed out this provides places for the moisture and microbes to hang out but also in the long term it provides tough material that will last a long time. Not as recognizable sheets or shreds but as particles or fibers that will add to the humus of the soil even after the nutrients are picked up by the plants in the garden.

Depending on the soil you have this might not be so important or it might be in the case of folks with clay or sand just as crucial as the nutrient itself.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 1:18PM
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harry57 reminded me of Heinz 57 and all of the Pittsburgh references in case yinz didn't know.

Science fairs often require experiments to leave biological items at home and portray them instead with pictures. No moldy bread in baggies, etc. :-( It is never too soon to start science projects. Take a picture of him with a handful of worms documenting his life long interest in worms. He could start his scientific journal now by measuring some worms and documenting it. These Science Fairs don't win themselves and are hard to do the whole thing the evening before.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 2:05PM
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equinoxequinox and Nexev,
O.k. I think you've given me the "nudge" I needed to come around on the bedding issue. I've just recently added some material from the hot compost I built in Oct. to see how that works as bedding. Yes don't worry it's not hot anymore and is loaded with partially composted leaves(yummy yummy).
Always seem to have too many food scraps for the worms so I have an excuse to build an even bigger bin and split my existing bins. Think I'll try either a FT or stacking wood-tray type.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 6:01PM
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For those of you who do not have house cats and go visit a friend who has inside cats and sometimes as soon as you walk in you can smell the litterbox.. So sometimes I wonder when someone walks in my house do they smell my worms, ha ha. Oh well doesnt matter I dont smell anything at least no bad smells.

Sometimes though certain foods will have a smell. Melons especially cantaloupe and broccoli right after adding to the bin. The smell soon disipates though. But to me its mostly an earthy smell from my bins.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 10:00PM
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As far as the leave the worms alone myth goes had to smile on that. I know I sure did my share of peeking/disturbing my worms in the beginning. I guess we all did wondering if we were doing things right, will they live, will they stay in the bin, and if not why not. Once you finally get things figured out and your worms stay put and you know when they will be needing food or close to it , at least by then you dont feel like you have to peek ever so often and will leave alone. But even now every once in a while I swear I hear the worms calling to me " hey steve wheres our food" and I will break the code and see what they want.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 10:13PM
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So Steve, No one will own up to a timetable for feeding. Too many variables, they say. How often do you add food?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2015 at 7:42AM
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I have to agree there are many variables. In the beginning even if you start out with 1000 or so worms they have to become happy with their environment. I would just put a little dab in corner with food as it is just sitting there letting time work and boy is that every slow. Then you learn that food needs to be as small as can be , in other words if you have a food processor , juicer or similar asset will help. Early on you may only need to put down 1/2 lb of food but once the worm machine gets going you can put down more, its a learn as go process by how fast the herd is eating the food. Before the worms tear into the food if you look closely you will see the top surface covered with bacteria/microbes which will start the breakdown process thus the term "teaming with microbes' comes into play.

So to make a long story less long how often do I feed once a week. I do not put new bedding down everytime I feed. I always keep hand shredded newsprint on top to cover food and help keep any smells down and fruit flies away. Keep in mind bedding is also food and when the food supply is low they will be eating the paper so I try to keep a good supply of newsprint which I will long strip by hand. This covering is much easier to maneuver than machine shredded. This cover is kept moist.

I will add that when I ordered my factory 360 and I got an extra tray free and in this tray I keep dry shredded paper which is to keep unwanted fruit flies from getting to the food to lay eggs. This tray is on top of the actual feeding tray. Keep in mind my systems are inside if yours are outside its a different ballgame.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2015 at 1:46PM
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Steve - My factory is in my basement. When the weather warms, I will put it in my shed. So, your set up is drainage tray on the bottom, the feeding tray next and then the extrax tray with the reserve bedding, then the top? Do any of your herd wander into the drainage tray?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 7:50AM
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hummersteve, "I keep dry shredded paper which is to keep unwanted fruit flies from getting to the food to lay eggs. This tray is on top of the actual feeding tray." I bet even with the dry bedding in the top tray that moisture still accumulates a bit on the paper and the paper starts it's journey into vermicompost. In a worm bin resistance to assimilation is futile.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 9:48AM
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Yes that is correct. Depending on which factory you have it may have a worm ladder to help any worms that end up in the drainage tray to get back up into the harvest/processing tray. The 360 has the worm ladder.

When I ordered mine I had the option of either a free brick of coco coir or a free extra tray and I chose the latter. So at present Im using all the trays , BTW if you have liquid in the drainage tray it would be best to get those worms out of there asap. I dont get liquid in my drainage tray ever, but any vc that ends up there would be moist. So I have the drainage tray, then the bottom tray which is the harvest tray/processing tray plus 3 processing trays on top of that and finally the extra tray which is full of dry shredded paper only. At some point that final tray may be switched to a feeding tray.

Of course you start with one processing tray and when the worms start outgrowing that you will add a tray. A first hint of that would be finding worms escaping the tray and on the floor or ground. That might indicate its getting a little crowded and they need more room. Pretty much just common sense. I would guess after a couple of months with one tray you would start to see roamers. Hope this helps and doesnt confuse.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 10:15AM
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equinoxequinox -- maybe but so far so good. I just checked that top tray and it is full of dry paper and I cannot even find one piece of moist paper, its all dry.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 10:21AM
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I wonder if a person [err worm farmer] be considered off the wall if they went around scavenging in trash dumpsters for the garbage that could be found there. Of course thats not me,,,,yet.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2015 at 1:52PM
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