Newbie Question -Outdoor binless composting?

elaine_8b_ga(z8b GA)March 25, 2011

I found someone local where I could get 2 lbs. of worms. Got all excited about getting a wooden bin built and arranged to get worms this weekend.I have been interested in worm composting for some time and read many posts on the kinds of bins people are using. The person that had the worms called DH on Thursday and he picked them up while I was at work. Didn't get to pick his brain at all about what works best in our area.

DH said the worms were in a heap on the ground and that the fellow just added food ( mostly dry cow manure) to the pile and they stayed put in the pile. This doesn't sound like anything I've read on the forum. Is anyone else raising worms and creating compost in this manner? Sounds too easy.

Any input would be appreciated.


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Well, I'm in Austin, TX and I do almost the same without using manure. I just use carbon like paper or leaves and add vegetable scraps regularly. I hose down the pile regularly particularly in the heat and in 4-6 months it's harvest time. The worms go into the next pile and repeat...

Indoor bins are good for people aren't on any real land to work with but depending on climate eisenia fetida are easy to raise outdoors.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 8:26PM
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elaine_8b_ga(z8b GA)

Wonderful! I have plenty of space and would like to try this method. Do you have anything under the pile? Also do you have a problem with any animals or pests with the pile exposed?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Good site with tons of info and NO sales pressure.
Bentley Rocks!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 10:20PM
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I don't see why it would not work. We just keep them in a bin - uglier for down cellar - prettier for those who have it in the kitchen to make it not look like a pile of compost on the floor. I can't think of a reason why it would not work. They were not clear but I bet they make the new pile next to - touching- the old pile and then add some time before harvesting the first pile.

Most of the value of purchasing worms person to person is the ability to chat a bit with the seller and check out the growing situation.

Your family will probably appreciate the worms being in a nice wood container.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 10:57PM
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elaine_8b_ga(z8b GA)

steanyb, thanks for the link. I love the windrow. Probably will get my feet wet first with a much smaller scale, but that could be just what I need for later. DH has about a dozen different scenarios -- -what if we did this -- how about that, etc. I will continue to look at ideas that are working well for others.

Mine will be an outdoor pile. Just wondering about ants. Also read in one article that oak leaves were too acid. That's the major source of leaves on the farm. Lots of pine straw too. Do these need to begin rotting before adding to pile, or do I need to find a source of some other kind of leaves? Lots of questions????

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 12:59PM
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If you check the map and find a neighbor- get some tips?

Good info here also:

Wurmz iz e-z!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 1:10PM
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I don't keep anything under my piles, they just sit on the ground. I've had no issues with animals at all. I've heard of some having issues with moles but apparently we have none in our area.

Any worms that do die due to heat, cold, climate, old age just get replaced when younger ones breed. I keep the pile moist and well fed and the worms just keep on working through the material till harvest time.

Easy...just how I like to garden.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:18AM
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elaine_8b_ga(z8b GA)

goudananda, LUCKY YOU! No moles. We do have moles in our neck of the woods and fireants. I have the worms in a temporary home. Half of a plastic 55 gal. drum. They seem happy so far. Moving around, but not going up the sides. I very much want to keep it simple, but am concerned about $40 worth of worms going AWAL. Perhaps my best option is to wait until they multiply to try some in an open bed.

I do have some very heavyweight landscape fabric that allows water to go through, but should keep moles out.
Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:25PM
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onafixedincome(z8-9 CA)

I run my worms right under my rabbits--no bins, just dug out about a pitchfork length down and lined with sand, then threw in bedding, DryStall (a small cinder-like rock that the worms go bonkers over), water and worms.

So sure, no bin required at all. :) But you might want to fence out the chickens (eye rolling)!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 1:39AM
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Hi Elaine,

If you're worried about losing the expensive worms, then try and set up a couple of totes with say couple of hundred worms each, just as breeding boxes. Search this forum for "marauder", and you'll find my experiements starting with 75 worms in a 10 gallon tote. In six monthes, ended up with over 1 lb per tote. I still run 10 totes, but now when each has about 2 lbs in, I give one away and halve another to restart the new one.

Worm secure, and regenerate quickly. I now also seed my veggie garden with worms, and my compost bins.

It doesn't take long to breed up the numbers in you don't overfeed, and you put your food scraps through a blender.

Good luck

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 4:59PM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

"We do have moles in our neck of the woods and fireants."

My guess is fireants will be your main problem. I think I remember hearing from another Georgian that fireants stung his worms. They certainly make tending the worm bin a bit of an adventure. Depending on how bad of a fireant problem you have, you may need to build raised worm beds with some sort of fireant barrier.

Pine straw works fine for bedding, but they take a while (6-12 months) to fully break down. Avoid oak leaves. What will you feed the worms?


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 4:18AM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

Here's a group of vermicomposters with ideas about fighting fireants. I think one of them was experimenting with worm tea + horticultural oil.

Fire ant fighters!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:27PM
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elaine_8b_ga(z8b GA)

I am using mostly vegetable and fruit scraps finely chopped. Also adding tea bags and coffee grounds. They seem happy so far.

marauder, I have read your posts about using the totes. I love that you give worms to people that are interested. A great help to get started without major expense. I do want to increase numbers as quickly as I can. I have a rather large garden and very sandy, poor soil. The more compost the better!

Thanks for all the sugestions,

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 10:09PM
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I've had fireants in both of my windrows here around Austin, TX and they're just a bother more than anything else. I will say that I can turn over a manure fork full of compost and see that worms were inches away from the ants mound inside the pile completely undisturbed until I stirred them up. They'll attack the worms but the worms just dive away. If I lose a few worms, I don't get too concerned.

I find that the easiest way to deal with the ants is to create a bed that's more suitable for the worms. I water the pile more often and the boosted microbial activity eventually has the ants move on. This has been my experience so far.

If the ants are being ornery I'll put a cup of blackstrap molasses in a standard watering can and fill it with water. Water the windrow and check it in a few days, if the ants are still around drench it again. The molasses boosts microbial activity and is good for the compost and the worms. Ants...don't like it.

I've not tried using the dried version but I would suppose it would work as well. Just dust the windrow and water it in. Works in your garden too if there are issues. It doesn't kill ants, they just don't like it and move.

Ants are something I'll have to work with but except for a bite on an ankle here and there it's been a very small issue. Raising worms in windrows outdoors is the way to go IMO. It's low cost, low tech and seems to be perfect for my lazy gardening setup.

I agree with the above poster about keeping an indoor colony to seed the outdoor pile. That was how I started and how I recommend someone build their colony. The symbiosis between worms and humans is just beginning to be explored.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 1:57AM
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I'm waiting for the average overnight lows to get up into the 40s and then I'm going to try some outdoor worm composting. I have two compost piles going in fence wire enclosures and I'm going to transfer one mature COW tray into the top of each. The worms are eisenia foetida. I also plan on puting about that same amount into a small garden that I am spading up. I will be growing mainly halapeno peppers but I might also try some tomatos. As I dig i am surprised at how few natural worms I encounter.

Dave Nelson

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:12AM
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