Worms vs. Vermicompost

AustinBillApril 28, 2013

In all the forums, blogs, etc. great detail is provided about building, maintaining, harvesting vermicompost.

But, as the worms feed and produce tea and compost, they also multiply. Probably doubling their population in 3 to 6 months. After a while, seems to me, you would have too many worms to to process a fixed amount of kitchen and garden scraps.

So, my question is this: Why does no one talk about harvesting the worms and putting worms into the garden so that they can keep up their great work of turning garbage and waste into fertilizer? Sorta like converting your garden to a worm bin.

Thoughts and comments?

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For us, the non-commercial worm farmers, many (most) of us will never have too many worms. And many of us consider them as pets. I know it's ridiculous but hey, I still do. And I don't want them to be Robins' breakfast. The composting worms are surface dweller. They will be exposed to sun and dryness, not to mention Robins friends and family. I am not a veggie gardener but my neighbour is and I have seen community gadens. They do not have garbage in/on their raised beds. They use a compost bin for that and some people will release some Red Wigglers in their compost bins/piles but native/wild worms will get there anyway and do the work.
If and when I find that I have too many worms, I'll just build another big bin. Or, some people would sell some of their worms or give them to friends/family.rather than releasing them into the garden. It is better fitting and serves a better purpose. And believe me, the hobbiest among us is even collecting worm food from where ever possible because we do not have enough kitchen scraps.
Regarding the method of worm harvesting, it has been talked about at the same time as harvesting VC. It's the other half of the process.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:06PM
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priswell(9 CA)

Redworms really won't survive in the garden, unless there's as much food for them there as there was in the bin.

When the worms really start populating, I'll either sell a few or give some away, or start another bin. I just started a new bin this winter, and by the end of summer it should be nicely established. Somehow I keep finding bits of food to keep them fed.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 8:21PM
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"Why does no one talk about harvesting the worms and putting worms into the garden so that they can keep up their great work of turning garbage and waste into fertilizer?"

Think about it. If the environment in a typical garden was appropriate for worms then there would be absolutely no way you could keep worms out of the garden. If a garden does not have worms then the environment is not conductive to their success. Adding worms will simply be a slow death sentence... despite tons of advertisement$$$$$ suggesting adding worms is good for the garden. Perhaps somewhere in the world there is one garden where worms have not invaded and adding worms would help. I doubt it. Worms even find their way to roof tops.

"as the worms feed and produce tea and compost" False and False.

Also worms suited for a vermicompost bin are not the same type as found in a garden with good soil. Vermicompost worms frequently are the ones found in horse manure piles.

"Why does no one talk about harvesting the worms" We use propitiatory, secret methods and sell all the extra worms online for big bucks. A gentleman in Georgia cross breed 4 breeds of worms and they self harvest right into the mailing box. We can't drive the boxes to the post office or cash the checks fast enough. It is like printing money. We are raking in the dough. Shhhhh. It is a secret. Don't tell.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 5:08PM
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""Worms even find their way to roof tops.""
I have a garbage bin on wheels (NO holes in bottom) where I stored used bedding I p/u from Petsmart. Sawdust pellets and corncob pellets in garbage bags.. This is from 2 yrs. ago and I never needed it. Somehow, water got into it either rain water or melted snow from a plug on the lid. Guess what! I found 4 fat worms in one of the bags. Wondered how they got there. They look like European with beautiful stripes.
eqeq: are you sure it's Georgia? Why Georgia? Is there something I don't understand here about Georgia? (I'm north of the border and pretty slow but eager to earn, sorry)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 7:48PM
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One of the biggest misconceptions we wormers refuse to free ourselves of is "worms can't make it wihout our devine intervention".

That is BS.

They do really well without us. They were here when we bought our copy of "Worms eat my Garbage", and will be here after our copy of that book is tossed into the compost bin...which those worms will promptly eat.

Give them a little bit of the admiration they deserve.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Way north of the border here too. Georgia? I think I was confused. Jeorgia Jumpers? It should have been Alabama. It was a play on "Alabama Jumpers". But now that I think of it, that too, is not it. ... I know. ... It a special breed of worms advertised on the radio. WKRP. Out of Cincinnati I believe. The story sort of reminds me of the history of the cardinal tetra, a very tiny but colorful tropical fish similar to the neon tetra. It was the latest, greatest thing in Europe. It came to America on the last flight of the Hindenburg. It flew right over Brooklyn, NY for introduction to the waiting tropical fish enthusiast community. Then tragedy struck. The flight it was booked on was that of the ill fated Hindenburg. Of the six live specimens, only one was now alive. It was named "Lucky Lindy", as, like Charles Lindbergh, it was the first of its species to cross the Atlantic. Similarly, red wigglers, the Cadillac of worms, somehow are so prolific and adventurous that epilogical (worm expert) historians think a single loan but probably pregnant, red wiggler actually crawled her way to Brooklyn over the course of several damp and rainy days via the bridge.

The Link:
skip to 0:18 to start

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 1:24

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 1:03AM
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eqeq: thank you for the delightful enlightening reply, hehe.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

I've got red wigglers all over. They weren't here at all when I bought this place twelve years ago, but they are everywhere now. I put castings in my potting soil mix, so they are in and under every pot, even the indoor houseplants. They are active under the mulch in all my beds, which is usually slightly underdone, homemade compost, so anytime I push some aside I see my red wiggler friends. They get spread around wherever I spread the castings. Sure, some probably die out there in the real world, but I have a large and ever-replenishing population in the bins, so I don't worry too much about it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 4:48AM
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One of the awesome things about being converted to worming is that those "lowly" worms teach us all sorts of good, organically correct things about many other aspects of becoming a positive force out among nature. (whew, that sounds deeper than I meant it to sound)

For instance, composting worms CAN survive out in the real world....IF we tenders of them make sure the surroundings support their needs. And if we do, then we do things useful to our respect for nature.

Like mulch. Composting worms thrive in places with proper mulch. Plants also thrive with mulch.

And then, worms make us aware that bad things humans spread around themselves... like chemicals...ARE bad, and will kill our worms, so we avoid those things.

Then we start spreading the truth, and light, around to our next-door chemo-heads, and Uncle Ortho, and....

.......It's all a big circle, ain't it!


Moderation, Diversity, Patience

BTW, Proper bin separation supplies: comfortable table, light, wonder stick, radio, beer.....

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:29AM
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My garden is also full of worms. I have added LOTS of castings the past few years. I do it mostly in the fall after growing season. Try and cover the beds with 2-3" of mostly castings and mulch this with horse manure, UCG, cardboard, compost, and lots of rice straw. In the spring the soil is alive and healthy and wigglin'!

The hardest part is keeping my chickens out. They scratch the straw mulch off, but are quite skilled at spreading the VC for you!

It is better than a cover crop I think. In the summer they may die after leaving many cocoons, and become part of the compost circle of life.

I cold-compost with worms in my ever expanding garden area. I build wormerys in compost piles located on future garden beds. My kind of "no-till" gardening.

Good luck, Pete

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:10PM
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That looks like a sweet setup you've got there. It definitely has a certain ambience, a certain atmosphere. I'm sure part of your worm-separating success stems from the fact that the worms simply enjoy being there; what with the antique-looking lamp, the radio and beer. Now all I need is a basement or garage to work out of. I'll probably have to move house. :-)


    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 12:19AM
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When I add worms and casings to my garden the moles love it.....me, not so much. (Re: the moles.)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Much in the same way, that if you added worms to your aquarium, the fish would Love it. Moles Love worms.
Time to get rid of the moles. Can't have 'em both.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:28PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

I certainly don't love moles. But I don't think they eat the red wigglers, that stay on or near the surface. Moles are known to eat the other kind of earthworm, the large grey ones, that tunnel deep underground.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:42AM
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I'm an expert on moles since I have them all over my yard...and have had....for 12 or so years. Can't get rid of, or trap, or bait, or even ever see one.

My neighbor killed an apparently dazed & confused mole just on my property about 2 weeks ago with a shovel and proudly showed it to everyone on the block because he and everyone else had never seen one before either.

For the record, moles do not discriminate worm selection in their diet. If it smells like a worm, it's lunch.


Once I had a professional extermination expert tell me, with a straight face, that moth balls would repel moles because moles have such an extremely acute sense of smell and that I should strategically poke moth balls into the ground about 4 inches deep spaced 4 inches apart over my entire yard thereby causing them to go elsewhere.

A quick calculator result of mothball prices, property square footage mutiplied by 16, and labor-intensive manpower hours necessary convinced me that since moles don't actually kill my grass, they can, and should be considered a mere pest, and aeration tool.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:25AM
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I do have a couple redworm bins in my garden. One is a 4" pipe buried about 18" into the ground, with lots of holes drilled in it. The other is a old laundry soap bucket buried in the ground with lots of holed in it. I put food scraps in both, as well as some starter worms from my worm bin. Other critters stop by and help decompost the food, like earwigs, slugs and such. The waste makes its way into the garden, at least that area of it, via earthworms that come by to have a bit to eat, as well as the red wigglers that venture out via the holes. something like this: http://midwestpermaculture.com/2012/11/how-to-build-a-worm-tower/

Next time I would use a bigger pipe, 6" minimum, but I just used a 4" that I had lying around.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to build a worm tower

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 8:51AM
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