I'm doing it all backwards !

bluelake(8)May 16, 2010

Yesterday I went to a feed store to get worms for my garden. I bought a pound of red wigglers for $33.00. I don't know WHY it didn't dawn on me until I was almost home that I wanted earth worms, not red wigglers.

However, I've been interested in vermicomposting for a long time, so now is as good as any to start.

I have them in a clear plastic bin, the size of a shoe box. I attempted to put holes in the lid, but it just cracked slices into the lid. The worms are in there, in their original bedding with a little lettuce and a little coffee grounds. I keep the box covered with a dark t-shirt.

They've been in there about 20 hours now. When I do look, they are up and active and seem unfazed by the move.

How long can I keep them in this set up? Can anyone recommend a bin in the $50.00 range, or direct me to a good site to build my own? I'm in Austin, so the worms will have to live indoors due to the heat. As for making my own, I don't have very many tools so I'm limited with what I can build.

Open to suggestions, and I'll keep reading the past posts to get up to speed on this new hobby. I do have an active outdoor compost but it's alread at 100 degrees so they can't go in there.

Thanks to all!

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Your worms should be OK for a few weeks in the box you have them in, but it is hard to maintain good conditions in a box that small.

Most commercial worm bins run twice what you have budgeted. The cheap way to do it is to buy a couple Rubbermaid totes, poke holes in one of them for aeration, and use the other as a catch basin.

Here is a link that might be useful: Setting up a worm bin

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 5:04PM
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For free: A plastic bag in a box.
For free: An old dishpan.
For $4: A 5 gallon bucket.
For $7: A Rubbermade 18 gallon bin.
If you tell enough people you got worms they may have worm factory or can of worm bin they no longer want for free.
Add a garden hand tool three prong claw.
Worms want pumpkin not fancy digs.
Enjoy your new composters.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 12:38AM
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I used a kitchen trash can I had in the garage and made a flow thru. I also had some plastic stakes that I used so I only spent $ on the worms.

Maybe you can get a trash can or container at goodwill? That is my next step (for bin # 2 once #1 gets going). You could even use containers with a crack or a broken spot.

I am all new to this but I searched for flow through instructions here and built one on Mother's day. I had started with 2 tidy cat litter buckets but I wanted to go bigger.

Good luck with your worms! I would suggest some kind of box or trash can etc.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:02AM
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Thanks very much for your replies. I found, in the garage, 2 blue Rubbermain/Roughneck 3 gallon bins.

Currently the worms are in a box with these dimensions

13" long
7 " wide
5 " deep

The containers are a little bigger:

14" long
11" wide
7" deep

Here's a link: http://www.thegreathardwarestore.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=726016&click=2744

I'm going to set up (drill) a bin with the two that I found in my garage to see if I get the hang of vermicomposting and LOVE vermicomposting before I buy something new. I'm hoping the added space and the correct set up should get me buy for a couple of months, or more.

I'll watch the video that the first responder posted and copy that plan. I think it should work, I'm basically doubling their space since the top bin will have drain holes.

Let me know if you think this will get me by for a couple of months.

Thanks again all.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 3:11PM
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This should buy you a couple of months. The bin is still pretty small, but if you are doing this for a couple of months to see if you want to do it long term before you spend any money, this should work.

You will need to be very careful about overfeeding a bin this small. In a small bin, if something goes wrong, it goes wrong in the entire bin.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 3:26PM
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Thanks bryce.

Tomorrow I'll be making the conversion from the samller one box to the two somewhat larger bins. As of now, my worms are EXTREMELY happy in the little bin so I thing they should flourish in there new apt.

My question now is when I move them to the new place, do I just dump everything from the first box into the new place?

Currently in there are 2 small cantelope rinds, a small piece of avocado rind, a bit of lettuce and some UCGs. Not that I would ever be at a loss of what to feed them, I'm curious about string algae from my koi pond. Would that be something they may like to munch on?

I currently work part-time at a 'fruit arrangement place' and have an ever lasting, never ending supply of fruit remains which ususally go in my outdoor compost bin. Actually, too much, as there's a big bag of cantelope rinds rotting in the garage as I type.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:01PM
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> do I just dump everything from the first box into the new place?

Yes. The environment the worms like is an environment that has a healthy micro herd. So take your current environment with the healthy micro herd and dump it into the new bin, rather than starting over.

> I'm curious about string algae from my koi pond.

You could try it. It is easier to try things in a bigger bin where new potential foods can be piled in one corner and you can wait to see how the worms react.

> I currently work part-time at a 'fruit arrangement place' and have an ever lasting, never ending supply of fruit remains

So the temptation will be to overfeed. Maybe you don't need to try out the algae.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:27PM
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"I currently work part-time at a 'fruit arrangement place' and have an ever lasting, never ending supply of fruit remains which ususally go in my outdoor compost bin. Actually, too much, as there's a big bag of cantelope rinds rotting in the garage as I type." You live in vermicomposter heaven, no wonder you accidentally bought composting worms. You have access to enough kitchen scraps to choke a horse. You are going to need several more thousand pounds of worms. :-) This is going to be difficult. Unlimited perfect food and limited worms. Not a perfect combination. Let me whisper a tip into your ear, "Bedding". You are going to need more cardboard. Lots more. Egg carton is my favorite. Because worms need food and bedding. It will absorb the moisture produced by decomposting scraps. You also need a plan for fruit flys. With that much scraps you might even need the help of chickens! Think beautiful, organic eggs. You must have a great outdoor compost pile! Don't tell me if you have a second part time job at Godiva and are drowning in factory rejects by the 5 pound bag.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:45AM
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Your reply made me laugh on so many levels!

As for bedding/cardboard, guess what all those cantelopes, honeydew, strawberries and bananas get delivered to the store in? CARDBOARD boxes! That's what I bring the vast amount of excess fruit home in, (but in a plastic bag, IN the cardboard boxes). I then use the bags to gather leaves and store them to make leaf mold.

As for fruit flies, I HATE them. I keep both sides of the sink filled with 1 inch of soapy water and that seems to eliminate them. At least I have none in the house. In my outdoor bin, I sometimes have BSFs which I don't really like, but they do contribute to the breakdown. Today I smothered them with grass clippings. It's hot enough here in Texas to keep the pile from being too wet, but I do add lots of browns to the pile to keep it from becoming slimy and wet.

About the chicken eggs. When I got the 'accidental' red wigglers, the place actually had backyard chicks. Cute, cute, little baby chickens. I picked one up and truly thought about bringing 1 or 2 home, but there is no way I could house an outdoor chick/en at this time. I have had a problem with coons and possums and don't want to have to build a coop and all that goes with it.

I live in a true neighborhood with houses close together, yet we are surrounded by a greenbelt where the wildlife comes to feed in our yards. I've had to battle coons (having them removed from the backyard = $400) to keep them from getting into the koi pond and eating the fish and ripping the liner. But I would love to have backyard chickens!

As for the chocolate ... uh, well, ... the 'fruit arrangement' place I work part-time ... MANY of the fruits are dipped in dark chocolate or peanut butter so, I hope I don't upset you, but yes, there is excess chocolate! White and dark! Hershey, not Godiva, unfortunately.

Someone posted above about maybe getting a true used vermicomposter bin which would be great but get this, ... my father has one on his farm that was a gift to him. He killed all of his worms, but come hell or high water, he will not give it to me. I will snag it one day, and one day soon!

Gonna go play with my worms in the kitchen now, before they get their new house tomorrow, but I'll start new thread(s) with questions, I PROMISE! Thanks to all on this thread for your advice. It has helped A LOT!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 2:32AM
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Concerning 5 gallon buckets. Do you have small local bakeries there in Texas? I so, they get their shortening in 5 gal buckets. I buy them, all cleaned and including lids for 1$ each.

Dave Nelson

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:04AM
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Thinking about the fruit arrangements, there is pineapple in there. Cooked pineapple like in a can is fine for worms. Raw has an enzime that eats them. Maybe large quantities of raw pineapple should go in an outdoor compost.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:10AM
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Thanks equin, ... I'm not putting in any of the citrus (pineapple or oranges), that does to to the outdoor bin and seems to heat it up just a little.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:23PM
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antoniab(5 WofChicago,IL)

I didn't know that about fresh pineapple. I don't get that very often, well, almost never, but it is good to know.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 10:08PM
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papapya too. Maybe mangoes are ok. Enzymes being the bad guys.

I use the tiny bit of citris that arrives into my life. Even an arm press juicer. But if I bought an electric juicer I would have to donate outdoors to the compost.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 3:01AM
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Does anyone have a list of these things like mango, pineapple, etc. that are bad for the squirms? Because newbies like me have NO idea. What about kiwi?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 9:28AM
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"papapya too. Maybe mangoes are ok"
The papaya fruit is OK. The seeds are a big NO-NO. Papaya seeds will make the worms sterile temporarily (how long? -- No idea, didn't see it in wiki).
Same goes with papaya leaves and young (green) papaya.

With mangoes, I think there's something in the peel. I have noticed that it took a long time for the worms to get close to mango peels. The peels are for the back yard compost pile.
However, they like the flesh.

I am wondering about the stem of romaine lettuce. There is this milky sap oozing out of it. This couldn't be good for the little guys/gals.

Beware of Oleander and Datura!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 1:07PM
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Don't worry about the milky fluid in lettuce. Most lettuce has it, but it's more pronouced when the plant has been under heat stress. It has a bitter taste, so it is generally undesirable for human consumption if there is more than a trace of sap. (It is also a very mild sedative.)

However, if you have a latex allergy, avoid the stems of lettuce. The milky fluid contains latex.

If you have warts, however, the sap can be used to burn them off. :) But there are wild herbs that do a better job of this because they have the same fluid in a more concentrated form. (Like dandelions or milkweed.)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 7:42AM
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I don't have a list of foods NOT to feed worms, but would guess that anything poisonous to humans would not be a good idea for worm bins.[if not for worms, at least for the worm keeper, handling both the feedstock and the VC] In the wild, might be a different story. I wonder if there are composting worms in the fallen leaves under poison ivy or oleander?
If you are wondering about mango peels ... they are related to poison ivy and the peels contain the toxic material. I've seen posts in the compost forum saying never to compost poison ivy or poison sumac, as the toxic material will remain in the compost. Because I am dangerously allergic to poison ivy and mango peels, I avoid any contact with ANYTHING connected to them ... including compost.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:48AM
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borderbarb: Thx for the info.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 4:58PM
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Bluelake--any time you'd like to offload some of that produce... I'm in Austin, too, and my small-but-increasing collection of wormeries are all outside, chomping and breeding year-round. So it is possible!

Welcome to the madness.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:56PM
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Hey Foxx,

Yes, it's a definite possibility! This past week, we were so busy I was just throwing the scraps in the garbage. Well, actually, we do have 4 to 5 bins we fill up first that the Zoo picks up, but after those are full, the scraps are good for the taking.

What part of Austin? I'm South.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 10:34PM
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UT area, but willing to travel! Hate the thought of landfilling stuff when my worms are (always!) hungry. As are the non-vermi- compost containers. And the black soldier fly larvae unit's up to full strength again, which means food disappears nearly as fast as I can add it!

Speaking of which--how's your tolerance for grubs? If that oversupply of yours is a frequent thing, you might think about BSFL. Many composters & vermicomposters absolutely hate the things, as there's no compost to harvest once they've devoured your organics, but they are highly efficient biological waste digesters, and native to this region anyway, so they're ridiculously easy to tend around here.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 12:36AM
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