Red wigglers in a raised garden bed

VeggierunnerJune 8, 2013

Ok, so I am new to composting. Have been doing some research on it, and found that due to lack of abundant carbon sources (we don't have any leaves/trees in our area and we don't get a newspaper or anything like that) that a traditional compost pile won't work for us. So we were thinking about vermicomposting but I have some questions that google hasn't been able to adequately answer for me.

(1) Do I need to worry about the carbon/nitrogen ratio of the food that I give the worms? As in, do I need to scrounge up some newspaper for them to eat, or can I just give them food scraps from the table?

(2) The dirt in my area is horrible! As a result the square foot gardens I put in this year are not thriving. So next year, I am thinking of doing some raised garden beds to help circumvent this issue. Now to the point. Can just I build my raised garden bed frames, fill it with grass clippings, some newspaper, food scraps and chuck in some worms and hope to have some good dirt in that bed next year? Why or why would this not be advisable?

(3) I really need a large volume of dirt - mine is seriously just awful! The previous owners of our house put down this black weed blocker mat pretty much all over the entire yard, so no organic materials have touched the dirt for almost a decade :(. How much can I realistically expect the red wigglers to produce over the course of the summer/fall?

Thanks so much for your replies and helping out a clueless newbie!

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vermiman(7)

patience grasshopper. Red wigglers need some sort of bedding source. Food scraps should be used as a food source.

You may want to investigate composting with black soldier fly larvae(BSFL). They can survive with the scraps being their bedding and food sources. They will harvest themselves. When you have a good colony of BSFL, you'll notice the population of the pesty house fly reduce. BSF is not a pest fly.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:19PM
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chuckiebtoo

Patience IS the important thing to remember. But I can tell you that if you have enough worms in that landscape (eventually), those worms will turn it into black gold. It just takes time.

To maximize the reproduction rates of both your VC and worms, you'd be a lot better off to control the environment those worms deal with. Temps, moisture, predators.

You'll make more worms and VC faster with bins in protected environments.

After you've got more worms than you know what to do with, you can unleash them on all that bad soil.

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:46PM
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klem1

There are as many different kinds of "horrible"dirt as there are folks.
You might tell us where and specificly what dirt you have. I guarantee somone here has tamed the same dirt and made it productive.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 5:25PM
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sbryce_gw

Yes, you do need to give some thought to the carbon and nitrogen ratio. What you want to do is start with a lot of carbon, and add nitrogen gradually over time. The alternative would be to mix them in optimum proportions, let the pile heat up, then add worms after the pile cools.

Your idea could work if... You have a LOT of organic matter to start with. The OM breaks down to a much smaller volume than you started with.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 12:02AM
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