First Bin - Bedding?

iLoveLawnJune 4, 2013

I am giving Vermiculture a shot and I'm glad there's a forum for it because I think i need guidance.

I bought my first batch of worms last week, 500 red wigglers. They'll be at my doorstep any day now. I plan on using 5gallon pickle buckets (free - I work at a restaurant). I know although not ideal, they are free and I plan on drilling holes on the bottom and air holes on the top sides and making two homes of 250 worms so they aren't over-crowded. Is this a good plan?

My second question is... what kind of bedding will be the best? I'm reading competing opinions about the initial bedding for the new worms. For example ALOT of people say just shred cardboard and newspaper - but seriously? What about the toxins in the ink?, AND worms don't live in shreds of newspaper do they? They live in soil right?

The second opinion is to use coconut palm fiber and some other organic gritty material like coffee.

Any advice about my pickle bucket and bedding questions would be greatly appreciated. I plan on spending a ton of time on this forum reading up on vermiculture. If I can pull it off my lawn and garden will love it.

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I used some of my first vermicompost, it was not yet castings, to cover some dead spots in the lawn. Then I covered it with that green grass seed with green paper fiber mixed in. When the spots grew there were squash or melon seeds in it. It made it easy to see those spots while mowing and mow around them. After a few weeks I just mowed over them and the squash or melon was no problem.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 3:01PM
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    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Just be careful when using the 5gal buckets. They can turn anaerobic quickly if you overwater them.

Ideally the best would be manure, after all they are manure worms. I have seen a full newspaper with earthworms under it though.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 4:14PM
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I have access to some horse manure, so I may try that.

Firecat - would drain holes on the bottom help with the anaerobic problem?

Eventually I'll upgrade to long plastic bins or even the worm factory 360 if I like vermicomposting.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 4:20PM
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OK, about, the ink is toxic no more. That was changed long ago because of the threats to children and tots who eat stuff like that.

If you don't have any horsey-doo, put some corregated cardboard (dampened but not wet) in there but not too much... just a little.

With 500 worms, you don't need much of a bin at all. What are the widths of the pickle things? The important dimension is the width (vertical will take care of itself).

Make sure to use the bedding that the worms were shipped in. Don't wanna get the worms all disoriented the very first day in the new home. (Put them in the corner of the new bin and let them venture out into your bedding at their own squirm.)

Holes?: Put a couple of holes in the bottom ON ONE SIDE. That way if it's too dry, tilt the bin up with the holes up. Vicey-versy if wetter than better.

On top, put no holes. On sides, put 4 on each side. Make the holes the size of a quarter....or 2 dimes and a nickel. Holes are way over-rated....except for no holes.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 6:04PM
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I don't think I would say it isn't toxic at all. Many of the same ingredients are in both petroleum based and vegetable based inks. Commonly newspapers are printed with vegetable based inks but not all. There is also blanket wash which contains alot of petroleum distilates(sp?), this stuff can kill ants. So everytime a press operator cleans the ink off the blanket, a film of blanket wash is on the blanket, the blanket transfers residue onto the next sheets. How many sheets affected depends on the evaporation time of the blanket wash used. There's also fountain solution to keep the plate clean which is transferred to the blanket but it is minimal and is diluted down.

Yes, drain holes would definately help.
Horse manure well work great for you.

This post was edited by firecat on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 19:43

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Hey cool, thanks for the responses! Good to know that newspaper is ok as far as toxins go. So just 100% shredded newspaper soaked in water should do it? Along with the soil the worms come in and some soaked cardboard on the bottom?

The pickle bucket is only about 14" in length, but pretty tall, maybe 36"? Again, not ideal, but free, and I'm going to stack often when introducing new food so they can climb up and eat in the new bucket.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 8:19PM
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If I understand you right, the pickle thingies are 14" measured across and 36" tall. Is that right? If so, they would make much better worm bins turned on their sides.

Our worms are top feeders. They don't do deep.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 8:41PM
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I think I want to stack the bins though?? so as one fills up I'll plop a new one on top with holes on the bottom and new food in it and the wormies will crawl up and chow and start a new bin that way.

I thought about putting the buckets on their side but then I can't stack. Don't most people use the stacking method. Like the worm factory 360 style?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 8:57PM
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boreal_wormer(Alta Canada)

You could also make mini flow-through bins from your pickle pails. There are examples at the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Flow Through bins: a collection of links

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 9:18PM
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No, most peeps don't use stacking.

Start out at the beginners' stage. This is a lot easier when it's easier. You can always turn them babies up if they want to get high.

When you have a vertical bin (36" tall), all the moisture you introduce into it is gonna gravitate (!) to the bottom of the pickle jar. The worms, who are somewhere near the top of the bedding having orgasms of eating and reproducing are gonna be dying for a little moisture.

Wait until you are successful with that first bin before starting out on high-rises.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Thanks for the link boreal_wormer, helps a lot. I'm going to start with stacking

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Hey! Flow-through bins look cool too!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 10:10AM
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