New at Vermiculture

pineviewplanterJuly 12, 2008

Hi,

Hubby and I decided since we love to garden organically that we would start our own worm bed. He made a nice box about 4' x 2' by 15" high with a hinged lid. I have shredded newspapers and dampened them (not soaked) and placed them in the bottom of the box. Now we have lots of corrugated cardboard, and I have been reading that it is perfect to shred and use in the bottom. How small does it have to be shredded? I can only tear it by hand so I cannot make it all that tiny. We have holes drilled into the bottom for drainage as well. I managed to get a large bucket of composted cow poop to add to the mix. Is it okay to use commercial potting soil to obtain the necessary sand? I ask this because I already have a bag of it in the shed.

And as for adding sawdust.. can I put in fresh pine sawdust or should it be hardwood?

A friend of ours has a large worm "bed" and he feeds his worms chicken feed sprinkled over the top about every 1 days...is this okay to do if we don't have much veggie matter to give them? And will freezing the veggie waste for a couple of days kill any fruit fly larvae or just aggravate it? lol

Another question... how do you keep ants out of it?

Thanks,

PVP

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babalubird

I'm anxious to hear the answer to the ant problem. They forced my newly bought worms out of my bins that I paid good money for.

I think I got them under control with some nemotodes that are supposed to attack baby ants. You buy those from biological control companies.

I tried putting a ring of ant poison around the concrete blocks on the ground to keep them from getting in in the first place. But it takes no time to track it away with your feet and you don't realize it. And of course rain washes it away.

I'm anxious to see if you get some answers too.

Connie

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:48PM
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mbetts(5)

I don't know the answers to all of your questions, but I'll have a go at a couple of them.
1. Cardboard. I think the size you make it depends on how much of a hurry you are in. Even if you put in great big pieces the worms would eventually take care of it. I have been tearing it into pieces about 4" for my indoor worm bin. Before I was making 1" squares, cutting it with shears, but that got way too tedious. The 4" ones seem to be going down fine.
There is another idea I might try, which is getting the cardboard wet, which makes it quite easy to tear up. Leaving the boxes out in the rain should accomplish this without much fuss. I will let the ripped up pieces dry out before I add them to the worm bin, however, since I know from past experience that a soggy worm bin is not a happy one.
2. Commercial potting soil. No, just add a handful of soil from the yard. You want the microbes as well as the grit. Better to use stuff you have available for this worm enterprise than to buy more stuff.
3. Sawdust. Pine is fine, but don't use much at a time, and mix it in with the other stuff. It can interfere with the aeration.
4. Chicken feed. It's fine for the worms of course, but to me, buying stuff especially to feed the worms doesn't make sense when the whole point is to recycle. The worms don't actually need vegetables. There is a guy in my area who raises redworms commercially on NOTHING but corrugated cardboard!
5. Freezing the garbage. Some people say it works; I haven't tried it. Can't hurt though!
6. Ants. Sorry, I don't know about what to do there. I've read on this forum that ants tend to frequent a bin that's too dry. That might explain why I've never encountered them, because my bins tend to excess in the opposite direction.
Indoors, you can put the legs of the bin in a container of water to keep the ants out. Outdoors that probably wouldn't work. I've heard that tansy repels ants. I wonder if anyone has tried growing tansy around their outdoor bin....
Well, it looks like for a person who doesn't know all the answers, I'm sure full of opinions! Hope some of them help. Good luck.
mbetts

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:17AM
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susanfromhawaii

I'll second the idea of getting the cardboard wet. I then tear it in to as narrow strips as I can get, usu 1-2 inches. I don't bother tearing them again into squares.

I had a fruit fly problem in the beginning and since I've started to freeze all the fruit peel before it goes in I haven't had a problem.

I didn't add any dirt, but the small amount of compost the worms came in added all the critters.

My biggest problem is leaving them alone long enough!

I'm guessing that your friend who give his worms chicken feed has a much more intensive set up than any of us home composters (though I've heard of indoor composters with 6 bins!) Just cardbard is sufficient. The composted cow manure is a bonus. For me, the main purpose is to keep my vege waste out of the landfill. That said, when my herd gets big enough, I will be adding some stale dog food that I forgot I had (for about 2 years :-)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 2:14PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

the addition of any kind of soil isn't necessary, but it makes the keeper happy ... they'll get enough grit right quick ... for sawdust, avoid using much of the fine stuff that comes from shop tools like a table saw, find some coarse sawdust from a chainsaw or such, or use planer chips/shavings

feed them for awhile and get the bedding materials active and they can do without any feeding for a long time - worms have very inefficient digestive systems and can reingest the castings for a long time without feeling neglected

to discourage ants, sprinkle ground cinnamon and or turmeric around the bin - smells nice too ... you can also put the bin on a legged stand and put the legs in cans of water, but the cinnamon will do the job, even if the ants have already found the [too dry] bin

Bill

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:37AM
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