Wanting production!

Rio_GrandeJuly 14, 2013

We run a small vegatable operation. We basically starve for organic matter because we no longer have animals on the farm. Manure used to be free for the taking even from other farms, but now days it is either used on the farm or it cost.

So,,, after playing with a tiny vermicomposting set up I got to wondering if we could put off enough production with worms to be of major use to us on the farm. I saw 40 pound bags of castings of 25.00 the other day and thought wow. Then I saw how much the worms cost!
So do you think this is worth messing with for production purposes?

I was thinking flow through systems but am concerned about overwintering. We would need thousands of pounds a year.

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You aren't going to get thousands of pounds a year unless you have thousands of pounds of feedstock. Manure would have been an ideal feedstock, if it were still available.

The worms don't produce OM. They change it into a more usable form. The quality of your VC is dependent on the quality of your feedstock. So what are you going to feed these worms?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 2:09AM
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We have a few thousand pounds ( at least) of older alfalfa/orchard grass hay with some clover for good measure that we moved outside a couple years ago. We generate a couple hundred pounds a month (guessing) in organic matter in the form of corn stalks, husks, cobs, scrap vegatables that are not of the quality to go to market, we are cleaning out our spring cole crops and replanting. I figured all that could go in. We don't have that volume all the time. I have access to large quantities of old newspaper and shredded paperwork.
I don't know alot about this, will that stuff work? We have several field edges that don't get baled. That could be cut with the conditioner and raked to be placed in a system. It is mostly fescue. I am just brainstorming and honestly appriciate the advice. If it is a bad idea, I want to know it before we spend money or waste time.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:37AM
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Your Feedstock won't produce the best possible VC, but it is what you have, and VC is better for plants than plain OM.

Your feedstock may lean a little too high on the nitrogen side, depending on how much shredded paper you have to add to the mix.

Corn cobs and corn stalks will break down very slowly. You will want to grind them up first. Whole corn cobs are not good worm food. Ground corn cobs are.

You would probably want to compost your OM using conventional means before feeding it to your worms. Give it a couple of weeks (guessing) to compost past the heating stage, then feed it to the worms.

A flow through system would be ideal. You would want to take what you are currently doing, and find a way to grow it gradually. I would hate to see you invest a lot of money, only to discover that conventional composting of your OM is good enough. VC will give you a superior product, but it will also mean extra work.

You may also want to consider the KISS system described by Yelm Worm Farm' https://www.yelmworms.com/kiss-plan/

Beyond that, you would have to try it to see if it works for you. Hopefully, someone else will chime in with more advice, but most of us here are small scale wormers.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 11:55AM
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Thanks, I am a sponge and want to learn.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Hello I was curious do you happen to have you farm along the Rio Grande Valley? If so I would't think over wintering would be a problem at least not in most years. All the things you mentioned will compost in a vermicomposting system but as mentioned you could run into a problem with things trying to heat up espcially with the greener materials. A hot compost pile would be a good way to go in starting the composting process. You mentioned you had a small system going already. With humble beginnings you could use that as a start to multiply your herd by perhaps by making a couple of more smaller systems. By this fall your material will have broken down enough to feed and your worm herd should have increased substantiably. Whatever system you decide on you may consider just going with an intermidiate size as the next step and focus on growing your herd for the next several months at that point.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:31PM
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