Worm tea, am I suppose to have any?

wolfman13August 13, 2014

My wife was given a gallon of worm tea, and needless to say, it did great things. She bought me a stackable system with a spigot on the bottom. This is where she thought the tea would come from. I'm on my 2nd level and have maybe a few drops. She wants to know why I don't have any. I told her from what I've read, my bedding is only to be slightly damp, to barely allow a ball to be formed. Any more moisture and the worms will bale or die. I've tried to research it a little bit and it looks like those kind of amounts are "made" through straining, etc. Is this correct? I'm new to vermicomposting and brand new to the site. Thanks

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My worms like the bedding quite moist. If there is an extra wet spot in the bin, that is where I expect to see lots of worms. I do have drains at the bottom to avoid standing water in the bin, but rarely get anything out the drain. If you want some worm tea you might either try putting in some high moisture food scraps, or just adding some water that will percolate through and produce the tea. The worms won't mind a quick extra watering if the water can drain.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 7:12PM
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Worm tea and what drains thru the spigot in the bottom of your bin (leachate) are two things very different.

The stuff from the spigot has minimal good qualities but not all the things that make AVCT (aerated vermicompost tea) work the wonders you speak of.

Do a search on this site for "AVCT". You'll get lots of info. Feel free, after reading thru some of it, to ask further questions

Carlos Danger.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:47PM
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See the thread with Worm Factory in the title.

There is a lot to learn and some choices, decisions to make.

If the lady of the house is the one that wants the product,
make sure she does her share of the work.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:35PM
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I use the book "Worms eat my Garbage" by Mary Appelhof and it is so informative. If you do not use it ... it is a life saver... but sharing info is also a life saver. In the book she too talks about compost tea .

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:49PM
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The Worm Factory company despite selling a popular vermicompost system appears to long time vermicomposters to not understand some basic concepts of vermicompostig. Apparently designing a good selling vermicomposting system and understanding vermicomposting are two very different activities and never have I seen the two meet. What advertisements from some worm bin selling companies may call "worm tea" is actually the drip from garbage. What real worm tea is is a totally different animal. Real worm tea is brewed from worm castings. It is a procedure that takes vermicastings and adds them to noncholorinated water. This water is enhanced with a bit of mineral rich molasses or even not enhanced at all as even that is not a certain way but a massive continuous air supply for 12 to 48 hours in order to multiply the good guy bacteria. This can be gently sprayed on areas one wants good things to happen. This is best done before a time of gentle rain as opposed to right before massive sun. This is a life promoting activity. What drips out of the bottom of a worm bin may be an very different substance. It makes me wonder if sellers of worm bins are a bit evil to claim worm tea when a microscopic bit of study would let them know the truth is something massively different than their claims. Maybe if they fessed up more prospective vermicomposters would be attracted to their products via truthfulness. Until then DIY is 1/10th the cost and works as well if not better. Still I am under their spell and would love a system bogus or not the advertising gets to even me.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 0:58

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:54AM
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Many people do seem to have great success with a worm factory or a can of worms type system. Typically they find filling the top tray with dry bedding to condition it works well. A tray before the bottom filled with dry bedding also keeps the worms from the well. Putting the tray to be harvest next just above the tray with dry bedding helps the next harvest to dry a bit before working with it. Dry, fluffy bedding is much easier to harvest than mud.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 1:04AM
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Re. the worm tea mentioned by worm bin manufacturers is just another way to net worm farming/gardening newbies who only know that worm tea is excellent for plants but have no real knowledge how to make it.
I have pointed it out to the Worm Factory manuf. when I bought mine in 2008 (and sold it 6 mths after) re. their error to confuse leachete and tea. If today they still call it tea, then we know they do it on purpose. They must have re-printed their manual many times over since 2008.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Mostly for entertainment, look at the Design an Outdoor Bin thread. This is a homemade experiment based on the Worm Factory design. Wormers with Worm Factories can add to our understanding of red wigglers by observing what the worms actually do.

I've seen one ( Worm Factory) that was not watched closely. Nor had the caretaker taken much care. There were sluggish worms in the bottom tray and unappealing scraps in the food tray. There were good size pieces of egg shell too big for any critter to mouth. There was minimal bedding.

For example, do the worms use the "worm ladder" ? We have a thread about worms climbing a wall .

This is the manufacturer's instruction:


I'm going to write some semi informed opinions so that we can argue about how to use the WF & I can learn how to use my outdoor bin:

1. I wouldn't use tap water to dampen paper. I'd use rainwater or aerated horse manure tea. This highlights the gap between a worm whacko and someone in an apartment with no access to some of the refinements that worms seem to like.

2. I wouldn't use unshredded newspaper as a lid. It doesn't breathe. Burlap can be bought by the yard at a fabric store if you can't get it free from a coffee roaster. Any fabric that will drain water and exchange air would be better than that newpaper lid. See the burlap effect thread.

3. I think "a handful" of food in that small tray is quite a lot, could be too much depending on what the food was. In My Experience, red wigglers like melon best of all. When I was harvesting the bin that was crowded, I put the worms that I had to pick out one by one ( they didn't go through the burlap) into a melon shell bowl. When I upturned it to dump them in the bed, they didn't drop out. They were embedded in the melon.
Putting new worms on a melon shell bed might be a sweet way to go. Optimally, egg shells should be cooked (microwave a moment or two ) and powdered. Optimally, food should be pureed.

4. Density matters. Check the Please Help with Math thread
to decide what the WF tray capacity for worms is. Pete read half a pound of worms per square foot. If the worms double, split the bin. I think "we/they" say the worms will eat half their weight each day. Mine have horse manure bedding and food, so I don't feed that much. I put in maybe half a cup of pureed food and don't add more until it is gone. In a WF tray, 1/4 cup might be enough.

5. Bedding. For worm health, you can't overdo good bedding.
If the bin isn't very crowded, there might not be enough worm orgies to make more worms. They do crowd into a melon bowl.
If you can't get horse manure, work hard on developing other optimal bedding.

6. Burlap. I wonder if the worms would like those trays better if there were a burlap lining ?

Footnote: Too bad the subject isn't "Worm Factory", because the subject as phrased won't lead new readers to helpful opinions. Please phrase your subjects with newcomers in mind.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Great post barbararose! I have neither the Worm Factory or the Can o' Worms, but most of what you write I can relate to, and that I can't is fairly irrelevant, unless someone wishes to make it "law" or "cast it in stone".

I wish I understood 'why' Eisenia fetida ("red wigglers") love melon so much. Maybe I'll soak some bread in sugarwater and see if it attracts them like melon does. I doubt it will.

My indoor bins have been intentionally 'neglected' by me over the summer. I found through VERY brief observation that they seems to do "better" when I left them alone. I haven't "fed" them for maybe 10 weeks, and I found a whole 'herd' of 'little ones' when I opened the lids a couple of days ago.

When I moved my indoor bins out of my house and into the garage, I was preparing to depart for three weeks and was a little concerned about "moisture", or more correctly, desiccation. Consequently I kinda "over-watered". When I returned, I found the bin WAY too wet for my tastes, and it didn't appear that the worms were 'thriving'. So... I added some DRY manure and tipped the bins up on one end so the "wet" would drain to one end and hopefully the bin as a whole would dry out a bit. It did, and the worms were reasonably uniformly distributed throughout. That "works" for me.

Here's my point: I don't "like" "wet" because I don't THINK worms "like" wet either and my goal is MAKING WORMS. Ignoring them, and not generating ANY "leachate" seems to be MAKING WORMS for me. "Wet" and generating leachate may very well "work" for others. Whaduhya WANT? Seems to me, if "you" WANT leachate, "you" need to add more water to your system.

Signed: The wormer with the VAST knowledge of 5 months of worming,

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:55AM
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