How Many Worms to Buy bobvisaa 10 cubic ft

equinoxequinoxAugust 26, 2013

"If I build a worm bin using 2x8s in a square 4x4 ( approx. 10 cubic ft. Of volume), how many worms should I buy to occupy this size of worm bin?"

Originally Posted by bobvisaa on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 23:39 and moved because the question deserved its own post.

Question moved from:
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/verm/msg082131221013.html?7

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 0:19

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equinoxequinox

If this is your first bin...

Money smells rather nice.
Dead worms smell rather not nice.

The more money you keep the less dead worms you will smell.

Please fellow posters, post if you have not killed your first batch of worms. I did. Many others did. Perhaps two posters here have not.

So the question is not how many should you buy but how many do your want to spend money on and kill and then smell?

The other question that is more important is how much vegetable waste are you looking to process? How much bedding do you have available?

"how many worms should I buy to occupy this size of worm bin?"

Perhaps Noah will chime in here.

Nobody buys the worms needed to occupy a bin. They purchase a starter and grow into the bin size.

"using 2x8s in a square 4x4 ( approx. 10 cubic ft. Of volume)"

"2x8s" Is this a dimension of lumber 2" X 8" with " meaning inches?

"4x4" I guess means 4' X 4' with the ' meaning feet?

For other posters to give you better replies they will want to know: What is the bottom made out of?

I like that you seem to be going for surface area over a tall skinny worm bin.

My advice is the same as in that last post. More bedding. Less food.

Consider the typical 18 gallon $7 Rubbermaid bin, your choice of colors. You would have many posters to compare experiences with. Then when you are comfortable move up to the Mega Digester.

P.S. I would be heaping up the goodies in a 4' by 4' Mega Digester. It would look like Mount Mega-gesta.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 0:24

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:18AM
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armoured

I agree with equinox: worry less about how many to buy, worry more about creating the right space for them to grow into. My simple rules to avoid problems: first, more bedding. Second, don't rush things - giving a little more time and leaving them alone for a bit helps when problems occur. Third, these are the vectors you can make mistakes on: too much/too little food; too wet/too dry; too hot/too cold; not enough air/too much air. The first half of each of my 'toos' is more of a problem than the second half - in other words, worms survive ok when there is not enough food (more bedding/give them some time); a little too dry is manageable, too wet is not (add more bedding); too hot kills them, too cold is rare (keep 'em somewhere cool); keep the bin from getting too compressed (more bedding).
Get those basics right and give them time and you'll have enough worms for the space you have.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:31AM
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armoured

Oh, and if I repeat myself on bedding: more bedding.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:32AM
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sbryce_gw

First off, this is pretty ambitious for a first time wormer. We usually start out quite a bit smaller and let the herd grow.

The usual rule of thumb is that given sufficient depth (at least 6 inches), a bin will hold one pound of worms for every square foot of surface area. A well maintained bin will hold more than that. You should buy about half of the worms that your bin will hold and let the worms grow into the bin. That would be about 8 pounds for your 4 ft x 4 ft bin.

But I would section off the bin into quarters and start one section with 2 pounds of worms. When that section is well established, re-section the bin into halves, and let the worms grow into that. When one half of your bin is well established, expand to the whole bin. This process could take most of a year.

Or start with something smaller, like a rubbermaid bin and a pound of worms. When that bin is well established, use it to seed your larger bin.

Or you could do like the rest of us and kill off your fist batch of worms.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:41AM
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bobvisaa

Thanks everybody for the help on determining bin size bin size. Your answers brought up another question though. How much food is too much food. I have access to a large amount of horse & cow manure. How do you know how much food to put in your bin.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 6:07AM
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sbryce_gw

With horse manure it is almost impossible to give them too much. Let the cow manure pre-compost, and it is almost impossible to give them too much.

When we talk about too much food, we are usually talking about kitchen scraps. Too much food in the form of kitchen scraps will create a pretty yucky environment. The moisture in the food will cause the bin to go anaerobic, and the high nitrogen will throw off the bin's environment.

Whatever you feed them, worms will consume about half their body weight each day. Under good conditions, they will eat their own body weight each day. Too much food is simply more than they can eat.

Another factor that determines over feeding is the tendency of the food to heat up as it is breaking down. Both horse and cow manure can heat up quite a bit. If they have been aged to the point where they will no longer heat up, you won't have this problem.

Any food you put in the bin should be totally consumed by the worms in about a week. Additional food can be added before that to give it a chance to break down before the worms attack it. You are feeding too much if it is not all consumed within a week.

So our rule of thumb is to add about 1/2 pound of food for each pound of worms per day. You don't need to feed every day. You could feed 2 pounds of food for each pound of worms every fourth day. Then watch to see how fast the worms eat it and adjust the amount you feed accordingly.

Aged horse manure is an ideal worm food. I would add about a pound of horse manure for each pound of worms and see how fast they eat it. You won't need bedding. Your only concern is for over heating. With cow manure, you will need some bedding. I would add about a pound of aged cow manure plus bedding for each pound of worms and see how fast they eat it.

Feeding is as much an art as it is a science. In time you will figure it out. If you are feeding aged horse manure, or even small amounts of fresh manure, it is hard to make any big mistakes. You could fill your entire bin with aged horse manure, and your worms will be very happy.

Weighing food isn't practical, and weighing your worms is nearly impossible, so add no more than an inch of aged manure over the top of the bin and see what happens. If the manure is still fresh, only cover half of the bin surface. That way, if the manure gets hot, the worms can escape to the other side of the bin. In a few days it will cool off, and the worms will be all over it. Really. Worms devouring horse manure is a sight to see.

Your bin will be less than 8 inches deep, so this is what I would do. If the manure is well aged, fill the entire bin with horse manure, and feed enough to keep the depth between 6 and 8 inches. If you are feeding cow manure, you will need a bedding source as well. If there is any question as to whether the manure has aged enough, fill the bin with some form of bedding, and feed enough manure on the top to keep the depth between 6 and 8 inches, only feeding half of the bin surface at a time.

If the manure is fresh, you could start with a mixture of manure and bedding and let the bin sit for a couple of weeks before adding worms. After a couple of weeks, turn the whole thing and make sure it does not heat up. If it does heat up, wait another week and try again.

This is getting long. Time to post it. If I missed anything, someone else will fill in the holes.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:35AM
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