Cheap source for worm cocoons... anyone use them?

eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)September 2, 2010

So, I found this vendor who sells cocoons for cheap (1/2 lb of cocoons for $18, 1 lb for $25). They claim 900-1200 cocoons in a 1 lb package. This includes FREE shipping. It sounds too good to be true, so I'm looking for a reason to be skeptical.

First, anyone have experience with this company?

Second, they claim that starting a bin with cocoons rather than worms is better, because the cocoon-born worms are less likely to want to migrate elsewhere (also claim them to be more "hardy") than worms that grow up in one medium, are shipped elsewhere and added to a new medium.

Any experience with these guys is appreciated....

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this company, just trying to find out if it is as good a deal as it seems on the surface.

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plumiebear(z9? CA)

eaglesgarden: unless you are going to keep them indoors, I'd skip the cocoons this year. They'll hatch in your outdoor bin, but they probably won't mature before the first freeze. Even if you take measures to insulate and feed your outdoor bin over the winter, I think starting with a pound of worms now will give you better results.

There are reliable worm sellers offering worms for $32-35 per pound including shipping. One farm offers a half pound starter pack of bed run worms for $20 shipped, but I'm not familiar enough with them to know if they are reliable.

Have you checked craigslist and freecycle for a local source? Do you know anyone who has an old compost pile or owns horses? The bottom of an old pile of manure is almost sure to have red wigglers.

I'm not familiar with the worm farm you mention. I like that they ship the cocoons with a fair amount of vermicompost. Their list of advantages to starting with cocoons is reasonable. The drawback is time.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:55AM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

Thanks plumbie,

Yeah, I was going to wait until Spring, but I couldn't find any where that had a better price (granted time is different), but they claim that 1 lb of cocoons becomes approximately 5 lbs of worms in 6-8 weeks. I could wait 8 weeks for 5 lbs of worms, if I get them for half the price of a 1 lb of worms. Even if it is less than 5 lbs of worms, this still seems like a fairly cheap way to get a large "herd" fairly quickly (although not as fast as just buying a large herd.

No, I am in the heart of suburbia, and I couldn't tell you where the nearest horse is to my area. I've not tried craigslist or freecycle. I might check, but I won't hold out hope. Again, I'm in suburbia. I doubt there are many (any?) or are similar to me.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 1:13PM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

hmm...5 lbs. in 8 weeks might be a little marketing hype.

 Average number of young per cocoon: Approximately 3
 Time to emergence from the cocoon: Approximately 30-75 days under ideal conditions.
 Time to sexual maturity: Approximately 85-150 days under ideal conditions.

You would need to assume the very best:
* 1200 cocoons hatch 3 worms each = 3600 baby worms in 4 wks.
* 10 wks. to mature into worms averaging 800 per pound = 4.5 lbs.

But that puts it at 14 wks. Still, that's pretty good if you're patient. A more realistic expectation would be 2-3 lbs. of worms in 3-4 months.

I'm in Berkeley, CA...a college town 15 min. from SF. I also didn't expect to be able to find horses anywhere close, but I did. I didn't look for worms though...just got the manure to feed my worms.


Here is a link that might be useful: manure for the squirm

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:46PM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

You must really have an understanding better half! My wife would never go for anything like that, and I've always thought she was very forgiving about my gardening! Unbagged horse poo in the car? No. She would draw the line there. She's ok with the bagged manure from the big box stores, but that's as far as it goes.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 7:03PM
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ya gotta work the situation to your advantage. My wife did not even know I was growing worms in the spare bedroom that we use mainly for storage. I was a little surprised when she mentioned it after several months. There was no smell or anything.

Midway I had my nephew help me harvest castings and separate cocoons. the kid was fascinated with the worms and I used the opportunity to try to teach him the idea of a green world ecology.

Not long ago as my wife watched me harvest some castings, she made the comment about time spent with my worms. I said ok..I'll move the worms and then I'll set up a couple bee hives in the back yard.

She told me I could have all the worms I wanted, but no bees..LOL..

You just gotta figure which button to push...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 7:53PM
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plumiebear(z9? CA)

One of the few advantages of a bachelor's lifestyle. It wasn't as bad as you'd think. The smell was gone in 2-3 days. But if I ever do that again I'd be bringing a dozen 18 gal. totes and filling those up. Although this material composted nicely, the worms didn't go too crazy over it. Maybe because there was a low percentage of actual horse manure...most of it was sawdust.

I just picked up three 30 gal. bags of rabbit & guinea pig droppings along with bedding and food scraps from a local pet shop. This place is much closer than the stables...a 5 min. vs a 20 min. drive. It's too late to open the bags tonight. I'll find out what's actually in them tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 3:42AM
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