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How do you feed your worms?

Posted by mendopete 8CA (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 13:24

I thought it might be interesting and educational to find out how our readers/posters feed the herd. There are quite a few methods of feeding and managing a worm bin.

What method do you use? What type of bin are you using? Why do you use this method? What do you feed? What is the frequency of feedings? How do you add bedding? I know, lots of questions....

I use the top-feed method in my outdoor bottomless bins. After a bin is established, all feed, most often horse manure, goes on top. This is covered very well with ample bedding, mostly straw or spent hay. The bedding keeps the flies down, and keeps the bed dark and moist. I feed when the last offering has been partially processed and unrecognizable, usually 7-10 days (when the bin is working good). This method keeps the worm herd on top, allowing me to try and "manage" them. I harvest by removing the worm culture from the top, then removing the vermicompost below.

How do you do it?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I use the feast and famine method. When I have lots of kitchen scraps not processed and some items whole. I open the bin and jam it all in. I cover with lately telephone pages whole and egg cartons in one inch pieces. Then I ignore the bin and hope the level goes down fast in time for the next batch of kitchen scraps. When I feel like it, I have been scraping the bottom of the worm inn or pushing at the lower sides to get the material to fall out of the always open bottom. The material does not agree with this procedure and likes to stay where it is. Then one day it is like demolition experts set charges and one touch makes the entire contents avalanche out. This has the benefit of making more room up top. If the avalanche material is not presently needed or not well processed I dump the bucket that always resides under the bin right back on to the top of the pile. If the material is nicely processed or if I need material in the spring I put it into a basket with holes and shake out the well processed material to use. The rest gets dumped back on top of the pile. If I have more kitchen scraps than will fit into the bin I may sneak it into the lower collection bucket. Worms are removed from harvested material and put back on top of the bin. Material is aged to let cocoons hatch. If I have fish tank water I dump it on top. That again is flood or drought. Lump wood charcoal is recycled through the bin. I think of this biochar as reef communities of bacteria and creatures. I do not necessarily recommend any of my methods.

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I have two bins- One is a large storage container with holes drilled on top and bottom, it's out on the balcony to my apartment. The other is under my kitchen sink, it's made from a old cat litter package (a large "tidy cats" bin) also with holes but only on the top.

For the worms I use "european" night crawlers or Eisenia hortensis. One of the reasons I chose hortensis is that they are bigger than their fetida cousins and another was their tolerance of a wider range of temperatures- it can get really cold and really hot here.

I save my scraps in the freezer, thaw them out and run them through a food processor(most of the time) before burying it around the edges of each bin- layered with ripped up cardboard and old paper bags for the bedding. I add bedding when ever I collect enough in the bucket under my sink... about every 2-3 weeks. When I want to harvest the compost I feed them on one side of the bin only and in a few weeks harvest from the other side- carefully. I use the compost on my balcony plants and houseplants... I also give some away to willing recipients and sometimes I just dump it in the woods next to our apartment building when I have too much :)

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I have a Nutri Bullet and just run everything through there. I watch my little clan literally jump on their smoothies like they are going out of town. It doesn't take them any time at all since the food is already initially broken down for them. I used to chop and serve. THAT was just way too much work for me and them.

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I have one worm bin. I chop all the scraps and freeze, thaw and feed to the lads. No set schedule, just every few days.

I usually spread it out over half the bin rather than pocket feed. I figure they'll have to crawl over to the food, thereby loosening the compost. My bedding is shredded office and newspaper and some torn egg cartons and torn cardboard.

I haven't fed them for a few weeks now, as I want to harvest soon. I have since started a smaller bin in a square bucket that icing etc comes in that was in the recycling bin at a coffee chain. About 2 gallons I guess.

I started it so that I can feed my scraps to someone.

I use my castings in my houseplants, and there is a small garden at our apartment bldg where I'll use it this year. Friends are the excited recipients of my worm poop as well.

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I have three rubbermaid style bins, holes along the top vertical rim with a few spaced about 2 inches from the bottom. One is a newer started bin and needs less food and bedding, the other 2 are churning along well and require bedding (shredded newsprint or cardboard rolls from tp) with each feed. Scraps are coarsely chopped, frozen, thawed and drained. I keep a log with each bin to record the date I feed and whether bedding is added or not, since at times my memory gets distracted or I've run out of bedding and this also keeps me from interfering with them more often than they'd prefer. Sometimes I get busy and forget that it wasn't last week when I fed them last- it may have been 3 weeks!

I like the smaller bins because I can still lift them when full and heavy for harvesting.

During warm spells in winter I run out back and fill a pail with collected leaves from the fall, just to give them something different. They really like the leaves. The last time I packed a pile of snow on top of the leaves, it seemed to dampen the leaves quite well as it melted, dont know if the worms found their softer feel attractive or not. They weren't sopping wet, and enough crunchy dry ones that I wasn't too concerned about excess moisture in the bin.

I always find many big worms in the bottom of wet vermicast when I harvest, so maybe it is better to super feed for a while to bring them all to the top? (re: mendopetes method he describes).

I sprinkle every 3rd or 4th feed with crushed eggshells, that's their croutons!

I feed on a ten - 14 day cycle, according to the worm log. Depending on how well processed the prior meal was, I'll shorten the time span.

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I have been feeding my worms daily with pureed food mixes. They have literally been tearing it up. Now for some reason they are acting sluggish. Am I possibly over feeding. The bin is in great shape and I have excellent air flow.

RE: How do you feed your worms?

I no longer have my worms, but when I did, I had three bins, two Rubbermaid and one flowthrough.

Usually I ran my kitchen scraps through a hand cranked meat grinder. I found that grinding them finely didn't make much of a difference, and the plate on the grinder would get clogged with fibers from things like banana peels and onion skins, so I left the plate off and just ran the scraps through the auger. This would break them up into fairly small pieces and mash whatever did not break up.

In the Rubbermaid bins I would pull back the mostly undecomposed bedding from the top of half of the bin, lay down about 1/2 inch of food where the bedding had been pulled back, re-cover the food, then add about and inch of bedding (mostly shredded cardboard) on top of that.

The flowthrough got about 1/2 inch of food over the entire surface, then another inch or so of bedding on top of that.

Sometimes I would bury whole scraps, like rotten potatoes, in any of the bins, similar to pocket feeding. I would do this with foods I did not want to grind, but might be smelly, or with something unusual, when I wanted to see how the worms would respond to it.

I would spray the dry bedding at the top of the bin, but, judging by the leachate I was getting out of the bins, this was probably not necessary.

RE: How do you feed your worms?


This is the traditional path every vermicomposter follows.

Welcome to the crux of vermicomposting knowledge.

The "I can't believe my worms ate the whole thing! knowledge.

The almost on the verge of "What's that smell?" knowledge.

The "I dug through my bin and found bleeding worms." knowledge.

The Googling "Sting of Pearls and protein poisoning." knowledge.

We want to be on the other side of that.

In our generosity to the worms we sometimes "Walk the Line."

Stop adding food.
Add bedding.
Add back in some harvest vermicompost.

This is how one learns the Art of Vermicomposting.
By going between extremes to find the middle.

Other then smelly bins with string of pearls the other sad thing to have to help vermicomposters with is their excitement at seeing lots of baby white worms. This is often not vermicomposting worms. Adding bedding can help both.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Thu, Apr 3, 14 at 0:08

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