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fallacies

Posted by fam62cc Wis (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 15, 11 at 19:48

The generally accepted wisdom that worms will migrate upward in search of food is so deeply ingrained in the vermiculture culture that I hesitate to challenge it, but not for long.

With my 10 years of off and on experience with the COW I have come to the following conclusions. Worms will migrate upwards if suits their convenience. Otherwise they will migrate down, up, sideways, diagonal, circular or in any geometric pattern that suits their whim. I suspect that they even migrate in and out of other dimensions. In the long run I think downwards, assisted by gravity is their first choice.

Today I decided to clean out a base station that had been in place for I don't know how long. It was not my first experience with this endeavor and it was typical. The station had a thick coating of black wet muck. In this muck was a very heavy concentration of worms. Far beyond the possibility of getting a count or even an estimate. I'll take a wild guess at 3000. They were in golf ball sized clumps throughout the entire area but especially, as I have noted before, in the grooves formed where the cylinders that enclose the legs and also provide ventilation. There are 5 of these with a groove on each side and each groove is packed with worm with very little soil. The drain spout is packed solid with worms. I wish that I had taken some pictures but even if I had I wouldn't know how to post them. I'm a computer retard. Happy worming, and remember, gravity is a worms best friend.

Dave Nelson


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: fallacies

Dave,

It is possible (and not uncommon) for two people with exactly the same vermicomposting system to get very different results. No one can argue with your experience. That is what happened. But I will take exception to your conclusion that it is a fallacy that worms "migrate upward in search of food".

Although I no longer have the stacking type bin similar to your COW, I have had many years of experience with such a system. Yes, some worms will wander down into the leachate collection area (which is why I always put bedding down there for them to munch on). They will also climb the walls and ceilings. But if fed at the proper rate, the large majority of worms will be found at the highest level where the most food exists. That was my experience in the past.

Today I have large outdoor bins and a flow-through system. All of them have at least 12" worth of organic material (vermicompost, bedding, food scraps). Although I will find worms all the way at the bottom of any of these bins, once again a huge majority of the worm population (70-80%? I've never really counted, but it's very obvious when I dig around my bins) will be found in the top 3-5" of material.

I agree that some worms like to wander or explore. Some will climb out of the bin entirely and slither off to some unknown destination. Who knows what they're "thinking"? But in general most of the worms stay where there is most of what they need: air, moisture, darkness, warmth & food. As long as those conditions exist in the top layer, that's where most of the worms will be. JMO. YMMV.

Andrew


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RE: fallacies

Andrew;
Thank you for your reply. I'm sure that people who do things in a scientific and controlled manner get more consistent results than haphazzard operators like me. I'm going to try your method and put some bedding in one base unit and see what results I get.

Dave


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RE: fallacies

The experiment is running. I took a clean base unit and made a bed with cardboard, two egg cartons and some shredded paper. On top of this I put two trays of working compost. On the top tray I added some chopped stale kale and a shredded carrot. We will see howgozit.

Dave Nelson


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RE: fallacies

Sounds good, Dave. BTW, it took years for me to figure it out - nothing scientific or controlled about it. ha! My first decade of vermicomposting was haphazard and careless. I neglected my worms terribly, but luckily they survived. I sometimes used the leachate to water my plants, but never really noticed either good or bad from it. Eventually I got tired of cleaning the silt & drowned worms from that bottom tray and started putting bedding down there. It basically served as a pre-composting tray for new bedding, along with the side benefit of preventing worms from drowning.

Andrew


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RE: fallacies

I feel priviliged to listen in to this great exchange, gentlemen.

"My first decade of vermicomposting was haphazard and careless." Although I tried to be scientific in multiple endeavers over time, I feel exactly this way.


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RE: fallacies

Oops; I guess I forgot to hit the post button. Once more, with feeling.

Things look good.

I save my leachate until I get a gallon or two then I pour it into my outdoor compost piles. This seems to work well, especially in the early spring. It helps the compost to thaw and start working.

Dave


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RE: fallacies

Since you named this post "fallacies" here's one that I'd like to dispell- "Don't feed onions to worms". Worms will eat onions. In fact, there is a Youtube video of a guy who raised his worms on onions and, he's quite successful with it. Let the onions get moldy and mushy and the worms will have a field day with them .


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RE: fallacies

I too feed the occasional mushy and moldy onion.


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RE: fallacies

Experiment proceeding satisfactorily. Worms have found their way to the stale kale on the upper layer. Base unit remains undisturbed.

Professor Nelson


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RE: fallacies

Any update Dave? Following along with interest. :-)

I also use a stacking system and fill the leechate area with bedding as Andrew does. Once every couple of months I dump it's contents on top of the feeding try, and refill with fresh dry bedding (paper, cardboard). There are normally quite a few worms down there, but the greatest number is still closer to the regular feeding try at the top.

How's yours going?


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RE: fallacies

I have been resisting the urge to poke around in there, but it has been a week now. I'll take a look later today and post my findings.

Dave Nelson


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RE: fallacies

I just checked the experiment. A very small amount of moisture and compost has seeped through into the base unit. I saw 4 worms on the hump in the center of the unit. I did not want to disturb things so I just added a bit of shredded newsprint. The tray immediately above the base unit is black, dense, moist, and swarming with worms. The top tray has plenty of bedding and food but has not yet attracted many worms. Some, but not many.
Dave Nelson


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RE: fallacies

Dave,

If the first tray is ready to harvest for VC, you might try placing it on top, leave the lid open and shine a light over it. This would drive the worms down towards the new feeding tray and also dry out the VC so it will be easier to screen. If you want the first tray to have a higher percentage of castings, you'll just have to be patient. Remember to make a mound of the material in the lower bin if it has compressed and no longer touches the upper bin.

I don't think I ever used the 4th tray in my Wriggly Wranch. By the time I added the 3rd tray, the 1st tray would be nearly pure castings. Of course I often forgot to make the little mounds and the lowest tray would still house lots of worms.

Andrew


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RE: fallacies

LOL, I'm still on the second working tray in mine. I think that the fines in the castings slowly "wash" down into the basement, and the top level doesn't see to change much.

Not concerned, as I have all the totes to keep me company. Have harvested maybe 10 totes in 18 months, and haven't even got to the third tray in the worm factory.( The WF I kind of think of now as a Hail Mary if the totes all go bad. They are the Aerian race, the source from which the totes have come. They are to be respected and held in high esteem).

Srry, I do babble.......lol

I know which I'll be depending on for my garden. lol.


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RE: fallacies

Andrew

Good advice and that is what I will do. Though that tray is very black and dense I think there is still a lot of food there and it will probably take at least another two weeks.

Dave


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RE: fallacies

I checked the experiment today. I took the two trays off and looked at the base unit. I didn't poke around, I just looked. The bedding is getting damp from the seepage but is a long way from saturation. There are worms clusturing around the top of the center hump. Not on the flat top but just below it and a few here and there. difficult to count but I would estimate that I saw 20 to 30. I'll check it again in a week.

Dave Nelson


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RE: fallacies

Awesome....Dave you sound very scientific to me with your use of words like "leachate". Very informative posts!


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RE: fallacies

I just checked the experiment which has been running 39 days now. The egg cartons have absorbed some moisture and look pretty soggy. I resisted the urge too dig into the pile and settled for what I could see. I could count a few worms and the climbing hump has acquired a thin coat of castings. I added a little food to the upper layer. Some ucg and banana peels. Now I will let it alone for another week before I look Again.
Dave Nelson


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