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Am I doing this right?

Posted by wadebugg Zone 9 (My Page) on
Tue, May 3, 11 at 21:46

I've been vermicomposting for about a month in a "Worm Factory" composter. My worms seem happy and I've got what I think you would call worm castings in the collection tray, but I have a few questions.

1) Aren't the worms supposed to crawl out of the collection tray? I have lot of worms that are just hanging out there it seems. I only check that tray every once in a while.
2) At what point am I supposed to stop adding to the active tray?
3) Do I Have to chop up all of my scraps or can I just put them in there?
4) Can my scraps go straight from kitchen to worms or does there have to be some kind of holding place in between for the scraps to decompose?
5) What do I do with the castings in my collection tray? Can I put it directly on top of existing soil? Does it have to be mixed in?

Also... interesting tidbit... I tossed cantaloupe scraps into my bin... apparently there were some seeds in there as well, because my compost bin has sprouted!
Cantaloupe in the Composter

I was able to pull a few sprouts out and continue to grow them... then they'll be transplanted or given away, I guess. Not sure I have room for another cantaloupe plant.
Cantaloupe Seedlings

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Am I doing this right?

Me and the "Worm Factory" instruction manual writer obviously do not get along well. Purchasers deserve instructions that work. I am frustrated the company must be aware of this issue and still FAILS to correct it. You should of been provided workable instructions for the $$$ you gave them. I want this company to provide it's good customers good information. I'll try to help, but I have a big attitude. Maybe just read around it. :-)

1) Aren't the worms supposed to crawl out of the collection tray? In the imagination of the "Worm Factory" instruction manual writer they do. In reality, worms can not read. Nor it would appear can "Worm Factory" instruction manual writers observe what worms really do in real life. It is my opinion that the "Worm Factory" instruction manual writer has never seen a Worm Factory or a worm. One would think that after this many years "Worm Factory" sellers would of noticed this. My guess is they do not compost using a "Worm Factory". In reality worms crawl everywhere. If the material in the bottom tray is kept touching the material in the top tray then eventually the worms might find the new treasure trove.

2) At what point am I supposed to stop adding to the active tray? Well what did the "Worm Factory" instruction manual writer say? I would think this would be a key part of writing a manual. Failing that, I would say when no more material can fit into it. But mind you, I am not a "Worm Factory" instruction manual writer.

3) Do I Have to chop up all of my scraps or can I just put them in there? For all I know "Worm Factories" are the best thing since sliced bread. But one thing for sure is their instruction manual is manure. Please e-mail the company that you purchased this from and let them know this so that zillions more purchasers of this "fine product" will not be wondering the same exact thing you and every other purchaser of the "Worm Factory" have been wondering since their first one was sold. You can chop up your kitchen scraps or leave them as is. It will just take longer if you do not chop. On the other hand it is less work to not chop. And after all the idea is to get the worms to do the work, not you work for them.

4) Can my scraps go straight from kitchen to worms or does there have to be some kind of holding place in between for the scraps to decompose? I'm going to call the "Worm Factory" people and ask them these questions. I really want to see who answers the phone there. Like did they not even include half of a printed sheet about the very basics of worm composting with a "Worm Factory"? Scraps can go straight from the kitchen or be held until either enough accumulate to make it worth you while, fruit flys start to attack, company is coming. Or they can be aged in a seperate container or even in the bin. The main advantage to aging in a seperate container would seem to be an even mixing of items so that one area is not all orange juice skins, the other all egg carton shreds, and a third all crushed egg shells. It would be nice to put this stuff into either a rolling container or a bucket with big spoon and mix it all around a bit with some vermicompost to get the ball rolling. But either way you choose, time will work for you. It just depends upon if you want to spend time or labor. We do know the "Worm Factory" people did not want to spend even $3 cents on a print out to answer these questions which are the same questions every person who has ever bought a Worm Factory want to know and deserve to know and should be handed a sheet just as soon as they cash peoples hard earned money.

5) What do I do with the castings in my collection tray? Can I put it directly on top of existing soil? Does it have to be mixed in? As you can tell from your excellent crop of seedlings that it is perfect to sprout seeds and grow seedlings. If you have extra any lawn or garden or plant would benefit from any amount you can spare. Because it is so fine, vermicastings can be spread right on top. Or it can be mixed in. The advantage of mixing it in would be it would not dry and loose all of it's wee friendlies. That is where the value is multiplied.

To really multiply the value of worm castings many people are positive brewing the castings in water with air bubbles and then spraying the tea is the best use of this valuable substance. They seem to have beautiful gardens to prove this. (And then you can even take the dregs and use them just as you were going to because they still have value.) I just hope "Worm Factory" does not get it in their head to sell a "Worm Factory Tea Set".

P.S.: I think you are doing this right because you questions are the exact ones vermicomposters who are thinking about how vermicomposting works as a system really want to know.

RE: Am I doing this right?

LOL, I love it when Equinox posts messages. There is so, sooo much more said than could ever be expected by the question asked. Keep up the good fight, mate, we love you! lol (Seriously, well said.)

Sounds like you are doing just fine to me.

(1) - About once every 2 months I lift off the upper trays and scoup out the contents of the drainage tray (liquid already drained of course) and deposit it on top of the top tray, worms and all. I then fill the bottom with shredded paper and cardboard, then re-stack the thing in the same order as before. As Eq. said, worms dont read well enough to stay out of the bottom, and at the end of the day, even if there are 100 worms down there, still alive, then who cares? Give them a bit of bedding down there, and drain the liquid every now and again, and they'll be fine.

(2) Stop adding to the active tray and add a new empty tray to the top when the contents (all food processed) touches the bottom of the new tray. In mine WF, there is a line moulded into the inside of the trays to indicate the "full" level. Check existing trays occaisionally as the contens do settle over time.

(3) Don't have to chop. But if you do, or even put the scraps through a blender, they will disappear so much quicker. These days I dont bother as my population has reached what I want. They do seem to breed faster when the food is more available ie blended. IMHO

(4) Scraps straight to WF. I save up about a weeks worth in a 3 gal tote (sealed lid), then feed every weekend. By this time, the first of the scraps is "developing" nicely, and the worms don't mind it at all. This is meant to be easy, so try not to complicate it too much. If you want to peel and apple and put the peel straight in, go for it!

(5) No idea. lol



RE: Am I doing this right?


You have received above a lot of very good advice. You might find additional good information in the thread labeled "Fallacies". I think you are doing very well.

Dave Nelson

RE: Am I doing this right?

Another way to pre-compost food scraps without much effort is to use gallon freezer bags with the zipper pulls.

I put one on the kitchen counter (or under the sink if you prefer). Once it's full of food scraps I put it in sunlight for 1-3 days. (Another bag goes on the counter.) It gets mushy pretty quickly in the warmer months and the worms quickly swarm such material once you dump it into the worm bin. Give the bag a quick rinse in the garden and re-use. Rotate 2-4 bags depending on how much scraps you generate.

If your bin is indoors and you want to avoid fruit flies, freeze the scraps for 2-3 days instead of putting them in the sun.


RE: Am I doing this right?

I am so glad you reuse the bags.

The zipper bags have major advantages over my method.

I use and reuse a 24 oz deli tall container at the sink.

The egg shells need different processing so they go in a different contianer to dry and be crushed.

The process of crushing is to be put into a paper bag and rolled over with a bottle. Re shakken and re rolled over. Rinse and Repeat.

RE: Am I doing this right?

I used to also re-use plastic containers, but I found it's easier to keep bugs out of the bags. I guess I never really closed the lids securely. Here's my old food prep routine.


RE: Am I doing this right?

plumiebear: Two years later and
I'm still a fan of your worm bin!

RE: Am I doing this right?

Here is a link to a youtube video 1 in a series of like 8.

Here is a link that might be useful: Happy D Ranch Worm Factory Setup Video 1

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