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How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Posted by kathmcd7 10 (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 3, 10 at 20:09

I've been vermicomposting about two years now, and have learned (mostly through trial and error), that this is really quite simple after you get a routine going.

Some things I've learned:

I don't tear my cardboard for bedding as small as I once did.
You never have enough cardboard.
I feed every other day; sometimes longer if I forget!
I don't feed some foods to the inside worms, because it's too much work to prepare.
When I go out of town, they don't die.
Over 100 degrees outside doesn't kill them if they're wet and in the shade.
I can use the 18 quart container that works just as well as the 18 gallon.
This is a really fun and interesting hobby that I enjoy sharing with others when they are interested.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of for now.

Kath


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

It's been about 3 years for me. I have mostly learn that the worms are much happier and more productive when I leave them be as much as possible.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Great thread topic! I've been wormin' for 13 months. All my vermicomposting is outdoors in a mild climate.
1) Worms are easy outside with an open bottom bin. They have natural habitat and escape routes. Over-heating by overfeeding is never a problem. Often the stress seems to cause a bloom of new worms.
2) Use lots of burlap (I use chirt and hemp organic coffee-bean sacks) to top your bed. Many layers provide excellent breeding and brooding for the worms, as well as a faboulous "layer by layer " observatory for those activitie
3)Worm populations have exploded beyond my greatest expectations!!!!!! Two lbs. of worms and a LOT of luck have provided me with an estimated 50+ pound herd. If you expand your systems, so will the worms expand.
4) My horse manure supply provides feed and worms and cacoons! I use copius amounts!
5) Recycle your tea-strainings back into your bin. I have been brewing steady for 4 weeeks now and the herd loves the strainings mixed with cardboard!
6) Worms LOVE to eat and colonize in whole 8-9" abalone shells. Use whole shells for calcium and a good breeding -ground.
I am sure I can think of a few more later.
Pete


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have been vermicomposting now for 8 months and have really enjoyed it.
What I have learned:
-my homemade flow-through system is so much more convenient than the rubbermaid bin system.
-I am amazed that there is no smell despite me throwing lots of rotting food into it.
-fruit flys are pretty common, but once I made a little trap, they aren't an issue
-That brown, rough paper towel you find in public restrooms works great. I keep a roll next to my bin and put a layer over my scraps each time I add more.
-Egg shells take a long time to decompose
-Worms multiply like crazy


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I guess maybe 5 years with about a 3 year interruption. about 8 months this time. Indoors. I have outdoor compost heaps but I find very few worms in them. I don't use any manure, being a city boy but holy smokes do those little rascals like watermelon.

Dave Nelson


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I started my bin about three yrs ago, and decided that I would try to keep them in my shed. That does give it shade, but is subject to the hot and cold temperatures of those seasons. I originally had two bins, but during one of those winters, a light bulb that I put under the box for some heat, burned out, and the worms froze. Since then, I only have the one bin, but I follow a different plan for keeping it from getting too hot or cold. I only collect the castings in the early Spring, to be used when I plant my garden. By the warmest time of the summer, they have built up another layer of castings which, I believe, also insulates them from the heat and cold extremes. I also always make sure the shredded paper and cardboard are about 6-7 inches thick, and slightly moist. And I Keep uncut pieces of cardboard on top for more insulation. And on top of that is a lid, and the whole box is kept wrapped in a batten of insulation used for hot water heaters. I pretty much stay with that method, and they seem to be happy with that environment.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have had my indoor bin for about six months and I have learned that I still have much to learn. And that I'm a sucker for all creatures big and small. Jokes about taking my worms fishing don't go over very well in my house.

I have learned that worms are also very much like people. There are the over achievers that practically poke their heads out of the bin when I'm presenting new food, eager to go to work. And then there are the couch potatoes who won't leave a fully processed tray even if there's watermelon in the tray just inches below them.

I have learned that it really feels good not to put all of those food scraps either into a trash bag or down the disposal. And that all us can do something to help clean up the planet. After all, no human is going to eat a watermelon rind or a banana peel. :)


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

"Jokes about taking my worms fishing don't go over very well in my house."

LOL. Same in this house, but most people know me well enough not to even try. :)


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have been vermicomposting for about 8 or 9 years.

I have learned that there are many ways to successfully vermicompost. Over time, I basically created my own system that minimizes the work for me, involving a Rubbermaid bin, net bags that hold the food, and wine corks as permanient bedding under the food. I never have to hand separate worms from castings, and sometimes I don't tend the bin for as long as a month.

I also have learned that worm poop makes an incredible difference in my garden. My plants and lawn absolutely love it.

I have learned that there is no need to aerate the castings to make tea. I just mix them with water (anaerobic tea) and use it as a soil drench. I have a huge population of worms and plenty of castings, so I apply it liberally. I would rather spend my time and money on other things than aerating tea. YMMV. :-)

I have learned that almost everyone who vermicomposts has a sense of humor about it.

I have learned to be careful whom I tell about my hobby. Some people think it is really weird. lol.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I've been vermicomposting for about 2 years. Started with a casual worm pit from worms found in horse manure pile and in my compost pile. Now this pit is about 3'x6' and have just added another ajacent space about 10'x8'.

I have learned so much from this forum and from redwormcomposting.com. I learned to identify my worms by type ... learned what they like and what they LOVE....learned that they are tougher than they look ... learned that they will prosper with very little more than cool and moist environment and some kitchen scraps and horse manure.... learned that their compost will make me look like a master gardener ["drop a seed and stand back"]
..learned the satisfaction of doing what I can within my small sphere of influence to mitigate for pollution.

And like karchita ... have learned to be careful who I mention my worm-keeping to. I'm 73 years old and people tend to think we oldsters are around-the-bend mentally, more quickly than for younger folks. My kids are just glad that I'm not going radical over political stuff ...I've learned that worms are more reliable than politicians.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I've had a Rubbermaid bin for 6 years. Someone on one of these forums coined the phrase "benign neglect" for operating a bin and that's the philosophy I follow and also the one that was hardest to learn.

Here is a link that might be useful: Boreal Wormer


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Boreal Wormer - I'm impressed with your scientific approach to vermicomposting! Are you a scientist and do you work for a lab? If your philosophy is "benign neglect" then I don't know know what to call my method! Probably complete neglect! Still the worms are surviving. I have gone without feeding them for nearly a month! But I want to feed them once a week now because I need them to produce more compost for my plants!
Keep us posted on your experience!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Worms have worked for me about 2 years, and I almost feel I could write a book on what they have taught me. Not so much the earth science stuff, but more about how the lowliest creature is perhaps the most important.
Some insight milestones (for me at least, perhaps common knowledge for the rest of you):
3/09- I harvested a Rubbermaid tote in March. About 30 lbs. of VC went into the Incubator (a Rubbermaid tote that holds the VC until the worms hatch out). My wife and I "rescued about a hundred worms out of that tote over the next 2 months. Then the VC went into a plastic garbage bag and sat on my patio until August (I forgot it was there). Anyway, when I put the VC into a drying pan, I pulled out 6 more worms. Now the VC is properly dried and beautifully crumbly and jet black. (Worms are Survivors)
8/28/09- The mites are members of an ecosystem that we feel we can control, but alas, that is a delusion. Our controls are extremely limited and nature prevails. The worm bins, totes, boxes and barrels we have are just a small part of a natural world that most of us never thought of before we cultured worms. It seems funny that now we think we can control it. (The Arrogance of Man)
9/10- To answer your question about when compost is "done", as long as organisms are alive in the VC, it is never done. That is what makes VC such an asset to your plants. Chemical fertilizers cannot do for plants what VC does. (Living Soil)
10/31/09- No the people are not a "bad" influence, its the worms. Always eating and reproducing and pooping and never satisfied. Always wanting more food so that in restaurants other peoples scraps become worm food. And always reproducing so that every container I see becomes a worm box and how many worms can we fit in a box? And dont we need a bigger box. And so with the poop, never enough poop, got to have more. I need poop and so does every one I know needing some poop and the worms always making some poop. And now I need a bigger truck to haul more poop and more manure to feed the bigger worm boxes and when will this madness end? (Worms makes you Crazy)
I started wormin so I could make worm tea for my bonsai trees. Now I have 2 totes, a 55 gallon flow-thru and a 4X3X2 box. I just needed tea for 6 trees. LOL (Worms are Addicting)
2/6/10- My granddaughter Chloe (age 9) just finished her 10 week science project. The project was a comparison between two (2) worm boxes which were 6 quart plastic containers. Each container was prepared with one (1) pound of Black Kow pasteurized manure (available at Lowes), shredded cardboard and worm tea as an inoculate of microbes. Container A started with ten (10) adult worms and Container B started with 20 cocoons. Both boxes were kept together in the house (aver. temp 66F). These boxes were not feed but the moisture level was checked regularly. The results were hand counted by my son and my granddaughter created a poster board for the presentation.
The results:
Container A started with 10 Adult Worms: 12 Adults, 47 Adolescents, and 120 Cocoons
Container B started with 20 Cocoons: 11 Adults, 4 Adolescents, and 38 Cocoons
(A Child Can Compost with Worms)
The bigger the container, the easier it is to maintain. When things go wrong in a small box, it goes wrong in a hurry. In a bigger box, if worms are unhappy where they are, they move to another spot. I feed my 4x3x2 box a surface feed on half of the top and cover with shredded cardboard and a sheet of plastic. This is about 2 gallons of slop and happens once or twice a week. I get "Hot Spots" up to 110F in some places, but the worms have plenty of room to get away from the heat. In a small tote (I have and neglect these too), the worms would cook. (The Bigger System Works Best)
3/3/10
The size of the cocoons is interesting, but the real clue to survival mode is the quantity of the cocoons. Even starving worms are able to swap juice and throw cocoons. Apparently, the distressed worms are programmed by nature to do this even in adverse conditions. And perhaps at an accelerated pace. (Worms Will Be Here After We Are Gone)
3/25/10
I have at least 4 different species of "red worms" living in my worm box. Plus Black Soldier Fly Larvae and a ton of Mites. These composting critters do a great job. I only bought red wigglers (eisenia fetida).
Apparently, each worm has a specific "job" in nature. When we put them into totes and boxes or barrels, we (vermifolks) attempt to control those natural processes or "jobs". Each tote or barrel will balance- that is- reach a harmony of occupants. This may require a decrease in one species of resident and an increase in another. Worms are designed by nature to survive so they are prolific breeders. Eisenia fetida are perhaps the most prolific of them all and the first choice of many vermifolks. (Box of Rot)
Well, for one thing I am not "keeping" them(Black Soldier Fly Larvae) in my worm box. They are there because I have not been able to kill them all. I do kill all I see because I am a worm guy and not a maggot guy. These maggots (I dont call them bio-grubs or phoenix worms or any other lie) eat ALL the food, leaving none for the worms. They are not good neighbors and I would love to evict these maggots from hell, but alas, I am unable. These maggots are dormant now (too cool yet), but when temps are up (70 days and 50 nights) these suckers will get active. And so will I. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha(Always Bury Food)
4/5/10- I wanted to tell you mite raisers about a little observation of a "happening" in my big (4x3x2) box in the garage. Since the box is away from the house in the detached garage, I have no problem putting meat in the big box. This box is compost central with all the citizens working over time. I put some bad, stinking and past the good date pork sausage (I had planned on sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits, yum) into the big box. This was a pound of sausage that I broke up into smaller chunks and buried around different spots in the box about 2 weeks ago. While doing a little harvesting this weekend, I noticed these sausage balls or chunks of pork stink were covered with white mites to the point that, as I moved the porkish mite holders, a layer of mites would remain where the pork was previously parked. This indicated to me that these mites were thick on the parked pork and moving the stinky sausage left a mite presence or footprint.
No other citizens in the box were eating stinky sausage. One reason, they were unable to access the pork because of the thickness of the mites working on the sausage. Or another reason, no desire to eat stinky pig product. Just an observation in the big box of the value of mites in a vermi-system and why we should not be afraid to feed any compostable item when the system is far enough away from the house.
Have you hugged your mites today? (All Creatures have a Purpose)
5/3/10- Worm Tea has NO EFFECT on Tomatoes
Read the article.
http://ejb.ucv.cl/content/vol13/issue2/full/2/index.html
(Prejudice is Stronger Than Truth- based on responses to this article)
5/10- Results: Poo dissolved in the 1 cup vinegar/ 1 gallon Water sample. Worms showed immediate distress in the cup vinegar/ 1 gallon Water sample. This distress progressed to the point of "appear to decompose, sloughing tissue and slime. It could simply be an inflammation sort of reaction to an external cause." And the stronger the vinegar, the quicker the reaction. The cocoons showed no reaction to any external conditions. They have been placed in an incubator.
Now we all know that poo cannot be dissolved in a bin by an acid wash without killing worms. (Wormy experiments are fun- but not so much for the worms)
6/18/10-After almost 2 years of worming, I now have worms in 9 different containers of various sizes and types. If I could start over with what I know now, this would be my simple plan. Start with 1 pound of worms ($30) in a 5 gallon bucket with air holes drilled in the top only ($1 each when I buy 50) add shredded cardboard ($0- free from the liquor store), water ($0- so cheap I cant measure it) and food ($0- garbage or table scraps or animal poop or leaf mulch, make it easy on yourself, whatever you have at hand). Every 3 months split the buckets (write the split date on tape and put on the bucket). In 1 year I would have 16 buckets with 16 pounds of worms ready for sale. Sell a bucket for $35 and tell them how you raise worms. Only keep 16 buckets ready to sell (this # would depend on your available space and market, some may need to keep 8 or 32, but you get the idea). After you have the 16 buckets on hand, any time you split the buckets and have worms that dont sell, put them in a worm pit (4" cinder blocks 2 high on flat ground and as big as you want it, 4x4, 4x8, whatever) and feed them leaf mulch (free from the city and cover with straw in the winter). If sales are so good that you should run out of buckets, hit the pit and fill some buckets. This would be my simple plan.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted

malibu_rose thanks for your kind words. I'm just a vermi-hobbyist but worked as a forest technologist. I guess some of the training with the using 'scientific method' must have stuck with me. I do like my herd and to quote another vermicomposter (Redhen) it is much better to "Starve the Landfill...Feed the Earth"

Here is a link that might be useful: Boreal Wormer


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

  • Posted by rogy Maryland (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 17, 10 at 9:07

I have two Rubbermaid worm bins, one that Ive been using for about six or seven years and one that is about three years old.

Both bins are in my cellar, and are elevated.
Each has a drainage hole in the bottom corner that is covered with a screen and has a small (1/4") piece of clear tubing which runs down to a 2 gallon jug with a hole in the lid. Tea is easily collected that way (you can watch it run through the tube).
Both have " ventilation holes (about 30) in the sides and top covered with screen (hot glued to the inside).
Both use a single sheet of black landscape cloth cut to size to provide darkness and cover.
From each bin I periodically remove a few handfuls of excess worms and put some in my compost pile, my elevated "square foot" garden and a few in my two hermit crab terrariums (they eat the crabs "castings" and food scraps and help keep it cleaner).
They DO especially love watermelon, but will compost almost anything I put in there, including sweet corn cobs, (which seem to take forever in my outdoor compost pile).
I havent put egg shells in my worm bins for years they never really go away. Egg shells go in my outdoor compost pile.

The bins are different in a couple of ways:

Bin 1: (the older one):

I use hay (that my daughter drops on our cellar floor when shes changing her Guinea Pig cage) or shredded paper as "bedding" on top of the worms and they consume it steadily. I find its a bit of a pain to have to "bury" scraps under this bedding.

Bin 2: (the newer one): This bin has the same ventilation and drainage system as bin one, but differs in a couple of ways:

I improved drainage by placing a double-screened (window screen over " hardware cloth) drainage "grate" about 1" off of the bottom of the bin. I simply folded down the edges of the hardware cloth and put a small stone under the middle for support.
I use no hay, paper or other "bedding" in this bin. I started it with a " layer of worm castings/soil over the screen and added a handful of worms. This system works very well (maybe better than bin number one) and is much easier to add scraps to. I simply lift the black cloth, place the scraps and replace the cloth.
I have no problems with odor or fruit flies and the worms are really thriving.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Kath,apologies for bringing this thread back up, but it answered one of my questions about which media you are using. It would appear you now have several years of vermicomposting experience. Presuming you are using cardboard still as your media source. And, if the vermicomposted material you were attempting to use as a germination mix is several years old, I would definitely conclude it is much too rich nutrient wise for seed starting,

If you are interensted I have been indoor vermicomposting for more than five decades and only in the last ten years have I begun outdoor vermicomposting. Although similar in some ways these two processes are quite different. So it helps to know if your vermicomposting is indoors or outdoors.

I am new to this forum, so I have been previewing old threads, and I just happened across this one by accident just after responding to your latest posting. It is an interesting posting and I plan to take a bit more time on my next read through of it. In scanning several comments caught my eye. This is sort of like a mini-blog which more of us should do. Nice job Kath.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have been on the VC train for almost a year and learned, as I have in my garden, to stop overthinking things!

I feed once a week, a gallon freezer bag full of veg and fruit scraps, and pulp from the juicer ( rarely citrus, mostly greens, apples, carrots, peppers, etc. ). I rip/shred newspaper and add over each introduction of scraps.

I freaked once when one my bins turned into a bit of a swamp, than I realized I could just drill a few more holes in the bottom...problem solved. Worms were happy again, easy peezey.

Nature/God is tremendous, and I continually overthink the process of composting or gardening. Whether its overwatering plants or spending hours reading about proper food introduction methods when composting with worms. In the end it seems if I just step back and let things work themselves out they do. Mite populations explode and die off, bins get wet or dry, worms are resilient creatures and do the yeomans work for us, in our bins our in our gardens.

Keeping kitchen scraps, destined for the landfill, in the cycle of life is a great pleasure and a great teaching tool for children...and sometimes adults. The energy in that food waste has been transferred from sun, to seed, to plant, to fruit, to animal, to waste, to plant, to fruit, to you...and instead of wasting it, truly wasting it and removing it entirely from the cycle of life, you save it...and keep the process going.

Oh...I have also learned that I am weird for keeping worms in my basement. I have also learned that even though I am the weird guy that keeps worms in my basement many privately acknowledge their own interest in composting! Closet worm lovers...they are out there!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Had a bin way back in 2005 for a couple of years, then moved to another state and started again almost a year ago. What I've learned (besides all of the wisdom and experience posted above):

Vermicomposting lends itself naturally to stand-up comedy, and that helps a whole heckuva lot when you are having a conversation about it with someone who is really squeamish.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I had to chuckle at the idea of raising worms puts us into the weird people classification. The 'norms' or 'pods' as I prefer to call them probably make up 90% or more of the population on this planet, and I can't think of a one whom I would trade places with.

I watched a UTube video of a woman at what appeared to be a garden swap meet. She was going on about how disgusting the Black Solder Fly larvae were. Although these creatures live and feed on waste products, they are probably cleaner than she. But try explaining that to a 'norm'.

I think we 'abnorms' or weird people are far more in touch with our environment, and if more people could appreciate that this world might not be in such a mess.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

morgan_3...well put!

I am amazed though, that the "closet composters" are out there. After the laughter, the squirms, the serious talk almost always ends with "thats not a bad idea, I would probably do it but...".

Of course, that could just be folks humoring me! The greenest people I know are often grossed out by worms, dirt, and any knowledge of where their food comes from.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Well Doc, I have a large enough garden to feed seven families and there are still a couple family members who refuse to eat anything I produce because..."I know what you put in your garden". My only response to these persons is to ask them where soil comes from, and for some strange reason there is never any response to that question. The vast majority of people in this country do not give any thought to where their food comes from, or how it's processed. Just go to the grocery store and buy what you want.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I just realized that I think that last post form morgan 3 was in response to mine...I also realized that suburbangardenMD may imply I am a "doc"...oops! Its for Maryland, MD, the old line state...sorry for the confusion.

Anyway, if I had a nickel for every person that told me they were grossed out at the thought of worms eating veg scraps, or manure going into a garden...I'd have...well, maybe 30 or so cents, but you get the idea.

I would like to see a resurgence of the Victory Garden concept myself. And with fresh produce prices increasing everyday, we may see just that.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

No problem MD, my bad...I still like doc. Could you explain what you mean my the resurgence of the Victory Garden concept. The wife went grocery shopping for her mom yesterday and the oranges and peppers are nearly $2 each. I read somewhere the biggest reason for starting wars was over food, and I thought it was oil. When we take food to the food bank it gets pretty scary seeing the number of people lined up for food. Apologies for going off subject here.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I believe the Victory Garden concept was created in WWII? I could google it, but I yearn for the days of not so instant availability of knowledge, when it was ok to not "know" everything. It was promoted by governments and was touted as a way to aid in the war effort, but more importantly provide your family with increasingly expensive produce. The last thing I like to see is the federal government mandating anything, but encouraging the citizens of this country to grow some of their own food would be a great idea. I am waaaaaay to young to know anything about it. I do however know that my grandparents always had a small garden for the summer vegetable favorites(tomato,cuke,melon,etc.). And, my Mom always says I am like my late grandfather, cheap and always trying to repurpose stuff. Both traits that lend themselves to gardening. With prices rising almost weekly I would think more people would pick up a few bags of compost, some cover and a few two dollar transplants at the big box and grow 20, 30...50 dollars worth of tomatoes. I got the gardening bug about three years ago. It started with nostalgia, remembering the smell of tomatoes being watered in the steamy summer evening. Than, I saw the potential life lessons for my kids....than I started eating more fresh produce and less junk from a box(still eat my share unfortunately), and it became not only nostalgic, and educational....but also economic. I am sure its in some of our DNA to desire time in the garden, I think its somewhere in all of us, its how we all got by at some point in our family tree's.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

There are many reasons that wars are started...
The victory garden was a concept from World War 2, maybe even World War 1, when households were asked to grow their own food or some of their own food due to rations. Large growers had their output directed to the war effort.
We started co-op gardening to save money three or four years ago when the economy started its decline. We've added beds each year to increase our productivity.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

At least the Brits did victory gardens in WWI but I think they were done to a lesser extent here state side during the Great War but WWII is when they really came into their own.

My grand father tells a story of his father's garden along the side of the fire station during WWII. My great-grand father was the fire chief and wanted to use the fire station yard to help out with tomato production. Well they never had grown tomatoes before but figured they liked tomatoes so go for it. Well they planted 12 dozen tomato plants. They were lining the side of the drive way with bushels of tomatoes for any one to take that wanted them.

I wish I could call mine a freedom garden or further a survival garden but I need to get the production way up before I can do that.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Awesome story!

Wow, did this thread get off topic or what?

Anyway, I will just leave it at that, don't want to hijack the "what have you learned" theme anymore.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

"12 dozen tomato plants." I think that is 144 tomato plants. "They were lining the side of the drive way with bushels of tomatoes for any one to take that wanted them." I expect they were massively well appreciated. Also community building.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Also when we started our co-op garden is when we started vermicomposting. I use castings for seed starting mix. This year we should have enough castings to start putting some (more) in the holes when we transplant.
I have learned how easy it is to keep worms and how easy it is to kill worms. Also, worms seem to have a large range of success.
I have also learned that my capacity for keeping worms has to match my wife's tolerance :)


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

patrick1969: My spouce solved that problem. They are right now as we speak setting up a fish tank to feed... ... ... chopped worms to! Probably on their board they are typing... Problem Solved!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

It would be a great story if that fish tank were not just for enjoyment, but also for food. Then you would have a full circle there.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I would to setup an aquaponics system!

So I learned two new things to add. One, you all knew and I just discovered, freezing your waste helps break it down faster. And the big one for me was an indication of how sad a man I have become....I considered picking up a frozen banana peel off the ground at the playground today...I didn't do it....but I thought about it.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

fish tank. It is to be a well planted tank. Underwater plants. I did ask if any of the fish were edible. Also I had requested they ask if any of the plants are edible. This is a small tank 30 gallons.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Well MD the sad part about your wanting to pick up that banana peel is the part where someone just threw it on the ground. What you are experiencing here is a closet tendency we all have, but probably don't want to admit it.

"...cheap and always trying to re-purpose stuff." I love that one. I can't throw anything away without asking myself the question..."How could I reuse that?" I have thrown something away I knew I shouldn't have, and kept things which I had no idea why, but later found the purpose. Although people like us appear different to others, I think we have this same mentality here MD, to find a purpose for even the most meaningless items. The American Indian had a purpose for every plant. The term 'weed' did not exist in their thinking.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have used them basket under my daughters stroller to haul back all sorts of stuff for my garden people were throwing out. Grabbing cardboard is a new one though. I collected 25 five gallon buckets this way. Some one about two blocks away has had old pumpkins sitting near a tree for squirrles to eat for three months now. Each time we pass them Im tempted to grab them as worm fodder. My wife is embarresed to go out walking with me now.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I need to get my third bin going so I can start picking up more trash!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I just built another stacking system. I originally was going to sell it with about a half pound of worms on Craigslist, but between my wife not commenting on the new stack and the fact that my worms don't keep up with kitchen waste, I might start feeding it for me :)


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

1. Have been worm composting in 5 tray worm factory for about 8 months. Have 5 Earth Machine compost bins. Had one, but then started collecting them....

My only regret about Worm Factory bin is putting leaves in as bedding and I have thus introduced predators to my bin.... centepeedes...

I have tons of compost in the works but I don't turn it very often, if at all.... slow composter I am.

Patrick,

Funny I was imagining a system like yours.... Now can do that, wife willing....

Once I have all of these compost and worm castings, I will need to learn better how to use it! That is my biggest ? right now. 20% worm castings as soil amendment, for veggigarden.

My best piece of advice: copper lining around raised beds is wonderful: no snails at all in our garden. None. But, I bought my copper from a guitar web site as crud bought at home depot lasted 4 months....

Mike


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

moandtg...Mike, I am curious where you came up with the idea of repelling slugs with copper.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

moandtg: "Wife willing." That's my biggest hurdle. The bucket stack is fairly small and I keep mine (just added the one in the video) in the hall/entrance way. I've been trying to talk my sister in law (who has a tiny garden but doesn't have room to compost) and my mother in law (ditto) to take up the worm bucket system. So far, I've just given my sister in law about a gallon of VC in a ziplock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building the 5 bucket worm stack


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Morgan,

I read it online don't remember where... google snails copper or ways to combat snails.... Cory's tape stinks... thinner than aluminum foil so lasts only months... thicker better, have tape that has lasted 1.5 years and expect it to keep on going....

apparently copper keeps tiny electric current and slugs/snails don't like it....

Mike


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

it was going on 10 years or so ago i innocently accepted my fist bin.

most important thing i've learned - you are more likely to kill worms with food than neglect

i tend to keep my bins on the dry side. it's surprising how long worms/cocoons will survive 'dry' bins. as long as they are cool and ventilated they are very forgiving. over feeding on the other hand....

a friend gave me a bunch of compost once - i failed to notice the abundance of tomatoes/lemons/avocados. white mold took over and i had worms everywhere but in the bins. it was awful!

citrus/acidic foods in moderation! i know folks have experimented with overfeeding worms but my mistake was leaving them unattended for to long after feeding them inappropriately.

i've learned lots more but i keep that one lesson i keep with me.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

One thing - keep it simple stupid!
Probably easier said than done with indoor worms but for my outdoors guys, just keep throwing stuff in and leave 'em alone!

I started going on two years ago with a pound or so of red wigglers in an old recycling bin. Then expanded to a second recycling bin, then a large nursery pot (maybe 25 gallons?). Now I use all sizes of nursery pots and throw paper and compost into them then sit them atop the other bins so worms can work their way in in their own time.

I also use nursery pots around the garden (3-gallon mostly), sometimes with a couple of them stacked. I try to keep them either hidden among plants or some of them I've painted so they look pretty. Then the runofff can go straight into the plants. Sometimes I take a large pot and fill it with leaves, paper, table scraps, and then sit one smaller pot with worms in it on top so they can work their way in, then put some smaller potted plants into the big pot so it looks like a little container garden. When in reality all kinds of disgusting unmentionables are occuring below!

Later I can harvest the vc in the large pot or just plant something directly in there. If I plant directly in them I will place small pots with paper and compost scraps in them so that remaining worms in the big pot can come up into the new batch.

I also like to keep a peanut butter jar in the sink. I use the 40-ounce plastic ones, and after leaving the jar upside down outside somewhere to let the ants clean the PB out, keep the jar and lid in the sink where I deposit vegetable scraps, egg shells, and torn-up bank statements, etc. Actually I usually have a couple of these jars in rotation and can keep a backup under the sink if I fill one till I can take 'em out and dump them. (I also let sink water run into these containers so all the paper and stuff is nice and soaked when I dump it.)

Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts.

Happy worming!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Thank you for the idea of using giant nursery pots as worm composters! I was so excited I trudged through the cold rain to the garage and climbed the tractor to reach the stack of huge 15-gallon pots that were on the top shelf!

One of them is in the basement and loaded with bedding, worm compost and some old food now. I think I'll wait a couple days for that to get all settled and then move some of the worms over.

I'd like to do some worming outside, but with forecast lows in the teens coming up I don't want to risk my worms!


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

2 years.

- That it's a lot like gardening or even cooking: you just need to get a feel for how things should look/feel/smell. When I started I was too worried about trying to nail down details, like a novice cook looking for a precise recipe to follow. Once you have a sense for the range in the worms are happy you can improvise: what's fun about this forum is the creativity.

- That you should start with at least a pound of worms. I started with less, and that meant I was not getting much composting done for the first six months.

- That fruit flies etc. are part of the deal, and you're better off with the bins in a place where that's not an issue than spending a lot of time on elaborate anti-fly measures.

I'm using two 4-tray Worm Factories plus a larger plastic bin that I dump the bottom trays into for final processing; that also lets me scrape compost off the top layers as the remaining worms head down. The Worm Factories are not as cheap as home-made systems, but they're space-efficient, and it's easy to take them apart, inspect the different trays, and see what's going on.

We're in the rainy pacific NW where the soils have been leached of nutrients over millennia. We also put out lots of vegetable peelings and accumulate plenty of cardboard. It's great to have the second problem solve the first problem.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I decided to copy Patrick's 5 gallon bucket setup. I found a guy on craigslist giving white buckets away. I did all the drilling, and sawzalling today and yesterday. I only am missing the lids. Might buy Orange ones at Home Depot.

I made two of them. One for me, the other for a neighbor.

I used an old drill, with a small drill bit, so just put in a ton of holes. My only concern is that worms are supposedly not happy in White bins. But, I will keep it out of direct sunlight and I think that will not be an issue.

Thanks for the idea, Patrick.

Mike


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Mike,
All of my white buckets are recycled from Burger King - they get in three or more of those per week full of pickle slices and I can usually get tops with them.
I had not heard that they don't like the white containers, clear for sure due to light. Mine are in the normally dark hallway and seem to be very happy.
Happy worming.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building the 5 bucket worm stack


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

Patrick,

I am thinking about adding another level. So, would be 8 buckets.
Have you tried that? I never go for the little stuff. 5 compost bins, and when I got my first worm bin, got a 5 level one.... even though not sure about it. Go strong or Go Home!

Patrick, I will let you know how it goes.

Mike


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I haven't gone that high due to space constraints. The biggest drawback I could see to going that high is checking for and draining leachate. The higher the stack the further down the catch bucket. I use the lid to set buckets on so they don't stain the floor when I want to check levels of leachate or vermicast. The taller your stack the more lids - or something - to place on the floor.

I also just did an interesting rotation (for me) with one of my stacks. I have the 5 bucket stacks as in the video. I notice that over time the level in the bottom working bucket will shrink away from the upper working bucket and worms can't migrate directly up. I moved one spacer from the order and placed it over the top working bucket. The result is that there is only one spacer between the two working buckets and more of the worms can migrate upwards. The more spacers you have, the more flexible you can be with this and I think this is a feature that the commercial stacking worm bins do not have.

So, if the weight, space and floor protection are not concerns for you, I say go for it.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I have been vermicomposting for 3 years now. What I have learned is what I wish I knew back then- that it is kind of like the Ronco Rotisserie: "Set it and forget it!"

Everybody seems to say that a long, shallow bin is better than a deep, narrow bin. The opposite is true for me. I use a 20" plastic pot that I drilled large holes in the bottom and tiny holes into the sides for aerobic ventilation. Everybody always said to not drill the holes so large because the worms will escape. Well, if you keep food in your bin, why would they escape?

I throw in all kinds of food in there, even meat occasionally. I rarely turn it. It does build up flies and gnats (it's outdoors), but that's part of the decomposing process.
I'll wet some newspaper and tear up some phone books and throw it in there. I don't layer the newspaper on the bottom and the food on top as everybody has said to do. I just throw it in. I have a life to live after all :)

Three years into it, I have tons of baby worms and very healthy fat mommies and daddies. It fits my lifestyle of a casual hobby gardener. I want a garden that I can enjoy and if I have to spend every day tending to it for hours then it's not an enjoyable hobby for me.


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RE: How long have you vermicomposted and what have you learned

I can't remember for sure, but I think it was 1996, give or take a year. I know it was prior to '99 because that's when we moved and I had worm bins in the old house.
So, I've been 'worming it' for about 17 years.
Over that time period, I learned a ton of stuff. My special interest is the biologic interactions of all the things in the worm bin along with the worms themselves, and how it all relates to plants.


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Taking worms fishing

"""Jokes about taking my worms fishing don't go over very well in my house."
LOL. Same in this house, but most people know me well enough not to even try. :)""

I've used my worms to fish. I would go over to the bin and say: "I need some volunteers for a very dangerous mission... and some of you won't be coming back!" My kids always got a kick out of that. :)


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