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Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Posted by pjames 8/LA (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 18, 10 at 18:52

I am going to start this thread with a little rant.

Most of us read this forum as an exchange of ideas and experiences. We are not into vermicomposting as a business but rather as a way to reduce our waste load in an eco-friendly manner and maybe help our gardens in the process.
(Not that I would mind somebody sending me a bunch of money to be a consultant..)

However, I have read several posts of late where somebody got screwed over buying high priced worms. Anybody reading any of my posts would glean that I believe in the DIY, start slow and cheap and develop a system approach.

To that end, I propose we help each other and any newbies get started.... Not only with knowledge but with some start-up stock itself.

I am personally not interested in counting and mailing live worms. I feel an easier method is mailing some cocoons. To that end, I will offer to sift/hand pick a quantity of cocoons from my bins and mail them to people to get started.

I realize the best method would be photo-type bubble wrap material but I am looking at a cheaper alternative. Something using maybe a few pieces of cardboard in a regular envelope and only for the price of a single stamp.

I would like to test this with somebody. Se how viable the cocoons are after mailing.

Anyway I would like to hear others thoughts on the subject.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Good thread Pjames! I have also read the recent threads about people who are excited about getting into this hobby being let down by vendors.
I got started less than a year ago with 3 pounds of worms and now have an estimated 20k worms. I am currently starting to sell part time but will not promote myself on this site, as I feel it's a place to learn, not profit.
So count me in. I will donate cocoons to anyone who requests them, to the best of my availability. Just e-mail me.

Jim
Jerseyjim1972@aol.com


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I wish I could add to the cocoon fund by I'm just getting started myself. If you're patient enough, I think starting from cocoons could be the way to go. I know I was able to save a bunch of cocoons from my first batch of worms that I killed and now that they've hatched, they really seem to be thriving. Hopefully in 3-6 month I'll be able to donate some to the cause. :)


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I could do cocoons, mailed in something fairly flat and rigid. like an small mint tin perhaps? I believe it would cost 98 cents in the US, according to the USPS website.
Looking around my house, I see pill bottles, dental floss containers, and contact lens solution bottles that all would be possible protective containers that would be easy enough to use, small, and probably cost about a dollar to mail in the contiguous US.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Great thread.

What about mailing the cocoons inside corrigated cardboard? A small piece of cardboard (that will fit inside an envelope) with one end taped up...then put in some cocoons...tape up the other end.

Would it have to be damp? Slightly damp and wrapped in plastic wrap. Then in the envelope. When they get to their new home, rip off the top layer and bury it in the prepared bin.

Would it work you think? Better if it doesn't have to be damp. You could try one damp and one dry. Then count how many viable from each. Can cocoon survive a dry spell?

Anita


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Good idea. Although I have successfully shipped live worms, I think the cocoons are definitely a safer bet to survive shipping. I think using a single sheet of bubble wrap (the kind with pea-sized bubbles) and cutting it to fit into a standard envelope would at most cost an extra stamp...probably the same as using cardboard. The cocoons would be wedged between the bubbles. That would protect most of the cocoons from getting squished.

Personally, I would rather do a quick light/pile harvest of 1/4 lb. instead of trying to find cocoons. A small box weighing 15 oz. total costs ~$5 to ship cross country via Priority Mail.

Andrew


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

How many cocoons are we talking about? 250/500?
To start a bin from scratch for a newbie with a piece of cocoon stuffed cardboard is a great concept, but I think rookies like to see (and play) with their worms.
We were all rookies at one time, so don't act like you've never played with your worms.
Remember- 95% have, and 5% have lied about it.
Still a great concept for shipping and by folding over the cardboard, a little finished VC could be added for the micro-herd starter needed by the baby worms.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Great thought. Cocoons might be less fragile in summer heat, which should make mail carriers and recipients alike happy. Not feasible for me, however--I've yet to see more than a single cocoon at a time! Maybe it's because of my process, or my feedstocks, or just that I don't spend a lot of time looking at the worms, but the few times I've decided to look for them, I've not found any. Obviously, they're being produced, since the young worms have to come from somewhere.

(Maybe bokashi speeds the hatching time? --Kidding! I love my microbes, but don't think they're messing with the worm biology. Not _that_ much, anyway.)

Have shipped a couple of mylar bags of "Live Bait" by US Post, and that seems to work fairly well up between October and May.

DSF


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

You are going to want this envelope to be hand stamped, meaning canceled, at the post office window and not put through the machine.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I knew the Post Office sorted by machine. I figured if i put 'photos don;t bend' if that would prevent too much damage. I'd also had the idea of putting a couple pieces of carboard like ribs to prevent undue compression.

I've sort of envisioned spreading somewhere between a tea and tablespoon of cocoons with the inevitable castings on a piece of paper towel. Fold the towel, moisten slightly and then wrap with saran wrap or use a snack baggie. The put it in a cardboard folder.

My idea is to give somebody a starter colony, not enough to really get going. He/she would have to be patient and careful but it is a cheap alternative to buying worms.

If an experienced worm keeper had say, wigglers but would like to start a few ENC's or vice versa, it would be a good way to get some stock.

I started out myself with 55 EF's and 32 ENC by physical count, bought in a bait store. I've had to be very patient, but then again I got alot of satisfaction of building up a colony from almost nothing instead of buying my way in.. but that's just my personality.

I've been thinking of asking if anybody has any African Night crawlers just to give them a shot, but that would mean additional bins. So far nobody has asked me for any cocoons, but I am ready. I did a little harvest from my FT's earlier today and found large numbers of cocoons available.

It'll take a little tedious work to separate them but hey, that is what they make beer for.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

pjames,

I do not currently have a bin set up, but am looking to set it up very soon - outside. I've been researching for a while now proper outdoor maintenance of a worm bin - wife doesn't like the idea of an indoor bin.

Anyway, I would love to be a recipient of your cocoons...once I have a bin for them. I am not a "patient" person, but for this experiment, I'd be willing to try a little patience. Also, such a small group to start with would actually be very manageable for me to get started. I am thinking of a box within a box in my outdoor bin to help overwinter outdoors in the winter. But, if I lost them all to the winter cold, I wouldn't feel so bad as if I dropped $50-$100 on worms just to kill them.

My box within a box plan looks like this: First, a 4'x8'x24" box, in a shady spot in the yard, but not too far from my door. It will have a lid, but be open on the bottom (hardware cloth on the bottom to protect the worms from predators though). Inside the box would be shredded leaves - a variety of tree species around my house...with a bit of grass clippings mixed in. Then, the box inside would be 2' x 2' x 18" (6 inches below the lid). This box would be a cardboard box, so that when they were ready to spread out, they could just eat their way out. Then, the box would have shredded leaves all the way up to the top....no air space.

Inside the little box would be shredded cardboard (I just got a bunch of boxes from work) and mix in a lot of coffee grounds from my home supply - and then I would be able to slowly mix in some fruit and veggie scraps...as their appetites grew.

Well, that's my plan for the worm cocoons. Let me know if you are interested in sending your cocoons to live in my new home.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Hi,

I would also like to chime in as a newbie and say I would be very grateful for any extra cocoons to help me get my bin going (I recently posted a thread here with more details, "Is my situation right for vermicomposting?"). I have no experience with worms and have none in my compost bin right now, so if using cocoons is a simple way to get started, that would be wonderful.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Seattle, I saw our post on another forum as well. Send me an email (look at my page for the link) and send me your address. As soon as I can I'll rig up some cocoons and get them out to you.

Oh, do you want e.fetidia or a mix that might also include e.hortensis (european nightcrawlers). I've been pulling adult ENC out when I run across them in the harvest tray of my flowthru so I have no idea of the ratio.

What I would suggest in the meantime is to shred up a little cardboard and maybe some junkmail and dampen it. Enough to fill a gallon ice cream container if you want to start small and be able to see them. If you have a few spoonfuls of food waste to start rotting that would be ok, but not really needed. If you have regular compost put a little in the water you use to wet the cardboard.

The cocoons will have some castings with the cocoons so that will start the microherd going before the eggs hatch.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

pjames, if you would like, I could send the ones to eaglesgarden, since I am closer, and you could do the ones to seattle.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Fine with me. I'm going to try to accommodate anybody who emails me. I think this is a fun activity and does alot of good for the environment. I just don't like to see people spending money when they don't have to just to get started.

Having said that, I fully understand how it can take a fair amount of work to separate, weigh and go to the post office to ship live worms. While this may justify their price, I'd rather save the expense for myself and for others.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

eaglesgarden, if you send me your address, I will send along either some cocoons or some worms, whichever I find is simpler, when you are ready. We will discuss it through email. My email is
antfiresbetter@ hotmail.com


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I would love some cocoons and/or worms. I've been posting on my local craigslist to try to buy a small amount of worms but no bites (heh) yet. I'd be happy to reciprocate with a rooted Meyer Lemon tree cutting or two, though I wouldn't be able to mail them for a month or two as they're at my parents' house. I have a small bin with lots of shredded paper and a bin in the freezer full of scraps -- everything's ready but the worms! :) I'm in South Carolina if that makes a difference.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I'm in NC, so I can help you starlady.
steamyb2@hotmail.com


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Thank you all who are willing to help out some beginner worm growers!

I am stoked...antoniab told me that he will be sending worms out tomorrow, and I have my bedding setting up right now. Next, the hard part....patience.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I just wanted to bump this thread and mention that the worms from antoniab came today. I was very happy to see that many of them made it through the mail process. There was over 50% loss, but a good number (not sure how many and I don't want to speculate exactly, but somewhere between 25%-40% made it ok.

They are now acclimating themselves to their new home. Now... patience. That's my weak part.

Any advice anyone could give me regarding my little miniherd I would be glad to listen. I believe that my bedding was a little drier than they would prefer, so I added some fresh shredded paper that was almost dripping. I put that on top so that if it didn't hold the water, it would drain down. I'm not worried about them being too wet. There is no bottom on the box (it's outdoors) so, any excess water should just filter into the ground. On the other hand, my biggest concern is the bedding being too dry.

Any advice on keeping ants out of the bin (they have already found the few little pieces of melon rind I put in the bin for the worms?

Thanks everyone, specifically pjames for the idea, and antoniab for the worms! You guys are awesome!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

eaglesgarden, congrats on the beginning of your worm bin. Is this the 4'x8' outdoor bin with a smaller bin inside? I have a 2' x 3' in-ground bin (embedded 6" into the ground) and don't hesitate to spray water directly into the bin if it feels dry. As long as the underlying soil drains well, you really can't get it too wet.

Bravo to Antonia!

Andrew


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Thanks plumbie,

This is sort of the bin I described above. This all happened faster than I thought it would, so this is just the inside bin (about 2'x2'x2'). The outer bin has yet to be built, but I will just slip that over the top of this one. I still have some time before I need to worry about the freezing temps of winter...we are due for a heat wave again next week - 5 days of 94 degree heat coming...

Any thoughts on keeping these guys cool enough? I was thinking a few frozen water bottles (one at a time) wrapped in newspaper would work if I placed them on top of the bedding. Or maybe some ice blocks wrapped in newspaper...would keep it wet as well as cool things off.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

eaglesgarden, it certainly won't hurt to try the frozen stuff, but first I'd fill the entire bin with damp bedding. Old leaves mixed in with egg cartons and cardboard. Fill the box to the top. This material will start to compress almost immediately and you should probably spray water in the bin daily when the air temps are high. As long as the bin is not sitting in full sun, the temps in the bedding should be significantly cooler than the outside air temps. Get a cheap meat thermometer to check the bedding temps. If it stays 88F and below, then you don't need to bother with the ice.

Andrew

Here is a link that might be useful: cheap meat thermometer


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Thanks plumie,

I already have a compost thermometer, so I'll just drop that one in there.

My bin is 2 feet deep (isn't that too deep to fill all the way up with damp bedding? Would dry bedding on top be better (as it would give more air pockets (insulation) and keep the worms out of the top layers, where it should be warmer?


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

That's right, 2 ft. is pretty deep. That's why I was thinking it would compress pretty quickly. Some dry top bedding does sound like a better plan. I have a 4' x 4' on-ground bin, but have never come close to filling it. I did always have lots of dry leaves on top since the bin doesn't have a lid. It seemed to keep the birds out.

Andrew


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Major thank you to Pat (pjames) for the Euro cocoons...way over a hundred! They arrived today in super condition and I promptly put them into a container with some coir and VC from an outdoor wormery. I found one EF cocoon in the VC and removed it...hopefully I didn't miss any.

My incubator is a clear plastic take-out container. I put a thin layer of damp coir, then a layer of VC before laying the paper towel with the VC & cocoons from Pat. I covered that with the remnants of the paper towel and placed bits of apple on top. I'll keep it well moistened. See photos below.

~Andrew
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

pjames, this is actually a very good idea, although I might want to suggest a cd mailing box, or something which offers some crushproofing, even of corrugated cardboard, as it's highly likely that some of the cocoons will hatch in transit.

However, this offers an excellent opportunity to those of us who would like to bring in some good alternate breeding. It hasn't been mentioned much, but my herd began as 40 or so worms from a colony which had been started from a limited number of EF's, and which while increasing in number, must seriously be similar in their genetic makeup. While I would like to get worms from similar climate conditions as mine live in (South Central Texas, 20F to 100F, with some serious humidity), I wouldn't mind trading 50 or so cocoons from my herd to someone who also is raising EF's, perhaps two or three trades, to bring in some genetic diversity. I think my herd could work very well with a bit of various backgrounds.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this, or have any material they would like to offer in favor of NOT introducing diversity?

thanks!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I dont recall having read anything regarding genetic diversity of cultured worms since starting this hobby 2 years ago. Perhaps the worms are such a simple life form that diversity is not an issue. Wheres a good biologist when you need one?


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Steamyb: I seem to remember somebody (I think it was guy who called his blog the 'Burrow') making a comment that worms so perfectly fit their niche that they had not evolved for eons. And that selective breeding would not really help.

Personally I do not really believe that as there is always some genetic variability but from a practical standpoint it is probably not necessary to diversify your worms' genomes.

Gmw1: I have used a couple methods to mail cocoons. One is a photo mailer- the kind with bubble wrap in the envelope itself. I happened to have one on hand.

The second method was simpler and cheaper. I cut two pieces of thin cardboard from a beer case. I cut them so they would just fit in the envelope. Between them I cut a donut of corrugated cardboard to act as a spacer. The hole was just big enough to fit the little packet of cocoons.

The cocoons and a small amount of castings were wrapped in piece of moistened paper towel in a plastic baggie. By folding the baggie and taping it in place inside the donut (actually a square)it held everything in place and protected the cocoons.

According to feedback, both methods seemed to work well without damage.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Hi All; Genetic diversity in a given species of worms wild or domesticated is not relivent. The reason for this is because species are seperated by genetic diferences which causes size, living habits. and environmental diversity differences. The reason there is only one known hybrid worm which is E Fotidia or E Andria the hybrid not really detectable between the two as to who is the true parent species.(E Andrea suspected) Resurch has found that the only way to detect one species from the other is a chemical anaylisis of the worms digestive compound liquids. Other than that difference, the worms are supposidly identical. Even with that as the only difference some studies and attempts of breeding the two have not been successful. So given that my belief that genetic diversity is important in a given species is not a relavent thing to worry about.

To keep the worms you have healthy and viable and ever producing new generations and cast will be a all consuming task. You will find that watching them as they surch out the things that make individual worms or small squirms happy will be a learning experience taking lots of time, ie why do some worms like to crawl up to the top of the bin and get in the condensation on the lid. The worm has no eyes to see with. How do they sence that the water is there. What makes them want to go to it. Do they like the cool of the evaporation. Do they long for the water with only air in it. What is the true motivation. When we as worm keepers can answer all the questions we can think of as we observe the goings on in our worm bins with some confidence then we should maybe start looking into the DNA links of the given species. All of this is written with a smile and a wish of good will toward the ones brave enough to forge ahead to the learning of the unknown!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Hey everyone,

A quick update (and quest for advice):

Well, the other day I saw what I take to be BSFL (they were almost white in color, but given that they showed up exactly 4 days after I added some melon rind to the bin, I feel fairly confident that they were just newborns, and will darken as they fatten up). That doesn't worry me, but the worry I have is that two days ago I only found one worm (I didn't disturb stuff too much, but was hoping to find more easily). And the next day I couldn't find any (again this was with mild rooting, just down to where the melon was, in an effort to find a few munching away). That was two days ago. I've since decided to just keep checking the moisture and the temp, but kind of "ignore" it for a while, to see what happens in a week or so.

Is this the right course of action? I have some nicer melon (actual good stuff) that I could put in there in an effort to draw some worms to it...which course should I take?


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Hi eg; I believe I would take a closer look see and find if the worms are missing in action or what. The mellon should bring them into visual range just under it or around it. If none can be found start shaking the bedding out to find them. No worms means you need to find where they went and ponder why! Then fix the percived problen and check results by putting in a few to see how they fair.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

In a nanosecond I would flip that bin over into another container to get to the juicy bottom and be trowling through it like a pirate with a map marked with an X. Either way I would toss in some "fiber" for good measure. If the worms are gone at least the BSFL are keeping the composting process going full speed.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

eaglesgarden, just to review, you're talking about a 2' x 2' x 2' on-ground bin newly stocked with bedding and worms. How much bedding did you start with? 1 ft.? 4 ft is a very large area for a few hundred worms. If your bedding is shredded leaves & cardboard, you don't really need to worry about feeding them much at all since they'll gladly munch on the bedding. Go ahead and throw in melon rinds, but all the worms won't necessarily swarm the new food if the leaves are damp enough. Just give them time to get settled into their new home.

Andrew


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Thanks for the replies everyone... I will probably go through the bin tonight after work.

The bin was the 2'x2'x2' (I've since cut it down a bit - it's just over 1 foot high now) I cut the bin in half with a piece of cardboard, and then I cut half of that in half as well with another piece of cardboard, so the worms are only in about 1 sqft of area - approximately 1 foot deep. The bedding is moistened cardboard and a bit of shredded paper. The cardboard is at the bottom, and the paper is on top. The melon is basically in between the two - about 8 inches off the "ground". I have a dry piece of cardboard over the top of the bedding in an effort to hold in moisture, as well as a lid on the box.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Well, I took the bedding out of the area where I put the worms I received from antoniab and placed it on a large sheet of cardboard. I then put it back in the outdoor bin a handful or two at a time. Here's what I found:

There were a good number of sowbugs, a few ants, and I think a few (not many) BSFL in the bedding. The moisture level was still very good, despite the unseasonably hot weather (95 degree highs for the past 3 days, and the next two). There was more moisture, the further down in the bin I went, and there was almost standing water in the very bottom of the bin (I'm talking extremely MINI puddles - more like small droplets). So, I feel very good about the moisture level in the bin.

I didn't inspect every handful as carefully as I suppose I could have, but I did find (almost accidentally, because I wasn't expecting to see them) two cocoons! That was exciting! I wish I had seen more, but that certainly doesn't mean that there aren't more there. Again, I didn't inspect every handful like a starving man looking for crumbs. There might have been some that I just missed (at least I hope so).

Next, I didn't see any worms in a single handful I returned to the bin. There might have been some very small ones that I didn't see, as I returned them to the bin. But, as I was about to return the entire amount of bedding to the bin, I found two (THAT'S RIGHT...TWO) redworms. I would like to think that there are many more in the bin, and that I missed them. I might have had more dead loss in transit than I originally thought. I don't know.

I have two other sections, partitioned by cardboard that they COULD have gone, or not. I didn't check them. But, I did see that the melon rinds had some SERIOUS pitting and is being consumed by something! I have a LARGE piece of watermelon rind, that I will put in the bin (good side down), in a hope to draw more worms (if they are there) to the melon, and check them again in a few days. In the meantime, I will just be patient...I have cocoons and a few worms...I'll just wait to see what happens.

I will add that on one of the melon pieces, I saw a TINY little squirming thing (whitish in color) but much thinner than the larvae I assumed to be BSFL. Could this be a baby redworm? Are they pink right away, or are they white when born? This guy was very small...I certainly could have missed if others were there.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Only two? I think we should try cocoons next time. I will look for some the next time I sift some VC. Then if you did have a mass migration you will at least have some to hatch out in a few weeks.

Baby redworms are pinkish, the ones I have seen tend to be pale at one end and pink or reddish on the other end. They get their coloring right away, I believe.

Hopefully, the worms are just hiding out. It sounds like the bin should be just to their liking. I hope more show up for you!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Well in the garden of eden that your bin seems to be two are really all that are required if even that many. But time for them to multiply is maybe more than even your readers want to wait. Unless you have other going concerns of the vermi type to entertain you while you wait I would add more eggs or worms. And I'm not a fan of $$$ worms so eggs or a small amount of worms or free worms or wild harvested worms would make an interesting read.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Update: Quite a few of the cocoons I received have already hatched in the bin!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Yeah, only two...I might check the other two sections tonight after work. But, hey with two cocoons and two worms...I've got all the ingredients I need! lol

I found a supplier who ships cocoons at (what seems to me) a great price. Anyone have any experience with these guys: www.southernbaitworms.com?
They offer 1/2 lb of cocoons - what they claim to 450-600 cocoons for $18, and 1 lb of cocoons (900-1200 cocoons) for only $25, with no shipping costs. I might give that a try. (They only harvest the cocoons so often - next harvest date is 9/11.

Here's a picture of the watermelon (sorry its a bad picture...my wife is the photographer...) I got two of the little worms I described in the last post. I'm looking for an ID on these guys. There were MORE of them when I first saw the melon, but by the time I got a picture, they must have gone deeper in the bin.

Photobucket


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Seattlegardengirl: I was very happy to see your eggs are hatching. I guess the cardboard insert thing protected them well enough. Looks like you are well on your way!!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

450-600 cocoons for $18 seems like a good price to me. I noticed a drastic change in my bin when my 150-200 cocoons hatched and grew a bit. I can't imagine what it would be like to have over 500 cocoons hatch.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing...I might even splurge for the 900-1200 for $25.

Maybe a new thread would get more visits...


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Well folks...the plot thickens.

I decided to check the other two sections of my bin, and I found some good news: 3 more worms. Making a total of 5 now (unless one or both of the two I found in the other section snuck over there!).

But, there is potentially some bad news. I also found two centipedes in there as well. One centipede I was able to get out, but the other was too quick for me and managed to stay in there. Do centipedes prey on worms? I know they are hunters, and there are plenty of other things to eat in there now (sow bugs, crickets, etc.) but could they also be hunting my worms? If so, does anyone have any suggestions for the future? How do you keep predators like centipedes out of the bin?


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

From all I've read centipedes could attack smaller or injured worms. I have centipedes in all my outdoor worm bins and don't really worry about the worms. I just don't want to get bit by one. Once your wormery is established, you don't have to worry about them. They're a natural part of the composting ecosystem.

BTW, any chance you could give us a shorter handle...a nickname maybe? I understand the desire for anonymity, but "eaglesgarden" is a mouthful. :-)

Andrew


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

A shorter handle:

EG or JD. Your choice!


I guess my concern with the centipedes is that I only had a small group of worms to start with, and now I'm down to 5. The worms I had had dealt with some trauma, and some died on the way... I couldn't find any of the dead worms as I went through the bins. Could that be because the centipedes ate them? I don't know. I'm just grasping at straws and trying to figure out what I need to do different/better so that this doesn't happen again.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

One thing is you are trying to do an open bin with a small number of worms. It's kinda like free-ranging chickens. You are going to have some attrition from predation, escape, or just the elements. And you don't have the numbers to weather it out.

One suggestion is to go with the RM closed bin method and keep it in the shade if you can't convince your wife to let you bring it indoors. At least you have better control and can see your worms.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Yeah, I was thinking of the RM plan. I have a tub that I've used as a planter in the past. It has some drainage holes on the bottom, and if I raised it off the ground, I should have sufficient airflow.

Thanks...it will also allow me to find the other centipede when I move the bedding over.

Do you suppose the open bed would work if I had about a 1000 cocoons to start in the spring? I really like the outdoor bed more than an indoor bed...for two reasons - I want a large bed to create more VC than I could indoors, and I have a small house, without a great place to put a large (or several small) worm bins.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Well, I've moved everything into a RM bin, raised up 4-6 inches off the ground.

When I got to the "bottom" of my bin I saw a worm halfway through the bottom of the bin (cardboard base). Well, that got me thinking - how many others went there? So, I pulled up the cardboard a small section at a time. I found about 20 worms under there. They were all red. I don't know that they were all "redworms", aka E.F. but they are part of my worm bin now! lol

Anyway, I found no centipede in the box. So, maybe the other one left on its own, or maybe I just missed it. Anyway, I will now just wait out the winter and see what happens over the next few weeks/months. Now I just need to wait it all out until next spring and see what comes of everything. I'll be buying some cocoons from the vendor I mentioned earlier in the spring and will try this all again. Thanks everyone.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I just spent the last 5 hours separating baby worms and cocoons from VC I had sifted from a couple of my bins. Not that I am complaining..... I had cold beer at hand the whole time.

I put the cocoons from my mixed (EH and EF) bin into a new bin. But I will keep the EF cocoons separated. I think I will chill them for a while, unless somebody emails me and requests them. I want to see how viable the idea is to hold cocoons in stasis and then do a 'growout' like for fishing season..


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Well, checked my main email and sure enough had a request for cocoons. They want some for bait so I guess I will harvest some of my mixed bin. That is a major advantage to having a flow-through with harvesting rods. All I have to do is turn the rods and then sift out what falls. The hard part is separating the cocoons from the castings. i guess I'll have to have a beers tomorrow..lol.

Actually, I enjoy getting new guys started in the worm-raising hobby. Especially if they start to look at it as a way to convert garbage into something useful.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

pjames 1/8 inch hardware cloth works quite good on the E.h cocoons for me. Most of them will catch in the weave.

Curt.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Still room for another newbie to jump on this train? I've been wanting to start a worm bin for a while now. I'm very successful with my compost bin, but really want the benefit of the castings and the convenience of something indoors as well. Would love to get started with cocoons :). I'll gladly give plenty of feedback, just let me know.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Momovtwo... I just spent the better of yesterday afternoon and late this morning to early afternoon harvesting compost and separating cocoons. (and drinking alot of coffee early on and beer later). I kept a fair amount of cocoons that I was going to try to see how they refrigerated until needed. Just send me an email with your address and I'll help you out. (Depending on my mood you might have to read my rant about how i really enjoy the idea of converting garbage to something useful or the use of a worm bin in teaching a kid about ecology/biology)


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Thanks so much! I'll gladly read the rant. I do completely agree with you when it comes to teaching the little ones. I know my kids will be all over this, even my daughter who is all about dirt and bugs, lol.

Here she is helping dad build my compost bin :)

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I'm not looking forward to the day my son realizes mowing is actually a 'chore'. He loves to mow and fill up the bins!

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His back is much younger than mine, LOL!! Hope your not opposed to child labor, hehe.

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They know the benefit of composting :)

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Sending you a message, I'm excited go get going!!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

This is a very interesting thread.
I admit, I haven't been here as much as I have been in the past.

I had 3 active bins, then decided to pare it down to 2.
My worms aren't the breeders that they should be.
In fact I do believe my worms are sterile. Weird. Everytime I harvest, I see few eggs. I do see babies and juvies though.

I often set up a little mini-bin in a clear baby spinach container. I've had good success with having eggs and babies in my ventures, using this process.

Reading this post, it would be incredible to try my hand with ENC's. I don't want to use them for fishing, or anything, just another breed of compost worm.

IF anyone wants to send some cocoons to Canada, I'd love to start a mini-bin of ENC's.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Hi guys, I am interested. But first I need to get setup. I am close to Boston if anyone is around this area.

I tried this years ago and just wasted a ton of money. I would like to be successful. But I want to go slow and do it correctly.

I would like to do some indoors over this winter and then setup outdoors in the spring. My basement is always cool. well below the 88 F for sure under all circumstances.

What are some of the minimum temps for reasonable growth. The basement is usually around 50 to 60 F. but it goes lower and higher at times.

I can get tons of cardboard boxes but no way to grind them up. How do you shread the boxes for bedding.

I am going to have to start reading this forum very closely.

I want the worms for vermicomposting but also for some fishing. the small worms work for fishing but are a bit small. I never heard of these European worms are they for fishing and are they easy to raise.

When I tried the worms some 10+ years ago I thought there were lots of problems but that was before this great internet for getting info. so maybe I can learn better now.

Last time I got some big 35 gallon totes. I put in some potting soil in the bottom and dumped in the worms. The only thing I really saw them like to eat was a can of pumpkin. nice and soft and wet and easy for them to eat I guess. They really seemed to like eating it but then they died.

I tried to start several more totes but all the others never got started. the worms would just die. Probably had trouble guessing the correct moisture level.

I still have the totes. well a couple of them anyway. I remember seeing 2 of them. maybe 3. not sure. have to dig around in the basement.

I like the pictures of the eggs. I do not remember ever seeing any eggs either. but I did get some babies. It seems like they take forever to grow.

Gardendawgie


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

  • Posted by ozzz 5 NE (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 26, 10 at 10:18

Hey everyone,

I was just getting ready to start a worm bin after researching meticulously for the last four months or so. I cant believe how high priced the worms are!!

Ild be greatful to anyone willing to send a starter colony my way whether it be worms or cocoons! I have quite a few tomato strains I could share in reciprocation...

This is a great gesture and myself, as Im sure the other newbies here really appreciate! If anyone wants to be so generous, just let me know how to proceed and thanks again!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

The high price of worms was exactly the reason I started this thread. That being said, send me an email. You will find a link by clicking my page. I will separate and send you some cocoons. just let me know if you would prefer ef's (red wigglers) or from my mixed bin where some of the eggs are likely to be eh's (european nightcrawlers). I'm happy to help out.
Pat


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Right on :)

  • Posted by ozzz 5 NE (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 26, 10 at 10:29

Thanks so much Pat!! I really appreciate it and will be sure to post updates with pics!! Email being sent!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

to : pjames. please bear with me as I just joined the group and this is my first post. Hello! . I was reading what you wrote about helping newbies and I could sure use some help/advice. I have a compost "bin" that used to be a flower box. it's about 4' x 4' x about 6-8" deep. I have a few worms in there that were donated from my daughters preschool . . she's now off to 3rd grade and it doesn't seem to be really growing or producing compost. although it has greatly reduced the amount of garbage that goes into our garbage bin. So my two main questions are: 1) does my bin seem too big to you? and 2) should it be covered instead of an open box like that? Of course I have about a dozen other questions but I thought i'd start with those.
thanks.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

wiggley: ""I have a few worms"": like, how many approx.? Is the box in the sun (since it used to be a flower box)?
Compost worms are surface dwellers so yes, if it's in your garden it is better to have a cover or it will be Robins' Cafe.

To start worming in your bin I suggest to get at least 1/2 lb. or you will have to wait for a very long time to see/notice population growth. If you or your neighbour/friends have a compost pile, you might want to look in there and collect the worms but your flower box should not be in the sun.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

  • Posted by shaul Israel (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 18, 13 at 17:56

Wiggley;

Let me get this straight. Your bin is 4' X 4' X 8" deep and it contains a 'few ' worms that you got from your daughter's preschool. Don't worry, by the time your daughter graduates High School, everything will be fine. :-))
Seriously, your bin is big enough for 5,000 + . You can easily add 2,000 with no problems. And Yes you definitely need some sort of cover. Post some photos, it gives folks a better idea on what to recommend.

Shaul


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

After this thread re-appeared, I read it for the first time & thoroughly agree with pjames' rant.

First, the "start slow and develop it" is right on. All the big mistakes are gonna happen early on. Let them happen with a small little bin and few worms.

And......(don't take this the wrong way entrepreneurs...any wormer is good for worming)

There have always been two types of wormers....both totally interested in green. Those of us doing it for environmental greening and those doing it for that other green.

You can always tell: using waste and scraps and garbage vs buying stuff.

Sometimes, people will evolve (like I did) from doing it to get rich, into nature lovers who are absorbed with enriching their environs.

A person can be very successful at enrichment with worming. Especially if doing it for all the right reasons.

Chuckiebtoo


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

  • Posted by shaul Israel (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 19, 13 at 10:16

I have no problem with pjames. I was just responding to someone with a huge bin and a few worms, (who was wondering why things weren't going anywhere). But in Wiggley's case, he/she either needs to increase the size of the herd or reduce the size of the bin, although according to pjames, it's probably better to reduce the size of the bin to match the amount of worms (and leave the big sized one for a future time).

Shaul


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Shaul....

My post wasn't a follow-up to yours, just of the pjames original.


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

This is such a LONG thread, but I am a newbie with a small bin set up. I have about 80 red wrigglers that I got from a fishing supply section at Wal-Mart..
Anyways-
I have never even seen a cocoon! Thanks for posting the pictures, that is quite amazing! I heard they double about every thirty days or so, but if anyone has extra cocoons...
Well, I will not turn them down :-) For one person I produce way too much "worm friendly" waste (too much coffee!, lots of cucumber peelings, banana peels, etc....)
I will happily take pics of their life-cycle if someone tells me how to keep them/encourage growth until placing them in the bin...

Regardless, I can't wait to check my bin to see if I have some cocoons myself!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Great info everyone thanks!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

Its hard me to think any newbies would want or accept cocoons. As a newbie I would want the worms so I could see what I was getting. Not knowing whats in the cocoons might be fairly spooky. show me the worms!!


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

I am in! I like doing pretty much everything from scratch so I would LOVE to start with cocoons :)
I am super new to vermicomposting (tried and failed once before) so sending anything to me would be a true test of the idea's viability. My frugal nature already has me on the path of starting tiny (coffee can-ish).

If anyone is still interested in mailing cocoons please email me at lnspellman@gmail.com.

Ooh! So excited this might work :) :) :)


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RE: Cheap and Friendly Vermicomposting

My goals for vermicomposting is and has been just to develop some good organic food/humus for my garden and flower plants. But it is obvious that many people have failed or been disappointed in their efforts at their DIY modes. So some of these people have resorted to commercial bought bins as a last reort and there are many out there on the market. Regardless of whether you diy or buy it would be best to learn all you can about this hobby thru other peoples success or/and failures and the best place to learn in my opinion is on youtube. If you are using plastic bins as I am the one most important thing is aeration provided you adhere to all the dos and donts of vermicomposting. There is no doubt plastic will sweat and hold moisture , too much moisture, so it will help you to not lock the lid on , leave it cracked and even leave it off on occasion for an hour or two to let it air out and the worms will thank you for it. The worms will alert you-once a lot of worms congregate near the rim I remove the lid or crack it for aeration and they soon go back down. My thoughts are you should not throw all your trash into the worm bins and especially not as is. Sure over time [if time is not problem] everything could be broken down but that is not what most of are trying to achieve.

So the second most important issue providing you want to move things along a little faster is to break down any food scraps as small as possible before putting in the bin,, some do some dont. The smaller the food and more broken down the sooner it can be used. You should be aware though that they worms do not actually eat food-- it is the bacteria that breaks down the food that the worms actually eat. I mean after all worms dont have teeth so the food MUST BE BROKEN DOWN FIRST before the worms can eat it. So if you can grasp this thought this should help you immensely down the road of success in the world of vermicomposting.


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