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experiment

Posted by barbararose21101 98503 (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 17:19

I put about 16 ounces of worm food in a terra cotta planting pot
and then in the bed
because It was wetter than the Advisors seem to advise and I wanted to see what would happen. In a few hours or less, a crowd of younger worms were aggregated under it. "Adolescent" size.
I lifted it, some of the gruel drooled into the bed. There were worms in the drool. They were moving into this quite wet
stuff.. That's in the Worm Inn. In the plastic tubs, I find more worms where it's wet than elsewhere (except in the horse manure). I use a terra cotta worm stuck in the bed to assess the moisture. And when I can find it I check it with the moisture meter for my information.

One commercial vermicomposter (as I recall with uncertainty) recommended 75% moisture.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: experiment

I discovered the same thing long ago and began experimenting (that's the most fun thing of wormin').

I use lots of shoebox-sized plastic bins and I'd set up bins with higher moisture content on one end. Worm populations are always greater on the wetter side.

I've also made bins with leachate holes in only one end of bins so as to slightly tilt them holes up to maintain moisture or holes down to leach moisture. The worms basically followed the moisture. That's not to say that the dry-er end was too dry for them....only less satisfactory.

That whole "law" of the "wrung-out sponge" was more for the prospective wormers' acceptability of a bin full of yucky, wet, goop-dripping WORMS living anywhere close to the newbie.

Chuckiebtoo

BTW...One of the many advantages of having multiple smaller bins is being able to experiment with different foods, and bedding, and temps, as well as the moisture thing.


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RE: experiment

Caution about worms drowning as result of too much moisture might be overstated. I once had a plastic tote bin set up in an old refrigerator lying on it's back over the winter. When I removed the tote,dozens of livly worms were swimming in 4" of water standing below in the fridge. I found 2 dead and the remainder appeared no worse for the experience.
An accidental experiment I suppose.


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RE: experiment

  • Posted by shaul Israel (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 14:43

Redworms can live in up to 90% moisture. I usually find most of them in the wetter parts of the bed.

Shaul


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RE: experiment

First-time poster here. Been gleaning a fair amount of wisdom from my fellow worm-keepers.

I've had worms for about ten years. Now have two bins, each a plastic former recycling bin. Newspaper bedding.

W/r/t moisture, after reading this I'm thinking I should probably add moisture to my bins. They never get particularly wet, and in fact can dry out a bit around the edges. I never thought much about being too dry though, given that the plastic bins (and plastic sheets on top) should keep moisture in pretty well. Maybe it means my bins get plenty of air!

Do others add water to their bins?

PC in DC


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RE: experiment

Hi PCnDC. 10 years !!!! My gosh,people need to hear from you so welcome. Sounds like you are on the opisite end of moisture scale so I'm certain what you have to say is important.
I am in 7 as I see that you are and I add water by sprinkling the bedding 2 or 3 times a week to prevent our 100F + weather drying the bins. I also feed rather high moisture food. My bins are kept outdoors in shade covered by screen.


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RE: experiment

shaul I see your "up to 90% moisture" and raise the bid to 100% moisture worms can live in. They can live in the under water gravel of a fish tank. The thing is the water needs to have oxygen in it.


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RE: experiment

equinox has, I think, hit the nail on the head - it's all about the oxygen.

That said, I'd _still_ recommend that most vermicomposters don't target the 90% and, if anything, lean towards 'damp' instead of 'wet' if there's any doubt. Why?

My reasoning is this: wet is fine, but lack of air is really, really a problem. And most of the time, a bit too dry won't result in mass death as long as there is some moisture. But too wet and lack of air overlap a lot, and will result in major death, especially in enclosed ins.

And the conditions under which a bin will have insufficient air are generally related to having too much water (or even more likely, not enough bedding and too much food, both of which will _look_ like too wet, compacted, etc).

Again, I'm not saying a bin should ever be dry - just that in situations where you're not sure, 'damp' is safer than 'really wet.' So while adding water before you go away for a while might be a good idea, that doesn't mean you should drown it 'just in case', unless maybe you know your bin is well-established and has a tendency to dry quickly.

My experience? Bins with lots of bedding can be very wet and do fine, and particularly if the 'wet' is contained in rotting foods - the water will come out slowly. They love things like watermelon meat and pulped apples, which are mostly water, but contain air and some 'structure' as well. Bins that are open air (not sealed) and drain well do fine too.

I don't find I have to add water much - just once in a while, especially if adding a lot of dry bedding. The bin could probably handle more water but does fine without. Also works with my 'worms do great with neglect' philosophy.

Another question: I've kind of found that although worms love the deeply wet rotting stuff, that stuff doesn't necessarily break down well. My instinct is that they do fine but there's not enough air for full decomposition. In other words, I find beneficial to 'turn' the bin once in a while so that the deeply wet (usually somewhat smelly) gets to the top and dries out, when it then breaks down much more quickly.

Anyone else notice this?


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RE: Experiment 4 or 5

As posted somewhere, the bedding and castings from the 6 mo old batch have been in a sandbag, in a 5? gallon bucket, with a bubbler: no air stone. For a week. It's cold: 40 - 50 º.
Peeked today. Trying to decide what to do next. The top layer has eggs and babies alive.

Made another sack of sandbag fabric with drawstrings at both ends. I've been saving "found" worms in a clay pot with soil and horse manure. All seem squirmingly swell. So. I have on hand a big pot of coir that I salvaged from the garden.
That is, used, torn, full of dirt coir. So. I fill the new little bag
(about a gallon) half full of used coir, a fourth horse manure my found worms and a handful of the babies and eggs left behind from the first harvest. Mixing worm varieties but not risking the beds of red wigglers.

Drying out the original harvest and separating castings from bedding looks daunting.

Another thought: Am I washing enough poop out to make the stuff safe for reuse ?


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RE: experiment

Took 5 pictures today but they seem not to be showing up or aren't in this thread. Clearly I'm missing something.
The pictures show a plastic bin, a Worm Inn, and two small
experiments: the sand sack that imitates the Worm Inn and a terra cotta planting pot with a screen held on with plumbing tape.
The sand sack has Found Worms (unknown varieties); the pot has tiny worms rescued from castings/bedding from which most worms had been removed.

If the pictures would be entertaining, tell me how to send them.
(I did read some posts on the topic, but didn't learn enough.)


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RE: experiment

chuckiebtoo can I recommend a sentence for an award?

"Am I washing enough poop out to make the stuff safe for reuse ?"

I do like the picture of the worm inn type of bin contents. It is posted elsewhere on the board.

I do not think I have tried it but many posters can not post more than one picture at a time.

It sounds like barbararose201101 has some interesting pictures.

Anybody care to post the secret to multiple picture posting on this forum?


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RE: experiment

Uh, let me think about that.

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Tue, Nov 12, 13 at 9:03


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RE: experiment

Hmmmm......

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Tue, Nov 12, 13 at 9:05


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RE: experiment

Ok, these first three answers posted without my knowledge (the site "was unavailable" said the screen), so...SINCE YOU CAN'T DELETE ANYTHING POSTED EITHER ACCIDENTALLY or in a drunken stupor, I tried to make SOME kind of corrections.

Thanks, GardenForums.

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Tue, Nov 12, 13 at 9:13


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RE: experiment

EQ2 asks: chuckiebtoo can I recommend a sentence for an award?
"Am I washing enough poop out to make the stuff safe for reuse ?"

Probation would probably be stiff enough for a first time offender, I think. And that has GOT to be a first time offender's question.

Chuckiebtoo


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RE: experiment

"EITHER ACCIDENTALLY or ... " I can so relate."

Sometimes I feel I need to go over to the dark side and do "anti-posts". I mean it is not like it is against the law. You know, like, what would the penalty be? ha ha.

I think they would be way funner to write and possibly funner to read.

Sometimes I am unsure if a brand new poster is even serious. Then sbryce gives a perfectly logical answer and I guess the posters actually were really serious in their questions.


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RE: experiment

I have no clue what either has to do with wormin,but let's not overlook the regular's gobbledygook while discussing seriousness of posts.


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RE: experiment

point taken


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RE: experiment

I was checking on the lads today for the first time in a while. I've been feeding them the leavings from juicing fruits and veggies. Even though it looked nice a fluffy to me, it must have a lot of moisture in, as the bottom of my bin is quite a bit wetter than I normally keep it. Not swimming, by any means, but wetter than normal.

Having said that they are quite happy hanging out at the bottom.


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RE: experiment

Oh my.
I have no idea whether the award was and award or a sentence for the sentence. It is a reasonable question: If the six month old mix of bedding and castings is washed thoroughly, it becomes mostly bedding and , theoretically, could be reused.

However, I had another idea. I tied off the end of the sandbag
and put the whole bag in the garden under a young dogwood tree. Rain will wash it more. This just isn't harvesting weather.
It seems to me we could improve on the worm travelling harvesting method: a new bin the worms can move to themselves: A door, a tunnel, ? Strategy to close it when all the worms have moved ?

I haven't mastered the clippings option, so I don't know where the picture turned up.

Yesterday I dug up a row of raspberry plants. I see the soil has lots of native worms. One was crawling wildly over the top instead of burrowing. So I offered it a rotting apple and horse manure to see what it would do. It hid under the apple.
Then I put a clay pot over both (so I wouldn't disturb it )
and tossed more exposed worms in that direction.

Commenting on the moisture issue:

Since I am one of the Wackos, I put all the worms' kitchen
scraps in a blender, which needs liquid to liquify. I use apple juice. In the plastic bin, that emulsion goes only to one side so the worms have a range in which to roam.

The bedding in the plastic bin is shredded newspaper.
Same with Worm Inn but I think there is a layer of coir under the paper in the Inn. Both have horse manure (don't know age") tossed evenly with newspaper.

Since almost everything I do is experimental, I'm going to stick to this thread, tho I'd really like to Belong with the Wackos.


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RE: experiment

Another experiment

I bought some expensive organic apple cider VINEGAR to see whether
the fruit flies could tell the difference. They can. They preferred it. Probably because it has more traces of apple.
Between fly strips . VINEGAR lures, colder weather , the vacuum & better housekeeping, the flies are gone but for a few.
A vacuum would collect ants, BTW.

This post was edited by barbararose21101 on Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 8:48


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RE: experiment

I've found that yellow sticky fly paper works great, both for Fungus Gnats as well as Fruit Flies. The downside is that it's also caught Praying Mantises as well as a Hummingbird (probably attracted to the paper stuck with already-caught bugs and what they thought would be a good meal).
So instead I tried an Electric Bug Zapper (which works best mainly at night). It zaps the gnats pretty well, (no Mantisses or Hummingbirds) but doesn't seem to do a darn thing against the fruit flies (they're not attracted to it at all). Maybe if I put in some rotting fruit (close to the hot wires) they'll get zapped by default.

Shaul


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RE: experiment

HA ! clipped a post


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RE: experiment

Barbara: try this:

Here is a link that might be useful: How to load multiple pictures


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RE: experiment

It is desirable much of the time to put soft foodstuff atop a bins' bedding in chunk's or slices (pumpkin, cantaloupe, etc) because it will maintain its consistency much longer instead of seeping into the bottom of the bin through all manner of composting materials thus allowing the wormies to enjoy life where we want them to be: near the surface.....feeding, reproducing, and staying out of the dumper that is those lower layers of worm poop.

This is called upward mobility in our world of "be the best you can be".

I've long noticed that worms that hang around down there in the muck and mire that is the dumper are more lethargic, almost stupor-like, and less likely to become romantically engaged with any of the similarly affected semi-comatose squirmers of the opposite sex (or, in the case of vermi......whatever).

When I put chunks of pumpkins, melon, etc into a bin, it will remain so until it's gradually consumed. If poured into the bin like a puree, it disappears before the herd can get a grip on it.

We must always remember that the wormies are creatures of habit and probably somewhat put off by some of our good intentions.

Chuckiebtoo

BTW...please do not take all of this completely seriously.
Some is laced with a little wisdom.....some even more so.


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...... whatever

I looked it up and apparently I'm raising a bin of hermaphrodites. Apparently the act takes three hours.


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RE: experiment

barbara: I'm not sure if my question is a reasonable question. I must be pretty slow today. I still cannot follow why you feel the need to wash the bedding. Why can't you re-use them as is and let it break down further? They are perfect with tons of MO. And if you were to hang it under a tree for the rain to wash it clean, you would be wasting all that good stuff and it would be sopping wet. Or were you just joking, pulling our legs???.


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RE: experiment

Reply to Otis and anyone else who didn't believe my question:
I believe, and have read, that no critter can thrive long in its own excrement. Then the issue is, how long can our redworms be healthy in their castings ? Reading so far , I conclude 6 months is as long as I want to leave them in their own poop.
At the time I wrote the question, the bedding was shredded newspaper. At six months there was undigested newspaper but with this assumption, it was time for change. I can ask the same question differently: What is the best use for what is left after the castings have been washed out as tea ? Of course if it doesn't have food chunks in it, it can go right in the garden.
But I was asking whether it wouldn't be a good idea to just
put it back in another bin. The "stuff" in question spent the winter outdoors, in the bag, in the garden. All the worms that were in it (not harvested) survived, and there were a few new ones (white & small). Now that "stuff" is back in a plastic tub (with holes in it) being fed small quantities of food because there is a high proportion of bedding to worms. The whole broo ha ha is because I am picky about esthetics: I didn't want newspaper, even shredded, in my garden.

O K. On to the next experiment. SINCE I puree the food I feed the worms, and rot it as much as time allows, what do you all think of the idea of using leachate/tea to rot the food scraps before puree ing.? To make it an experiment, I will put the same food scraps in 2 different containers, one with water that has been in the Worm Inn -- in this case diluted with 10 parts rainwater -- the other just rainwater. If the water that has been in vermicompost has bacteria, the food should rot quicker.

There remains quite a variety of opinions about leachate & tea.
If I purposely pour too much water through the Worm Inn, and it flows out, what will you call that ? I am experimenting with leachate/tea collected over the past winter and saved for use in the gardens this year (2014). I have yet to achieve the white foam that is supposed to represent the dominance of good bacteria. I can tell when the liquid is really stinky (bad).
So far I haven't added much sugar (molasses, fish fertilizer, etc.) because I'm reading that the effect is short & it has to be used promptly. I am wondering why any leachate couldn't be treated as tea (sugar & air) and used as tea.


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RE: experiment

Barbararose, the best way to harvest is by removing the castings. There are many ways to separate castings from the bed. Save the casts for making tea when you need it.
The juice and liquids coming out of your systems indicate that you are adding too much water. You could use the liquid in your pre-rot system, to make tea, or diluted in the garden. I would not save it long-term. Worms like it wet as long as it drains, but it makes harvesting castings more difficult. There are a few systems there that do harvest as you mentioned. The juice is used immediately in most cases.

There are many past posts on making teas and harvesting. Do a search.

I hope that helped. Good luck!


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RE: experiment

barbararose21101 I'm glad you came back to the thread solve our confusion.

The stuff that comes out the back end of the worm has more microbes than what the worm eats. Worms eat microbes. Magically microbes are added as the material moves through the worm. The worms seem pretty happy in castings. Maybe they even re-eat the castings.

"Am I washing enough poop out to make the stuff safe for reuse ?" "I can ask the same question differently: What is the best use for what is left after the castings have been washed out as tea ?" Now we are running on all four cylinders and have some traction.

Worm tea is made by brewing vermicastings in water with air bubbles. The spent castings are filled with microbes commonly are tossed on top of the worm bin. This helps seed new food with microbes. Alternately a favorite plant can be mulched with the spent castings. Usually the word castings is reserved for a level of quality that contains 100% or nearly as close to it as anybody can tell of only castings. The word vermicompost is used for castings that still have food or bedding in it. I harvest at the vermicompost level. Many sieve the material tossing the larger pieces back into the bin. Some say the only way to get to 100% vermicastings is to stop feeding and let the worms die in the material. Some people use sieves to quite a fine level. If the tiny newspaper is not what you want I have heard of one and now maybe two vermicomposters who harvest by water method. It seems to have worked well for them for many years. I'm sure they would enjoy someone else using the same methods for company.

"leachate/tea" is a can of worms. leachate is not tea. Usually it is rotting liquid filled with some things worms do not want near them. The water harvesting method could be called a leachate/tea harvesting method where it is not rot but water harvesting of microbes and minerals. Usually leachate, dripping food waste, is not desirable.

"If I purposely pour too much water through the Worm Inn, and it flows out, what will you call that ?" When I do it I call it stuff I collect and dump back on top of the bin in an hour or a week. I do not think it is worm tea or a harvesting method because there is still food decomposition going on. If no food was put into the worm inn for 3 months and 5 gallons of water was poured through 6 times then it could be a harvesting method.

All worm tea needs to be used promptly. It can not be put into a bottle and sold. Well it could but it would not be the same alive product.

It has been determined that adding molasses when brewing worm tea can increase e-coli. Not that I would not add it.

"I am wondering why any leachate couldn't be treated as tea (sugar & air) and used as tea." Maybe it could. Even without the sugar. I bet someone here knows more about the eithers and alcohols that would make this not a good idea.

I just took a stab at some answers. I am not attached to them. A persuasive post could change my mind.


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Test to see if posts can be deleated

Just a Test.

There appears to be no delete button. I guess we can only edit the message but not the title.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 19:41


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RE: experiment

When posters refer to their baby worms as white & small we let them know that usually vermicomposting worms are born pink/brown. There are whiteworms that Enchytraeus buchholzi can be in vermicompost. They are fine to be there.

Rainwater is not sterile and has bacteria.

"I am wondering why any leachate couldn't be treated as tea (sugar & air) and used as tea." No because something magical happens to the material in the gut of the worm. Leachate has not been through the process thus does not gain the benefits.

"I puree the food I feed the worms, and rot it as much as time allows, what do you all think of the idea of using leachate/tea to rot the food scraps before puree ing.?" "one with water that has been in the Worm Inn" "I have yet to achieve the white foam that is supposed to represent the dominance of good bacteria." It appears you are trying to up the microbial count in the worm food. Vermicomposters do this by several methods. Letting the food pre-rot is a method some vermicomposters follow and others avoid, each with reasons. My remembrance of individual posters is some seem to follow and avoid at the same time. Getting the food and bedding "dirty" or exposed to microbes might speed up the process of worm ready food. Chopping, freezing, microwaving, rotting are methods some have posted about. You mentioned using a liquid to I imagine sort of inoculate as much surface area as possible as quickly as possible. I do not think rotting is what you are after. You seen to be searching for the most efficient method to get the food to grow the microbes for the worms. I guess that is what we all are doing.

posting for now editing in a moment.


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RE: experiment

Some topics you might enjoy researching:

terra preta and biochar - think of it as like rafts of coral reef. Islands of microscopic life that can reach out and spread goodness to a vermicompost bin. When harvested just put the chunks back on top of the bin. This material can be made "dirty" or biocharged before using with a pungent liquid. The material was almost designed to absorb the bad, house the good, and spread the wealth.

kombucha and SCOBY - tea fermented by a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. Old scobies can be added to a vermicompost bin. If brewing worm tea was unsatisfying this will be way better. At first a thin film will form and then thicken and multiply. Worms do not like kombucha. It is a bit like vinegar. But they love scobies.

bokashi - anaerobic fermentation of waste which can then be fed to our vermi friends

BSFL - Black Solider Fly Larvae might like first dibs on any fresh putrescent waste. Their leavings are perfect for feeding, well not as perfect as horse puck and stall waste, for a vermicompost system.

I think this covers everything I know about the direction you seem to be interested in for increasing microbial populations for your vermicompost system. Some fun things to try.


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RE: experiment

It might seem capricious. Some new posters get tons of friendly, helpful comments and other new posters not. Some days replies to a legitimate question might have more to do with the previous 5 posters questions than the poster we are presently answering. Luckily some posters here are much more gracious than I. I am grateful for them.


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deleting

When I posted a message twice by accident, I wrote the webmaster to request it be deleted. It was.


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RE: experiment

I'll try to find a good place for this in the forum. I want you to know that I am taking a page from your practice. I put an egg carton, with wet shredded newspaper under and around it in a clear shoebox
with no holes. Taking a small handful of compost from the dog crate bin that is being vacated, I picked out cocoons. I put one or two in each nest & covered them with wet horse manure.
I hope I'll get to see activity through the clear plastic. In a hurry-up impulse, I'll put the shoe box on the heat mat that helps start seeds. I made sure it isn't too warm: under 70º. It won't need any cover for a while. When it does, it will either go to a different container or get a porous cover.


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