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The Fudge

Posted by clayton_gardener KS (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 1, 09 at 1:51

So, I have dove into the whole worm composting arena. I posted about using Bonide, because once the wife sees bugs its all over, the fight is on. Now, back to the worms. I was given a 36 gallon tote of worms to me by a co-worker who decided he did not want to full with them. The tote had no holes drilled in it, no ventilation or drainage.
Due note, the start of this started two weeks ago. I brought the bin home, and started looking at it. I wanted to know how many worms are in there, I discovered that there was no way to know. The worm number is not all that important since I know they will multiply.

When the co-worker and I discussed me getting the worms, I had a week to read up on Vermi-composting. Wow, there is a plethora of information on it. What is interesting is all the individual inputs on Bin management, all very helpful. Remember when I said there where no holes in the bin? Well, I got a lot of worms in a substance I am going to refer to as fudge. When my co-worker told me he was giving me the worms, he told me there were a lot of castings to be harvested. I was elated, due to the seeds I was planning to plant for my indoor garden. Needless to say the block of fudge was a disappointment.

I decided the fudge and worms are going to be productive. In my reading, I have not discovered anything about breaking up the fudge. I know, breaking up is a hard thing, but I want to break up my fudge. So now I will tell yall what I have done so far, and hope to get some helpful insight so I dont kill my worms. I transferred bin, lots of bedding (cardboard/newspaper/packing paper, I did not wet bedding). I waited about four days, then transferred again to a new bin. The bedding was drenched so I decided not to wet the bedding in the new bin.

Well its been a week and a half or so, the lid has been off the bin for 3 days, it is finally starting to dry out (on the top). I see bugs, I know some are mites, but there are others. Due note, I did spray neem oil on the top of my bin 6 days ago, no noticeable effects as of today. Noticeable effects refer to the worms. Today I prepped another bin; bedding is cardboard, packing paper and sawdust. I split the two bins, broke up clumps.
To avoid confusion in my writing, both bins have bedding of what was mentioned above, I did slightly moisten the beddings this time. Since the castings are drying out. I dont want to go too fast. I put a layer of sawdust on top, lightly moistened it for good measure.

I am not sure if I am doing the right thing or not. My goal is to harvest the worms to transfer to a bin, which I can manage to get the perfect castings, moist and crumbly. So, any input would be helpful, as I am a novice in this arena.

Thanks,
Clayton


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The Fudge

Sounds like you are off to a good start. I think the best thing you can do when starting off is to educate yourself a little. There are a lot of differing opinions out there about bin management, moisture, feed types and amounts, etc. and all seem to have differing levels of success. This is due a lot because there are so many variables that can make the experience good or bad for you (different environmental conditions, temp ranges, etc.) so it's best to get a good base knowledge about what kinds of practices work and do not work and find things that work best for your situation.

I got almost everything I have learned (whether I agree or not with them) from this forum, thegardenforums.org and vermicomposters.ning.com. Lots of helpful advice and a lot of enjoyable conversations as well.

As far as "fudge" goes, I'm guessing you're talking about really wet and packed down castings that have dried out some. One good thing to do to prevent this is to ensure there is a good mix of bedding in the castings. Good bedding would be material that holds moisture well and helps to prevent compaction. Corrugated cardboard works well, some sawdust can help so long as it's not just sawdust, wood tends to take longer to break down. I like dried leaves in the bedding but a layer of nothing but leaves tend to matte together and are not so good.

Moderation is key, some of the best bedding you can find would be manure from some kind of herbivore (horse, cow, etc.). If you examine it, it is composed of poop and bits of straw, grass, etc. Perfect environment for growing worms.


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RE: The Fudge

I had a similar situation here. You have inherited a neglected worm bin. My inheritance came from my youngest son who received a worm tote in March 09 and basically only added Black Kow composted manure (available at Lowes and other big box stores) to the bin for the following 8 months. My wife tried to help him harvest the tote, but it was a slab of "fudge" about four inches thick. My son discovered that worms are not "his thing" and my wife agreed to supply him with castings and she brought home his tote.
Here is how we fixed it. First: these worms were huge and in great shape from a straight diet of manure (their natural food source). Because this slab of "fudge" was unworkable, we used the overhead light method to separate the worms from the castings. Small chunks of "fudge" were pulled from the main slab and allowed to dry out somewhat (think all day Saturday and about 10 beers). As these 2X2X2 squares dried, they were much easier to break down and remove worms. We did not spend a lot of time looking for cocoons (which we normally do during harvesting) because of the wetness of the castings. All of this casting material went into an "incubator" to allow the cocoons to hatch out over the next three months, and then the pure castings will go into special storage (like you would do for a fine wine). These castings are the purist I have ever seen, and I have no idea if I can replicate the process. I dont think I could ever ignore my worms for that long, if you know what I mean?
All of the harvested worms went into a prepared bin with fresh bedding and plenty of food. They will think they went to heaven.


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