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Wormnwomn's BlogWormnwomn is all about organic - personally, for my family, and for the Earth.
Weather is turning cold for the worms.
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:53 am
So, the weather is getting colder. They have been predicting snow here but it hasn't happened yet.
I got out and turned another bin, I'm back to bin #1. It has been about a month - I have four bins, turn one a week. Most of the food waste I put down is unrecognizable but the worms are massed in this area because of the richness of bacteria that has been working on decomposing the food waste.
I have heard it said that the worms do not actually eat the food waste per se, but that they chow down on the bacteria that is breaking down the food waste. I don't really care as long as it all happens like it's suppose to.
I continue to harvest worms as I work the beds. I put them in holding bins and continue to feed them until I get an order for them.
I have a set of shelves I'm going to clear off and make more room for holding bins.
It is concievable for me to ship worms all winter if I have adequate stock held. My worms are very hardy and as long as they don't freeze they should be fine. I don't know, might have to give that some more thought, but especially if they are being shipped to milder weather there shouldn't be a problem.
The biggest problem I have if I don't have holding stock is that my beds are not workable once the weather turns cold. Especially this year since I have decided to turn the heat off in the bins. The material will actually freeze up around the edges and on the top. But if I have enough composting going on in the bin the worms will be fine. As a matter of fact, last year the bin that had no heat (in fact it has been two winters without heat) had the biggest, fattest, happiest worms of all the bins. Go figure. Maybe it's because the bins that had the heat had more active worms but they weren't getting the food and attention they needed because it was so blasted cold for the farmer. And that's reality. So might as well turn off the heat.
Tomorrow I'll probably try to turn another bin. This cycle around I'm not taking the material off the top but I'm turning it right into the bin and adding some fresh leaves to the top. Bins are running about 42 degrees F.
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Worms Active Even At 40 Degrees
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:16 am
Another day of rain. Mild temperatures are still at 45 degrees at 11:00 p.m.
Fall is my favorite time of year. To step outside of the heated house into the freshness of the cool fall air. Especially when it has been raining. The air smells all earthy and you can see your breath. And the renewed leaf pile is always a welcome site.
The worms have liked it to. I had to work today so wasn't able to get out there until tonight. All of the worm chow was eaten. Even the bin I had turned two days ago has worms up in it.
The corners and sides that are not exposed to the light, (I keep a light on the bins at all times)are covered in worms. I have a migration theory. The worms like to crawl when the weather is favorable and especially if there if no ready food.
Now I did say that they have food waste and bedding, but those are not as readily available as the chow.
Anyway, I fed all the bins and put down 1 gallon of water on each.
I have an order of worms going out, so Friday or Saturday I will gather and weigh the worms and set them up for fattening for a few days. I have a fattening recipe for the worms I will share with you another time soon.
Last edited: Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:17 am
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Worming Wednesday's Been Wonderful
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:28 am
This is a sampling of what I use for my carbon material on my bins. Large or small, I layer shredded newspaper, leaves and manure with my food waste to create a homey environment for my worms. They love it. In the winter I mix it up more. In the summer not so much. The more you mix it up the more heat you produce. Good in the winter, not so good in the summer.
Today was a rainy day with the temps in the 40's. The worms like it when it rains. They seem to sense that it's safe to come out and they were all out chowin' down big time. Had to go out early and spread some chow and water lightly. When the worms are real active sometimes I have to feed twice a day. Better to feed more often than to put down too much for them to eat in a day. As the weather gets colder, and these inbetween days, sometimes it's difficult to predict what the worms will eat in a day.
It's good to have the mild autumn days to work the bins before the freezing weather moves in. The worms don't come out much when it's cold and quite frankly neither do I.
The Worm Factory worm have moved right on up into that layer of leaves I have put down. The older the bedding material they've been in is the quicker they are to move into the fresh.
See you tomorrow.
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What's With The Worms Tuesday
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:34 am
So here is one of my bins, for those who don't know. I have four of these 4X8 foot fiberglas bins. I have them covered with hardware cloth to keep out mice.
One spring I broke my ankle and I wasn't able to get out to work on the worms(I did try it and almost regretted the effort). The mice moved in and built nests to raise their young. It was awful to try and get rid of them.
I discovered that the worms really liked the air circulation they got from the insulation being up on the hardware cloth instead of being right down on the bedding.
Today was another nice day. The sun was again shining with the air being a touch cool, reminding me of the time of year it is.
The night was comfortable as I carried my watering can out to check on the worms. The worm in the bed I turned last night aren't up yet. It usually takes a couple of days for them to settle in after being turned, topsy-turvy. But the other three bins had worms up chowin' down on the worm chow. Still, the air is cool enough and the bin temps only being 40 degrees, the chow was only slightly eaten in two of the bins. Only one bin needed any additional worm chow, and each bin got watered down. I used one 2 gallon watering can for the job so each bin got 1/2 gallon water. My aim is to keep the top layer moist where the worm chow is so the worms will continue to eat. They also have a layer of food waste that is rotting under the top layer, plus the shredded newspaper and leaves that have been turned into the bedding when I turn the bin. There is plenty to eat at all levels of the bin.
I brought in a bucket of leaves for my Worm Factory and the small bin I am holding harvested worms in. I put down a thin layer of leaves, breaking the leaves up well and watering to encourage the worms to move in. We'll check it out tomorrow and see how they like it.
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Update on Neglected Bins
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:51 pm
I have been fairly regular in taking care of the worm bins since the beginning of September and I am really amazed at how well the worms have come back.
In September I literally could not see worms present other than a few skinny straglers. Now look!
This is what the population looks like now as I turn the bins.
The weather has been freezing and the bin these worms are in is the bin that has been without the any supplemental heat for two winters.
These worms are fat and happy and we are getting ready for winter. The temperature in the bins right now is about 40 degrees F
The weather last night was clear with a star filled sky. Today the sky has been blue with lots of sunshine. Yesterday the wind blew and I didn't want to get out and work the worms. But today was perfect.
I took the top material off and turned the one Bin (Bin #4). My neighbor collects his food waste for me and in a weeks time he has collected about 1/3 of a 5 gallon bucket. I put this waste down the middle of the bed and cover with the material I took off. Then I put a 5 gallon bucket of leaves down. These leaves are from a pile I have been collecting for a number of years. These leaves were from the top of the pile and are there from last year. Some of the leaves are dry and some of them are wet. I see an occational worm in the leaves.
I water the bin with a two gallon watering can. I put about one gallon of water on the bin.
I feed the other three bins worm chow and add about one gallon water to each bin.
I love my worms.
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Confessions of a worm farmer...
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:23 pm
It has been a busy summer and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't seem to manage fitting 25 hours into a 24 hour day. That meant "things" went undone, important things when you're a worm.
It was hot here all summer and without the time to turn the worm bins and get a feel for what was going on in the deeper levels of the bin I didn't water the bins as much as I should have nor did I feed. Now worms are much more forgiving than many other forms of life (which is a good thing or I wouldn't have anything left to farm). Going without fresh food is not such a big deal as they eat the bedding they are in including their own waste, but they will get small and very skinny. But dry is a death-trap. They can not live through dry.
Therefore, when I finally got my hands into the bins the beginning of September what I found was disheartening to say the least. I have never seen such a pathetic population of worms. I was sick.
So I started on a regular regime of feeding, watering, and turning. Little by little I have added layers of fresh bedding, water and food, being ever so careful not to get anxious and overload the bins.
The results of having a bin that has been healthy and then neglected is that you will have worm cocoons (eggs) that will go dormant when the conditions are not right for babies. Then when the bin returns to prosperous times the cocoons respond by hatching and before you know it you have a newly thriving batch of worms.
I'm happy to report that after a month and a half of laboriously, loving tending that the worm population is back on the rise and the bins are looking like there's a worm farmer on the property.
Fall is my favorite time of year for worm farming. You can really start mixing things up and incouraging some composting as the weather cools. Next month I will begin removing finished product and continue building the bedding material up in preparation for the coming winter months.
I'll be in touch.
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My Solution To Holding My Harvested Worms
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 11:29 pm
Greetings fellow earthlings,
Apologies for being gone so long. Time flies and I had no idea I had been away and without a post since April?
Life has been busy here with the start of Market and active worming season.
Summer has been hot, high 90's, but the bins have remained in the 60's so the worms have been happy.
With time being of short supply, I have had to be creative in order to not have to re-harvest my worms over and over every week if all of the worms did not sell at market. This is what I have come up with for holding bins for the active season.
Before I had my Tortilla Redworm Holding Bin I would spend valuable time harvesting worms, packaging them in my brown paper bags and then if they didn't sell I would have to just dump them back into the worm bin.
Now I can harvest worms, take them to market in the holding bin, package them if they sell, or hold them in the bin for the next week if they don't sell. In the holding bins I can continue to feed the worms, keeping them happy and in fact fattening them up until the next opportunity to sell them.
As I continue to work the big bins, turning and harvesting worms I rotate the oldest harvested holding bins back into the big bins.
Thanks for checking in with me.
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Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 1:36 pm
Yes, that time of year has arrived for me. It is always exciting to finally be able to dig around in the worm bin after a long winter and see how things are going.
The temperatures are still cool enough that you can mix things up and really make the worms happy.
Orders are coming in and that makes me happy.
This is also a time when I can start taking material out of the bin for seed starting, soil amendment and mixing organic fertilizers.
Tomatoes love castings so using the worm product to get your tomatoes started and each time you transplant is going to get your tomato plants off to a terrific start.
If you start your own tomatoes from seed, or if you buy starts from someone else one of the most important things to remember is to not allow them to become root bound. A tomato plant that has become root bound will almost never perform up to optimum standards. Also, if you smoke or have friends/family who smoke 'DON'T TOUCH THE TOMATO PLANTS.' Always wash your hands really well before handling the tomato plants.
Well, just thought I ought to check in. Life's busy right now, for all of us I'm sure.
Til later, happy gardening, or worming, or just be happy.
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Are Worms Vegetarians?
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:09 am
Someone has brought up a very good point in commenting on my last post.
I really did mean to mention this but got ahead of myself as I am sometimes prone to do and well, I forgot. So, thank you pondlady for bringing it up.
It's not so much that worms are vegetarians, because really they aren't. They will eat anything that has lived and died. However, there are a lot of other critters that are attracted to meat, and fat, and bones. And, since the decomposition rate of these are much slower, they are not a desirable addition to your worm bin, or any compost bin.
Therefore, you do not want to add, meat or bones to your compost system.
Dairy products? I wouldn't dump a load of cheese or dump old salad dressing into the system. But if you have a dinner plate that has uneaten salad with dressing and some grated cheese on it, go ahead and dump it in the compost bucket. Your system will handle it just fine. Bury it and cover it with a good layer of bedding and let the composting begin. There isn't much of anything that your system can not handle in moderation.
Citrus peels are something I am very careful about. While I don't worry about the peel from an orange or two, if someone had decided to juice a bag of oranges for orange juice I would not put all of those peels in my worm bin. There is a substance in citrus peels that the worms don't seem like too much.
Likewise, with oak leaves or pine needles. While I would not worry about a small amount of these in my worm bin, I would not dump a load of either of these items in my bin as well. The outer coating on oak leaves and pine needles is very slow to decompose. And yet in nature these things do decompose quite nicely in time. The tanin is a substance the worms don't seem to like either.
Another thing I watch for is making sure that any manure I use has composted at least 6 months. There are some exceptions. Rabbit manure, because it is not a "hot" manure, can be used immediately. As a matter of fact rabbits and worms are a great combination. But that's for another post.
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What Do Worms Like to Eat?
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:50 pm
Worms will eat your garbage - they will eat your manures (stay away from domesticated animal manures like dog and cat), they will eat shredded paper (none of the slick stuff), they will eat your leaves and grass, they will eat your cardboard, they will eat your saw dust (wood shavings), and they will eat your food waste.
In particular they love - coffee grounds, cardboard, melon rinds, and all sorts of "sh_t."
Manures mixed with wood shavings is a great combination. Melon rinds are great if you have a mite infestation.
Shredded paper and leaves are a great layer to add after you layer on food waste. I really mix these things up in the winter to get some good composting action going for the colder temps. In the heat of summer you need to keep things simple to produce as little heat as possible.
Use some kind of processor for your food waste to get the pieces small. I use a butcher knife or a food processor on pulse.
My neighbor saves me all his waste from his kitchen in a bucket. I don't process any of that, I just dump it into my worm bin. But when I go to the grocer and get food waste from the produce department then I process that because it is all still whole.
The processing is just so the composting process will move along faster.
That's what worms like to eat in a nut shell.
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