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Wormnwomn's BlogWormnwomn is all about organic - personally, for my family, and for the Earth.
My First Sign of Spring
Category: Mother Earth | Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:48 am
The cycle of seasons come and go. Spring always follows Winter, and Summer Spring... An endless cycle it seems. Yet what if it were not so. What if Winter ceased and Spring became Summer?
What can we do to thank the Earth for her blessed seasons that renew life as we know it?
I share a video I found. Recognize the danger while Mother Earth follows Winter with Spring...doing what she must because she always has. Yet will it always be? Mother Earth, let it always be. Take six and a half minutes and see the reality of it.
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Spring into Action
Category: Garden | Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:51 am
This blog entry has been viewed 483 times
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.
This blog entry has been viewed 1831 times
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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Worm Bin Composting and Chlorinated H2O
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:27 pm
I had this question come up on one of my other blogs and thought I might address it here as well.
Our water and our food are very much affected by the environment from which it is gathered. Hense you have the environmentalists harping on all sorts of environmental factors that affect our air and water qualities. There is so much more than meets the eye here. The bigger picture is huge!
Have you ever given much thought to where your water comes from? Maybe you feel safe because your water comes from a well. But where does that water come from? Where I live, we are very aware where our water comes from. There are many lakes and rivers that are directly affected by a shortage or abundance of the source of our water. Ultimately, all our water comes from the sky, mostly in the form of rain or snow. It falls picking up whatever is in the air, and percolates through the ground. It runs off into our streams and rivers and into our lakes. And that which does not make it into our lakes, and ultimately into our oceans as well, adds to our water tables. These are great underground lakes that many municipalities use for their domestic water source. There is much that could be said about how we are messing with all our water sources with our lifestyles, and daily decisions. But for now I will remember I am writing about worm bin composting and leave it at that.
My own domestic water comes from the water table that exists directly under where we build our houses, businesses and industry. Periodically , the powers that be make the decision to chlorinate our water. The reason being that their tests have come back indicating that there is something harmful in the water that needs to be killed.
Now let's get back to the worm bin. If you will remember I have said that the bacteria in worm poop is what makes it such a valuable soil amendment. (If I haven't mentioned this I will be and for now you can take my word for it) An abundance of bateria are what you are looking for in a worm bin composting environment because the bacteria are breaking down the food source for the worms and the worms are eating the bacteria and the broken down food and passing it through their gut where it is picking up more bacteria and then, well, then you have the castings...poop.
So, with that said do you think the addition of chlorinated water would be a good thing? I think not. In short, the best thing to do for your water before you use it is to let it sit out for 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate. Then it is safe to use.
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More specifics on your worm bin
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:37 pm
A plastic tote is a good beginning bin and the way most first time wormers start. It's inexpensive and easy to set up and handle, and the size is adequate to handle one to two people's waste if the bin is managed properly. The food should be processed down to fairly small size. For the amount of food that the bin can handle a food processor is a good way to minimize the size of the food waste. The more surfaces the bacteria have to work on the faster the waste will compost. Little know fact: The bacteria in the bin material do more to compost the waste than the worms. The worms actually eat more of the bacteria. The worms, because they don't really have a mouth (with teeth) can't do anything with the waste until the bacteria have started breaking it down.
A plastic tote will hold moisture in better than wood. This is not a bad thing as the worms like the moisture. But you don't want too much moisture, the bin needs air as well. Ventilation holes are very important. Holes in the bottom of the bin will allow excess moisture to drain out of the bin. There should be at least 4 - 6 holes in the bottom of the bin. The holes should be covered with a screen of some sort to help hold the material in but let the moisture out. You also want to have holes near the bottom of the bin on all sides of the bin. In addition you should have some holes about 2/3rd's way up the side that will coincide with the surface of the bedding material and some holes in the lid of your bin.
A twelve gallon tote will require about 1/2 pound of worms to 1 lb of worms. If you have a friend who might be interested in worming with you a good idea would be for you each to set up a bin and split a pound of worms. That way you could each do your own thing and compare notes. No two worms bins are worked exactly alike and you can get a better idea of what works and what doesn't. (Just an idea.)
One of the prep things you want to do before you start your worm bin is to have a plan for your bedding material. You also want to have a plan for what you will add as carbon material. Every compost system needs to have the basic components of a compost system which is carbon, nitrogen, water and air. Your worm bin is no different. It's just that with the addition of all those worms, the composting action can take place at a much cooler temperature.
Therefore, when you initially set up your bin you will fill the container up about 2/3rds full with your bedding material, making sure it is thoroughly moistened. I use a well composted horse manure that has been allowed to sit for about 6 months. Some other bedding materials I have heard of being used are unfinished compost, leaf compost, shredded newspaper, coir, or peat moss. The least desirable in this list is the peat moss. It is not a renewable resource and has little or no nutritive value to the worms as much of it is sterile.
Once you have your initial bedding in place and watered down, you will want to let it sit for 24 hours before you add your worms to make sure it is not going to heat up. Once you add your worm you will wait a few days to see how they like their new home before you start adding waste. If your worms like their new home, they will start eating the bacteria breaking down the food waste and producing their castings (poop) which will be loaded with even more bacteria and your system will be off and running.
Another fact: Worm castings have more beneficial bacteria than either the food they are eating or what's even in the worms gut. The worm composting system is truly a miracle of mother nature and her way of replenishing the earth for more to grow.
This blog entry has been viewed 836 times
Let's get back to worm bins
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:11 am
There are many different containers you can use for worm bin composting. It is only limited really by your imagination. As long as the material is not toxic to the worms and provides adequate protection from the outside world - light, wind, rain, and temp. and supplies plenty of air yet keeps the bedding moist, your worms will be happy. I have heard of people using old hollowed out phonograph players, bathtubs, garbage cans, surrounding an area outside with bales of straw and covering the top to control the moisture and exposure to the sun. Your own situation will truly determine how and where you will worm compost.
However, if you have never tried worm bin composting before I recommend that you start small. Even if you have a family that can really produce the compostables, let your conventional compost pile take the extra and keep your first bin small. Get a feel for how the bin works, the time it takes, the smells and critters, and let it grow. It doesn't take long.
People have a tendency to go overboard with a lot of things that pertain to gardening. They plan this great big garden and then it all gets the better of them and it all becomes work instead of a pleasure.
One of the best bins to start with is just an inexpensive tote. The next size up would be okay too, especially if you really think you would like the worms and you are an organic gardener. It is a 1x2x3 Bin and is a perfect size for a family of 2-4. It's a little bit bigger and will require a bit more room, but will produce more product as well.
Food for thought.
Think about ways you can build healthy soil. Worms are nature's answer.
This blog entry has been viewed 893 times
How you harvest castings.
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 2:05 am
There are a number of different ways to harvest your bin once you are ready.
First of all it depends on the size of your bin. My bins are 4'x 8'. In a bin this size I am able to split out one end and reserve it for finished material. I have the bin marked off in 6 parts. I pull all the "fresh" material off the top from part C - F. If your bin is working as it should be, then the majority of your worms are going to be up in this fresh material feeding. (There are things you can do to make sure most of the worms are in the top layers.) I have one end of the bin empty (A & B) so I have a place to put the finished material I will pull from the bottom of the bin. The top portion you pulled off to begin with then goes back in the bin and the space left from the finished bottom layer being removed leaves you room to start adding more fresh material on top. The finished material will rest in the end of the bin, get turned to help it start to dry out and whatever worms are still in it will continue to work the material until they decide to move back into the other end of the bin or die.
With a smaller bin I would have a second container for a holding bin. The process would still be the same. Take the fresh material off the top, move the finished material into the holding bin. Add the fresh material back into the composting bin. The finished material will need to be turned periodically to help it dry out. The worms left in the finished material will continue to work until they die.
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Conventional composting vs worm composting
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:00 pm
There is a difference between conventional composting and worm bin composting. Having worms in your compost bin does not classify your bin as a worm bin.
Your conventional compost bin is generally 3'x3'x3' or there abouts. It is located outside exposed to the ground with the sides generally slated to allow air circulation. You attempt to get your porportions mixed properly to get the contents to heat up to the 250 degree range which is to kill all your weed seeds and pathogens. The contents then cool and you turn your contents to get the outside inside and attempt to get the contents to heat up again. Of course there are other versions of composting which just let the contents sit and let mother nature take it's course.
With the bin exposed to the ground, whenever the environment is favorable for worms you will have worms. If and when the contents heat up too much for the worms they will vacate into the surrounding environment or just to the outer layers where it is cooler and when the pile cools they will move back in. However, this is not worm bin composting.
Worm bin composting is when you provide a confined space, (a rubber tote, wooden box, etc.) which you fill 2/3 full of a bedding material, (I use horse manure initially then layer on leaves, grass, shredded newspaper, etc), add moisture and worms and keep the environment from heating up and let the worms do the composting leaving behind their castings to be harvested with the completed compost. The result is a more beneficial finished product because the compost has not gone through the high heat killing everything, therefore the variety of beneficial bacteria is of a broader spectrum and there is more of it. This information is from an expert in the field. The key difference here is the high number of worms being kept in a controlled environment so you are harvesting a material that is highly concentrated with castings. (The material I harvest from my bins is 50% worm castings.)
Worms in any of your compost is a good thing, just not the same as worm bin composting.
Last edited: Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:02 pm
This blog entry has been viewed 7349 times
More on where to put your worm bin.
Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:37 pm
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when you decide on a location for your worm bin. Many of them have to do with your personal situation. As far as the worms are concerned, as long as the environment stays within a temp range for the worms to stay active (they can handle cold better than heat - they will start to die if the temp hits 90) and the bedding stays moist and aerated, your worms will be okay. It's best to keep your bin in a protected spot out of the wind, direct sun, and where you can control the moisture going into the bin, for your worms will be happy.
The temp is probably the hardest thing to control because there is so much that can effect it. The ambient temp of the air outside is only on part of the equation. Remember, you are working with a compost system and compost systems create heat just by the very nature of the system. This aspect can be used during winter when the weather is cold but must be carefully watched during summer when the temp outside is already hot. For this reason, one of the things you want to make sure you have before you get started is either a compost thermometer, or in the very least a soil thermometer.
You also want to make sure you place your worm bin in an area where there is plenty of room around the bin for air flow and for you to be able to work the bin.
It also helps if you can be comfortable working in the space as well, especially when you get to the point where you need to work the bin.
If you are working a bin that will need to be physically moved to be worked, make sure the bin is small enough for you to move when it is loaded with material.
Send me your questions. I'll be back later with further information.
This blog entry has been viewed 910 times
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