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New worm compost bin

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New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 2/10/2011, 2:02 pm

Hello I have been reading around in here quite a bit. Well I have a question and decided to register and ask to see if anyone could help out on this.We answered a listing on craigslist for worm compost. Well it turned out to be a tub full of worms and everything. Yikes!! Shocked Very unexpected!! The soil was very dry, so this morning we (my son and I) went out and fed the worms and spritzed the soil down. We fed them our fruit and greens leftovers from this mornings smoothies with some cut up banana peels, and we cut up this mornings coffee filters and put that in with the coffee grounds. I figure if I spritz it every day for the next few days it will get good and moist. There are lots of worms in there. We have never done this before. This is a new learning curve for us. I went online and found a good article on worm composting.
Here is the link. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Worm-Compost-System
Is there anything else that we should know. Thank you all for any help that you can give. Very Happy

Candy

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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  duhh on 2/10/2011, 2:42 pm

Welcome! glad you decided to join us!

I'm in the same boat you're in. Well almost, we will be getting worms and have been studying things online. I'll be interested to hear what everyone has to say.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 2/10/2011, 2:49 pm

Thank you for the welcome!!! Nice to meet you fellow AZ gardener. happy hi

Candy

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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  quiltbea on 2/10/2011, 3:31 pm

I have worms and they would benefit from lots of newspaper torn into strips, spritzed with water, and laid on top of the whole thing. They use this for bedding and eating. With inks made from vegetable dyes these days the newspaper if safe. Don't use colored papers. They can also move to higher 'ground' if your food is too wet. Don't overwater. Just keep it slightly damp.

The excess water in the container needs somewhere to drain so I hope you have a place that can happen.

They won't be eating your root crops as much so try to give them other things. Try to chop things up smaller. Smaller is easier for them to devour.

Don't feed too much lettuce at one time. When feeding lettuce, be sure other food scraps are mixed in. Lettuce gets much too watery and can make them ill and even kill them it that's all they have to eat.

Feed them by lifting the shredded newspapers at 'one oclock' position in your box/container and put the food there one day and cover it back up. Next feeding time, move to '2 oclock' and so forth so they have time to consume the food already there before moving to the next bounty. I use a cheap 3-pronged garden fork for the lifting.

It doesn't take much effort and when you harvest your compost, it'll be rich and the perfect addition to you garden.

I store mine in 28-lb kitty litter buckets with lids and use it when I want to side-dress my plants.
Good luck.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  dstubbs on 2/10/2011, 4:48 pm

I started worm composting this summer in my kitchen using a commercial worm bin called a "Worm Factory". So far so good. I like controlling and knowing exactly what goes into my compost, and my toddler gets a kick out of helping to feed the "wormies". I'm not sure if I'll be able to generate all the compost I need for my SFG, but it's a start and it diverts some garbage from the landfill. Based on my experience, what I've read online and the instruction manual that came with my unit, I'd reccomend you feed your worms a diet of roughly half shredded paper or cardboard and half raw vegetable and fruit trimmings. Avoid any kind of oil, dairy products, eggs, bread products, meat and fish. Washed and crushed eggshells are reccomended, though -- they help reduce acidity of the compost and the grit apparently helps the worms digest the other stuff. I have been told to avoid putting in citrus fruit peels -- not sure why but perhaps its too acidic. My worms aren't overly fond of carrots and potato, but will eat smaller amounts. The worms will eat everything faster if it is all chopped up into small pieces. Some air flow encourages aerobic decay and should eliminate any odour. I keep the spigot open on my worm composter all the time and collect the leachate in a jar. This can be added back into the compost if it gets too dry, or dilute it and use it to water your plants.

I did have a fruit fly problem at first, but have found I can get rid of them by making sure the food scraps are small and easily digested, and keeping all food well covered with shredded newspaper. If necessary, a bowl of wine covered with plastic wrap and punctured with a fork makes an excellent fruit fly trap.

I was squeamish about handling / seeing the worms at first, but I quickly got used to them.

Good luck and don't worry about it too much -- the worms are very hardy and self sufficient.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 2/15/2011, 3:55 pm

Thank you for the replies!! It looks like I do need to do a couple of things. Holes and shredded newspaper. Also how moist are you supposed to keep the soil. This bin was sorely neglected when we got it. The soil was completely dried out and it was outside in the freezing temps. I am surprised that there were any worms alive in there at all, but there is a bunch. I looks like someone threw a bunch of potting soil in the bin and threw food in there and called it a worm bin. Do you think it is ok to leave it like that? Or should I try and seperate the worms out and start over.

Candy

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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  quiltbea on 2/15/2011, 4:11 pm

If the worms lived this long with so little, then leave the stuff in there and just add your own amendments, like shredded newpaper.... and you can always add garden soil for the microorganisms that help make the compost. And food scraps, of course.
Just be sure the food you add is slightly damp, not sopping wet.
Also the newspaper additions should be spritzed with water. Nothing should be sopping wet, just damp.
I hold a handful of the dry, shredded newspaper under the tap for a couple of seconds and then squeeze and shake off any excess water before I add it to my bin.

Worms will keep their numbers down when food is scarce and living conditions severe but will increase when they are fed well and have proper living conditions.

Good luck.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 2/15/2011, 4:19 pm

Thank you Quiltbea for the reply. I will do my best these worms. We will see how it all works out.

Candy

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Recyle old ice chest for worm box

Post  TheVeggieO's on 2/26/2011, 8:15 pm

Two years ago hubby helped me get our "worm box" started from an old ice chest. The lid was broken so we put that under the chest itself. Then he drilled holes about 3/4 inch to 1 inch on the sides about 3 to 4 inches up and about 6 inches apart all around the ice chest. Next we lined the ice chest with that black weedfree material. I got some worms locally and put them in and then began feeding them my veggie scraps. I cover the top several inches with straw or even oak leaves and then put on the top an old grate from a floor furnace we had laying around. This has worked very well and is close to the house. It is also portable by dragging should the need arise. It is easy to keep enough moisture in it, too. The bear hasn't wanted to get into it and the worms have stayed nice and snuggly warm because of the styrofoam. We have found this another great way to recycle something and make great compost at the same time! Hope this helps someone!

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UPDATE!!

Post  southland2 on 3/2/2011, 9:54 am

We now have jillions of little worms in there!! They are everywhere. Wow, talk about population explosion. Shocked So now that they seem to be thriving, how often do you harvest the compost and how do you do it?

Candy

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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  quiltbea on 3/2/2011, 11:59 am

I like to wait for the box to be pretty much filled with compost. When it looks pretty full, I withhold more foodstuff for about a week or two and let the worms feed on the newspaper that's left. When that's about gone, I lift out the bits of good newspaper scraps and its time to harvest.

I harvest mine on a nice day outside.
I get all things ready; a big scoop, latex gloves, torn damp newspaper is in the next floor of my condo for the worms. An old kitty litter bucket is ready for the compost, and I put on my latex gloves before I begin.

I place the lid of the bucket on the newspaper where I will be sorting.

As soon as the worms see light, they'll scramble below.

I just scoop them up, place a pile on the bucket lid on the newspaper and start pulling worms from the compost, placing them gently in their new home place.
If so inclined, this is a good time to count your herd. You don't have to be exact, but I find its nice to know my approximate numbers sometimes.
When I'm sure I have them all pulled from the scoopful, I lift the lid and pour the compost into the bucket.

I check the compost to be sure I didn't miss any little guys, then scoop out another pile, and so it goes.
When done, the condo goes back under the tree.
Anytime rain is expected, I place an old plastic tablecloth folded so it fits over the top of my condo lightly without blocking the air holes, and hold it down with the 3-pronger so rain doesn't flood thru the holes in the top.

When done, I put the lid back on the bucket and store my compost in the garage til needed.

You've got the best compost for little effort.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 3/2/2011, 12:19 pm

Thank you Quiltbea for your reply. I love the pics, it helps my brain absorb the info. Ok, so now I have a good grasp on how to harvest around all of those little wormy-worms. It looks like you are doing this process in the shade. Is that so you don't bake the little guys in the hot sun? About how often do you harvest your compost?

I love your worm condo also. I would love to get one of those! Smile Where did you get it?

I really appreciate all of your help.

Candy

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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  quiltbea on 3/2/2011, 1:08 pm

Candy,
In this sequence of pictures I harvested them in the sunshine since this was in early June and in Maine that's not very warm around here. I keep the condo itself under the shade of trees all spring, summer and fall to keep them from baking.

My condo is called Can-O-Worms and I got it online but can't remember where There are 3 'floors' to the setup but I am only using one 'floor' here. If you google the name, it'll come up in a few places. I bought from the cheapest one that did NOT charge shipping. It comes with growing instructions and expanding instructions to use the additional floors. Its still going to cost over a hundred dollars, but I'm an older widow and not handy so couldn't make one myself. To me its an investment I couldn't refuse.

As for when to harvest, you have to judge that yourself. When the bin is looking pretty well filled up and the compost is pretty uniform in its look of dark and wettish crumbly. It'll dry out when you harvest it. Its wetter looking in the condo because the worms like damp.

I like to harvest in the spring and then in the fall before I bring the condo inside for its winter vacation in my bathroom. Remember, the more you feed them the more worms you have the faster you'll get finished compost.


In the summer I also add cut grasses to the worm bin and a handful of soil now and then and in the fall I add a few handsful of brown, fallen leaves. Worms loves leaves.
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Re: New worm compost bin

Post  southland2 on 3/2/2011, 1:20 pm

Ok, thank you. I will look that info up. Hopefully I can afford one this spring or summer.

I will keep an eye on my worms too. I think it will be a little harder to tell because they came to me in a tub of potting soil. Anyway, I don't think it will be a huge deal deciding when to harvest. Maybe I will do it this spring when we are planting in our garden after the last frost. That way I will have a new beginning. Very Happy

Candy

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