For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bentley (“Compost Guy”) Christie and I’ve been a crazed worm composting fanatic (or “vermiholic” if you prefer) for more than 13 yrs now. I created this website back in 2006 with the simple intention of sharing my passion with the world. So far so good! Things have certainly progressed since the early days, though, and the website has provided me with an amazing opportunity to get to know a LOT of other “worm heads” from across North America and around the world!
This is a follow-up to my “Super-Optimized Food Waste Mix” video, and basically a Worm Inn Mega update as well. I let my optimized food mix sit for about 5 days, so it was in great shape for being added to the Mega. It ended up being about 18 lb of material – but as you’ll see in the video I also removed a fair bit of worm-rich material for some worm orders.
In all honesty, I’m not sure I have ever had a vermicomposting system with densities of worms like I am seeing in the Mega. And it’s not just about the adults either (plenty of them for sure) – you wouldn’t believe how many tiny hatchlings and cocoons are in there as well. I’m actually starting to wonder what sort of worm harvest I could get away with each week without depleting the overall population too seriously.
Can only imagine what it would be like to have 5 of these systems up and running at once!
A question from John posted on my last Worm Inn Mega update inspired me to shoot this video today. It shows how I am creating these optimized food mixes for my Worm Inn Mega, and provides a good overview of the “food optimization” concept in general. I can definitely see myself referring people back to this one a LOT (so thanks, John!!). While I have written a fair bit about “optimization” and “living materials”, this is the first time I have offered a video tutorial on the topic.
Key Points to Remember
Things are coming along nicely in my Worm Inn Mega system. In my last Mega (update) post I said I would likely be doing a second harvest. As it turns out, I decided to hold off on that for the time being.
I have actually been using the system more for vermiculture (raising worms) than vermicomposting as of late. The density of worms that has developed in there is unbelievable. I actually found that they were starting to come out the bottom – so I created a nice catch bin containing lots of aged horse manure, shredded cardboard, and a little food waste. Somewhat similar to the idea of the catch trays I have sitting below my VB48 system (another nice flow-through system I have basically been using as a worm grow bed! lol).
I will likely be performing a pretty major overhaul on this system before too long. I have been putting off building my wooden stand, but I do want to get that taken care of this spring for sure. Apart from that, the system is loaded with vermicompost in the lower half, so I need to clean a lot of that out.
Should be fun. Stay tuned!
A recent email from Scott:
I am scheduled to move in May. I’m going to visit the new area at the end of the month to house hunt, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll find anything that I’ll be able to move into quickly. I have a WormFactory 360 with 4 trays of Euros, and a WormInn full of red wigglers. Obviously, the best case scenario is that I find a house, and can drive straight from my current one across the US to the new one, and can take my worms in a couple of bags for a couple days during the move, and set up the new worm habitats when I arrive. However that might not happen.
My question is, what factors do I need to consider when moving, when I have worms?
If there is a significant delay, I may be able to give them to a friend who also has worms and have him mail me a pound or two of each type after I get settled in. What kind of bedding should they be shipped in? Is slightly moistened cardboard/newspaper/egg carton bedding OK?
I realize that it seems silly to worry about getting MY worms, when I can start over with $50 and get new ones, but I’ve had these systems for a long time, and they are MY worms. I look forward to hearing your advice.
Scott in Kansas
Moving with worms should be a fairly easy to manage, but yes there are some considerations. As far as the container goes, in the case of something like a plastic tub bin, or even a Worm Inn, you can probably get away with using that as the moving vessel (will talk about additional measures to take in a minute). Something like a Worm Factory might not be (more…)
A little while back I received an email from RWC follower, Troy K. He wanted to share his nifty method for shredding up egg carton cardboard.
Just wanted too pass along a very easy – and extremely quick – way to shred cardboard egg cartons. I always dread shredding but know it has to be done, so I came up with the idea of using my leaf vacuum mulcher. It’s a Worx GT mulcher and I can shred 6 dozen cartons in 30 minutes. I ran them through once, but thought they needed to be just a hair smaller, so I ran them through again and they came out perfect! Like many people I’m a single full-time parent so every minute of my time is important. I just thought you might like hearing this and thought you might pass it along.
Troy sent me a follow-up email with some additional details…
In my opinion any leaf mulcher will work, you just need to make sure the one your using has a steel rotor blade. There are a lot of leaf mulchers that use plastic – but they will tear up real quick. Also, the long hose and bag in the picture was bought separately – that one in the pic fits on top of most garbage cans up to 50 gallon. That vacuum mulcher comes with a bag attachment that has a shoulder strap on it. You can find the Worx GT at Home Depot or Lowes or go to www.worxgt.com an order it directly from the company.
I thought this was a really ingenious idea (thanks Troy for letting me share!). I don’t know if could handle corrugated cardboard (I can always dream, right?), but needless to say, a machine like this would be very valuable for fragmenting (i.e. “optimizing”) a variety of materials that could then be added to a vermicomposting system.
This email came from Ryan P:
I have been a fan of your site for a while (recently joined e-mail list).
I have a question about harvesting the compost from my bins…. I have a feeling that it is time to harvest the compost from one of my bins – I grabbed out a couple big handfuls of material from the bin, placed it in little piles under a light and got the “little guys” (ENCs) back into their bin. The compost I got is wet and sticky — if I squeeze a handful 1-2 drops of water come out, then it is like a mud ball — is this normal? All the pictures I see online look soft and dry/crumbly.. If I let it dry out will it get crumbly, or have I done something wrong? … There is still quite a few pieces of corrugated cardboard throughout the bin (it was a big part of the bedding since I get a lot for free). Should I wait until they eat ALL the bedding materials before harvesting (or just pull it out when I harvest)?
Other than that I feel it is going very well (thanks to your site). I started with about 60 ENCs in a 12″x18″ bin, and now it is LOADED with them (and I have started a 2nd bin).
Thanks for the kind words (I wrote “wormds” on my first try! lol). The good news is that “wet and sticky” vermicompost is very common, especially in any sort of enclosed plastic system. The beautiful, dry, crumbly stuff you see online has likely been: A) produced in a well-ventilated flow-through system, and/or B) allowed to sit (in well ventilated location) and dry/cure (more on this in a minute). It has also likely been screened!
The material I’ve been removing from from my VB48 and Worm Inn Mega systems recently fits that description for exactly those reasons (in the case of the ‘Mega’ vermicompost, I let it sit for a number days in an open tray and then screened it)! But most of the vermicompost I have harvested from plastic bins in the past has had more of a wet, gooey consistency. Now, that’s not to say that gooey is necessarily bad! Not at all.
I can still remember my very first vermicompost (more…)
Question from Bruce:
I would like to help a local animal shelter who has a problem with too
much dog poop by using a worm bin to decompose the dog poop and
creating fertilizer that could be sold to help fund the shelter. Can
this be done?
I have read that you can only use the dog fertilizer for flowers not
food related plants correct? how long do you think it would take to
start harvesting fertilizer for sale?
The short answer is that, YES, dog poop can certainly be processed by composting worms. My brother-in-law tosses most of his dop poop (during warmer times of the year) in a basic backyard composter containing Red Worms, and they readily convert it into rich compost.
Would I suggest doing this on a larger scale and then selling the compost to the public? Not likely. Or at least not without a lot more steps/processes in place.
Composting worms have been found (in multiple academic studies) capable of (more…)
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