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!
Good question from Mary:
I prepare worm food. Bananas, veggies, oats and grits. Blend them, freeze them and serve when needed.(I let them sit out at outside temp while thawing and for a few weeks to get it really microbial) I started a nursery of babies and I put some of the babies directly in the food. They started wiggling like crazy. I thought they like it, but it killed them.? Was it too much nitrogen? The adults have not died, but I have not put them directly in the food. Do you know what happened?
I’m really glad you wrote in about this, since you’ve hit on one of the many important nuances of vermicomposting. In a nutshell, YES microbes are important, and YES aging is a great way to increase microbes. BUT it’s very important that we make sure it’s aerobic microbes we are nurturing – and they require a particular type of aging.
Everything you’ve described sounds great…except for the part about leaving the food waste slurry to sit for a few weeks!
The problem is that a mix like that will (more…)
It’s cold and blustery up here these days, so pictures like these – taken earlier in the fall – always give me a boost (and yes, I’m a little biased, I’ll admit – lol).
Life is fun when you combine kids and worms and gardening, I tell ya!
Back in November I was contacted by Will Milliken, the person in charge of some composting toilets at an aquatic research center. He seemed pretty passionate about what he was doing (and excited by the results from using composting worms), so I asked about the possibility of sharing his experience here on the blog.
Here’s what he had to say:
My name is Will. I got a “real job” in 2000 as a Facilities Technician – Maintenance Mechanic at Stroud Water Research Center. It is an Aquatic Environmental Research Campus located in Avondale, Pennsylvania.
Being an environmentally conscious organization, they had installed a BioSun composting toilet system prior to my hiring date. The previous maintenance man put in the required mulch/wood chips of the time and then let it go.
When I started working here, it was brought to my attention that (more…)
Questions from Luke:
Hi – I recently decided to try and make a worm farm so I can go out fishing more often and was wondering if a L48cm (~18.9″) x W43cm (~16.9″) x H64.5cm (~25.4″) bin would be ideal to start one with roughly 1000 worms? If so, how should I go about making it? Thanks for helping.
Normally, I’d likely say your bin was “too deep” – but based on my recent experimentation with bucket systems and passive worm bins, my hunch is that your bin of choice could actually work quite well for your particular needs.
My suggestion, though, would be to get yourself one or (ideally) two more of them. You might be able to produce enough worms in a single bin to provide a sustainable, ongoing supply of fishing worms (depending on how often you go, and how many worms you would go through at a time) – but having a few of these bins going at once would all but guarantee that you’ll never run out of worms.
You didn’t mention what (more…)
Someone recently shared this video (in a comment on my Super Simple Passive Worm Farm) and I thought it was really interesting.
A variation of this bed could be used as a great winter system, but I would recommend filling the air spaces with something (I dunno – sawdust?), or – even better – using straw bales for the walls. Also, I would recommend digging down at least a foot or two. This could be a helpful strategy in very hot locations as well.
If you have really heavy clay soil you may also want to create a drainage channel to remove excess liquid (from rain, snow melt run-off etc). Instead of the screen, a couple of layers of pond liner felt contoured to the shape of the depression (again assuming you are digging down) and secured under the walls, could work well.
NOTE: The average number of babies per cocoon for Red Worms is actually 3 (not 4-20) – to learn more about Red Worm growth rates be sure to check out this post: Will A Red Worm Population Double in 3 Months?“
Several observations from my years of vermicomposting:
1) Plastic tub systems, when set up properly with plenty of bedding – and when a few key requirements (see below) are met – can handle a LOT of neglect! Far more than a “fancy schmancy” Worm Inn or VermBin, in fact!
2) “Living material” tends to help create a far more “forgiving” system.
3) Aged horse manure (prime example of a “living material”) left-over after harvesting worms – i.e. material containing plenty of cocoons and baby worms – seems to spring “back to life” quite quickly.
With these three tidbits of “wisdom” in mind, I decided to try (more…)
Question from Ed:
I have a mature worm factory in my basement and I have picked up a
beetle infestation. From what I can figure I think they could be Flea
Beetles. Does it sound possible that I could have Flea Beetles. Should
I be concerned? The seem to be multiplying at a faster rate. Is there
a way to erradicate them or a least limit their growth? Should I be
There are a number of different varieties of beetles that can end up (sometimes in great abundance) in your vermicomposting systems. Flea beetles are not one of them – at least not in my experience (or that I know of). Likely the most common type is the “rove beetle” (Staphylinidae). These can sometimes appear in great numbers – particularly in open systems (especially those receiving manure as a food). These beetles tend to be long and thin, and often exhibit a curious tail-raising behavior as they run.
What you are likely seeing, though, is another fairly common variety – the (more…)
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