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 15 yrs now. I started this website back in 2007 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!
Interesting email from Andreas:
Big fan. Love the info!
I have chickens and i want to try breeding a motherload of worms to feed Them. I have a Big pile of horse manure and Wood shavings that is fairly Brown and Well aged. Do you Think it would work to seed the pile With worms in spring, let Them breed and Chow all summer, and then feed the chickens With a shovel full a Day of compost and Worms in the Fall? My question is basically: Will the Worms breed a lot in just aged manure and shavings, or do They need other Stuff AS Well to be really harpy?
Thanks in advance Andreas
Thanks for the kind words!
You are in luck! Aged horse manure can be a fantastic material for breeding a “motherload” of Red Worms. To this day, likely the most amazing Red Worm “systems” (if you can call them that) I have seen have simply been old horse manure piles sitting outdoors, exposed to the elements.
The habitat manure should be somewhat “earthy” in smell (NO strong manure/ammonia smell) – but still have some food value (should not just look like soil/compost). Fresher material can be layered on top, or continually added to one side of the initial heap – creating what is known as a “wedge system” or “walking windrow”.
When you first set up the bed, make sure to (more…)
Back in August of 2009 I decided to test out “Mosquito Dunks” as a potential way to get rid of fruit flies and fungus gnats.
My (somewhat vague) memory of the experiment(s) was that there wasn’t an obvious reduction in abundance of gnats and/or fruit flies as a result. BUT, I have recently come across at least a couple of mentions of success with this method from others, so I’m eager to test it out again (and compare to my parasitic nematode experimentation).
Here’s what I really like about Mosquito Dunks (in comparison to nematodes):
- Dunks are quite a bit less expensive
- They have a shelf life of who-knows-how-long (MUCH longer than nematodes)
- It is more of a direct approach (with nematodes you rely on them staying alive, finding/invading the host, and infecting the host with the bacterium)
- A little goes a long way – pretty sure a single dunk can keep a rain barrel full of water free of mosquitoes for quite some time.
Dunks release the (more…)
I had actually planned to post this update a couple of weeks ago (around the same time as my “Culturing Parasitic Nematodes” post), but I ended up getting side-tracked.
While I might not have managed to get my update posted, what I DID do 2 weeks ago was carefully sort through the habitat material in my 4-worm zipper bag system. I had spotted a tiny Red Worm – one much smaller than any of the 4 that had been added – and realized that I must have accidentally introduced one or more cocoons when I added the “living material” during the initial set up process.
By that point the decomposition process in the bag had come along very nicely. There wasn’t much in the way of recognizable food waste, and I even had a little crop of (more…)
In early January I received a batch of Steinernema feltiae I had ordered just before the Christmas holidays.
I had had a pretty serious outbreak of fruit flies and fungus gnats in my VermBin48 late in the fall (after bringing in a bunch of material from an outdoor bed), and didn’t want to take any chances with my Worm Inn Mega (which as you might recall, doesn’t have a zippered lid).
Given that these nematodes are not exactly cheap, and the fact that there is only so long you can keep them in the fridge, I thought it might be fun to get serious about trying to raise some myself this time around.
The first step in the process involved (more…)
Another “zipper bag worm bin” experiment I’ve decided to try is a system using walnut shells as a primary bedding (and maybe even food eventually) material.
I’ve been eating more nuts as part of an overall “improve my health” (which is just fine – thanks for asking – but there is always room for improvement) plan, and walnuts have become a favorite. The ones with shells on them are naturally the cheapest at the store – and in my humble opinion, the quality of the nuts inside is better – so those are the ones I tend to gravitate towards.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my interest in testing out plastic zipper bags as “worm bins”. My first test system has been sitting on my seedling heating mat (sans worms) ever since.
Not too surprisingly, the waste materials that were added initially have broken down quite a bit, moisture has spread throughout (soaking all the dry bedding I added during set up), and – as you can see in the image above – the overall level of material has gone down a decent amount as well.
I’ve also been watching as other composting critters have been taking advantage of the (more…)
The good news is that things are coming along nicely with the project!
Early on I took things nice and slow. Other than the almost-negligible quantity of scraps I added during the set up process and a short time thereafter, there were only two small feedings (1.79 lb on Dec 23 & 5.39 lb of Dec 31). I was worried about a pretty serious outbreak of gnats and some form of large-bodied fruit flies in my VB48 system (since my Mega doesn’t have its screened lid anymore).
But this month has been a different ball game altogether. As you’ll learn in the video, I added (more…)
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