January 2008

“Red Worms For Sale” – Part I

Does This Look Familiar?

On a fairly regular basis (more so, as of late) I am asked to recommend worm suppliers. It is something I’m always more than happy to do, since it will hopefully ensure that one less person get ripped off by worm dealers who are more interested in making a few bucks (there is only so far you can run with that business model) than providing any real value.

I apologize for the tone of this post – certainly not my usual happy, upbeat nature. I guess you could say I’m feeling pretty ticked off, and I thought it was a prime opportunity to write about it on the blog.

I received an e-mail yesterday from one of our readers, asking for advice regarding the care of European Nightcrawlers. It read as follows:

Hi Bentley,

First off, I’d like to let you know that I am really glad I found
your site. It has plenty of useful information and is quite easy to
read.

Anyway, I recently purchased 1/2 a pound of European Nightcrawlers
but it turned out to be 1/2 a pound of dirt with maybe 8 worms inside
the bag.

I am new at raising worm (4 days), and I’m hoping you can give me
some advice on feeding such a small population.
Is once a week too much?

By the way, some of these little guys are quite limp (my 2 year old
says they’re sleeping). In your opinion are they old and on their way
out or just reacting to their new home?

Their new home is a 1.5 x 2.0 ft bin with about 6 inches of potting
mix covered by shredded newspaper.

Forgive my ignorance, but I would like to get this right and raise
them properly. So, your input would be greatly appreciated.

I thank you in advance for your help and look forward to your reply.

(emphasis mine)

Here is a innocent person, excited about the possibilities of setting up a family worm composting bin for the first time, and yet they end up getting treated like dirt (no pun intended)! It is beyond me how any “business person” can logically justify this kind of behaviour. Word of mouth is a very powerful thing – especially here in the web age. No longer do people have to sit back while businesses walk all over them – we finally have a way to make our opinions and experiences known.

With that mini-rant out of the way, let me assure you that I have no intention of ‘outing’ the offender here. That’s not my style, and I think that everyone deserves a second chance. I’m hopeful that by writing this post, I will help to inspire all worm sellers to conduct their business with the highest level of honesty and integrity. Hopefully I’ll also be able to help people avoid these sorts of situations altogether!

So how do you find reputable worm dealers?

Well, to be totally honest I tend to believe that there are far more good, hard working, honest worm sellers out there than scammers. Sadly it is the latter group that ends up putting a big black smear on the industry as a whole…but I digress (fodder for another post for sure). Even with so many decent retailers out there, I think it’s not a bad idea to chat a little about what to look for in a worm dealer.

Pricing – This is probably one of the primary ways that people get into trouble with disreputable dealers (just a guess on my part, however). As with most things in life – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! I can still vividly remember my experience with a particular vermicomposting business here in Ontario back when I was just getting into the hobby. They offered “1 lb” of red wigglers for a very low price (we’ll chat more about actual numbers in a minute), and I naively assumed that they were simply providing ‘more bang for your buck’! Given that they were located a relatively short drive away, I asked them if it was ok for me to come pick the worms up. I was bursting with enthusiasm and was hoping they might even let me take a mini tour of their operation (I asked if this was ok).

The first warning sign was probably the less-than-friendly (and short) e-mail replies I received back, but I certainly didn’t let that get to me. After all – everybody has their share of bad days, right?

When I arrived to pick up my worms it was pouring rain – but given the excitement of my very first visit to a worm farm I certainly didn’t let a little rain dampen my spirits…that is until they said “you have to wait out here”, while they went inside to get my worms and castings!! To add insult to injury, when I got in the car and opened up my package of worms I was greeted by the lamest excuse-for-a-pound-of-worms I’ve ever seen. Saying it was likely in the 1/4 lb range is undoubtedly being generous on my part!

To top it off, the ‘castings’ were very poor quality and I’m pretty sure they were even responsible for the bad case of Verticillium wilt my tomato crop had that year (and for a couple years afterwards).

Strangely enough, this individual is no longer in the worm business (as far as I can tell) – go figure!
🙄

Back to pricing…

I certainly don’t mean to imply that ‘good deals’ are only offered by disreputable worm farmers – not at all. The pricing for 1 lb of red wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida) tends to be in the $15-30 USD range. An example of a highly reputable dealer offering a very fair price is Flowerfield Enterprises, the business started by highly-respected vermicomposting educator, Mary Appelhof (who sadly passed away in May 2005). They offer 1 lb of worms for only $19 (and 2 lbs for $34). This reminds me – make sure you read the fine print if you encounter a site advertising worms for exceptionally low prices. They may in fact be referring to their bulk discount price (eg ‘if you order at least 10lbs of worms, we’ll sell them for $10/lb’).

Also be sure you know what quantity of worms you are getting. While many in the industry seem to agree that 1 lb of red worms is made up of approximately 1000 individuals. What’s interesting is that one of the websites I’ve come across selling really cheap worms actually states that 1 lb is approximately 600 individuals, while another site with fairly expensive pricing mentions 1200 worms in a pound. Creative math at its finest! If a seller provides numbers only (no weight) I would recommend getting in touch and finding out how they sort them – ie. are they hand counted or is it simply an estimate based on weight (if so, what weight ratio are they using for the calculation)?

Friendliness / Response Time – This is a MAJOR one in my books! I pride myself on being a ‘really nice guy’, and it really irks me when others don’t return the courtesy – especially when they are helping me part ways with my hard-earned dollars! I’m a big fan of the bumper sticker that says “Mean People Suck!”, and there is nothing quite as off-putting for me as being treated rudely by a retailer, or made to feel like my needs are unimportant.

Again, to me this just makes ZERO sense! If you are trying to help someone purchase your goods, isn’t it a given that you should AT LEAST be nice to them? Maybe it’s just me!
😆

When trying out a new worm seller (or online business in general, for that matter), I would highly recommend sending them an email intially to see what sort of response you get back. I actually did this myself not too long ago. Prior to Jeff (who also prides himself on being ‘friendly’) offering to send me European Nightcrawlers, I was shopping around for a supplier. I came across a very nice looking website, and they were even located in Canada. Their information was a wee bit vague (I wasn’t 100% sure what kind of worms they were actually selling) so I decided to send them a friendly email to commend them on their site and inquire about their worms. Weeks later I finally received a short response back.

The end result…”No money for you!!!”
😆

After all, if they don’t take their business seriously enough, why should I?

Like I said, everyone deserves a second chance. Obviously we can’t expect people to respond to our emails within an hour and be absolutely brimming with friendliness all the time – that might be a little creepy in fact!
If someone falls short in the response time department, next see what their personality is like. Aside from simply being ‘nice’, are they eager to help with any and all of your questions? Do they seem knowledgeable (assuming you have asked something specific)?

All of these little things can add up to provide you with a pretty good sense of the type of business you are dealing with.

Anyway, this is turning into a novella here, so I’m going to break down this topic into a multi-part series (I may be able to wrap it up with the next post, but we shall see). Lots more to talk about still.

Stay tuned!

[tags]buying worms, red worms, redworms, red wigglers, eisenia fetida, worm farmers, worm farming, european nightcrawlers, worm business, vermicomposting, worm composting, mary appelhof[/tags]

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Back on Track!

Hi Everyone!
Thankfully, Compost Guy and Friendly Worm Guy are back online (problems were finally resolved yesterday) and ready once again for visitors!
🙂

The links have been added once again to the sidebar as well.

I’ve had bad experiences with webhosts in the past, but I’ve kinda lucked out for the last few years for the most part…well until now, anyway!
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be shopping around for a new hosting account (don’t want to overcrowd the account where Red Worm Composting resides), and I’ll be moving those sites over to a new server (which won’t be all that much fun – but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!).

Now, let’s get back to some worm composting!!
8)

P.S. By the way, as you may notice I have removed the “sticky note” post (the one that sits above all the rest, and provides a bit of background info about the site). This should make for easier blog reading and less RSS confusion (since that post tends to continually appear in the newest list of posts). I will incorporate the info from that post into my ‘about us’ page.

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Security Concerns – CompostGuy.com, FriendlyWormGuy.com

Hi everyone. I hate to write this post, but I think it’s important that I do.
It seems that the server where ‘Compost Guy’ and Jeff’s ‘Friendly Worm Guy’ reside may have been compromised. I tried to visit Compost Guy this morning and was asked to download a file. I of course refused, and was not able to view the site. Same goes for Friendly Worm Guy (I offered to provide Jeff with some webspace, aside from helping him with the site).

I’ve removed the links to those sites from the sidebar for the time being, and once this has been resolved I will almost certainly be closing down that hosting account (this is not the first time I’ve been disappointed with the reliability of that provider).

I’m very thankful that I’ve hosted Red Worm Composting elsewhere (I’ve had ZERO issues with the other company for more than 3 years now)!

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, especially Jeff (since our websites were also down for a good chunk of time late last week). I can at least rest a little easier given the fact that I’m not charging him anything, but this is still not something that is fun to deal with.

OK, so once again (so there are no misunderstanding), Red Worm Composting is 100% fine – no need to panic about visiting this site! 😆
But I wouldn’t recommend visiting Compost Guy or Friendly Worm Guy (sorry once again, Jeff!).

I will keep everyone posted, and the links will be reinstated once all this nonsense is resolved.

Anyway…

On a more positive note, this (potential) security issue has provided me with a good opportunity to add a new category to the blog (‘Web Stuff’). This will be a good place for me to post any technical web info that might help make your experience here on the site that much easier and more enjoyable (there are some features I’ve been wanting to make mention of) along with any other non-worm-related web stuff in general, as I feel the need.

On another positive note, hopefully everyone has had a chance to check out our interview with Tom Herlihy!

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Interview With Tom Herlihy – Worm Power

Worm Power

I first heard about Tom Herlihy less than a year ago from Rhonda Sherman (Extension Solid Waste Specialist @ North Carolina State University). She informed me that Tom was “one of the big players in vermicomposting” these days. I felt a little silly for not knowing who he was (even given the fact that I had been out of the vermicomposting ‘loop’ for a little while), so I set out to find out! Of course, it took me very little effort to connect Tom with WormPower.net and to find proof that he was indeed a “major player” in the industry. The website alone provides plenty of evidence to indicate the success of the Worm Power line of products, but I also came across a fascinating article on the Worm Digest site (scroll to the bottom of page) that made it all the more evident. What makes the success of Worm Power all the more impressive is the fact that they’ve only been in operation for 22 months!

I’m very optimistic that Tom will continue to see a great deal of success with his business, and that he’ll be one of the people breathing new life into the vermicomposting industry – an industry that has been in need of some bright new stars for a number of years now (something I’ll likely write more about in a future post).


Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into the business of vermicomposting?


TH – Thomas E. Herlihy (Tom) is the President of RT Solutions LLC with over 20 years specializing in all aspects organic waste management and utilization projects (design, permitting, operations and product use/marketing). He holds a Master’s degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and a Bachelor’s in Physics and Mathematics. His agricultural background includes working as a general laborer on a producing Dairy Farm, serving as an International Agricultural Extension Agent in West Africa, and an agricultural Research Associate at Penn State University. He has authored and been the Primary Investigator on numerous Federal and State R&D project that assessed the environmental impact to plant, soil, and water resources from organic amendments. After 18 years as a consulting engineer, he founded his own firm and has focused all of his professional attention on developing vermicomposting as a viable technology for production agriculture and retail use (patent in review). For the project presented here, he raised significant funds from private investors and secured several Federal and State grants to design, build and operate North America’s largest process controlled vermicomposting operation.

Vermicomposting was a logical progression from my work with organic materials, where I began with wastewater treatment facilities. I have moved through a variety of organic waste treatment technologies from small to large and small to complex. I saw the difficulties of working with the end product raw organic materials, and composts from both the producers and growers prospective and have been working on developing higher value products and their respective systems ever since.

Large-scale vermicomposting systems are by far the hardest and most complex systems to operate in the composting field, but they unquestionably produce the most superior products. Our work has focused on bringing biological system engineering to standardize vermicomposting, and ensure the production of a consistent product.


What made you decide to use flow-through reactors (versus say windrows, for example)?


TH – We do not refer to our units as reactors, but as digesters to reflect their role as mesophillic incubators that further digest and stabilize organic materials with a complex combination of microorganisms and epigeic earthworms.

In my opinion, the single largest obstacle to commercial adoption of composting and vermicomposting is the lack of standards and consistency in the end-products produced. Compost and vermicompost are spoken about in our industry as if they are an elemental material (iron for example), when in fact there is an extraordinary range in quality – from phytotoxic to excellent — and in the physical, biological, and chemical characteristics. All would agree that different finished vermicomposts are produced depending on the initial feed stock (swine, poultry, dairy, human manure, food waste, yard waste, municipal solid waste etc…). Compound this feedstock variability with different processing systems, levels of operator knowledge, and internal quality control and it is easy to see why many serious growers avoid these products. Not surprisingly, this product variability can sour scientific researchers and the market to inconsistent products that produce inconsistent grower result(s).

Vermicomposters often focus and love the earthworms, the process and the craft of production so much they forget that their end product is a starting material for another producer’s process (plant grower).

We have expended extraordinary effort to design, build, and operate a facility that will produce a uniform and consistent product. Analytical testing has shown our materials are behaving in a repeatable fashion, and our growers can rely on our products arriving and functioning consistently. .


How long does it take to produce finished vermicompost from fresh cattle manure?


TH – Our production process is 65 days from cow to consumer.


There has been considerable research (primarily conducted at OSU) to indicate that vermicompost has some pretty incredible plant growth promoting properties. Have you seen similar results with your materials?


TH – After only 22 months of production, we have many excellent examples and testimonials from consumers stating/photographing outstanding plant growth and other beneficial results from using our Worm Power products. As a scientist, I have to state that this information needs to be referred to as anecdotal evidence. This type of field/grower data was not produced in a designed and controlled experiment. Over a beer, I would be glad to chew your ear off and tell you how great the results have been for our growers, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of saying all vermicomposts, will work like this all the time (see my concerns above)

Since construction, we have worked closely with Cornell University in an attempt to determine what in our vermicompost causes these results. The end goal is to identify the key parameters (physical/chemical/biological) that correlate with results. This will allow us to operate our system better, and provide our growers a more guaranteed result. I would inject a word of caution that there are labs in the country that currently claim this level of knowledge, but in my opinion the science is still VERY VERY far from this state. In the interim we feel secure in operating our facility in a consistent manner, and producing a consistent material that will produce consistent results.


What do you see as some of the potential negatives of large-scale vermicomposting (if any)?


TH – Large scale vermicomposting requires a unique set of skills to be done in a professional, profitable and sustainable manner. Please have large facility experience or hire professional solid waste engineers to work out the economics/flow of material handling, animal husbandry, maintaining a controlled environment, and waste management. There is a large difference between being able to “do” large-scale vermicomposting and being able to “profitably do” large scale vermicomposting.

Additionally, the production of significant volumes of vermicompost requires the marketing of all the material(s) at a price that justifies the investment. This requires both (1) an agronomic background, if you wish to speak the same language and market to high value growers (those able to afford your materials), (2) a major marketing effort (money, time, and people).


What sort of advice might you offer someone thinking about getting into the business of vermicomposting/vermiculture?


TH – I truly want to encourage people to vermicompost, but I want to see the industry stop going through its destructive cycles of being overrun with zealots (claim vermicompost will cure the worlds ills), scammers (worm grower pyramid schemes), or false marketers (questionable vermicompost products). In this medium I will not go into more details.

Serious large scale practioners will always be welcomed by those in the field. Those of us with significant investments simply don’t want zealots/scammers/snake oil salesman giving the industry a “black eye”. With that said, there is not nearly enough good vermicompost material being produced and marketed to meet the demand today, let alone tomorrows’. I think I can say that we feel there is not much internal (inside the industry) competition, and that a “raising tide lifts all boats”.


Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? (exciting new projects/products, general thoughts etc etc)?


TH – Reading back over my answers, I’m sorry for the negatives, as I really do enjoy what I do and feel great about this work and this industry’s potential. As in all things in life “do your home work”, and don’t be surprised that “you will get out of it what you put into it”.


To learn more about Tom and/or Worm Power, be sure to check out the Worm Power website!

[tags]worm power, rt solutions, tom herlihy, worm compost, vermicompost, worm castings, earthworm castings, fertilizer, compost, soil amendment, organic, vermicomposting, worm composting, flow through digester, large-scale vermicomposting[/tags]

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The Power of Worms is MINE!

Worm Power Organic Worm Castings

[insert evil laugh] 😆

This morning I received a very exciting package in the mail! Can you guess what it is?
Yes indeedy, my friends, RT Solutions has sent me my very own 3 lb sampler tub of Worm Power worm castings! I’m so excited, that I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control…and I think I like it…like it!

Sorry folks, let’s just say the arrival of my Worm Power caps off a productive and enjoyable morning. SO… I feel good… I knew that I would! SO good…

Ok, I’m going to stop now!

No Cocoons Were Inhaled in the Making of this Photo!

Just to show you how much fun I’m having, I’ve even included a scary (yet goofy) picture of me enjoying the Worm Power ‘bouquet’ – no, I’m not referring to flowers! Fine castings are like fine wine, and the ‘smell test’ is a good way to quickly get some idea of the quality. I was greeted with the rich, earthy aroma associated with high quality garden soil. In case you didn’t know, this smell is actually produced via the activities of ‘actinomycetes’, a group of fungi-like bacteria that play an important role in the (aerobic) decomposition of organic wastes.

Next, we move on to the ‘look and feel’ of the material. High quality worm castings should have a dark crumbly appearance/texture, almost like coffee grounds (can be lighter in appearance if lighter coloured feedstock is used, but should still have a similar texture). Worm Power passes with flying colours in that department. If I remember correctly, they actually let the worms process the material twice (ie. it passes through the flow-through reactor and is then re-added to the top).

So, what exactly am I going to do with all these wonderful castings?

With great power, comes great responsibility…

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Worm Power website!

P.S. Compost marketing 101 – if you are selling compost (and related products), don’t just sell ‘soil’, ‘worm castings’, or ‘compost’. Sell ‘Worm Power Gold’! Ok, so that name is already taken…but I think you get my drift!

P.S.S. In case you are wondering about my interview with the guys from Worm Power…rest assured, it is still in the works! [UPDATE: You will find the interview >>HERE<<] [tags]worm power, worm castings, rt solutions, worm compost, vermicompost, compost, soil amendments, organic, fertilizer[/tags]

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Fungus Gnats in Worm Compost Bins

Like fruit flies (a topic I’ll be revisiting before too long), fungus gnats can represent a seriously annoying pest for home worm composters! Some recent email exchanges with a couple of our readers has inspired me to write about the topic. The above video was actually created by someone who contacted me via YouTube to get my take on these pesky varmints. He seems to have a few interesting techniqes for dealing with them (I’ve never tried attaching fly paper to the underside of the lid – cool idea!).

Fungus Gnat

Fungus gnats (eg. Bradysia sp., Sciara sp.) are small, winged insects that are often found in association with the moist, rich soils of household or greenhouse plants. The adults lay their eggs in these substrates and the resulting larva feed on organic matter and the fine roots of young plants (if available). As such, the larva can be serious greenhouse pests, especially when seedlings are being grown. Aside from the damage due to direct consumption of roots, these pests can also transport various root diseases (such as those causing ‘damping off’).

In appearance, fungus gnats look somewhat similar to fruit flies in that they are about the same size, and are also small flying insects (duh!). With a little experience however, you will come to realize that these two pests can easily be distinguished from one another. Fruit flies tend to be lighter in colour (sandy brown or grayish) with red/orange eyes, whereas fungus gnats are typically much darker, and seem have have a more delicate appearance (best way I can think of to describe it – hehe).

The worm bin represents the ultimate fungus gnat haven, given the abundance of organic matter and moist conditions. Generally speaking – and unlike fruit flies – fungus gnats tend to be more of an issue once a worm bin is starting to reach ‘maturity’ (ie. when much of the bedding has been converted to worm castings). In fact, a gnat infestation may be an indication that it’s time to harvest castings and/or start-up a new bin (splitting the contents of the first one).

Methods for Controlling Fungus Gnats

As with fruit fly infestations, the best strategy against gnats is definitely prevention! Once these insects get established it will be much more difficult to get rid of them. That being said, there is no doubt that many of us will have to deal with them once they have already invaded, so let’s chat about some of the various ways you can deal with a population of them in your worm bins.


Vacuum – Ok, stop your giggling – I’m serious! Using a vacuum cleaner to suck up adult fungus gnats (and fruit flies) can in fact be an effective way to help slow a population explosion. Of course, there will still likely be many many larvae already happily feasting away in your worm bin, so you’ll likely need to continue your vacuum efforts on a daily basis for at least a little while.


Sticky Traps – As shown in the video above, having some sort of sticky trap(s) as part of your gnat fighting arsenal definitely makes sense. Situating these traps in and around your worm bin should help nab quite a few adults.


Coffee Grounds? – One of our readers, Christy, sent me an email inquiring about fungus gnats (specifically, she was wondering how best to deal with them) and mentioned that she might try out a technique suggested by someone else – suppressing them with coffee grounds! I had never heard of this, but encouraged her to give it the ‘ol’ college try’ anyway to see what happens. Well as Christy informed me a short time later, it actually worked quite well! I’ve read that caffeine can be deadly for some organisms (slugs seem to come to mind, but not sure), so perhaps this is the mechanism at work. Aside from wanting to try this out myself in my next gnat-infested worm bin, I think I might want to try leftover coffee as an insect spray in the garden next season to see if it has any effect.


Physical Obstruction – This could be considered closely tied in with the idea of ‘prevention’, since various suppression techniques can offer you a good way to prevent a fungus gnat invasion in the first place. Keeping a thick layer of bedding over top of your composting materials may help to impede emerging adults, as well as those looking for a good place to lay eggs. In one of the videos below (the eHow video), she talks about using a layer of sand over top of your potting soil in house plants. While this might not be the most practical solution for worm bins, it is important to consider where your fungus gnats might have come from in the first place. If you do have houseplants, and like to grow stuff indoors in general, be sure to inspect your growing areas on a regular basis, and try out some of the techniques outlined in the eHow video.


Carnivorous Plants – This is probably more of a novelty method than anything, but you never know – with a few well-placed phytocarnivores in your house you may be able to put a dent in your gnat population (although I suspect this technique will work much better for fruit flies, since they are more likely to get lured by the sweet nectars used as attractant). I would think that Sundews might be the best of the bunch since they are easy to grow and offer multiple ‘sticky traps’ in the form of tentacle laden leaves, but you may have some fun with Pitcher Plants or Venus Flytraps as well. Check out the video below and see how a fungus gnat gets ‘owned’ by a Pitcher Plant.
😆


Biological Control Organisms – There are various biocontrol organisms you can buy to help deal with your fungus gnat infestation. The bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) – used as a biocontrol agent for many insect pests – can be applied as a soil/compost drench to help kill off gnat larvae. ‘Gnatrol’ is an example of a Bt product you can buy for this purpose.

There are predatory mites used the help control the populations of various insect pests. Likely the most widely known is Hypoaspis miles. I actually tried these mites out myself when trying to deal with an insane gnat infestation in a couple of my bins a number of years ago. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the results. I think my vacuuming had more impact than the mites did.
😆

There are also predatory nematodes (eg. Steinernema sp.) that can be used to fight soft-bodied insect larvae (such as fungus gnat larvae). I’ve never tried them myself, but have read that they can be effective – potentially even more so when combined with other biocontrol agents, such as those mentioned above.


Ok, I think that’s enough reading (on your part) for one post! 😉
As mentioned, I’ve included (below) a couple interesting YouTube videos relating to fungus gnats. Be sure to check them out.


Fungus gnat gets ‘owned’ by predatory plant


Interesting video from eHow – more geared towards getting rid of gnats in houseplants, but still valuable information for vermicomposters since the source of gnats can often be household potted plants.

She mentions some odd solutions (such as cider vinegar) that sound more in line with fruit fly strategies, but she also offers some interesting strategies I’ve not heard of.


[tags]fungus gnats, fruit flies, worm bin, worm composting, vermicomposting, biological control, gnatrol, Bt, bacillus thuringiensis, hypoaspis, predatory mites, predatory nematodes, carnivorous plants, sundew, pitcher plant[/tags]

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Natura Cloths – Not Just For Cleaning Anymore!

Red Worms Love Natura Clothes

Last April (2007), I wrote about Natura Eco-Friendly Products on the EcoSherpa blog. For those of you unfamiliar (many of you, I would imagine), they are simply a line of earth-friendly cleaning (and related) products, available here in Canada.

We use a variety of Natura products in our home, but we particularly love the Natura ‘Wonder Cloths’ which, unlike most ‘regular’ kitchen cloths we’ve used, don’t start to stink after a short period of time (assuming frequent use and remaining moist). They do eventually get a little smelly, and also break down structurally (seem to be made of something similar to cheesecloth), but are supposed to be fully biodegradeable.

A while ago, I caught my wife in the act of throwing out one of our well-used cloths (she felt that it was starting to stink). Rather than see it go to waste, I decided to saved it from its landill fate and put it to the test in one of my worm bins. I wish I had made note of the exact date I threw it in the bin! It will be fun to see exactly how long it takes to fully decompose. I suspect I will be at least able to come up with a pretty good estimate based on my use of this particular bin. I know I added it shortly after completing my squash decomposition project (sorry for the delay bringing you that video, by the way), so that should help.

For kicks and giggles, I decided to check it out this morning and of course took some pictures while I was at it! As I suspected, the cloth was full of worms!

As you can see, the worms are literally living inside it. I’m not too surprised to see this, since in my experience worms tend to love having some sort of matrix (no, not the kind with ‘blue’ and ‘red’ pills!) around them. I’ve found them deeply buried in corrugated cardboard and corn cobs quite a few times, and I was expecting them to do the same with the cloth.

Just so you know what the cloth looked like before I tossed it in the bin, I’ve included a photo (below) of the one we are currrently using. It looks a wee bit different!
😉

Anyway, I just thought I’d share that. This is likely one of the only places where people will appreciate my sense of adventure! (many would think it was simply ‘disgusting’, including the company that makes the cloths – haha!)

I’ll be sure keep you posted on the decomposition process!
8)

[tags]natura, eco-friendly, biodegradeable, green products, eco products, decomposition, red worms, worm composting, vermicomposting, worm bin[/tags]

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