March 2010

RWC on Facebook!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have started up a Red Worm Composting “Fan Page” on Facebook. One of our readers suggested I do this quite some time ago, and I actually DID technically set it up not all that long afterwards – but I ended up a bit bogged down with figuring out exactly how it operates, and basically put it on the backburner until today.

Somehow, during the time it was just sitting there, seven people managed to find it and become fans – so a big thanks goes out to those pioneers! Not sure if they are fans of the website, or if they just happened to stumble across the page – but whatever the case, it was nice to see (and it helped inspire me to really get the page up and running).

Apart from wanting to create a more interactive place for all of us to hang-out and chat, I thought it would be great to set up a Fan Page since a number of Red Worm Composting readers have tracked down my own profile on Facebook and requested to be added as a friend. Let me start by apologizing to those who have, since I’ve almost certainly not accepted the friendship request, simply because I prefer to reserve my own account for family and friends (and for some strange reason, a bunch of people I haven’t seen since grade school – haha). Believe it or not, I do tend to be a pretty private person, and as such, have opted not to use my own account for business/promotional purposes at all. Please don’t take that the wrong way – in all honesty, it doesn’t take all that much for me to consider you a “friend” (if we have fairly regular email correspondence, for example) – I just prefer not to add people I haven’t really interacted with all that much.

With that “Debbie Downer” motivational speech out of the way (haha) – I AM very excited about the fan page and want ALL my readers (who are on Facebook) to join! Let’s make this into a rockin vermicomposting party!

To sign up, all you have to do is click the “become a fan” link in the badge I’ve included in this post and you are all set!

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Agroinnovations Interview – Part II

Agroinnovations Podcast

Here is part II of my interview with Frank Aragona of the Agroinnovations Podcast. If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out here: Agroinnovations Interview – Part I

Listening to this audio was at least as PAINFUL (if not more painful) as the last one (well, the parts where I was speaking, anyway – haha). Uggghhhh…
Oh well – we are indeed our own harshest critics, right??

Anyway, I’m still very glad I did it – and once again would like send a big THANKS to Frank for inviting me to take part!

Here is the audio:


Here is a link to the podcast blog post on Frank’s site if you would prefer to listen there:
Episode #85: Red Worm Composting (Part II)

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Vermicomposting Trench Video

Seems to be video week here at Red Worm Composting (another video I made will be included with my Vermiponics System wrap-up post, likely published tomorrow or Thurs).

This particular video is one I have been meaning to put together for a LONG time, but alas, the daunting task of trying to organize all my photos and create some sort of cohesive overview always seemed to get the better of me. I am definitely glad that I’m finally able to bring you this one. Not only is this one of my favorite topics, but hopefully the timing will be appropriate as well for those of you gearing up for gardening season this year.

Anyone who has followed this site for any length of time will more than likely be familiar with the “Vermicomposting Trench” idea. While this initially began as a “rescue” method for helping me bury literally tons of rotting food waste, as I witnessed how effective the trench systems were that first summer, I quickly fell in love with the approach. This is in situ composting at its finest – no need to mess around trying to separate vermicompost from worms. Everything just stays where it is, and the plants growing nearby get to reap the benefits!

Hope everyone enjoys the video – and more importantly, I hope that a lot of you give this method a try this year!

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Homemade Manure Video

I decided to put together a video about making “Homemade Manure” (with the hidden agenda of seeing how many times I could make lame “guns of steel” jokes in a single video – haha!).

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, “Homemade Manure” is basically just a special mix (every batch is different) of bedding and pulverized food waste. It has been working VERY well in my Worm Inn (have used it for the last couple of feedings), with the worms really diving right in. When I first started making it (a couple of years ago, if I remember correctly) I used a blender, but it took forever! Now I just throw everything in a big bucket (Rubbermaid plastic garbage can to be exact) and beat it up and mix it with various tools.

As I mention in the video, something that occurred to me is that this would be a great way to get material ready for a new worm bin as well. I might suggest increasing the bedding-to-food ratio in that case, but same basic idea – and this way you wouldn’t really need to wait around for a week or two before adding the worms.

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Worm Inn Journal-03-25-10

Previous Worm Inn Overfeeding Challenge Videos
Worm Inn Journal-02-21-10
Worm Inn Journal-02-23-10
Worm Inn Journal-02-25-10
Worm Inn Journal-03-09-10

It’s been a little over two weeks since my last Worm Inn feeding, so I thought it might not be a bad idea to shoot another update video. Not too surprisingly, things are still moving along very smoothly – well, assuming I ignore the fungus gnats. Haha! You’ll likely see some of them flying around and crawling over the surface of material in the Inn. I’m kicking myself now for being so mellow about them earlier in the year, since they are now REALLY well-established in this system.

This MAY offer me the opportunity to try something out though. I’m not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I actually put mosquito dunks in the reservoir of my vermiponics system, and there really don’t seem to be many gnats in my grow bed at all (I am pretty sure it would have been infested under normal circumstances). What’s cool is that the worms don’t seem to have been harmed in the least (as some of you may recall, back when I was doing my mosquito dunk testing, there was speculation that dunk water might harm worms). I am hoping to take down my vermiponics system very soon, and will certainly be taking a good look at what’s going on in the bed, but everything looks good to me so far (I dug around in the bed a bit today and saw worms and cocoons).

Getting back to my “opportunity”, I’m thinking I might start watering my Worm Inn slowly with the reservoir water from the vermiponics system to see if that helps reduce the gnat population.

As mentioned in the video, the other thing I want to focus on soon is harvesting vermicompost from the bottom of the Inn. I removed a small amount back when I recorded the first video and it looked great, but I’m interested to remove some more to make sure the system is still working effectively, given the crazy amounts of waste I’ve been adding. Speaking of which, I didn’t go overboard today – I only added 12.73 lb. I must say, the worms are REALLY loving this coarse “homemade manure” material I have been feeding them.

Anyway – that’s basically it.
Oh, one other thing – in case you are curious, I have added a total of just over 75 lb of food waste to the system since Jan 26 (although, 57.3 lb of that has been added within the last five weeks). It will be interesting to see how things are looking in coming months, but I can’t say I’m too disappointed with the current ~ 1.3 lb/day overall average.

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Agroinnovations Interview – Part I

Agroinnovations Podcast

A number of weeks ago I was contacted by Frank Aragona, owner of Agricultural Innovations Inc, and host of the Agroinnovations Podcast, inquiring if I’d be interested in taking part in an interview for the weekly show. I was very flattered by the request, and heartily agreed to take part, despite the fact that I was a tad nervous about the prospect of being interviewed.

Frank and I had a few back a forth exchanges trying to figure out a time that worked well for both of us, and thankfully we were finally able to nail down a specific date and time (two weeks ago today). As you’ll likely notice, I was indeed a tad nervous to begin with, and tended to wander a bit from time to time, but I REALLY enjoyed talking with Frank (who had lots of great questions and some interesting insights), and think everything came together nicely. Since I did tend to provide rather lengthy responses, the interview ended up running for an hour, so Frank has decided to break it into two parts – part one being posted today.

Frank was also kind enough to grant me permission to actually host the audio file here (you will find the play button at the bottom of this post), but I definitely want to urge everyone to visit his website and see what he is doing. While I’d personally never heard of the Agroinnovations Podcast prior to receiving Frank’s email, it is readily apparent (when you visit the site) that he has put a LOT of work into this project. I have no doubt that he must have a pretty serious following of podcast listeners and fans in general as a result. There are lots of interesting topics covered in past podcasts, but RWC readers may be particularly interested in the interview Frank conducted with Jerry from the “Black Soldier Fly Blog” (an excellent resource for those interested in learning about BSF, by the way!). Here are the links to the two parts of that interview:
Episode #78: The Black Soldier Fly (Part I)
Episode #79: The Black Soldier Fly (Part II)

Ok, enough chatter – here is the first part of my interview (just click on the little play button). Hope you enjoy it!


You are of course more than welcome to listen to the podcast on Frank’s site (where you will find a brief description of the content as well) if you prefer. Here is a direct link to that podcast post:
Episode #84: Red Worm Composting (Part I)

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Moles in Outdoor Beds

It’s been quite some time since I responded to any reader questions here (hope to start doing so more often), so I was inspired to do so when I came across this interesting question from Anna:

I’m interested in constructing an outdoor windrow or bin for
my worms this summer but am afraid that the mole (or it’s relatives)
who was feasting in my cold compost pile this summer will come back
for a repeat performance. I’ve considered hardware cloth on the
bottom and sides of the enclosure but am afraid this will not stop the

I’d also like to add that I really love the content on your site.
I’ve read through my library system’s entire list of books on
vermiculture and still feel like I know nothing. Your site has helped
plug some of the massive holes in my worm-knowledge.

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the question! While I am happy to report that I’ve never personally dealt with moles myself, I’ve certainly heard from vermicomposters who have. Interestingly enough, a good worm farming friend of mine recently sent me an email informing me that moles were wreaking havoc on his outdoor composting worm population (worms he’s been raising trouble-free for years I might add). So, needless to say, I understand how much of a threat these pesky varmints can be in some locations.

I think you are on the right track in terms of preventing moles from feeding on your worm herd. You mentioned potentially setting up a windrow or bin. Of the two, it’s safe to say that an enclosed bin of some sort will certainly provide the best protection. To be totally safe, you may want to put your bin/box up on blocks/legs of some sort, or place it on a concrete/asphalt surface (ie keep in on a patio, driveway etc) – although, I’m sure you’d be fine with a rugged plastic bin sitting directly on the lawn, assuming it was enclosed at the bottom (other than some drain holes).

If you want to have some sort of in-ground bed, you should probably either set a solid bin in the ground or plan to put a very serious effort into lining the bottom of your bed. I would think that a double layer of heavy duty landscape cloth and perhaps a layer of wire mesh would do the trick.

I have read that various types of plants can deter moles – two examples are Castor Bean (Ricinus sp) and the “Mole Plant” (Euphorbia lathyris). Be sure to check out this article to learn more: Companion Planting: Organic Pest Control Against Moles.

I’ve read that other natural repellents, such as onions, garlic, peppermint and hot peppers can work as well.

Alternatively, there are also commercially available repellent mixtures and even electronic devices designed to get rid of moles, although I have no idea if any of these are effective.

Anyway – best of luck keeping your mole(s) at bay!

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