December 2010

Brewing and Using Vermicompost Tea

OK – so I guess there WILL actually be some genuine vermicomposting content this week, after all!
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Recently, my good worm-friend, Mike “The Strawberry Guy” Wellik, shared this great video all about making and using vermicompost tea. Some of you may recall the interesting article Mike shared with us earlier in the year (see “The Strawberry Store Vermicomposts“).

Mike has seen some great results from incorporating vermicompost tea use into his specialty strawberry growing business, so this is certainly more than just a passing interest for him. Check it out!
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Larry “Donald Duck” Duke

Our good buddy, Larry D, recently shared this hilarious video featuring some Donald Duck Christmas carols. I twisted his (semi-rubber) arm a bit to let me post in on the blog. Be sure to check it out SOON though, since he has plans to take down the video in the new year!

The good news is that even if you DO happen to miss it, Larry has plans to release a revamped version for 2011! Maybe we can convince him to put out an entire CD!
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Worm-Head Christmas

You know you are a worm head when you make a sledding hill by piling snow on your big backyard worm bin, and your daughter’s toboggan is a multi-purpose worm sorting tray!
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Hi Everyone – tis the season for not having quite as much time for vermi-blogging, unfortunately (especially with a new baby in da house)! Not sure how many posts I’ll be able to get up during the next couple of weeks, but I at least wanted to wish everyone a VERY happy holiday season!

Things should definitely start getting back to normal in the new year!
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Earwigs in My Worm Bin?

Here is a question from Gail:

I have things like earwigs in my worm bin.
Will they eat my worms?

Hi Gail,
I am glad you brought this up since I’m sure there are a LOT of people wondering the same thing! I’ll start by saying that, yes, actual earwigs can reside in a worm bin – but this generally only happens with outdoor systems. The fact that you’ve said “things like earwigs” makes me think that you are keeping an open mind about it, which is great because there ARE other critters that can look quite a bit like earwigs – namely, the “Rove Beetles”.

Rove Beetles are almost certainly the most common group of beetles to be found in composting systems (including worm bins). They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but all tend to be elongated with a tail that often bends upwards – and they always seem to move quite quickly (occasionally even flying). The most common ones in my systems seem to be small and shiny black, but there are definitely some brownish ones (such as the big one in the second picture down) as well. I have not yet found any that are difficult to distinguish from earwigs (see the fuzzy third image), BUT there definitely seem to be some varieties that look quite a bit like them (follow these links to see images):
http://bugguide.net/node/view/54020
http://www.photographersdirect.com/buyers/stockphoto.asp?imageid=1725193


These two Rove Beetles were quite a bit larger than the ones I typically find, and thankfully they held still long enough for me to snap some pictures!



Rove beetles are definitely predators, but I would tend to view them more as a “friend” than a “foe” since they likely consume lots of excess mites, springtails, and small fly larvae, rather than doing any serious damage to your worm population.

Rove Beetle larvae can also be voracious predators in a composting system. You can find an image (second one down) of one in this post: Parasitic Worm Bin Mites?

Anyway – hope this helps!
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Christmas Worm Orders – Important

For those of you thinking about potentially placing a worm order that will arrive in time for Christmas, this week is your last chance.

In fact, the deadline for getting orders in this week is actually Thursday (NOT Saturday) since my suppliers definitely want to make sure there aren’t any end-of-week (next week) delays, given the fact that Christmas is on the Saturday.

If you decide to order worms NEXT week, the deadline is Friday December 24th, and the worms will go out on Monday, December 27th (arriving towards the end of that week).

Thanks
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Sustainable Restaurants

While this video isn’t specifically about vermicomposting (there is a brief mention of it though), I think it’s definitely worth watching! Thanks very much to Nevin, who told me about it!

Not only am I very interested in eco-entrepreneurship, but I am also a pretty serious “foodie”, so I’m always interested in learning about eco-restaurants. Those who read “Da Book” (lol) will also know that I’ve been dreaming of one day starting up my own sustainable restaurant/farm – one that incorporates vermicomposting (in a BIG way) of course!

I’ll definitely be interested in learning more about the work this gentleman is involved in!
Cool stuff!
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Winter Worm Windrow-12-09-10

Winter Vermicomposting

I decided to check on the winter vermicomposting windrow today. We’ve been having some pretty cold weather as of late, and I’ve been a little worried about the heap cooling off too much. Normally, when the bed is nice and warm I can see obvious snow melting zones up on top. It did look as though there was SOME melting (so I knew we weren’t in serious trouble by any means), but I had a sneaking suspicion that temps might be lower than I want them to be at this time of year.

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about – looks at though much of the bed is up in the 20 C (68 F) range!

The one thing I didn’t take into consideration was the fact that I have a REALLY thick layer of insulation (leaves and hay) at the moment (added even more leaves today) – so that’s probably why there isn’t as much heat making it up to the tarp zone.

I didn’t add any actual food materials today, but I did start up a big scrap-holder using one of my big plastic garbage cans. Some of you may remember the “Jumbo Food Scrap Holder” bags I made last year. This is a similar idea but I’ve opted to use a larger container this time around.

The first thing I did was add some cardboard down in the bottom as a means of soaking up excess moisture that drips down from the rotting food waste. Next I added some leafy yard waste material. Then I simply added alternating layers of food wastes (a lot of it has been sitting down in my chest freezer for awhile) and yard waste.





The bin is sitting just outside my back door and I will continue to add materials until it is completely full. At that point I will bring it in and let it sit for at least a few days down in my basement. Depending on how much settling of material occurs, I may then continue to add room temperature wastes until it is jammed full.

The idea here is that I’ll be able to avoid opening up the tarp all the time (releasing valuable heat), plus I’ll be able to add a big warm mass of wastes all at once which should really help to stimulate additional heating in the bed.
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