February 2011

Name That Worm Inn – Update

Hi Everyone,
It seems our latest RWC contest (“Name That Worm Inn“) is quite a hit! Thanks for all the great entries and positive feedback so far!

One thing I realized, though, is that I should have clearly posted the rules/instructions in the actual blog post, NOT solely in the video itself. Sorry about that.

Here is the run-down:


CONTEST OVERVIEW: The aim of this contest is to help Jerry (Worm Inn brand owner) come up with a good name for his brand new Worm Inn system, which is 5x the size of the original.


Da Rules

1) Each person is entitled to ONE entry. Please make sure you have read through the updated list of entries (which can be found in the “Name That Worm Inn” blog post) to make sure you are not submitting one that’s already been submitted.

2) On a related note, while we’re totally fine with similar names (eg “Vermi-Palace”, “Worm Palace”, “Wiggler Palace”), you cannot submit a name that contains one of the names already submitted (ie if “BIG Worm Inn” is on the list, you can’t submit “BIG Worm Inn 5000”, “BIG Worm Inn Deluxe” – or even “BIG Red Worm Inn”). Also, we are discouraging entries that are very similar, but use different spelling (eg “Wormopolis”, “Wormtropolis”, “Wormatropolis”).
BOTTOM-LINE, I encourage everyone to think about it this way – when you set yourself apart from other entries as much as possible, you are going to have a MUCH better chance of standing out and ending up in the top 3. If you are similar to others, you are basically competing directly against them right out of the gates – definitely a disadvantage.

3) In order to submit an “official” entry you need to send an email to this address: contest1@redwormcomposting.comNOT submit it via blog post comments, and NOT via the main Red Worm Composting contact form. This really helps to streamline the process – means I don’t have to be looking all over the place for entries.
JUST SO YOU KNOW – so far, I have been very lenient about this, so don’t stress if you weren’t aware of this and ended up doing it the wrong way (again – my fault for not posting the rules properly!)! It’s all good, and I’ve accepted all the entries regardless (DO look on the list though to make sure if you didn’t get a confirmation reply from me).

4) It’s very important to mention (and I KEEP forgetting to do so! Uggh!) that while anyone is welcome to enter for the prestige (haha) of winning the title – unfortunately, only those contestants living in continental U.S.A or Canada (with some exceptions) will be eligible to receive the prizes.

5) One final twist for you! While there is still only ONE entry allowed per person, you are now also allowed ONE opportunity to change your entry – ONLY IF YOU FEEL THE NEED TO DO SO (ie if you are happy with your name, just stick with it)! This is not an opportunity to submit a second entry, however – so please keep in mind that your other entry will no longer be yours if you send me a new name. I will create a new list of “free agent” names that have been released by people, just in case others want to nab them. (We certainly all know what they say about “one person’s trash”! Right? haha)

I think this will make things even more interesting and exciting!


DEADLINEThe deadline for the contest is Wednesday, March 9th at midnight EST. Only those entries and corrections submitted before then will be included.


Da Prizes

1st – Worm Inn (with stand kit) + 2 lb of Red Worms

2nd – Worm Inn (with stand kit) + 1 lb of Red Worms

3rd – Worm Inn (with stand kit) – no worms

IMPORTANT – Just so you know – “Worm Inn” refers to the standard home model (not the brand new system).


Once the entries are all in there will be some sort of name selection period – I’m still not 100% sure how we’re going to do this, to be totally honest. Initially I was thinking it would be fun to include a public vote, followed by a final selection (from a “short list”) by Jerry, but this might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. Anyway – I’ll keep everyone posted!

For those of you wondering what this beast looks like, the good news is that Jerry has provided a sneak peek.

Name That Worm Inn

Please keep in mind that this is NOT an official product shot (haha) – just something to give you some sense of the size etc. Also, this is a picture of an empty system – when full of material this larger model will take on more of an inverted-cone shape. You may notice in the picture that, while the stand is similar, there is an additional set of vertical support bars. As such, the “Stand Kit” for this unit will also include 4 “T” connectors (and 12 zip ties). Instead of 3 lengths of PVC you will need to purchase 5.

As is the case with the regular Worm Inn model, this one will be available in the usual colors (shown in the images below).

Worm Inn Designs

Just so ya know – Jerry will be “officially” making this system available in April, BUT will be accepting “early” orders from those who are keen to get their hands on one (will be delivered later in the month, once available). I will write a separate post about this later in the week.
8)

OK -that’s it, that’s all. If you have questions/concerns/comments feel free to leave em below (but NO name suggestions! haha)

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Name That Worm Inn!

Hi Everyone,

As mentioned recently on the email list, a little while back I came up with idea of creating some sort of Worm Inn contest. Only problem was that I had NO idea what to base it on! Thankfully, Jerry “The Worm Dude” Gach (current owner of the Worm Inn brand) came to my rescue when he informed me that he was still trying to come up with a name for his brand NEW Worm Inn system!

***LIGHT BULB***

­čść

Be sure to watch the video for all the details (along with a “brief history” of the Worm Inn)!
E-mail your entries to contest1@redwormcomposting.com (I look forward to having people comment here, BUT only those entries sent in via email to the contest address will be considered “official”).

Should be fun!

**UPDATE**

For the sake of avoiding repeats, I’ve decided to create (and will update) a list of submissions here. If you see a name here already you can’t use it.

ALSO – before you send in a submission, make sure you have read my latest contest post: “Name That Worm Inn – Update

1) Worm Inn Deluxe
2) Supersoil Bucket
3) Jerry’s VerMansion
4) “The Big TWINN!” (“The Big Type Worm Inn”!)
5) BAITS MOTEL (Get it? Sorta like “Bates Motel” from the movie “Psycho”)
6) Super Deluxe Worm Inn
7) The Worm Castle
8 ) The Worm Hotel
9) Squirmin Worm Inn
10) The BIG Inn
11) VermiCastle
12) The Worm Mansion
13) Worm Inn Plus
14) Vermi-villa
15) Deluxe Above Ground Worminator
16) Cast Away
17) The Great Wormery Estate
18) The Taj Mahal for Worms
19) RED WORM RESORT
20) Mother Natures Care Sack
21) The Worm Fortress
22) The Vermi-cycling Habitat
23) VermicuLife
24) VermicompostInn
25) The Vermicomposting Hotel
26) Vermi Village
27) Worm Reactor
28) Wormopolis
29) Redworm Army Barracks
30) Worm Super Inn
31) Worm-a-Tel
32) Worm-opia Inn
33) The Macro Vermichute
34) Wiggle Inn
35) The Worm Manor
36) The Intergalactic Wormhole
37) The Worm Tunnel Funnel
38) Bulky Bag o’ Worms Chalet
39) The Super Ate Motel
40) Wiggler’s Inn
41) Vermingham Palace
42) THE GARGANTU-INN
43) Jerry’s Super Worm Inn Dude Ranch
44) Verm-topia
45) Squirm Inn
46) The Wormada Inn
47) WormIt
48) Worm World
49) Zip on Inn
50) Worm Hostel
51) Crawl on Inn
52) The Compost Colossus
53) Big Worm
54) Vermaison
55) VermInn
56) Worm Club
57) Worm Penthouse
58) Wiggly Worm Rancher 2000
59) Nature’s BLACK GOLD!
60) Black Gold Inn
61) The Wiggle Room
62) Super Pooper Inn
63) The Wormotel
64) The Bait Bank
65) Wormzilla
66) Worm Lodge
67) The Worm Rancher
68) Eden Worm
69) Worm Inn XL
70) Vermonster Resort
71) Holey Ground
72) Red Worm Town
73) The J-Worm Ranch Inn
74) Vermi Terra
75) Black Gold Maker
76) Worm Bed & Breakfast
77) Just Passing Through
78) Chateau Wormmont
79) The Pent-Inn
79) The Vermillion Lodge
80) Worm City
81) Cornucopia of Worms
83) Big Ol’ Worm Lounge (B.O.W.L.)
84) Worms Galore
85) Worm Inn-V
86) The Worm Pantry
87) Baron Von Worm’s Munch House
88) Green-World Vermicomposting System
89) The Castin’ Cradle
90) Worm Palace
91) Worm Womb
92) The Large Harvest
93) The WormMahal
94) Jerry’s Wormery Lodge
95) Castings Alley
96) Worm-Ecology
97) THE WORM EMBASSY
98) Worm Shack
99) World of Worms
100) Fetida Hilton
101) VermiWorm Complex
102) Sack-O-Worms
103) Vermi-tropolis
104) Worm Wizard (“the easy flow-through composter”)
105) The Master Suite
106) Eco-Worm Composter
107) Hotel Vermi
108) The Red Worm Planet
109) The Alpha-Worm Composting Hammock
110) VermiVortex
111) Worm-a-Lot
112) Mass O’ Worms
113) The Squirmory
114) Vermiflow Inn
115) The Wormitory
116) Worm Locker
117) Magnaworm Inn
118) Yard-O-Worms Inn
119) The Worm Bag
120) Poop Palace
121) Red Worm Inn
122) Worm & Cozy Inn
123) Worm-S-Court
124) Red Worm Roost
125) Squigglers’ Paradise
126) Worm Swiggler Ward
127) Verm-O-Worm-O-Rama
128) The Bentley Inn
129) Worm Inn Habitat
130) Wormwood Scrubs
131) The VerMaid
132) Jumbo Worm Inn
133) Club Worm
134) Mega Bag-Inn
135) Wormylon 5
136) The Worm Estate
137) World Wide Worm Inn
138) The Big Dude
139) Piggly Wriggly
140) Dr. Worm’s Laboratory
141) The Wiggler’s Big Tent
142) Mega Terra Inn
143) Doo Drop Inn
144) The Mammoth Worm Inn
145) WMD (“Worms of Mass Destruction”)
146) Better Worms and Gardens
147) Squirm Town
148) Wormville
149) United States of Red Worms
150) The Worm School
151) Wiggly Wriggly Resort
152) Troop Beverly Worm
153) Old Worm Town Inn
154) Slimetropolis
155) Worm’s The Word
156) Wormacone
157) The Worm House
158) Worm Mania
159) The Bait Shack
160) Motel Worm (“We’ll Leave The Lights Off For You!”)
161) Super “Bait” Motel
162) The Worm Hang Out (The W.H.O.)
163) Worm Chateau
164) Worm-a-licious
165) Red Worm Compost-Inn
166) The Wormery
167) The Global Worm Inn (to help stop global warming!)
168) The VermiNation CompooStation
169) Holiday Worm Inn Express
170) Wormaversity
171) Palais du Vermsailles
172) Behemoth Vermi inn bin
173) The Vermi Comp Plantation
174) The Worm Inn Mega Edition (“Worm Inn Mega” for short)
175) The Casting Optimizer
176) Vermi-Casa Grande
177) Inn n Out Worm Bin
178) The Mini Worm Bag
179) The Worm Farm
180) Black Gold Cove (The Treasure Within)
181) Red Wiggler Resort
———————————————————-
That’s It, That’s All!
­čÖé

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!

Stay tuned for more details!

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How Harmful are Vermicides in Manure?

Aged Manure

As I’ve written many times here on the blog, aged manure is hands-down one of the best materials to add to a vermicomposting system. Horse manure, in particular (especially when mixed with bedding materials), happens to be my personal favorite! Some of the most successful populations of Red Worms (highest densities, largest worms) I’ve ever encountered have been living in old outdoor heaps of horse manure, such as the one pictured above.

Manure use is not without certain “risks”, however – a prime example being the potential presence of of deworming medications (frequently given to various types of livestock). In all honesty, I’ve never really worried too much about this myself – likely due to the fact that I just haven’t I seen any evidence of worms being killed off in any of my own manure-fed systems or in the heaps where the worms “naturally” occur. Quite the opposite in fact!
Nevertheless, I’ve received a lot of emails about this issue (many of them in the past couple of months strangely enough), so it’s clear that quite a few people are concerned about this.

While there doesn’t seem to be a LOT written about this topic, I was recently pointed in the direction of two interesting info resources and thought some readers would find them valuable as well.

Firstly, I want to thank Carolyn O. for sharing the following article: Is Horse Manure Safe For Organic Gardens?

I was happy to see what the overall conclusion/recommendation was basically in-line with the advice I typically give people re: using manures – i.e. when you let manures age outdoors for a period of time before using in vermicomposting systems you are far less likely to encounter any issues (I’ll talk a bit more about some other issues with fresh manure in a minute).

Here is an interesting blurb:

Fortunately for gardeners and animal owners, most research to date indicates that Ivermectin, the vermicide most frequently given to horses, cattle and sheep, breaks down quickly once it is excreted. Several studies have shown that Ivermectin degrades rapidly when manure is hot-composted or exposed to sunlight, and somewhat less rapidly when manure is simply piled up and left to decompose.

A study of Ivermectin-treated sheep found the half-life of the chemical in sheep manure to range from seven to ten days. Because of quick decomposition, Ivermectin preparations given to animals have not been found to build up in manure-amended soil.

————-

Thanks also to Sharon K. who recently shared this interesting document: Vermicomposting Horse Manure

It contained some reassuring words as well:

The most common wormer used is known by the brand name Ivermectin®
made by the Merial Company. MerialÔÇÖs research shows that the active chemicals in Ivermectin┬« are deactivated when manure is exposed to sunlight. Equine studies show that 95 percent of the active chemicals in Ivermectin┬« are deactivated in the horse before being passed in the feces. Leading experts in vermicomposting believe that the concentration of Ivermectin┬« in the horse manure is not high enough to seriously injure Eisenia.


It’s really important to remember that there can be other dangers associated with using fresh manure (or generally, manure that hasn’t been exposed to outdoor conditions). Likely the most significant of these is ammonia volatilization. Ammonia gas is very toxic to earthworms, and will kill your herd in no time flat even when present in relatively low concentrations (especially dangerous in enclosed systems). Another potential hazard with certain types of manure (and manure handling practices) is salt content. Earthworms also tend to be quite sensitive to relatively low salt concentrations.

In other words, don’t necessarily assume that it’s vermicides killing off your worms if you encounter problems with certain batches of manure – especially if the manure is relatively fresh!

Here are my bottom-line recommendations for using manure:

1) If you plan to use manure as a starting material (habitat) for a vermicomposting bed make sure it is VERY well aged (outdoors) – at least 2-3 months old (preferably having undergone some sort of “hot composting” stage).

2) If you are feeding manure to a well established (open) system – especially if it’s quite large – you can almost certainly get away with layering much newer manure on top since the worms can simply avoid it until it is “ready”.

3) Unless you are very experienced with using manure as a “worm food”, I don’t really recommend using it in enclosed plastic bins at all. The potential risks associated with ammonia release are just too great in my humble opinion.

Anyway – interesting topic for sure! Please share your thoughts!
8)

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Storing Castings, Worm Tea, Egg Carton Cardboard

Three questions from Ursula:

1. How can I store worm castings for use later in the spring?
I already know you can’t let it dry out as it turns into
a cement like mix. I would like to preserve the beneficial
organisms without drowning or suffocating them.

2. When I make worm tea (1 cup to 1 gallon) for watering
house plants the castings accumulate on top and eventually
form a crust. Do I need to break this up?

3. Do those gray egg cartons which organic eggs are sold in
have any chemicals in them that may harm the worms?
I use the torn pieces for bedding but the worms have never
even nibbled them!

Hi Ursula,

1) Storing worm castings is relatively straightforward – the main goal should be to store the material at a moisture content that’s dry enough that it doesn’t feel moist, but not so dry that it becomes crispy and lifeless. When you squeeze it in your hand it shouldn’t release water, but it should be able to partially hold its form (poking with your finger should easily break it apart though).

Using some sort of enclosed bin similar to a worm bin would likely work very well – it’s important to have air flow for the sake of keeping everything aerobic, but also some ability to maintain humidity (storing in a wooden box probably won’t work so well). Plastic bags would probably be fine as long as you added lots of tiny holes in the sides.

——

2) I’d be interested to learn about your worm tea making process – sounds like you might simply be dumping the vermicompost right in the water. My suggestion would be to submerge a permeable bag (cloth, nylon stocking etc) in the water so that most of the vermicompost can actually be removed afterward (i.e. you aren’t left with sludge in the bottom) and the tea itself doesn’t have much particulate material in it. If you are getting a crust on top of your soil this is perfectly fine but breaking it up and mixing it in with the soil a bit will likely be the best approach – it will be easier to water the plant, plus you will end up with more benefits from the material itself.

——

3) Excellent question – unfortunately I don’t really have a good answer for you. I can only share my own experiences in this department. Egg carton / drink tray cardboard is actually my favorite for vermicomposting systems. It is easy to tear up, holds water really well, and seems to break down fairly easily (in comparison to other cardboards etc). I have seen no evidence of harmful effects, and in fact, the worms always seem to thrive in systems when I use it. I’ve noticed that this type of cardboard (especially the drink trays, and the stuff used to pack electronics etc) can have a rather strong, almost vinegary odor to it, so I have little doubt that it contains some form of “chemical” – likely some sort of binding agent. My gut feeling is that it’s not really anything to be concerned with, however – again, the worms just seem to love the stuff, and will happily convert it into grayish worm turds over time.

That’s odd that you are not seeing any evidence of worm “nibbling” – perhaps they’re simply more interested in other materials you have in the bin?

—————————————

Anyway – hope this helps, Ursula. Thanks for the great questions!
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I Heart Vermicomposting!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
8)

In the spirit of this ‘day of love’ I thought it might be fun to write about my love of vermicomposting – and, even more importantly, to see if I can get a lot of you to share your reasons for “loving” this dirty, rotten past-time (haha).

My interest in vermicomposting naturally started with the basic idea involved – i.e. throw “garbage” in a box with worms and create beautiful compost (which, in and of itself, will never cease to be a rather magical notion for me). As a critter-keener (and die-hard Nature Nerd) for most of my life, I was also…uhhh…naturally drawn to the amazing, complex ecosystem involved!

Over time, I’ve become more in more interested in a “bigger picture” view – essentially, all the various ways vermicomposting can be integrated into (thereby enhancing) other processes/systems – eg waste management, farming etc. It’s no secret that I’ve been utterly blown away with the results of integrating the process into my own little suburban agriculture projects (see “The Magic of Vermicomposting“), and I can only imagine what might be possible as this field gets more and more mainstream attention, interest and involvement!

So, enough about me (haha) – what do you guys “heart” about vermicomposting?
­čśë

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Growing Bigger Worms

Here is a question from Wade:

Bentley, I currently have red wigglers, european night crawlers, african night crawlers and alabama jumpers.
My favorite are the red wigglers cause they are a better size to fish with, the others grow too big for my hook.
I have noticed in raising my red wigglers, I have plenty of them but they just won’t get very large, maybe 1 inch long. What am I doing wrong, I have just built a large 4ft x 8 ft x 12 inche bin for them in hopes that they were just crowded. I have rabbit manure in there and also feed them fermented vegetable scraps in hopes they will grow by fishing season.

Thanks,
Wade

Hi Wade,
This is a fairly common scenario. Red Worms are quite small in general, but 1 inch would definitely be below the adult average (likely more like 3 inches). There are two main factors that seem to play a role: 1) Nutrition, and 2) Moisture content.

The absolute BIGGEST Red Worms I’ve seen (more like 4 or 5 inches) were living in various old outdoor manure (horse manure + stall bedding) heaps. This habitat/food is clearly top notch for these worms since this is also where I’ve seen some pretty amazing densities as well (although I’ve had pretty good luck in my own systems too).

Often, when worms get really crowded food resources can end up in shorter supply, however, thus limiting the amount of nutrition that each worm can get (likely other factors that come into play with crowding as well). I’ve certainly had plenty of systems that were loaded with worms where the average size seemed to be on the small side.

Moisture content can be another really significant factor. Worms are basically little semi-permeable bags of water, so as the surrounding environment dries out they too lose moisture and thus body volume. I’ve noticed in less-than-ideal enclosed plastic bin systems that worms can remain quite plump in comparison to those in open (especially outdoor) systems that are actually operating more efficiently (better overall worm health etc etc).

If you can provide your worms with sufficient moisture (still best to use systems with good drainage and/or air flow if at all possible), rich food materials (such as manure, “worm chow” etc) and a bit more space to spread out in you should see an increase in size for sure. Just be careful with “too much” moisture (usually only an issue in systems that don’t drain) and “too much” nitrogen – the latter can result in ammonia release (deadly) and a condition known as “protein poisoning”.

Your new system sounds great – just make sure you also have LOTS of bedding materials in there as well – it will help to balance the C:N ratio and will provide the worms with a lot more habitat value (bedding air flow, space etc).

Anyway – hope this helps, Wade! I’m sure other folks will have their own nifty methods for growing fat worms as well – hopefully some of them will share here!
Thanks for the great question.
8)

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Vermicomposting in Arid Regions

Here is a question from Tom:

My big , honkin’ super HUGE , most important and almost life changing question deals with moisture (or LACK thereof). Here in Arizona we have about 6% humidity in the summer . I tried a bin and got it as wet as common sense would allow only to find it drying out at the speed of light by midday . I’m wondering if I can’t set up a soaker hose in one section and keep it REALLY wet while addressing the other areas as the need arises during the day . The reason that it is sooo important is that I’ve read where folks feed and ignore them for days . With the status quo I cannot even leave for a few days for fear of returning to a WHOLE lot of dried crooked sticks interspersed throughout a big box of bedding that crackles to the touch . As much as I don’t want to kill little helpless wiggling souls is the thought of losing good money . Help me PLEASE!!!

Hi Tom!
You’re in luck – I love “big, honkin’ super HUGE, most important and almost life changing” questions!
­čść

Joking aside – you’ve certainly hit upon a really important topic here. It’s not something I’ve really talked all that much about. One reason is that I live in a fairly typical temperate region – i.e. moderate temps with decent levels of humidity during spring/summer/fall (so I’m not really all that familiar with hot, arid environments). I also tend to be a wee bit reserved on this front simply because I don’t want people to end up overdoing it – something that’s very easy to do when using a run-of-the-mill plastic, enclosed worm bin (likely the most common vermicomposting system in use).

You didn’t mention what type of system you are using, but I’m going to assume that it’s NOT a plastic, enclosed bin. While there’s no doubt that this type of bin is great for holding in moisture, this can definitely be a curse in a hot/sunny outdoor location. These systems tend to readily soak up and hold in heat, and have next to no evaporative cooling capacity.

My general recommendations for a hot dry climate would be:

1) Use some sort of wooden bin – preferably partially sunken into the ground (with a decent pit underneath), sitting in a shaded location if at all possible.

2) Maintain a thick layer of bedding materials over the exposed surface of the composting zone at all times. Not sure what materials might be available in a hot dry region (don’t imagine fall leaves, and hay/straw would be all that common – haha), but see what sort of carbon-rich waste materials you can track down (dry grass clippings? etc).

3) Add plenty of slow-release water-rich waste materials. If you freeze fruit/veggie waste ahead of time you’ll have the added benefit of helping to lower temps in the bin (helpful during hot spells).

4) Employ other hydration methods – your soaker-hose idea is great as a back up strategy (if you still can’t manage to maintain moist conditions – or if you are going to be away from home for a few days etc), but even perforated (with really tiny holes) plastic jugs filled with water would likely help a lot, while conserving your water a bit.

5) Make sure you have lots of excellent water-holding materials in the bin – especially in the central zone. If you soak coir bricks and bury them in various locations, for example, every time you add water they should help to wick a lot of it up and then slowly release to the surrounding environment. I suspect that you could even get some good mileage out of old cotton towels, cloths, shirts etc (the added benefit being that it would take a long time for these to disintegrate).

Anyway – just my 2 cents, Tom! Perhaps others will chime in with ideas as well.
Hope that helps a bit!
8)

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