December 2011

Mike and Sue, Part Two!

Based on the positive feedback received after posting my first “Mike and Sue”, I decided to put some effort into extending the series for at least a few more episodes.

In this installment, Mike explains (among other things) the value of letting a worm bin age before adding worms.
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Fountain of Youth – In Worm Poop??

I’m always on the lookout for ways to get worm composting on the radar screen of the (non-composting) mainstream public, but I can honestly say that figuring out some way to use worm castings in beauty products has never once crossed my mind!
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Thanks very much to Louise for alerting me about this intriguing news release! Pretty crazy stuff – and if castings DO indeed have any anti-aging properties (we shall see if anyone else backs up this claim), this could end up getting pretty interesting!

Here is a blurb:

Organic farmers already know earthworm castings make plants grow larger and faster by promoting healthy stem cells and extending the life cycle with an arsenal of anti-aging enzymes. According to Wayne Perry, Head of Development for GSC Products, those same compounds produce similar anti-aging effects on human skin.

Read the full news release here: Earthworm Poop Has Big Anti-Aging Benefits For Skin

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John’s VermBin24

I’m sure some of you must be wondering what ever became of Neil’s VB24 series (there hasn’t been an update since the beginning of October). Well, as is often the case in my own world, Neil ended up very busy with “life stuff” (in his case, this involved attending teacher’s college while holding down a full-time job) and simply hasn’t had the time to provide any more updates. Of course, this is totally understandable, and I will always be grateful for everything he has able to share with us (not the least of which was his building guide, of course!).

When long-time reader, and good “worm friend”, John Duffy, recently told me about his own VB24 building experience, I decided ask if he’d be willing to let me share some of his updates here – and, as you can probably tell (wink, wink), he say yes!
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(thanks again, John!)

Below is John’s first installment, along with some photos of his new VB24:

Building the VB24 was really quite simple. The plans were very concise. (I would, however, suggest screws vs nails just for strength)

I took my time & used the “measure twice, cut once” school of construction advice. I would also suggest using a “helper” to help hold the wood while cutting it so as to reduce the chance of the circular saw kicking back at you at the end of the cuts. (Yeah, I have the scar from a bad decision)

I personally didn’t have a “helper” available so I used several 1 gallon paint cans (evenly spaced) to support the wood as I made my cuts…As any DIY guy can attest, sharp tools are much safer than dull tools.

I had a new carbide tipped blade in my circular saw so sawing the wood cleanly was a breeze. Cutting the conduit would have been a lot easier if I would have had the presence of mind to invest in a new hacksaw blade.

I painted the VB24 with 2 coats of exterior acrylic paint inside & out and let it dry thoroughly before adding my worms. Tonight, I added the contents of my 5 tray stackable worm bin. I had probably 2 lbs of redworms and maybe a pound of European nightcrawlers. I put down a layer of cardboard to cover the grate & plugged any gaps with moist newspaper. I live in southeastern Indiana so it’s a bit on the chilly side in these parts. I have the bin in an unheated garage where the air temp is about 45*… The bedding temp is holding at 50*…I plan to add some fresh horse manure to help raise the bedding temp.

I’ll try to send you monthly updates as to how the bin is performing… I suspect that things will be slow-going until about March when things warm up a bit around here.

…”You might be a wormhead if” you ask Santa for an 18″ compost thermometer…Yup, I did.

Have a great weekend!
John

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Seventh Generation Bottles as Worm Food?

I received an interesting email from RWC reader, Mark Stephenson, a short time ago, explaining how he was feeding the outer shell of Seventh Generation laundry detergent bottles to his worms. This certainly piqued my curiosity, so I asked if Mark could send in some photos. Here is a blurb from Mark’s original email, along with some of the cool photos he sent in:

We are users of Seventh Generation products and their latest packaging for laundry detergent is *worm friendly*. The outer shell is recycled fiber that I shred for my worm bins. The rest is goes into our normal recycle stream (cap to Preserve http://www.preserveproducts.com , inner plastic liner to the curbside recycle program).





That looks like a really cool bottle to me!

Thanks again, Mark, for sharing this with me and the rest of the RWC community!
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Mike and Sue – An Introduction to Worm Composting

Mike and Sue – Introduction to Worm Composting
by: Bentley74

I recently learned about a fun video creation site called Xtranormal, and decided to try it out today.
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Not sure if “Mike and Sue” will end up becoming a regular series here – but I certainly had a giggle or two making the first installment, so ya never know!

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Worm Factory 360 Winner For December

I’m sure many of you have been wondering who won this month’s Worm Factory 360 contest. Apologies for not getting this up sooner!

A BIG congrats goes out to Karen Weaver, from Jenison Michigan! I have included her submission below:

I teach in Jenison, Michigan, and my classroom has 3 worm bins for our lunch scraps every year. Here is a picture of us feeding the worms.

As mentioned in a recent RWC email, I will be sharing some of the other entries here on the blog (thanks again to Kate from Nature’s Footprint for allowing me to do so).

Also, for those interested in potentially buying a WF-360 bin, there is a 10% discount available on the RWC contest page between now and the end of the month.

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Worm Inn Journal-12-15-11

As readers may recall, I ended up with a VERY serious infestation of fungus gnats in this system not too long ago (see “Worm Inn Journal-12-02-11“), and added a lot of parasitic nematodes in an effort to see if I could get things under control.

Initially, I was planning to do some serious gnat-vacuuming as well (taking advantage of the fact that fungus gnats are very attracted to lights) – but then decided against it on the recommendation of one of our readers. As this person pointed out, waiting to see how effective the nematodes were on their own might be a better approach.

I’m glad I did! (Thanks again, Richard!)

While I certainly won’t claim that all the fungus gnats have vanished, I am definitely blown away by the drastic reduction in the population of adults in the system (which seems to indicate that many larvae have been killed by the nematodes). Had I started vacuuming up adults like a madman, it would have been a lot harder to determine if the nematodes were having a significant impact or not.

I can’t say for sure – but I have a sneaking suspicion that these nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) are more effective against fungus gnats than against fruit flies – which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising since gnats seem to be the main target organisms they are used for. There is no doubt that S. feltiae CAN and DO kill the fruit fly larvae – as I’ve seen in my little fruit fly farms – but I haven’t seen the same sort of impact on the adult population (something I’m very puzzled by, to be honest). I think what I really need to do – apart from more testing with fruit flies – is see if I can set up an experimental “gnat farm” as well, so I can see (up close and personal) how the nematodes are affecting the overall population.

Anyway – based on this positive progress on the gnat-eradication front, I may start adding more food to the Worm Inn fairly soon. I’m certainly not going to wait until every last gnat has vanished from the system.

Will keep everyone posted
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