August 2012

Anoxic Manure

Question from Eduardo:

My pile of manure being precomposted gathered some rainwater and
turned gray and anoxic. If I turn it and let it dry, is it still good
to use for my worms??

Hi Eduardo,

The way I see it, pretty well any (originally-worm-friendly) organic waste material that has gone anaerobic can be converted back to a valuable “worm food” – it really just comes down to the amount of patience you have! lol

If your manure has become very water-logged (and smells really foul) you may want to mix it with a fair amount of dry shredded cardboard and/or some other bulky, absorbent bedding material. This should help to speed up the recovery process considerably (versus simply leaving the material to sit and dry), and provide you with a nice food/habitat blend to add to your worm beds once it’s aged for a while.
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VermBin Series Plans Package

As many of you probably know, I recently completed the upgrade guide for the larger versions of the VB24 – the VB48 and VB96 bins – and have added it to the VB24 Plans Package.

To provide more info about the plans, and the package as a whole, I’ve decided to dust off the “VB24 Q&A” from last fall and tweak it so as to reflect all the new updates.

*** UPDATE 2019 – Click Here to Access Newest Sales Page for VB Plans Package ***

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Growing Worm Food

This summer has been brutally hot and dry (by Southern Ontario standards). As a result it’s been very challenging to keep my outdoor worm beds in decent shape, especially with my crop plants removing even more moisture for their own needs.

One of the things I like to do to help compensate for this moisture (and nutrient) loss is to recycle a lot of that plant matter back into the beds. A prime example of this is the use of over-sized summer squash to feed my worms.

I’m always amazed by the ability of these zucchini (and similar) plants to continue squeezing out these giant water-rich fruit (vegetables?? I dunno! lol) even when conditions are pretty dry. While we certainly try to pick and cook (on the BBQ, in stir fry etc) a fair number of these while they’re small, even in a good (eating) year we’re always left with lots that get “too big” for our tastes.
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Plastic Worm Bin-08-13-12

I should mention right off the bat that, although I’ve used today’s date, this is technically an update for Friday, August 10 – Day 36 of our Plastic Worm Bin Follow-Along (amazing how times flies!).

When I checked on the bin, I was happy to see how everything was coming along. It looked like the overall level of material was definitely lower than we left it (last update), the upper bedding seemed to be nicely moistened – and there was even some moisture on the underside of the lid.

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Food Scrap Storage

Another good question from “Shelley”:

I put my excess veges and such in a plastic bucket w/ lid. Does it get
too rotten for the worms?
It gets a white looking gunk on it and I am afraid it will hurt the
worms. How rotten is rotten?
Please help, especially with this heat we are experiencing I am
worried. Thanks!

Hi Shelley,
The principles of good food aging are actually pretty similar to those of good vermicomposting. We want to encourage lots of microbial action – BUT it’s the aerobic microbes we are interested in NOT the anaerobic microbes.

Leaving water-rich food wastes to sit in a sealed plastic container will result in the creation of some pretty foul stuff – and very quickly, if temps are really warm. The problem is that as the waste materials decompose, lots of water is released and you just end up with a heap of wet goo. Aside from the fact that water is only capable of holding a fraction of the amount of oxygen that air is, intense microbial action in the rotting materials results in oxygen levels being depleted very quickly. Once there is no longer oxygen available, anaerobic processes take over.
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Super Simple Vermicompost Screener

Some time ago I received this e-mail from Shelley:

I am new to vermicoposting. I am looking to find out how to separate
the finished product from “things” that are in it ie: pepples, bits of
paper etc. I dont need any larged tumbler. what are your suggestions?

One or two more recent reader-emails (with similar questions) made me realize that I should dedicate a post to the topic!

If you have been following my shenanigans here at RWC for the past few years (or more) you MAY recall my kooky “Super Simple Ultra Basic Worm Harvesting Tube” (S.S.U.B.W.H.T.) – one of my “hair-brained ideas” that never really went anywhere.

Here are the original posts if you want to relive the magic (lol):
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BSFLs in Outdoor Worm Beds

A little while back, RWC reader, Margie (from California), sent me an email sharing her experience with black soldier flies in her outdoor worm bins. I thought others might find the info helpful, so I asked Margie if it was ok to post it here. You can probably guess what she said.
(Thanks again, Margie!)

Below you will find her description, along with images of her outdoor bins
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