March 2014

How Do I Know If Vermicompost Is Ready For Harvesting?

This email came from Ryan P:

Hi Bentley!

I have been a fan of your site for a while (recently joined e-mail list).

I have a question about harvesting the compost from my bins…. I have a feeling that it is time to harvest the compost from one of my bins – I grabbed out a couple big handfuls of material from the bin, placed it in little piles under a light and got the “little guys” (ENCs) back into their bin. The compost I got is wet and sticky — if I squeeze a handful 1-2 drops of water come out, then it is like a mud ball — is this normal? All the pictures I see online look soft and dry/crumbly.. If I let it dry out will it get crumbly, or have I done something wrong? … There is still quite a few pieces of corrugated cardboard throughout the bin (it was a big part of the bedding since I get a lot for free). Should I wait until they eat ALL the bedding materials before harvesting (or just pull it out when I harvest)?

Other than that I feel it is going very well (thanks to your site). I started with about 60 ENCs in a 12″x18″ bin, and now it is LOADED with them (and I have started a 2nd bin).

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for the kind words (I wrote “wormds” on my first try! lol). The good news is that “wet and sticky” vermicompost is very common, especially in any sort of enclosed plastic system. The beautiful, dry, crumbly stuff you see online has likely been: A) produced in a well-ventilated flow-through system, and/or B) allowed to sit (in well ventilated location) and dry/cure (more on this in a minute). It has also likely been screened!

The material I’ve been removing from from my VB48 and Worm Inn Mega systems recently fits that description for exactly those reasons (in the case of the ‘Mega’ vermicompost, I let it sit for a number days in an open tray and then screened it)! But most of the vermicompost I have harvested from plastic bins in the past has had more of a wet, gooey consistency. Now, that’s not to say that gooey is necessarily bad! Not at all.

I can still remember my very first vermicompost (more…)

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Can Dog Poop Be Vermicomposted?

Question from Bruce:

I would like to help a local animal shelter who has a problem with too much dog poop by using a worm bin to decompose the dog poop and creating fertilizer that could be sold to help fund the shelter. Can this be done?

I have read that you can only use the dog fertilizer for flowers not food related plants correct? how long do you think it would take to start harvesting fertilizer for sale?

Hi Bruce,

The short answer is that, YES, dog poop can certainly be processed by composting worms. My brother-in-law tosses most of his dop poop (during warmer times of the year) in a basic backyard composter containing Red Worms, and they readily convert it into rich compost.

Would I suggest doing this on a larger scale and then selling the compost to the public? Not likely. Or at least not without a lot more steps/processes in place.

Composting worms have been found (in multiple academic studies) capable of (more…)

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Worm Inn Mega Wooden Stand

A short time ago, Blake Ketchum showed me a picture of the wooden stand she had built for her first Worm Inn Mega (she now owns two of them).

I loved the simple-yet-sturdy appearance, and asked if she might be willing to let me share the design with RWC Worm Inn Mega customers. She not only agreed, but she then went above and beyond the call of duty by providing me with a beautiful little set of hand-written plans (scanned to create image files) plus a full set of photos illustrating the building process!

I compiled everything into a PDF document, and it’s now available to all those who order a Mega (if you have already bought one from me, please drop me an email and I will happily forward the plans to you).

UPDATE: The stand plans document now also contains info on creating a similar stand for the Regular Worm Inn.

You can learn more about (and order) Worm Inns >>HERE<<

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Warming a Wintry Worm Windrow

Things are finally starting to lean in the direction of spring up here in Southern Ontario. Given the huge amount of snow we’ve received this winter (I can’t remember the last time we’ve had that much), the extended periods of incredibly cold weather, and just generally the fact that my favorite activities are composting and gardening – the spring thaw cannot come soon enough for me (and likely most of the population in northeastern North America! lol)!

Today, with powerful sunshine and temps above the freezing mark as my ally, I decided it was time to help the process along! Well, in one little corner of the yard anyway.

As you can see in the first image below, the snow was so high that it actually covered my “Earth Machine” backyard composters completely (picture was taken after a layer was removed from over top of the composters). Even with an extended period of warm temps it would have likely taken a long time to melt all that snow!

With the help of my daughter (officially on her “March Break” holiday as of today) I (more…)

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Worm Inn Mega – 03-05-14

Yesterday I decided it was time to shoot another Worm Inn Mega video. Let me apologize in advance for the length of it and the shaky filming. In hindsight, it probably would have made more sense just to take pictures and then create a slideshow video instead.

Anyway, apart from talking about how the system is coming along (among other things), my aim was to perform my first harvest of vermicompost. I’ve been really curious to see how the material in the bottom of the system is looking. It’s been months since I first set it up, and the level of material has kinda been getting up close to the top! (lol)

OK – so I’ve been feeling a wee bit impatient! As touched on in the video, I really wasn’t super concerned about potentially finding worms in the material (which I did).

One important topic I covered was (more…)

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Seed Balls – 03-04-14

Since the time of my last seed ball post, I have continued to experiment with my own mixes. Most recently – this past weekend – I decided to create a mix solely consisting of 50% vermicompost and 50% paper pulp to see what sort of a difference it would make (if any) to leave the clay out. I had recently received various bags of seeds for growing “microgreens” (another topic I’ll certainly be writing more about here fairly soon), so I thought it might be fun to create little microgreens seed balls – I chose “Red Russian” Kale seeds for this particular experiment.

The idea of having the (more…)

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