April 2014

Even MORE Food Optimization?

I promise this is the last of the “food optimization” stuff for a while!
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I just wanted to make it clear (via this video) that every mix of food you add to your vermicomposting system does NOT need to be perfectly optimized…far from it!

In this case, because conditions were looking a bit dry up top in the Worm Inn Mega, I decided to add a mix with a higher proportion of the (water-rich) food scraps – and I didn’t bother to cut everything up as much since I was looking for more of a slow release effect.

With a system like a Worm Inn, as long as you are adding plenty of bedding, you can basically get away with continuing to add food materials even when the worms are not keeping up (certainly not the case with my Mega – I am actually going a bit slow! lol). I definitely DO NOT recommend that approach with a regular plastic enclosed bin! It could get ugly!

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Food Optimization Update

This is a follow-up to my “Super-Optimized Food Waste Mix” video, and basically a Worm Inn Mega update as well. I let my optimized food mix sit for about 5 days, so it was in great shape for being added to the Mega. It ended up being about 18 lb of material – but as you’ll see in the video I also removed a fair bit of worm-rich material for some worm orders.

In all honesty, I’m not sure I have ever had a vermicomposting system with densities of worms like I am seeing in the Mega. And it’s not just about the adults either (plenty of them for sure) – you wouldn’t believe how many tiny hatchlings and cocoons are in there as well. I’m actually starting to wonder what sort of worm harvest I could get away with each week without depleting the overall population too seriously.

Can only imagine what it would be like to have 5 of these systems up and running at once!
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Creating a Super-Optimized Worm Food Mix

A question from John posted on my last Worm Inn Mega update inspired me to shoot this video today. It shows how I am creating these optimized food mixes for my Worm Inn Mega, and provides a good overview of the “food optimization” concept in general. I can definitely see myself referring people back to this one a LOT (so thanks, John!!). While I have written a fair bit about “optimization” and “living materials”, this is the first time I have offered a video tutorial on the topic.

Key Points to Remember
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Worm Inn Mega – 04-10-14

Things are coming along nicely in my Worm Inn Mega system. In my last Mega (update) post I said I would likely be doing a second harvest. As it turns out, I decided to hold off on that for the time being.

I have actually been using the system more for vermiculture (raising worms) than vermicomposting as of late. The density of worms that has developed in there is unbelievable. I actually found that they were starting to come out the bottom – so I created a nice catch bin containing lots of aged horse manure, shredded cardboard, and a little food waste. Somewhat similar to the idea of the catch trays I have sitting below my VB48 system (another nice flow-through system I have basically been using as a worm grow bed! lol).

I will likely be performing a pretty major overhaul on this system before too long. I have been putting off building my wooden stand, but I do want to get that taken care of this spring for sure. Apart from that, the system is loaded with vermicompost in the lower half, so I need to clean a lot of that out.

Should be fun. Stay tuned!
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Moving With Worms

A recent email from Scott:

Bentley,

I am scheduled to move in May. I’m going to visit the new area at the end of the month to house hunt, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll find anything that I’ll be able to move into quickly. I have a WormFactory 360 with 4 trays of Euros, and a WormInn full of red wigglers. Obviously, the best case scenario is that I find a house, and can drive straight from my current one across the US to the new one, and can take my worms in a couple of bags for a couple days during the move, and set up the new worm habitats when I arrive. However that might not happen.

My question is, what factors do I need to consider when moving, when I have worms?

If there is a significant delay, I may be able to give them to a friend who also has worms and have him mail me a pound or two of each type after I get settled in. What kind of bedding should they be shipped in? Is slightly moistened cardboard/newspaper/egg carton bedding OK?

I realize that it seems silly to worry about getting MY worms, when I can start over with $50 and get new ones, but I’ve had these systems for a long time, and they are MY worms. I look forward to hearing your advice.

Regards,

Scott in Kansas



Hi Scott,

Moving with worms should be a fairly easy to manage, but yes there are some considerations. As far as the container goes, in the case of something like a plastic tub bin, or even a Worm Inn, you can probably get away with using that as the moving vessel (will talk about additional measures to take in a minute). Something like a Worm Factory might not be (more…)

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Shredding Cardboard with a Leaf-Mulching Vaccuum?

A little while back I received an email from RWC follower, Troy K. He wanted to share his nifty method for shredding up egg carton cardboard.


leaf-mulcherJust wanted too pass along a very easy – and extremely quick – way to shred cardboard egg cartons. I always dread shredding but know it has to be done, so I came up with the idea of using my leaf vacuum mulcher. It’s a Worx GT mulcher and I can shred 6 dozen cartons in 30 minutes. I ran them through once, but thought they needed to be just a hair smaller, so I ran them through again and they came out perfect! Like many people I’m a single full-time parent so every minute of my time is important. I just thought you might like hearing this and thought you might pass it along.

cartonsshredded-cartons2

Troy sent me a follow-up email with some additional details…

In my opinion any leaf mulcher will work, you just need to make sure the one your using has a steel rotor blade. There are a lot of leaf mulchers that use plastic – but they will tear up real quick. Also, the long hose and bag in the picture was bought separately – that one in the pic fits on top of most garbage cans up to 50 gallon. That vacuum mulcher comes with a bag attachment that has a shoulder strap on it. You can find the Worx GT at Home Depot or Lowes or go to www.worxgt.com an order it directly from the company.



I thought this was a really ingenious idea (thanks Troy for letting me share!). I don’t know if could handle corrugated cardboard (I can always dream, right?), but needless to say, a machine like this would be very valuable for fragmenting (i.e. “optimizing”) a variety of materials that could then be added to a vermicomposting system.
😎

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