July 2014

Kale Seed Balls

As some of you will likely recall, I went through a bit of a late-winter seed ball craze. Once things got busy with my Canadian worm business, however, I got side-tracked (as is often the case in the spring) and my focus ended up elsewhere.

Doing a bit of clean-up (emphasis on “a bit” – lol) down in the basement recently, I found a box of kale seed balls. I made them, back in February or March, by combining vermicompost (from my VB48) with drink tray cardboard pulp and a small amount of clay – and then simply mixing in a bunch of “Red Russian” kale seeds.

My wife and I are serious kale consumers (primarily in green smoothies) – and believe it or not, even the kids graze on the small number kale plants current growing in the garden (lol) – so it was actually a pretty exciting find. Luckily, Kale is pretty frost-hardy, so I should have plenty of time to try growing some of them!

I don’t have much in the way of garden real estate available for new plants at the moment – but that certainly didn’t stop me from planting (and in some cases, simply tossing) quite a few of these seed balls.

The spot with the most potential is likely (more…)

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Worm Inn Mega – 07-30-14

mega-stand-small

It has been almost 3 weeks since my last Worm Inn Mega update, so I figured I should probably bring everyone up to speed on that front.

As touched on last time, I have decided to take more of a laid back approach with the system this time – an approach that’s likely much closer to the “norm” among Worm Inn owners. My extreme-optimization strategy was certainly effective, but realistically, there likely aren’t that many vermicomposters who want to go to those lengths to help the process along.

What’s great is that a Worm Inn can work well either way, even if you are feeding heavily on a regular basis (the same can’t be said of most plastic, enclosed systems – that’s for sure). But there are definitely “right” and “wrong” ways to do it. Bare minimum, you will need to include plenty of bulky bedding with each addition of food. Even with all the air flow a Worm Inn provides, a huge heap of decomposing food will turn into a foul stinking mess.

I like to take things one step further by also (more…)

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Join the New Red Worm Composting Facebook Group!

Ok, I’ll admit it – I’ve been going a little bit Facebook-group-crazy as of late. It all started when I decided to test out a private FB group for the Worm Farming Alliance, after being impressed with some othe FB groups I belonged to.

I really liked the level of interactivity, and the ease of sharing things like photos, videos etc. I also REALLY liked the fact that Facebook takes care of all the technical heavy-lifting. No need to worry about updating software etc etc.

PLUS – Facebook just generally (more…)

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Wandering WFA Worm Farmer on Wheels? What?!!

What do you get when you pack up a passionate (but heart-broken) vermicomposter/eco-landscaper and send him across the country on a bike?

A really unusual (but fascinating) road trip.

My good friend, and Worm Farming Alliance member, Christopher Brickey is no stranger to life-changing moves and, just generally, to flying by the seat of his pants. Some people run off to join the circus (or so I’m told). Chris – at the ripe age of 16 – left home and became a travelling vendor on tour with various music acts, such as The Grateful Dead (until Jerry died), Phish, Allman Brothers, and Jimmy Buffett, among others.

How on earth did this lead him to vermicomposting, you ask?

In 2008, business tanked for the festival world as a whole, so it quickly became a lot more challenging to continue on as a vendor. Chris started doing odd jobs to make ends meet – and eventually settled on landscaping as a way to consistently make some money.

In typical Chris fashion, he got his start by pulling a small trailer – containing a beat-up lawnmower and weed whacker – by hand, and knocking on doors to drum up business. He eventually (more…)

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The Cocoons in (Worm) Compost Conundrum

Great “food for thought” email from Lori:

I’m just getting through harvesting about 25lbs of worm castings!
(they’ve Been busy!) My question is – I did the “pile” method, scooped
off the top, threw the worms from the bottom, into new bins (actually,
I did NOT throw them! Lol!)….I know there were LOTS of babies & eggs
in the finished, could I not feed them? Maybe keeping a small food
source to the top side – as the babies grow bigger, I could search them
out, and as the eggs hatch, wait on them as well? I feel I should
still be feeding them?
Not sure if this would be worth it, or just leave them to be, with the
compost? Seems so wasteful? Like I don’t wanna throw away?
Wondering what your thoughts are?

Hi Lori,
You’re definitely NOT alone in wondering how to deal with all those cocoons (and baby worms). As you point out, it seems like such a shame to just leave them in the compost – especially when you consider that, on average, each cocoon produces 3 new Red Worms!

While European Nightcrawler cocoons do tend to be big enough for separation using a 1/8″ screen, unfortunately I don’t know of ANY effective way to separate Red Worm cocoons (at least not within a sane time frame – lol). In all honesty, your feeding/separation idea is the best approach for those who don’t want to lose the young worms and cocoons. With the right “bait” and a lot of patience, this method can work really well. Simply add some nicely aged horse manure and/or some other worm treats like watermelon or canteloup…and wait. Just make sure the (more…)

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Harvesting Productive Worm Bins

Question from Kristen:

I have 3 bins 4ft by 4ft by 18in. They are a closed bottom system.
They are full of compost. The worms eat 40# of food a week. How do I
split them up and harvest the compost? They just go on forever. I have
3 new bins to start.

Hi Kristen,

Sounds like you are doing well with your vermicomposting efforts! Processing 40 lb of waste per week is impressive.

Assuming you want to maintain at least some of your processing power, you will likely need to harvest these bins in a staggered manner. Start by getting the brand new bins (or at least one of them) set up with lots of bedding and some food materials – it will really help if these systems are totally ready to go by the time you are transferring worms over to them.

Stop feeding one of your active bins completely, and leave it to sit for a week or two. This will encourage the worms to process the left-over materials – leaving you with more vermicompost. Plus, it will leave them hungry and eager to move into new food.

If you can get your hands on some (more…)

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Alex’s VB48(ish) Flow-Through Bin

I always enjoy learning about the different ways people adapt the VermBin Series Plans to suit their particular situation (available resources etc). A couple weeks ago VB plans customer, Alex Williams, sent me an email with some images of his version of the VermBin48.

Here is what he had to say (along with some additional photos):
(more…)

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