July 2015

Outdoor Worm Inn Mega – 7-31-15

Amazing how time flies during the summer!

It’s been more than a month and a half since my last Worm Inn Mega update – and sadly, it’s probably also been that long (or at least pretty close to it) that I have been neglecting it.

But this is actually the “Tale of TWO neglected Worm Inns” – one FAR more neglected than the other!

Today I decided to take my Regular Worm Inn (last update was in February!) outside and transfer the entire contents over to the Mega.

As you might expect (more…)

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Blue Worms vs Red Worms & Euros

Good question from Judith:

Could you elaborate on the “blue worms” – you say they are good composters, but seen as pests. Why would we not want them? Do they take over? What is the down side of them in the bins?

Hi Judith,

Blue Worms (Perionyx sp.) grow quickly, produce lots of offspring, and consume lots of waste materials when conditions are favorable for them. This is what makes them a great composting species. BUT in these situations (when conditions are favorable) they can also basically take over systems where other worms, such as Red Worms or European Nightcrawlers, are present. SO, you may see the numbers of these other worms gradually decrease over time.

In cases (usually in warmer regions) where worm farmers are trying to grow pure cultures of Reds or Euros, it can (understandably) be frustrating when Blues infiltrate and become established. This is why many people refer to them as “pests”.

Temperature is probably the main factor of importance. Temps between 70 and 86 (~ 21 C and 30 C) tend to be very favorable for Blues, and it’s when a system is in this temperature range for extended periods that the Blues tend to dominate.

On the flip-side, these worms also (more…)

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Deep Mulch Vermigardening

Along with Joel Karsten’s Straw Bale Gardening presentation, another Homegrown Food Summit video that really got me fired up was Jill Winger’s “Mulch Gardening Secrets”. Since I had plenty of hay bales on hand for my “Hay Bale Vermigardening” project this spring, I figured it was the perfect time to test out this other approach as well.

Of course, as per usual, the idea has been to take this method one step further and to turn it into an official vermigardening approach as well.

For my first bed, I selected a pretty neglected (more…)

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My Worm Bin Smells Like Poop – Help!

Question from Melissa:

Here’s a question for you. My indoor worm farm REALLY stinks. I’m fairly new to this, and happy to say the worms are thriving. Is there a way to prevent the “poop” odor that is almost unbearable when I add food? I’ve started wearing gloves when I add food to prevent the odor from staying on my hands. Otherwise it’s an earthy smell which we’re fine with.

Hi Melissa,

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to remedy a smelly bin, and to help prevent it from happening again. Here are some important questions for you to consider:

1) How much food is currently in the bin?
2) What particular kinds of food are in the bin?
3) How much air flow does the bin have?
4) How wet are the contents of the bin?
5) How much bulky, absorbent bedding is in the bin?

Let’s look at each of these in more detail….


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Rotten Hay Vermicomposting

As I mentioned in my most recent (at time of writing) hay bale vermigardening update, when I noticed just how much fungal growth was developing in my treated hay bales, I thought might be fun to try testing it out as a worm food.

It just so happened that I had a tray of (more…)

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Hay Bale Vermigardening – 7-14-15

As promised, it’s finally time to talk about some actual hay bale gardening! I know I’ve been pretty focused on the worm beds in all the updates so far.

Just to review here…

With any sort of bale gardening, for the best chance of success, you will need to create a rich, fertile environment in the bales before you start planting in them.

Straw bale gardening expert, Joel Karsten recommends the use of water-soluble, inorganic fertilizer to stimulate an intense hot composting phase inside the bales for a week or two before planting.

My “wise idea” was to attempt more of a (more…)

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Hay Bale Vermigardening – 7-13-15

In this update I want to share how things have been coming along with the “railway tie” hay bale bed. In my last update, I promised a write-up about planting in the bales as well. But I think it makes more sense to actually dedicate a completely separate blog post to that topic (I should be able to get that up sometime this week).

This is what the railway tie bed was looking like the last time I wrote about it (early June):

As you can see, the bed contents were (more…)

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