March 2021

The Worm Mix Approach

The “Worm Mix” (aka “Worm Culture”) approach is the name given to the way I’ve been selling composting worms up here in Canada since 2009. The in-a-nutshell “big idea” is that instead of selling worms by the pound or count you are selling rich cultures of worms (of all ages) + cocoons + lots of “living material” + other beneficial composting organisms. It can be a great product option for new worm farmers and seasoned veterans alike, and a great way for vermicomposters to start up a new worm bins and other systems.

But, it’s also an approach with some potential pitfalls! It requires an open mind, and a bit of a paradigm shift for most people. Quality control and education become even more important. In the wrong hands, it can easily be (and sadly has been) abused.

My aim with this blog post (and other resources) is to (more…)

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Natural Worm Farming (NWF) Defined

For the last 15-20 years I’ve been gradually moving towards a vermicomposting/vermiculture model and overall philosophy that’s a fair bit different than what you will normally read about in worm composting how-to guides.

One that’s far less focused on worms as isolated units – and far more focused on the entire vermicomposting ecosystem.

One that’s less about getting worms to “work” for us, and more about us helping them (along with the other key players).

This model/philosophy is what I’m now referring to as “Natural Worm Farming” (NWF) – but like all my different “names for things”, I’m urging you not to get overly attached to the words themselves.

I’ve decided to start using the term simply to help organize a collection of concepts/ideas/methods (written about here and elsewhere over the years) together in a somewhat-cohesive whole.

Also please don’t assume that if someone else (more…)

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Worm Inn Journal – 03-24-21

I really want to do a better job tying up loose ends here on the blog. Over the years there have been quite a few projects started – and written about – that ended up falling by the wayside, never to re-surface again! haha

One of the projects I started up last fall that came very close to vermicomposting oblivion was my Worm Inn (using a keyboard stand for support). Over the months I (thankfully) had the good sense to periodically water it and add various deposits of food – but a bad scuttle fly invasion discouraged me from doing too much more with it.

Generally, the system has at least remained moist enough in the middle to keep slowly chugging along – but it seems a recent warm spell must have accelerated the drying process. Thankfully, on a whim I decided to do a check-up today – quickly discovering that it was nearly bone dry.

At first I assumed I had killed everything off with my negligence – and decided I would just (more…)

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Smallest Worm Bin – Day 140 – Upgrade!

This past Friday (Mar 19 – Day 140) I made the decision to give my two remaining worms a serious housing upgrade – moving everything from the teen tiny WSWB system to a new coffee can system.

I feel that “Phase I” of the experiment has run its course – clearly demonstrating that available space can indeed have a major influence on population growth. This might seem like “common sense”, especially when testing with such a tiny system – but it’s still an important point to demonstrate. Many people assume, even worry, that their worm population will just grow and grow forever! (The mental image of a bin literally overflowing with worms always makes me chuckle)

I wasn’t overly surprised about the lack of population growth – but one thing that did surprise me was that there didn’t seem to be any (more…)

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Critter Composting – Update

Early in the month I wrote about my “Uber Natural” bin and the 3 different mini systems I set up to see how easily I could raise isopods, millipedes and springtails. After a week or so I’ll admit I wasn’t overly optimistic – I found no sign of life in the springtail bin (and reached the conclusion that most, if not all the springtails washed out from the Urban Worm Bag were likely already dead), and couldn’t find as many millipedes or isopods as I had originally added to those systems.

So I boosted the numbers of all the critters with small number of new recruits and once again left them alone for a while.

This past week things looked more promising! I had no trouble finding (more…)

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Critter Composting – Revisited

I recently wrote about my “Uber-Natural” system, with contents (and organisms) more reminiscent of a forest floor than a typical worm bin.

I’ve also recently been having a super-fascinating discussion with a worm farming friend ALL about the wide range of other “critters” apart from composting worms that are easy and even profitable to raise. This guy makes great money selling various arthropods on the side – likely more than he does selling worms!

I’ve always felt a lot of these other worm bin organisms are very much underappreciated just based on the ways they can assist the worms in a vermicomposting system – but it is pretty clear they have some potential even in being “farmed” independently as well.

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Bentley’s Uber-Natural Bin

Late last summer (or early fall) I cleaned out a backyard composter at my father’s place that had originally been set up for vermicomposting. The system had a decent starter culture of worms and I had added a reasonable amount of food waste and water during the summer, so I’ll admit I was a bit susprised when I dug out what looked like rich soil with relatively few (visible) worms from the lower reaches.

Still, I figured there was probably a lot more going on in the material than I could see, so I decided to try starting an indoor bin with it. At first it was literally just a bin with the earthy looking stuff in the bottom that occasionally received an apple core or banana peel…but as I started seeing more activity I was also inspired to do more with it.

Unlike my more typical worm bins, along the way I decided to (more…)

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