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Red Worm Composting – Welcome!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bentley (“Compost Guy”) Christie and I’ve been a crazed worm composting fanatic (or “vermiholic” if you prefer) for more than 15 yrs now. I started this website back in 2007 with the simple intention of sharing my passion with the world. So far so good! Things have certainly progressed since the early days, though, and the website has provided me with an amazing opportunity to get to know a LOT of other “worm heads” from across North America and around the world!

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Written by Bentley on March 11th, 2010 with comments disabled.
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Slow Progress with a VermBin48

A question from Kathy A:

I built a vermbin 48 a couple of years ago, it survives on neglect for the most part. My worms don’t ever get to the fat wiggly size, and I don’t have a huge quantity of them. It’s in my basement, which is cool 55-60 degrees. Suggestions?


Hi Kathy!

As I’ve shown with my “Insurance Bin” experiment, it is not difficult AT ALL to keep a culture of Red Worms going for many months on end with virtually no additional food (and relatively little bedding).

But there is definitely a decent difference between “survive” and “thrive” (as discussed in my “80/20 Vermicomposting” post).

Lower numbers of smaller worms is a tell-tale sign of neglect – but the good news is that it’s a situation easily remedied! Simply add more food and bedding, on a somewhat regular basis.

I recently “rescued” yet another badly neglected (very small) bin of mine by moving a lot of the worms over to a larger bin containing aged manure and various other goodies. Within a few weeks the worms went from (more…)

Written by Bentley on December 11th, 2018 with no comments.
Read more articles on Reader Questions.

Indoor Cat Poop Vermicomposting?

Thinking about how to kick things off with my Urban Worm Bag 2.0, I knew I needed to come up with something different.

I asked for feedback from the Red Worm Composting Facebook community – mentioning that I had been toying with the idea of a (compostable) cat litter experiment – and received some great feedback/ideas.

But the discussion seemed to keep coming back to the cat poop…lol

In the end I decided that’s what I was going to do (and will be using some of the suggestions people had for making it a bit more “worm-friendly”).

When I told the worms about my idea, they weren’t quite as excited about it as I’d hoped. Below is a dramatic re-enactment of the conversation (thanks to Will Ferrell and Fred Armisen for agreeing to help out on such short notice!)
😆
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Written by Bentley on December 10th, 2018 with 4 comments.
Read more articles on Urban Worm Bag.

The Urban Worm Bag 2.0

Sadly, it has been nearly 5 months since I last wrote about Urban Worm Bags! It was bit of a weird/interesting summer (to say the least) – and I was pretty focused on getting an exciting new project off the ground in the fall.

In the meantime, Steve has gone and launched a brand new version of the UWB! As I’ve mentioned before, Steve is not happy with just making a “great” home vermicomposting system – he wants the UWB to be the best option available for home vermicomposters. And that means listening closely to customer feedback, and continuing to make design improvements.

I am definitely excited about the improvements he has rolled out with version 2.0!
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Written by Bentley on December 8th, 2018 with no comments.
Read more articles on Urban Worm Bag.

Indoor Food Waste Pre-Composting?

Now that the Walking Windrow bed is basically set up and “ready” for winter (apart from some ongoing bulking-up and feeding) I have a good opportunity to “play” around a bit – testing out different things etc.

One thing I had planned was to try installing some small “compost chimneys” to help get more oxygen down to the lower reaches of the worm habitat zone (which will help with microbial heating, and speed up the processing of materials in the bed).

This got me thinking about “worm towers” (what the chimney pipes were originally used for)…which got me thinking about worm “feeding buckets”. Concentrating lots of worms will be advantageous once my business opens again in the spring and, just generally, I think it will be really fun to test out different mixes and see which ones attract the most worms.

I remembered that I still had the big “holey bin” from my “Vermi-fertilization and Watering System“, and this got me thinking about creating some form of jumbo food waste bin I could keep inside.

Naturally, I didn’t want to just have a food storage bin full of holes sitting in the house, so I came up with the idea of a (more…)

Written by Bentley on December 4th, 2018 with 2 comments.
Read more articles on Home Vermicomposting.

The Insurance Bin – 10 Months Later

Back at the end of July, I posted an update for my “Insurance Bin” project (see “The Insurance Bin – 6 Months Later“).

Everything looked surprisingly (yet not surprisingly – haha) GOOD! There was still quite a lot of cardboard left in the bin, the worms actually looked quite healthy, and I even found some cocoons.

[Just to remind anyone not familiar with the experiment…this bin was set up back at the end of January, 2018 – in a pretty typical “new-bin” manner (with lots of bedding + food) – and then absolutely nothing was added to it. Ever. Again (lol…well, until more recently anyway – but we’ll get to that in a minute).]

Fast forward to the end of October, 2018…

After seeing some posts in the RWC Facebook group about worm bin neglect, I “remembered” that I should probably check on the bin! (I’m a horrible human, I know)

Wow – what a difference 3 months can make!!
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Written by Bentley on December 3rd, 2018 with 5 comments.
Read more articles on Home Vermicomposting.

The Walking Windrow (Follow-Along) Project


Back at the beginning of September I celebrated the 10th anniversary of using vermicomposting trenches, and mentioned an exciting new project I had recently started on a nearby country property.

Little did I realize that the project would basically become an all-consuming passion over the next few months. Probably helps to explain why there were so few blog posts during this time!
😯

The BIG goal was (and still is) to create a system that could produce an ongoing, large supply of vermicompost (ideally, starting in May 2019) for the property owner. This is why I wanted to get a jumpstart on things during the fall (rather than simply getting started next spring), and why I was a little “over-the-top” with my bed design. I’ll come back to that in a minute, but let’s start with a few stats about the project site:

Location: Waterloo Region, Ontario Canada – USDA plant-hardiness zone 5a
General Climate: Fairly moderate by Canadian standards – with winters that are less severe than a good chunk of the country. We have quite a bit of snow, and sub-freezing temps that last about 3-4 months. Summers can get hot, but extended periods over 30 C (86 F) are considered “heat waves”.

To provide some perspective here… (more…)

Written by Bentley on December 3rd, 2018 with no comments.
Read more articles on Large-Scale Vermicomposting.

Leaving Worms for 6 Weeks

Great question from Heidi:

Hello
I’ve been keeping worms for about fifteen years or so. When we have gone away our son has fed the worms and I have frozen ‘food’ in preparation for this. This year our son lives too far away to help out. Can you tell me the best way to leave them? I see from an earlier post that you said that you could leave the bins for a couple of months?? I have four healthy bins. They are in our cool basement in Ontario Canada.

Hi Heidi,
The “short answer” and “good news” is that you definitely don’t need to worry! I’ve been demonstrating just how easily you can neglect worm bins in cool Ontario basements for at least as long as you’ve been actively vermicomposting! Hahaha

When all other key factors are looked after (eg. air flow, moisture, temperature), and a system has been getting fed regularly, really all you would need to do is bulk up on bedding (eg shredded cardboard) to ensure their survival. You might add a small amount of “slow food” – materials that are more resistant to break down, but still provide nutrition over time – like bulky chunks of fresh carrot, but moderation is definitely the key.

Just to provide a bit of perspective…

I set up my “Insurance Bin” system back at the end of January, and did not add anything more to it after that. When I checked up on it 6 months later, the worms were perfectly fine (albeit a bit shrunken – lol). I haven’t checked on the bin recently, but I’m virtually positive they are still fine.

I think yours can handle 6 weeks.
😉

Hope this helps!

Written by Bentley on October 6th, 2018 with 2 comments.
Read more articles on Reader Questions.

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