Bits and Pieces

Hey Everyone,
I’m hoping to start this week off on the right foot with a handful of new posts. A good place to start is with a quick update post to try and get everyone up to speed with what’s been going on with various mini-projects I started (or planned to start), along with some of the things I have in store for the weeks and months ahead. I’ve been really busy with my ‘real world’ vermicomposting business (among other things), but am definitely hoping to get back into a regular posting schedule here on the blog.

1) Making Microbes (see “Making Microbes” and “Making Microbes – Part II“) – Unfortunately I never really got around to testing this out. I soaked a fair amount of cardboard in an aerated microbial soup and then put it all in a big Rubbermaid tub. I’ll provide further updates once I start feeding it to my worms, but may not get around to doing a comparison with regular water-soaked cardboard.

2) Beneficial Nematodes (see “Steinernema feltiae – Fungus Gnat Killer” and “Steinernema feltiae VS The Fruit Flies“) – You may recall that I wanted to test the the effectiveness of Steinernema feltiae against fruit flies, after witnessing a significant reduction in my fungus gnat population once these beneficials were released into my bins.

At first it seemed as though the nematodes were really working in the fruit fly infested bins, but then one day when I opened the lid I was greeted by clouds of new adults. There looked like there were masses of white strands on the shredded cardboard bedding, so I suspect the nematodes had some sort of mass die-off. Based on what I read about them, I get the feeling they aren’t nearly as effective when temperatures are high. I had these bins outside in summer weather so there is a decent chance that the temperatures ended up being too high for them.

Bottom-line, I’m not 100% sure if I would recommend Steinernema for vermicomposting. They cost quite a bit, and I just get the feeling that the diverse worm bin ecosystem prevents them from maintaining their high initial numbers. My fungus gnat populations haven’t exploded again since I used the nematodes, but I’m not sure if that is due to residual nematode populations, or simply improved worm bin maintenance.

3) Robyn Crispe’s ‘Worm Inn’ (see “The Worm Inn” and “Worm Inn Update“) – There is a lot of exciting news to report on this front. I am actually going to dedicate a post to this topic very soon, so keep your eye out for that!

>>>COMING ATTRACTIONS<<< 1) Worm Trays – I used to keep all my (indoor) worms in various ‘Rubbermaid’ bins (ie. plastic tubs with lids), but now that I have a vermicomposting business I have been testing out other systems to see if I can find something relatively inexpensive, that works well and makes harvesting the worms easier. I think I have found such a system.

2) Worm Bed Watermelons, Part Deux – Remember how I thought that watermelon plants had sprouted and grown in one of my outdoor worm beds? Well, I was wrong.

3) Vermicomposting Trench Wrap-up – Fall has arrived, and my vermicomposting trench systems haven’t received any food waste for a month or so. I’ll share what has happened in the systems since my last update, and tell you about the nice big present that’s now sitting in one of my beds, thanks to my vermi-herd! (previous trench posts: “The Vermicomposting Trench“, “The Vermicomposting Trench – Part II“)

4) Manure Worm Mecca – At the end of August I wrote about the big, juicy Red Worms I found at a friend’s horse barn (in aged manure/bedding pile sitting out behind the stalls). Well, much to my excitement, my friend has been urging me to take as many of the worms and as much of the material as I can. In fact, it’s become a bit of a race against the clock. In a few week’s time the pile will likely be removed and spread over some local fields. I’ll tell you about the big plans I have for creating the ultimate outdoor worm haven, much closer to home and well out of harm’s way.

5) Experimental Vermicomposting Unleashed – Lastly, but certainly not leastly (that’s a word – HONEST!)…I am very excited to announce the upcoming launch of a project dedicated solely to worm composting experiments. I’ve teamed up with a good worm farming friend (not to mention a major player in the industry) to answer those burning vermicomposting questions that keep you up at night- “How long does it really take for a worm population to double?”; “Can composting worms tolerate temperatures over 100 F?”; “Which breeds faster – European Nightcrawlers or Red Worms?”; “How many worms are in 1 lb?”; “What happens when you only feed worms newspaper?” – and many, many more.
Combining real science, with practical worm farming know-how, our plan is to demystify vermicomposting and bring it to the masses in a fun and fascinating manner! Stay tuned!

Ok – I think that’s enough of an update for now! Time to start pumping those posts out.

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    • Patricia
    • September 30, 2008

    Can’t wait for all the new and exciting info to come out. I have been expanding my enclosures to now include rose bushes and fruit trees. Gives the place a little class. Keep up the great work!

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • September 30, 2008

    Bentley, you’re such a tease!!! I can’t wait to read about your experiments and composting ideas! Get to it, baby!!

  1. How tantalizing. My interest is piqued! I’m especially interested in getting the trench update as I’m about to implement a test of that idea in my own backyard garden. Get writing and posting!

    • John H. from Orlando
    • September 30, 2008

    Even though this latest post is full of teasers – I enjoyed reading about what is keeping you busy lately. Drama! #4 sounds like an episode of twenty-four (the fox series). I can just imagine the counting clock as you race to move (save!) the worms.

    Looking forward to seeing more about each of those topics!

    • Bentley
    • October 1, 2008

    Haha – thanks guys!
    Better get to it!

  2. lol… I’m so excited..!

    what happens when you feed worms only newspaper… and then forget to add more?

    yeah… I can tell you the answer to that one… some of the prettiest and FULLY composted material I’ve ever seen (and FLUFFY too!) … and an entire heard of worms trying to escape out the vent holes….


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