Win Worms Monthly

For quite some time I’ve been wanting to come up with a fun contest for fans of the site – but, as I discovered with my last attempt to set something up, these things can end up being hugely time-consuming if I’m not careful. I recently hit on the ideas of A) keeping things super simple by committing to giving away composting worms (or suitable alternative for those outside of USA) every month no matter what, and B) finding ways to link the contests with other things I’m trying to accomplish.

Those of you who have been on the e-mail list for awhile will know that I’ve been having trouble getting back into the swing of things with my “Worm Briefs”. Well, I thought one way to get back to those would be to do little Q&A emails based on questions I receive on particular topics. I’ve also been toying with the idea of starting to put together some “podcasts” (basically like an audio “show” you can listen to on your computer, mp3 player, ipod etc) centered on particular topics – again, a situation where reader questions would be really helpful.

Yesterday I decided to see how many questions I could round up simply by posting a request on the Red Worm Composting Facebook Fan Page. The last time I tried this I was blown away by how many people responded (and how quickly), so I was optimistic that there would be a decent response (especially with a worm giveaway involved). As I’m typing this, the number of questions that have been posted (in about 24 hrs) is up near 60 – so not too shabby!

[By the way – if you are a reader here but still not a “fan” over there, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to “like” the page. If you are logged in to your Facebook account you don’t even need to visit the fan page itself. All you have to do is click the little “like” button over on the Facebook Badge in the sidebar here.]

So here’s the deal (for those of you who have not read the fan page post)…

I am looking for any (and ALL) specific burning questions you have about vermicomposting. Ideally, these should be fairly short (not multi-paragraphs with multiple questions etc) and to the point. I recommend you peruse the questions that have already been posted (again – on the Facebook page) so you are not simply re-posting one that’s already there. In fact, for the sake of making this as easy as possible to keep track of – I will ONLY accept entries that are posted in the contest thread on the Facebook wall (i.e. please DON’T submit them as comments on this post).

Each unique submitter will be added to my list of names to be drawn from when I pick the winners. The default prizes (bare minimum) for the contest each month will be 1 lb of composting worms (your choice of Red Worms or European Nightcrawlers) awarded to two different people. Depending on what’s going on in a particular month and what’s involved in the contest for that month (i.e. the “burning questions” request is just for this month), there MAY be other prizes as well. Again, those outside of continental USA (the shipping range of my supplier) ARE allowed to participate, but will receive other prizes (eg. access to VermBin membership).

This morning I posted (on the FB page) that the contest deadline was this Friday. I’ve actually decided to change that to October 15th (and will aim to keep the deadline consistent each month).

One last thing to mention…

I will definitely commit myself to going ahead with this for three months (this month plus two more), and will then decide if it’s something worth continuing with. Obviously, if people don’t seem interested etc, I won’t bother with it. Ideally, I’d like to see AT LEAST 100 people participating each month.

If you have any questions/comments about the contest feel free to post them HERE, if you are ready to post a question or two, be sure to do so as a comment under the contest post on the FB fan page.

P.S. All those who “share” the contest thread will also be added into another prize draw (for a prize I’ll be announcing later in the month)

P.S.S. I’ve included a screenshot below so you’ll know what you’re looking for when you hit the FB page. You can see the link for viewing the other questions (again, important before you post yours) and the comment box where you can add your own question.

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    • John W.
    • October 11, 2012

    Its to bad I am not a member of Facebook. Would love to win some worms

    • Michael
    • October 11, 2012

    How long is an ef or eh’s approximate lifecycle(controlled study)? How often do mature worms lay egg capsules(cocoons) per week? What is the best percentage of vc for growing vegetables in containers? Is their a faster harvesting method than turbo light harvesting? How many worms max per square foot before overcrowding begins? Which worms are the best suited for vermicomposting? How long does it take when feeding grains for the salts to negatively affect worms?
    You need more ?, just let me
    You going to answer everyone’s questions or is George?haha

    • Bentley
    • October 12, 2012

    JOHN – Joining Facebook is very easy to do, but if there is some particular reason you DON’T want to have an account on there I totally understand (I used to hate FB – and still only really use it for RWC stuff). I’ve decided NOT to penalize people who choose not to use Facebook. And seeing as Michael has submitted his question here already (looks like somebody didn’t read all the rules! HAHA!), I am going to allow people to post there questions here as an alternative

    NOTE: (For everyone else reading this) – PLEASE DO NOT POST IN BOTH PLACES.

    • Michael
    • October 12, 2012

    Sorry about that but I can’t stand facebook so I don’t have an account with them. Might be interested if it had a dislike button.

    • Bentley
    • October 12, 2012

    LoL – I understand, Michael, and was definitely just teasing!
    Hopefully your “dislike” comment wasn’t regarding this site in particular!!

    • John W.
    • October 12, 2012

    Oh I use to have FB…but decided it was taking up to much time. And I decided I did not need to know what everyone else was doing every second of the day 🙂
    The only time i miss FB is when i see post like this and I can’t participate.
    Thanks for bending the rules!!!!

    • Rebecca
    • October 12, 2012

    As a non-Facebook person, my entry question is about the discrepancy between the advice to minimize disturbing the worms (I’ve noticed they take the time after being disturbed to put things back the way they want them) and the major disturbance they experience during a worm harvester/tumbler by professionals–who depend on the worms’ well being for their profit. Does it just illustrate the hardiness of worms?

  1. I’ve started both of my current worm bins with damp, shredded newspaper (plus worms and some of their existing casting). Over 6-9 months of feeding them scraps, most of the shredded paper eventually gets processed. But both bins still have some shredded paper mixed in with the worm castings. If stop feeding them food scraps, it seems that their appetite decreases and the remaining paper scraps never get processed. How can I encourage the worms to finish eating the paper before I give them more food scraps?


    Andy Frazer

    • Jill
    • October 12, 2012

    I bought 30 eh’s the beginning of September 2012 (I’m a newbie). In your estimation and based on your worm experiments, how long will it take to get a decent population (400+)?
    I use just a basic 18 gallon Rubbermaid-type container.

    • Colin Vallance
    • October 12, 2012

    What are the key elements to starting/maintaining a pest free bin for inside the home. Are there tried and true methods to remove eggs etc before waste goes in to the bin (or flow through) that can keep things pest free enough for indoors? This is key for us who live in big cities with little space 🙂

  2. What is the best way for the average person to sort his/her worms from their castings with the least amount of mess?
    I ask this as a way for beginners to not get discouraged from vermicomposting before they really give it a chance. Thanks Bentley.

    • PhilH
    • October 12, 2012

    The short and sweet version of the question is “What is the best way to incorporate worms into a raised bed garden”?

    The the longer winded explanation is, I am planning on a raised bed or two for the spring and I am trying to maximize the gardening and vermicomposting angle. I most likely won’t have a lot of castings from my current meager amount of worms so I was thinking I need to try and set up a raised bed that combines the two concepts. My concern is how to create a bed where I can continue to feed the worms without negatively affecting the plants and their root systems.

    Thanks, Phil

    • Howard
    • October 12, 2012

    I’m new at this and purchased a Worm Factory 360 and a pound of Red Worms. Although I plan on starting a second bin (regular Rubbermaid version), I’m wondering if the European Red Worms would work in the Worm Factory?? (I’m also a fisherman and would like to raise this larger version worm). Thanks

    • Lucas
    • October 12, 2012

    I am new to vermicomposting and would like to know the best bin/medium to use so that the worms will be the happiest they can be 🙂

    • sam hutchens
    • October 12, 2012

    How long can worm castings be stored in a 5 gal. bucket. Over winter? Or is it best to put them in the garden spot and mixed with the soil?

    • JB Owens
    • October 12, 2012

    I am interested in researching the “growth hormome” ability of VC or VC Tea. Has anyone had experience with utilization of various worm species or various feed in such a study?

    • John W.
    • October 12, 2012

    @ JB Owens:
    Here is the exact post you should check out

    Bentley is testing that out right now. I can tell you from reading this blog for a while now…that You probably won’t have much success with the nightcrawlers. I think they like to go to the bottom of the bin and don’t really work there way up to the next bin.

    • John W.
    • October 12, 2012

    Sorry that was suppose to be for @Lucas.
    That post won’t help @Jb owens at all 🙂

    • Bentley
    • October 12, 2012

    Hehe – I think it was actually @Howard, John.
    Thanks for jumping in with that, though!

    • John W.
    • October 12, 2012

    lol…i really should not help while working…give me enough time and I WILL confuse everyone!

    • kristin baron
    • October 12, 2012

    I am brand new to this and am loving it. My question is once I put my beautiful rich wormy soil into my garden this spring will my new flock of chickens eat every last one of my wonderful worms?

    • Michael
    • October 12, 2012

    To post #5
    Bentley, now you know better than that:)

    • Red
    • October 12, 2012

    What is the best way to keep worms out of an outdoor bin? I don’t mind a few visitors, but having the whole colony move in is a bit much.

    • Sharon R.
    • October 12, 2012

    I just had this question, has anyone ever had a problem with roaches invading their worm bins? curious since the environment is perfect for roaches.

    • Jackie Isler
    • October 12, 2012

    Hi there – My question is – how much water should I add to the worm bin. This is my first bin and I have read differing opinions…. I do not want to drown the poor guys!

    • Karen
    • October 12, 2012

    Hi from Australia.
    I am thinking of setting up a vermiponics garden. Can you tell me what the benefits of doing this is over having a wicking container bed with worms. Good look everybody.


    • Karen
    • October 12, 2012


    I have another question. I have a plastic container turned into a water garden in which I had water celery growing in a container. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the plants roots had escaped out of the pot. When I removed the plant from the pot to plant in the bottom of the container I found lots and lots of red compost worms in the roots. I was amazed. My question is are worms able to live under water?

    • Kelsey
    • October 12, 2012

    What is the best way to encourage the worms to quit messing around and procreate? I bought 1 pound a year ago split into two separate Gusanito worm trays and they don’t seem to have increased their population too much in that time. Thanks very much!

    • CarrieAnn
    • October 13, 2012

    I’m not to sure what i did wrong but, I started with 2 lbs of red worms, now i have very few red worms and i am overrun with these ikky white like meal worms. I want to dump the tote and start all over but how do I keep those white worms from taking over and how did they get there?

    • BlakScot
    • October 13, 2012

    Is there an easy way to tell Eisenia fetida from Eisenia hortensis? Also, should a Eisenia hortensis bin be kept wetter than my red wriggler bin?

    • Mary Dolan
    • October 13, 2012

    Thanks for letting us enter here.

    Can I use a plastic shoe box to start raising worms?

    • Gramps
    • October 13, 2012

    Most of the articles on your site are about using worms for composting. I would be interested on growing worm for fishing so the casting would just be a by product. I would think that the ENCs would be the best for this. So my questions is

    What would be the best way to raise ENCs to be used for fishing? Any tips for fattening them up for fishing?

    • Joseph Popynia
    • October 13, 2012

    I noticed that worms seem to come together in clusters.I have a large plastic tote & was wondering how many red wigglers could it hold if they are feed an ample amount of food.When would it be so full that the worms could not survive? The container is approx. 24″ long 12″ wide & 18″ deep

    • Marin Rodriguez
    • October 13, 2012

    My question concerns potential uses of a standard Smith and Hawken Bio-Stack composting set up.

    To what extent can it be used as an outdoor worm bin?

    I feel like I can set it up to be a over sized stacking bin or as a flow-through system.

    Our weather in California (San Francisco Bay Area) is Mediterranean and generally mild, but out in the suburbs the temps can get up to 100 in the summer and down to freezing in the winter, though not for extended periods of time.

    • Arlene Montemarano
    • October 13, 2012

    Which is preferable as bedding: shredded newspaper, or straw? I have access to quite a bit of both.

    • Shaun
    • October 13, 2012

    New invaders!!! Out competing red worms!!!
    I ordered 1 pound of red worms from a not so good supplier. The worms were covered in pest so I rinsed, the best I could, all the packing materials and pest off. I noticed these small black bugs, I do not think they are beetles but now they are over running my bin.I can add a picture of the bug soon but they are maybe 2 mm long and do not think they have wings. I think they are out competing the worms!!!! I have tried to slow feeding, I freeze all food, I put all food in a food processor. But to no avail can I get rid of these pest. Is there any way to at least slow down these pest so that the worms can have more food?

  3. What is the potential for using fungal mycelium/spawn to precompost substrate prior to earthworm inoculation?

    Are there specific strains of fungi that are more adapt at speeding the compost of medium that earthworms will also thrive in?

    (My new “perfect mix”: finely shredded cardboard that has been boiled and then cooled, oyster mushroom inoculated coffee grounds and pre-fermented pressed then boiled wine grapes, handful of processed to paste kale spines and a tiny amount of milk replacement powder)

    • George Logan
    • October 14, 2012

    How long should horse manure sit before it is considered “aged”?

    • Deanna Quimby
    • October 14, 2012

    Entry Question: I have a small worm bin and I get a lot of dark liquid – so much I have to pay attention that it gets drained regularly so as not to drown my worms. Is this “liquid” good for plants? Thanks-love the blog!

    • Susan Cain
    • October 15, 2012

    I have 2 DIY 1″ x 10″ aerator tubes running crosswise in my 10 gallon plastic bin, 4″ up from the bottom, attached to a aquarium pump that I use to ‘infuse’ air into the compost from time to time if bin seems too wet. Is this a good idea or not?

  4. Question about burning (since I hate Facebook):

    Yesterday my children found an old bottle of v8 vegetable juice that had been sitting in the sun for about 6 months. I opened it and it didn’t have a foul smell at all, instead smelled like tomato sauce. I poured it onto the top of my worm inn and my worms flipped out! They acted as if it burned them! They were literally spinning over and over, turning, the way a dog rolls over! I felt so terrible I quickly diluted the mass blob of v8 juice with water and the worms who moved out of the sludge settled down! The only ingredient that was worrisome was the citrus. Did I burn my worms? Is it safe to add v8 in moderation? I made sure to mix it up with rabbit manure and newspaper after it burned them as a way to ensure they don’t continue getting burned. I hope this was the type of question you were after!

    – Richard R

    • Lyndsey
    • October 15, 2012

    While cooking my family tends to use a lot of jalapenos. We throw the old Jalapenos and scraps of what we’ve used into the worm bin. Our friends and family also give us their scraps for the bin and most likely there will be some sort of peppers from time to time. I was comparing the worms to animals, If you give a pepper to a animal such as a dog or cat, as soon as the juice touches their mouths they begin reacting. I was wondering if the hotness of the pepper will aggravate or harm the worms in any way?

    • RAIN B
    • October 15, 2012

    I just started my worm farm (inside apartment).
    I had ordered 2 types of worms then I read that they should NOT share the same habitat. So I dumped them in the garden. What can I do to improve their simple “dumped in the garden in one spot” environment?

    • Deb
    • October 15, 2012

    Not a fan of Facebook but I do have a question for you. What would you recommend for someone who is just starting out with vermicomposting?

    • Tom Stewart
    • October 15, 2012

    With Fall fast approching, I will be collecting bagged leaves to use as bedding and food material for the Worms. As I have no trees of any size on my Homestead, I will be collecting leaves curb side.
    Is there any leaves that I should not use for this and what are the best leaves to use?

    • wayne
    • October 15, 2012

    Does vermicompost tea replace fertilizer?

    • Ron S
    • October 15, 2012

    I am new to Red Worm composting. However, I have been raising earth worms (wigglers) for fishing. I juice a mixture of apples, celery, carrots and a slice of ginger every morning. I discovered that if I added the juicing left overs to the earthworms it would attrack soldier flies, and I would have a hatch of soldier fly larva in the eartworm bed. The soldier flies don’t seem to hurt the earthworms. However, I have stopped feeding the juicing left overs to the eartworms. My question is, can I use the left overs from the the jucing of the apple, celery, carrots and ginger for food for the red worms, or will it make the red worm bed too acidic and attract the soldier flies?

    • Joe Lane
    • October 15, 2012

    I wanted to enter the contest but I don’t do FB. Any other way to enter?


    • Kevin
    • October 15, 2012

    When setting up a self contained bin is it best to have an end harvest date in mind? Or just continue to add to it until it is full?
    I have some rather old bins that I use a few handfuls of compost from at a time that I take from the upper layers,is there a time frame when the lower layers are no longer as beneficial? Is there an amount of time when it has sat too long?

    Just in case you are wondering why these bins are so old . . . I hate harvesting 🙂

    • Bentley
    • October 15, 2012

    You don’t need to use Facebook, Joe. Just submit the question here!

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