50 Cocoon Challenge Wrap-Up

Everything looking pretty well processed in original ’50 Cocoon Challenge’ Bin

We are getting pretty close to the 6 month mark of the original ’50 Cocoon Challenge’ (oh how time flies) so I thought it was as good a time as any to start wrapping things up – well at least as far as ‘phase I’ of the challenges goes. As mentioned in other posts, there are at least a couple of other 50 cocoon systems I want to test out (namely cardboard-only and straw-only).

All in all, it was a really interesting experiment – especially early on. As it turns out, and as per usual, I did very little to maintain the system over time so I definitely have mixed feelings over the significance (if any) of the current population status. My original plan had been to do a full tally of all the worms and cocoons in the system, but in thinking about it some more I realized that this probably wouldn’t be a good use of my time (and believe me, if I thought the results would be valuable I’d be all over that). You see, the system in no way shape or form represents anything close to ‘typical’ (ie the average home worm bin) – like I said, the early findings were very interesting, and in my humble opinion helped to shed some more light on the potential for Red Worms to hatch and grow quite rapidly (as you may recall, within 6 weeks I was finding fully developed adults in the bin). Obviously we can’t make any grand sweeping generalizations here, but clearly it IS possible for these worms to grow to adulthood in a matter of weeks.

If I had continued to feed the bin on a regular basis, I can only imagine how many more worms there would be – and believe me, there are a LOT. There are also many many cocoons in the mix as well. As you can see, one of the other interesting finds in the bin was a VERY determined avocado plant!

On the off chance that I might want to do something further with this material/worms (apart from transferring everything to a new system that is), I decided to dump the contents of the bin out into one of my open tray systems. The material is very wet and gooey so even if I DID want to do some sort of population assessment, I would at least need to let everything dry out quite a bit.

So we shall see – perhaps if I am feeling extra motivated I will start carefully removing material (separating out any cocoons and worms I find) and see if I can effectively and quickly concentrate the remaining worms. If nothing else, it would at least be kind of interesting to see what sort of a ‘gob’ we’ll be left with.

One other semi-related tidbit to throw your way. I also have plans to start-up a second ‘Four Worm Reproduction Experiment‘ which should be a lot of fun! This time I will be using a fairly typical system (although as you shall see, it is a bin I haven’t used before or even made mention of), rather than the stacking flow-through bin that kept drying out on me. I think it will be really interesting to see the difference! (and yes THIS time there will definitely be ongoing maintenance involved – no more slacking!!).

Stay tuned!

Previous 50 Cocoon Challenge Posts
The 50 Cocoon Challenge
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #1
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #2
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #3
50 Cocoon Challenge – Horse Manure
50 Cocoon Challenge – Update #4
50 Cocoon Challenge – Horse Manure – Update
50 Cocoon Challenge Updates

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    • Harley
    • November 20, 2009

    hey bentley,
    you didn’t tell us how many worms you ended up with?


    • Bentley
    • November 20, 2009

    Hi Harley – you must have been speed-reading! lol

    As mentioned, I’ve been feeling uncertain about the significance (if any) that the final tally will have. It will take a LONG time to count all the worms and cocoons in this material, and because I fed the system so infrequently (and not according to any consistent schedule), this in no way demonstrates the potential for a worm population to develop in 6 months.
    I’d like to test this out by starting another of my “Four Worm Reproduction Experiments”.

    All that being said, I may still try to get at least try to get some idea of the quantity of worms left in the material – and if nothing else, all those cocoons would certainly come in handy for my planned straw and cardboard “50 Cocoon Challenges”!

    • Christian
    • November 21, 2009

    I’m looking forward to watching the 4WRE this time, as the reproductive process with these creatures fascinates me so much. I started out with about 250g (half-pound) of red wigglers on Halloween and it’s exactly three weeks now. If 250g contains roughly 500 worms, I’d love to know where I’m at now. No worms have been trying to escape and now that the ecosystem is well established they seem to be tearing through the food quickly. I’d like to think that these would be ideal conditions for some worm romance.

    Hopefully your experiment will shed some light on the subject. Get to it!

    • Marty
    • March 10, 2013

    I agree with Harley…. The scientific process in not complete without proper obseravations….It doesnt take too long to seperate worms from castings-if using a good process. They say, 1000 wigglers equal one pound (450 grams aprox)…they sell “jewlery scales” at any market or bodeagas these days for under $20.
    I did like reading your challenge though-Ive gone through my pure castings to pull out the cocoons to rehatch.
    Full grown worms after six weeks?? goes against most of the literature i’ve read-but im hoping youre right and they’re wrong…ill get back to you on that one!!

    • Bentley
    • March 10, 2013

    Hey Marty,
    I guess it’s all a matter of perspective as far as what a “long time” is – but any time I’ve done worm/cocoon tallies it has taken hours. I have a good quality weigh balance – that’s certainly not my limitation. lol

    I prefer to keep a lot of my “experiments” (always use the term loosely) in the realm of fun, rather than taking them too seriously. I don’t want people to take my findings and run with them since they are never being conducted in a rigorously scientific manner (and I always make that clear).

    Please share some of the literature you are referring to. 4-6 weeks seems pretty standard for Red Worms based on my own reading. In one of the chapters in Vermiculture Technology, Dominguez and Edwards suggest 28-30 days as the average time for hatchlings to mature. They’ve come up with their numbers based on numerous academic studies.

    This compares well to maturity times a large-scale worm farming friend shared with me from his own operation.

    • Marty
    • March 10, 2013

    i agree fully with cocoon counts…that would take a long time. A method that works well for me is the light overhead and make many mounds. I use a marinating brush, (made of some sort of rubber) to brush away the castings. I usually take on some other task while i do this process (as the worms need time to hide from the light).. the brush is key to this process.
    I went to school for lab science..they pounded the scientific process in me!! …but
    …your experiments are too good not to count the worms though. πŸ™‚ lol

    I only got in to this 6-8 months ago with my kids-through word of mouth a large establishment has me researching to possibly implement vermicomposting to many people.
    ill send some links your way..the one i can think of specificly is a video from New Zealand. It might be more approprate to get some links off you though…i am new at this
    my email is maui.ont@hotmail.com

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