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Four Worm Reproduction Experiment


My new stacking worm bin – level one!


After sharing my idea for this project (back in June), it ended up on the backburner. Well, as you can probably tell, I’m in serious action mode lately so I figured I might as well take advantage of the momentum and get this experiment up and running. Again, in a nutshell, I simply want to see for myself how quickly a red worm population will grow. I originally thought I’d start with only two worms, but subsequently doubled that number to a whopping four!

There is so much hype out there regarding the extreme speed at which populations of these worms can double in size, and even the numbers from reputable sources are pretty impressive so it will be interesting!

I wanted to add young worms only (those without a clitellum) to help ensure that none of the worms were carrying sperm (worms can produce multiple cocoons after a single sperm exchange), but I ended up settling for two juveniles and two adults.


Setting Up the Bin

Starting this project provided me with a good opportunity for finally getting my new stacking worm bin up and running (although it’s certainly going to take awhile before I can really test it out!). The first thing I did was lay multiple layers of newsprint down over the mesh floor in the first tray.


Next I added a mixture of mulched (and aged) grass clippings and leaves.


I then thoroughly moistened the mixture to make sure it was ready for the worms. Keeping an eye on moisture levels will be very important with this system given the greatly increased exposure to air (as compared with a plastic tub).


Finally, I added the four worms. The picture above shows two of them moving down into the material. My wigglers seem to love the mulch so I have every confidence it will serve as an ideal bedding/food. I will also start to add some food scraps as well just to make sure there is ample nutrition available in the bin


That’s it! Easy peezy! Now we simply wait and see what happens. Of course, I will be keeping close tabs on the bin to make sure all the worms’ needs are taken care of, and I’ll also be sure to report on any interesting findings (first appearance of cocoons etc).

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Written by Bentley on December 12th, 2007 with 17 comments.
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17 comments

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Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Jeff
#1. December 13th, 2007, at 4:00 AM.

Hi Bentley

I have the save bin here not up and running yet
would you like me to do the same with euro’s??

Jeff

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#2. December 13th, 2007, at 4:05 AM.

Great idea, Jeff! :-)
Maybe we can even get a few others on board to try this out as well. Would be interesting to see what happens in different system and with different food (as long as only 4 worms are used to start).

B.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com vermiman
#3. December 13th, 2007, at 6:38 PM.

What will be the length of this experiment? I can start simular experiments with ENCs and EFs in ice cream buckets using pure rabbit droppings as bedding.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#4. December 13th, 2007, at 7:15 PM.

Hey Vermiman!
I haven’t decided on a set length of time, but I was thinking at least a few months (probably more).
However long you can participate would be great! I’d definitely be very interested to see how well they do in the rabbit droppings. I was under the impression that pure (fresh) droppings would be harmful for the worms.

Anyway, this is going to be fun!
8)

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com vermiman
#5. December 13th, 2007, at 7:46 PM.

Bentley,

Rabbit droppings do not heat up when it decomposes. Pure fresh droppings are not harmful to the worms unless it is attained from the rabbits urinating area. It is the ammonia in the urine that is harmfull to the worms.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#6. December 13th, 2007, at 8:25 PM.

Interesting. I just assumed that the pellets would naturally get mixed with the urine. I haven’t heard of a ‘rabbit urinating area’ before.
Ya learn something new every day, I tell ya!
;-)

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com vermiman
#7. December 13th, 2007, at 9:49 PM.

That is one thing that a rabbit can control. They usually pick one area to use as their spot. The droppings in that area I usually mix it into the bedding to dilute the ammonia somewhat.

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Michael Allen
#8. May 7th, 2008, at 6:49 AM.

How is the experiment going? What have you discovered?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#9. May 7th, 2008, at 6:27 PM.

Hi Michael,
I am overdue for another update (I also need to add links to all the other 4 worm posts in each of the posts written – if that makes any sense).

In a nutshell, I have lots and lots of juvenile worms now. Just waiting for them to grow up so the system will start working a little faster!

Anyway, I’ll try to get a proper update up soon
B

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Alex Thrasher
#10. May 20th, 2008, at 1:30 PM.

Any news? I just stumbled on your blog today and it’s quite intersting :) I’m hoping to order my red worms sometime later this week or beginning of next week. I think I’m going to use the Oscr Jr. bin. Looking forward to updates on this experiment!

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#11. May 20th, 2008, at 7:48 PM.

Hi Alex,
It has indeed been a little while since my last update. I’m actually going to be ending the experiment fairly soon so I can put the stacking system to good use with a normal population of red worms.
Before doing so, I will attempt to count all the worms/cocoons currently in the system to see how well the reproduction experiment ended up going.

B

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Walt
#12. April 14th, 2009, at 3:30 PM.

hay vermiman,

I am trying the ice cream bucket reproduction thing too. I have two buckets. one with 1/2 old potting soil and 1/2 with pulverized garbage and 30 juvenile worms and started december 10, 2008. the other is 1/2 with dirt and 1/2 with pulverized garbage and 25 mature worms and started Feb. 2009. I’ll being looking to see the results. supposedly this method will produce 1000 worms into one million in a year. What kind of results did you get?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Candin
#13. September 5th, 2009, at 9:04 AM.

Any updates B?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#14. September 10th, 2009, at 2:13 PM.

LoL – I guess you haven’t checked out the “Hot Topics” page, Candin. You will find links to all the posts in this series, including my final wrap-up of the experiment.
8)

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#15. September 10th, 2009, at 2:15 PM.

Missed your comment there, Walt. For the benefit of both you and Candin (and anyone else who wants to find out how it went), here is a link to the wrap-up post:
https://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-composting/four-worm-reproduction-experiment-wrap-up/

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com creepycrawler
#16. October 22nd, 2009, at 4:05 AM.

What do you give worms to eat to reproduce at a faster rate?

Get your own gravatar by visiting gravatar.com Bentley
#17. November 3rd, 2009, at 8:28 PM.

Hi Creepycrawler – in my experience, cardboard and other paper products seem to stimulate worm reproduction. A mix of aged manure and shredded cardboard would likely be a pretty killer combo!
8)

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