Vermiponics System Wrap-Up

Vermiponics Lettuce & Radishes

Late last week I decided to pull the plug on my “Mini Vermiponics System” experiment. My original goal wasn’t so much to grow a nice crop of plants as it was to simply see how well the process worked in general. All in all, I was very pleased with the results! Considering this was my first attempt at this sort of thing, and that the conditions (low light, cool temps) weren’t exactly optimal for serious plant growth, I think we ended up with a nice little plot of vegetation!
🙂

Of course, one of the MAIN things I wanted to determine was how well the worms did in a system like this. Given some of the issues I ran into with really foul reservoir water (due to low oxygen), I was a little concerned that the grow bed environment might have ended up being rather inhospitable for the worms. Digging around a bit from time to time (and not really seeing all that many worms) seemed to contribute to this worry.

Well, the good news is that the worms did just fine (to say the least)! The first indicator of success in this department was the dense population of Red Worms I found in the feeding container.

Vermiponics Red Worms

I suspected that if there would be a decent number of worms to be found anywhere, THIS would be the spot, and that hunch turned out to be correct. The burlap bag definitely didn’t turn out to be the best choice as far as a removable insert goes, but if you used some sort of plastic mesh bag instead, this MIGHT even offer a decent way to harvest worms from a vermiponics grow bed!

Once I had dumped (and surveyed the contents of) the feeding tube, I decided it was time to dump all the grow bed media into one of my black worm sorting trays so I could assess the worm population in the rest of the bed. As I discovered, there were loads of worms down in the really wet zones – and they seemed to be especially concentrated in the lint material.

Vermiponics Worms

I wanted to really get a sense for just how many worms I might have ended up with in total, so I next started to slowly remove gravel and other materials from the top, encouraging the worms to keep diving down. This process actually took place over several days, and on Monday of this week I decided to shoot a video to show the worms I found down in the bottom.

Given how few worms were added to the bed in the first place, I was pleasantly surprised with the final tally (which, by the way, wasn’t really assessed, apart from some “wow – that looks like a decent amount” observations – haha). This reminds me – I definitely need to find a new home for all those little guys, since they are still sitting in that gravel as I write this.

Worms certainly weren’t the only thing to be found in great abundance in the grow bed. As I mention in the video, I couldn’t believe how many cocoons I found! It was incredible!
If only I had been doing this around the time I set up some of my “50 Cocoon Challenge” experiments! It would have taken a few minutes to get my quota!
🙂

Vermiponics - Worm Cocoon

Anyway – I am really looking forward to setting up a much more serious system outside in a month or two. I am planning to use a large plastic garbage can as a reservoir, and may even add a goldfish or two to keep things interesting!

Should be fun!

Previous Vermiponics Posts
VermiPonics
Mini VermiPonics System
VermiPonics System – 02-09-10
VermiPonics System – 02-12-10
VermiPonics System-02-19-10
VermiPonics System-03-08-10
VermiPonics System-03-10-10

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Comments

  1. Hi Bentley,
    Long time follower of your website. Thanks.
    I just finished setting up my Vermiponics system. It’s more of a Hydroponics system that uses worm tea.
    Basically, I have a Tray that acts as a reservoir and grow tray. In the tray I have these foam like things that serve as the grow medium and soaks up the worm tea. An areator areates the worm tea in this tray and a pump runs the worm tea back into the worm bin. The tea from the worm bin then drains back into the tray.
    Any thoughts on this? Would this work? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

    thanks
    -Neeraj

  2. Could the small worms just be down to the sheer numbers of worms present? Commercial growers tend to separate out worms and put them in low density containers to discourage breeding and encourage all food consumed to be converted to growth. Maybe in such ideal conditions the worms don’t feel the need to ‘toughen up’ and grow bigger (which they would need to leave the bed and look for somewhere new to live). Also in your conditions you may be getting the maximum number of of babies from each cocoon and no time for them to reach adulthood.

  3. I’m looking forward to the overview. I’m not sure I understand where the worms were living. In water? Rocks?

    • Carolyn
    • April 7, 2010

    Those are certainly the most mouth wateringly juicy, happy looking worms I have ever seen. Not a casting on their plump, shiny bodies.

    • Eve
    • April 8, 2010

    Beautiful nice worms Bentley It does look like you will have a great crop and great worm conditions too.

    Just a note on the goldfish. i grew goldfish in trash can sized containers in high school. You have to give them some shade. Or their little heads get sunburned. No fooling.

  4. I live on the Big Island of Hawaii in an Elderly housing complex.The science and art of vermiculture fascinates me! I have a three tier homemade composter in my living room and it works. It is populated with Red Wrigglers altho I started with blue tropicals as well. The blues sem s to have disappeared.
    The BSF method is evenmore interesting but so far I havemaggots from ashiny green bodied flie. Pehaps BSF is not in my area(Hamakua coast).
    I want to find an acre ortwo of agricultural land nearby and sevote more time toraising worms and BSF maggots to feed organic chickens.
    If any one knows of simple lease ontheHamakus coast, please let me know.
    Have very wormy good time,
    Thomas Jerry Smith

    • Bentley
    • April 22, 2010

    Sorry for the delay replying here, everyone!

    NEERAJ – Definitely keep us posted on your progress. That sounds like an interesting approach. I think Jim Joyner (person who inspired me to start all this in the first place) is doing something similar in his new system this year (i.e. worm bed being separate from the grow bed). There are definitely some advantages to this approach.
    —————–
    BELINDA – The grow bed contained lots of shredded cardboard and dryer lint, aside from the gravel (although, they can apparently do just fine living in a gravel bed) so they certainly had plenty of habitat. They can indeed live completely submerged in water for a LONG time as long as there is a certain minimum amount of oxygen present.
    ——————
    CAROLYN – You wouldn’t happen to be a Robin, would you? haha
    I’ve never seen a human refer to worms as “mouth wateringly juicy”.
    😉
    ——————-
    EVE – Yeah, I can’t wait to see how it all works outside! I’m definitely itching to get started (and in fact may be starting something sooner than originally expected). I didn’t know that about goldfish – I wonder if waterproof sunblock would work? haha
    ——————–
    THOMAS – I think we have similar dreams (although, I’d probably prefer 5-10 acres myself). Best of luck!
    8)

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