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Seattle and the Mystery of the Disappearing Red Worms

Yesterday I received an intriguing email from ‘Annette’. Her subject line
was “Seattle and the Mystery of the Red Composting Worm Disappearance” (as
you can see I’ve used an abridged version for the title of this post). Needless
to say, it sucked me right in! Here was her message:

I just called Seattle Tilth’s gardening hotline because I could not
figure out why on earth my red worms were gone. I’ve done this for
years and never had any issues. Conditions were not too wet or dry in
the wood worm bin. Apparently, most of Seattle is experiencing a red
worm disappearance.

Seattle Tilth has been selling compost worms for as long as I can remember and
they stopped because nobody – even other gardening stores – can figure
out what the hell is happening. (this happened before our recent cold
spell, I might add). Also, a friend of mine ordered online some worms
from a totally different source than where I got mine and his are gone
too. Any thoughts?

Hi Annette,

As you already know, this has me completely stumped! I decided to post it here on the blog for the sake of seeing if anyone else had heard anything about this.

If the worms were all (more…)

Written by Bentley on December 11th, 2013 with 2 comments.
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High Altitude Tomatoes

RWC worm-friend, Tina Ligon, recently wrote in to ask if I was still sharing gardening pics (see “How Did Your Garden Grow“). The picture she shared with me was SO beautiful I decided to give her her own post!

I garden at 7900′ in Colorado and all of these tomatoes were grown here.
I have just harvested two 30 gallon trashcans of vermicompost from my
outdoor bin (a former refrigerator). Of course I amend my soil in my “tomato
house” as I call my self made greenhouse with vermicompost.

You don’t have to be a tomato fanatic (like me) to appreciate a picture like that. Thanks again for sharing, Tina!

By the way – if you haven’t seen Tina’s guest blog post from a few years back, I highly recommend you check that out as well:
Tina’s Outdoor Worm Bin Experiment

Written by Bentley on September 12th, 2012 with 3 comments.
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Vermicomposting Tools

RWC reader, Brad Irish, recently sent me a photo (and brief description) of the set of “tools” he uses to prepare materials for his Worm Inn. I knew this was something that other “Worm Heads” would appreciate so I asked if I could share it here.

This is what he had to say:

Attached you will find a photo of the tools I use to prepare my
Worm Inn food for my worms by chopping it up using an
ice scraper and a dedicated immersion blender if I want
to puree the mixture. It seems to be working very well in
that my Worm Inn is doing well having started it in the
middle of July with 1 lbs. of worms.

And here is the pic:

Written by Bentley on August 23rd, 2012 with 6 comments.
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BSFLs in Outdoor Worm Beds

A little while back, RWC reader, Margie (from California), sent me an email sharing her experience with black soldier flies in her outdoor worm bins. I thought others might find the info helpful, so I asked Margie if it was ok to post it here. You can probably guess what she said.
(Thanks again, Margie!)

Below you will find her description, along with images of her outdoor bins

Written by Bentley on August 7th, 2012 with 6 comments.
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Worm Cocoons?

RWC reader, Jackie “Grammie” Wolverton, recently sent me a really nice shot of some material from her worm bin. She had come across some interesting capsules and was wondering if they were worm cocoons.

I asked Jackie if I could share the photo here on the site, since I knew others would benefit. She happily obliged.
(Thanks again, Jackie)

As I explained, these are actually fly pupae, not worm cocoons. In the close-up (I created using a photo editor) you can see what an empty worm cocoon looks like in comparison. They (cocoons) tend to have more of a rounded tear-drop shape, and range in color from yellow to dark brown (when close to hatching).

There are various types of flies that can lay eggs in a vermicomposting bin – the house fly typically being the most common, especially when a bin is indoors (or at least semi-indoors, such as in a garage). Before you find these capsules, however, you will almost certainly find an abundance of white maggots in the bin.

House flies tend to be more attracted to smelly waste materials (like rotting meat), but I don’t doubt that they would invade a worm bin if that was the best “food” option they had available.

It’s important to note that there is also a fly called the “Stable Fly”, which looks like a house fly and produces similar pupal capsules as well. It actually seems to have a much greater tendency to invade the sort of waste materials that could be found in a worm composting bed. I’ve found plenty of them in aged manure and coffee grounds, for example. You’ll know you have these guys (as opposed to regular house flies) if they land on you and bite you! lol

Anyway – thanks again to Jackie for sharing!

Written by Bentley on May 10th, 2012 with 1 comment.
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Seventh Generation Bottles as Worm Food?

I received an interesting email from RWC reader, Mark Stephenson, a short time ago, explaining how he was feeding the outer shell of Seventh Generation laundry detergent bottles to his worms. This certainly piqued my curiosity, so I asked if Mark could send in some photos. Here is a blurb from Mark’s original email, along with some of the cool photos he sent in:

We are users of Seventh Generation products and their latest packaging for laundry detergent is *worm friendly*. The outer shell is recycled fiber that I shred for my worm bins. The rest is goes into our normal recycle stream (cap to Preserve , inner plastic liner to the curbside recycle program).

That looks like a really cool bottle to me!

Thanks again, Mark, for sharing this with me and the rest of the RWC community!

Written by Bentley on December 21st, 2011 with 5 comments.
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Black Soldier Fly Horoscope

Our good friend, Larry Duke, sent me this hilarious picture today – and I just HAD to share it here (with his approval of course)!

It seems this little guy is a Leo – although, too bad there is a chunk-o-turd blocking much of the horoscope!
Still, looks like he needs to wise up and start polishing those social skills! (tis always “mating season” in BSF land after all!)

Thanks for the laugh, Larry!

Written by Bentley on April 22nd, 2011 with no comments.
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