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Worm Composting Videos

I’ve really enjoyed putting together some fun vermicomposting-related videos and posting them on YouTube. The response thus far has been incredible! I only have a handful so far, but you can certainly expect to see more added over time. I will always post the most recent one nearest to the top. In order to watch them you may need to download the Adobe Flash Player – you can get it (free) >>HERE<<. Many computers have Flash already installed, so you may not need to worry about it. Some of the early videos also have a high-definition version, but from here on out I'll likely just post the YouTube versions (for the sake of convenience) - I'm not even sure people have been watching the originals anyway.

Vermicomposting – An Overview – This video is basically intended as a means of introducing newcomers to some of the fundamentals of vermicomposting. It is also intended as a bit of a promo piece for

“Garbage Bag Harvesting Method” – Not sure why it took me so long to post this one. Better late than never, I guess! Anyway, this one outlines my passive method for moving worms to a new system, while harvesting vermicompost in the process. If the new system is set up ahead of time and allowed to age, the worms should move down quite quickly. If you really don’t want to lose the babies or those not yet hatched from the cocoons in the material, you will need to let the stuff sit for awhile (before using it) and find some way of luring them out (a thin layer of rotting fruit/veggies on the surface would likely help).

Squash Vermicomposting – In fall of 2007 I started up a fun (photographic) experiment to see how long it would take for a butternut squash to decompose in a worm bin. I was hoping to take a picture every day, but that ended up proving to be more of a challenge than anticipated, so there are some gaps. Nevertheless, I compiled all the shots and made them into a powerpoint-style video. It’s kinda fun watching the squash get converted into rich worm castings!

Winterizing My Outdoor Worm Bin – I’ve been talking a lot about my winter composting efforts and have been promising to put together a video about it. Well, I am finally finished! Now I can get back to providing you updates on the blog!
NOTE: The video contains potentially annoying music (haha), but I’m happy to report that sound is not required!
Also, don’t mind the typos (eg ‘morale of the story’ lol)

Setting Up a ‘Deluxe’ Rubbermaid Worm Bin – The YouTube version of this video has been viewed over 1200 times since I put it up (as of the time of writing this) and a lot of people seem to have found it helpful – always a good thing!
NOTE: After re-recording it a zillion times, I gave up and used the last version, so there are a few weird spots (like “that’s eeeeeet”). I don’t actually sound that funny in real life…honest!

Setting Up a ‘Basic’ Rubbermaid Worm Bin – This video shows how to set up a simple worm bin using a single Rubbermaid tub. This is actually pretty close to my typical method for setting up an indoor bin (although my new ‘deluxe’ version is growing on me). Unfortunately I only have the YouTube version of this video (had a computer meltdown a little while ago), but much of the info is similar to the ‘deluxe’ video (although no narration).


Stay Tuned – More Videos on the Way!

Upcoming videos:
- The Vermicomposting Trench
- Building your own ‘Mini’ Worm Bin
- The Ugly Truth about Vermicomposting


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Get your own gravatar by visiting Sandy George
#1. October 26th, 2007, at 2:38 AM.

I want to get started worm farming on a small scale, enjoyed the video very much. Wish you would have said howe many worms to add to a container.

Thanks, Sandy

Get your own gravatar by visiting Glenn Brandenburg
#2. October 26th, 2007, at 9:46 PM.

I enjoyed the video very much , it was very helpful and the information was easy to follow about drilling the holes.
Thank You

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#3. October 26th, 2007, at 9:49 PM.

Hi Sandy,
Yeah I imagine some people must be wondering about that. :-)
I wrote about this recently in my newletter, but should have also added something here on the site.

When it comes to stocking densities I tend to take a very conservative approach. I prefer to let the worm population grow into a system rather than stocking a new system based on recommended numbers (1 lb per sq ft is a common recommendation). Of course, this approach DOES require a decent amount of patience which can be challenging for someone chomping at the bit to start vermicomposting.

I guess if forced to come up with a recommend stocking density I might suggest 1/2 lb per sq ft, but if you set up the bin the way I’ve described (ie. letting it age for 1-2 weeks before adding worms) you shouldn’t run into too many issues with usual density recommendations.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#4. October 26th, 2007, at 10:07 PM.

Hi Glenn!
Glad to hear that the video was helpful!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Diane
#5. October 27th, 2007, at 9:39 PM.

Your video was way cool. Just what I needed to see. Thanks also for all the other videos you included. Not sure how Arizona lower elevations city apartment temperatures will factor in. Just need to think get some creative inspiration going on apartment size and temp.
Thanks again. Great job.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Janet
#6. October 29th, 2007, at 3:21 PM.

Thanks so much for the video. I have been wanting to start doing this for some time but felt a bit intimidated. This well be a cool project for my son and myself to start on this fall. About how long would you say it takes for the process to produce compost for gardens? Hope this is not a dumb question.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#7. October 29th, 2007, at 3:47 PM.

You are very welcome. I enjoyed making the videos and am excited about my new video section in general. I think it will really help people to learn about worm composting.

Diane – Red worms (Eisenia fetida) have a pretty wide temperature tolerance so you shouldn’t have any problems in Arizona (indoors anyway). Just make sure to keep your bin out of the sun.

Janet – There is no such thing as a ‘dumb question’ – especially here. Aside from that, your question is actually an excellent one (I’m sure many others have wondered the same thing). Unfortunately I have to respond with an “it depends”. If you are just starting a brand new bin it may be at least a few months before you are able to use the compost, especially since it usually takes some time before worms get used to their new surroundings. Once your worm population is optimized (in terms of numbers) and fully adapted for a given system the vermicomposting process can proceed quite quickly.

What I would recommend is separating the worms from the compost (I will be making a video about this fairly soon) when the level of composted material (dark, soil like stuff) gets a few inches from the top of the bin. Will provide more information on this subject shortly (don’t want to make this comment into an essay! :-) )


Get your own gravatar by visiting Julio
#8. November 15th, 2007, at 1:49 AM.

Great job Bentley !!! This video is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
I look forward to your future ones. Thanks again.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#9. November 15th, 2007, at 8:03 PM.

Thanks Julio!
Glad they helped.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Carmen
#10. November 23rd, 2007, at 4:42 PM.

Thank you so much for your videos, this is the best info that I have been able to find so far about vermicomposting, I just placed an order of 1lb worms, I should have waited a little bit though since you explained it is better to let the food sit fot at least a week before placing the worms in the bin. I have a couple of questions though, How much food should we add per 1lb of worms and also how do you separate the worms from the compost, so you can get as many worms out? Thanks

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#11. November 26th, 2007, at 12:30 PM.

Hi Carmen,
Sorry for the delay replying.
Thanks very much for your kind words. I can assure you I’ll be putting a lot more time and energy into the site in coming months – glad to hear that people are benefiting from it already though!

As for letting your bin (with food mixed in) sit for a week or two, while this is usually the best way to go, it certainly doesn’t mean you are doomed to fail if you haven’t done so. I would at least let things sit while you wait for the worms to arrive. Any microbial colonization will help. If you add the worms to a totally new system (new bedding + fresh food scraps) they may try to escape.

As for the amount of food to feed, I would be very conservative early on. You want to make sure they are eating what is in there already before adding any more. If you had a pound of food waste mixed in with the bedding when they arrived, that would probably get them started (again better if it’s partially decayed). Just keep an eye on it and if it looks like the worms are staying down in the bedding and the food materials are being consumed, then you can start slowly adding more waste materials.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Carmen
#12. November 28th, 2007, at 3:04 PM.

Hi Bentley: Thank you so much for the info, I started the bin about 5 days ago and already place some food scraps on it , I left the bin in my laundry room, the worms are not here just yet but will be here very soon either today or tomorrow I imagine. I do have another question though. I have buried all the food but when I go to the laundry room it smells a little like decaying garbage, is this normal or am I doing something wrong, I mean I don’t have the worms just yet so there is nothing eating all the garbage.
Thank you for all your help.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#13. November 28th, 2007, at 3:39 PM.

Hi Carmen,
Wet food waste left to sit will rot and develop anaerobic (without oxygen) zones and cause stink! Worms are great because they move the materials around and consume the goopy rotting stuff, so worm bins (if well maintained) are typically odor-free!
It’s probably a good sign that it stinks – at least you know there will be a rich microbial buffet waiting for the worms when they arrive!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Carmen
#14. November 28th, 2007, at 8:30 PM.

Benteley: I got my worms today, I am so excited, actually the worms are my birthday gift from my hubby. It’s kind of funny to see peoples faces when I tell them what I am getting for my birthday. I hope I am not asking too many questions but I just though of one more to ask if you don’t mind. How long should I wait before adding more food scraps to the bin? and also the instructions that came with the worms said that you can keep a light on the bin in the begining to prevent them from escaping, is this necesary?

thank you for all your help

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#15. November 28th, 2007, at 8:47 PM.

Hi again Carmen,
Definitely no worries about the questions. I’m here to help! :-)
As for getting weird looks, I’ve certainly had my fair share of that. My neighbours must think I’ve a raving lunatic in fact, given my winter composting routine (my big outdoor worm bin is very visible from multiple directions :-) ).
Oh well – more and more people seem to be getting interested in worm composting so it’s only a matter of time before the neighbourhood wants to get in on the action (ok – maybe not in the middle of winter – lol)


Excellent question re: when to feed next. I think this is where a LOT of people mess up early on. They are so eager to take good care of their new pets that they end up feeding them every day, as soon as they have them in their new home.
I would highly recommend simply letting the system chill out for awhile. You’ll want to check up on it to see if the worms are settling into the material, but definitely don’t add any more food – at least not until there isn’t any recognizable food material in the bin. You are WAY more likely to kill worms via overfeeding that under-feeding that is for sure.

As for using a light – if your worms seems like they are trying to make a mass escape, then sure – go for it. Hopefully given the fact that you have prepped the bin beforehand, they’ll really like their new home. But you never know. If they were raised only on manure, it may take them a little while to get used to rotting food scraps.

Anyway, if you have a lid simply put it on once you introduce them (after they burrow down into the material), then maybe check back in 20 minutes or so and see if they are still buried (if so, wait a few hours and try again). If they are still buried after 24 hours, and seem responsive (moving away when you move material) then you are likely good to go (ie no light necessary).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Irene Tanner
#16. December 5th, 2007, at 9:42 AM.


Thank you SO much for the video…it was just what I needed to see to figure out how to do this. I have a few questions though. I live in Beijing where it is extremely, extremeley dry and it’s cold (like New York). Other things I have read have said that the newspaper needs to be kept wet, like a wringed out sponge (75%)….whereas on your video, you seemed to spray it to light saturation. I am worried aobut keeping it moist enough. Would the food scraps themselves keep it moist enough?

Also, I am going to make these bins for a school, so we will keep them indoors. I am terrified that there will be strong odors or many pests. I understand it’s a live environment, but I am afraid of flies, fruit flies, etc. Is there anything i can do to prevent this?

Lastly, I’m going to have to hunt for red wigglers here. I don’t have any place to mail order them, and I don’t think I can fly them in! I believe that China has them because i know that many chinese companies actually produce and sell the compost back…it’s a question of finding them. What should I look for to know that they are the right worms? I know they have earthworms they use for bait.

Thanks for the support. I hope I can do it. I need a place for my scraps.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#17. December 5th, 2007, at 2:24 PM.

Hi Irene,
Thanks for the questions. I got your email as well.
I have little doubt that one could keep worm bins successfully in Beijing (especially if indoors – more on that in a minute). I apologize if my video was confusing re: moisture content. Remember, all I was doing was preparing the bin in the video. Due to all the water-rich food wastes + the water I added, the moisture content in the bin should be decent by the time the worms are added (I haven’t actually added worms to either bin I set up that day, believe it or not – will do so soon though).

Moisture content is very important for successful worm composting so you do in fact need to make sure your bedding is thoroughly moistened by the time the worms are added (the wrung-out sponge guideline is a good approach when starting out).

As for strong odors and pests – the beauty of a well kept worm bin is that there is no odor at all. Worms in essence are ‘odor-eaters’ via their movment and consumption of sloppy, smelly waste materials.
Fruit flies on the other hand seem to be a rite of passage for all new worm composters. (and as I mentioned recently, the funny thing is that my bins from the videos ended up infested with them). To reduce the chances of an infestation you should cook or freeze and fruit scraps you add to the bin since fruit fly eggs can be found embedded in the skin. You will also want to use a lot of bedding material up at the top of your bin to discourage the movement of adult flies. If you happen to get an infestation you can make effective traps quite easily – simply put beer, wine or wine/cidar vinegar in a container and put plastic wrap over top. The simply punch a few small holes in the top (a fork should help). I recently did this myself and was amazed how well it worked (better than the traps I actually purchased).

As for finding red wigglers, I’m not 100% sure what to recommend there. I guess your best bet is to find out who is using composting worms there and see if you can get a hold of some. Sorry I can’t be of greater assistance in that department.

Just keep in mind that soil worms are not well suited for worm bins, so if you do try out some of the local worms, try to find them naturally occuring (abundantly) in compost heaps or aged livestock manure.

Hope this helps


Get your own gravatar by visiting Irene Tanner
#18. December 7th, 2007, at 2:19 AM.

Thanks so much Bentley for your response. A few follow-up questions…

1. When you say cook your scraps, would you boil them? How long does it take to boil or freeze to kill the eggs?

2. Regarding the fruit fly infestation, do you just put that jar right next to the bin? In the bin?

3. Once we find the worms, we will probably build a few types of bins and see what works. People talk about plastic and wood, but have you heard about bamboo? I want to make a continuous bin using the restaurant sized bamboo steamers. Is there any rules about the depth of each layer?

4. What about aluminum as a material? I worry that the bamboo steamers use some sort of twine to tie the bamboo slats together…I worry about the worms eating them. There are also large aluminim steamers. I know they make stainless steel composters, but I don’t think those are for worms.

5. The holes in the botton of the continuous bins need to be 1/8 inch for the worms to be able to crawl through, correct?

6. Lastly, do these scraps/fiber layers need to be stirred at all? how often?

Thanks so much. You are going to be so helpful for us. I hope that if we can sucessfully start a worm bin and can find the worms, we can promote it to other schools and homes here. Can you recommend your favorite book on vermicomosting for the layman? and for kids?


Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#19. December 7th, 2007, at 4:02 AM.

Hi again Irene,
If you have access to a microwave oven that would work well. Really, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes (likely more quickly if you dropped into boiling water). As for freezing – you should be ok leaving the scraps in a freezer overnight.

The fruit fly trap should be outside the bin, but close by so that the flies don’t stray too far from the bin.

Your idea re: using bamboo steamers as flow-through bins is very interesting (sounds like a great idea). The worms themselves won’t ‘eat’ your bin components but bamboo and other organic materials will be gradually decomposed (by microorganisms) over time.

As for depth, it will be helpful if each tray is at least deep enough so that you can bury the food scraps under some bedding.

I haven’t heard of anyone using an aluminum container before, but it might work well given that its resistance to breakdown.

The 1/8 inch holes I cut in my bins were for aeration/drainage, not for worm movement (I actually wanted to discourage worms from moving down into the reservoir). That being said, worms have been known to squeeze through window screen so I have little doubt that you’ll do fine with a bunch of holes that size (make sure you clean them up so the worms don’t get hurt on the way through).

Worm bin contents don’t need to be stirred – the worms will do this for you!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Graham
#20. December 19th, 2007, at 12:26 PM.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#21. December 19th, 2007, at 12:38 PM.

Hi Graham,
Glad to hear that the videos have helped. As for “brewing” and “fermenting”, assuming you mixed the scraps with lots of bedding you shouldn’t have any fermenting (that process requires anaerobic conditions), so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting the worms drunk or anything like that.

Regarding the soaking of bedding in tea, I don’t see that as being an issue. I have never tried this myself (although I’ve been recently viewing leftover coffee in the same light myself – wondering if it might not make a good substitute for water.

Anyway, I’d recommend using it on a limited basis and seeing how the worms respond.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Ida Yoder
#22. January 5th, 2008, at 4:46 AM.

Thank you so much for all your information. We got our first worms in October. They seem to be doing good. eventhough the second morning I came down and had worms all over the basement floor, {picked them up first} then left a light on, they gave me a scare.
Do you put the lid on tight ? And the other question is, how soon do I devide them? do I need to take the big ones out and sell the or just start another tub ? how long is the lifetme of worms?

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#23. January 7th, 2008, at 5:06 PM.

Hi Ida,
Thanks for stopping by – glad you’ve found the info useful.
Generally, if a bin is prepared ahead of time (and allowed to ‘age’) you shouldn’t have too much trouble with wandering worms. I always age my bins before adding the worms and rarely have an problems at all.
That being said, all of my indoor bins do have lids (that prevent curious worms from getting out).

I would suggest dividing your bins once you see lots of processed material (will look like soil) and the level of material is nearing the top of the bin. It is hard to say when this will occur with a new set-up. It will depend on the quantity of worms, temperature, how well the system is managed etc. It will likely be at least a few months before you need to split.

If you are planning to sell worms you can certainly harvest some and sell them, but I’d definitely recommend building up a number of bins before doing so. To split, simply remove half of the contents of a bin and move it to a new bin. To each of these bins you will now add fresh bedding/food (filling up the empty half). Alternatively, you can harvest all the worms and simply add them to two completely new bins (will help if they have been aged somewhat).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Brody
#24. January 20th, 2008, at 4:10 AM.

Wish I had seen this site before my worms arrived – glad I found it now! I thought I had a nice bin system prepared for them but I’ve had unhappy worms escaping the bin for three days now. After consulting multiple other sites I found yours and got the rest of the information I needed.

Hopefully now that I’ve created a slightly moister environment and added some rotting fruit to the fresh veg my little guys will be happier to stay home. Also think I will build your Deluxe System at some point – as well as do some experimentation with other designs. Thanks very much!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#25. January 20th, 2008, at 5:43 AM.

Hey Brody,
Glad you found the info useful. Hopefully your worms start to settle in to your system!
Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions along the way.


Get your own gravatar by visiting another worm…
#26. February 10th, 2008, at 10:57 PM.

I used two 5 gallon buckets, one inside the other. It’s a smaller unit. They don’t block out as much light, but the worms are doing fine.

There was one useful bit of information I was able to turn up on an earlier search involving a freezing technique to pre-digest the food items rather than waiting for them to rot. This worked out very well in my case.

There’s one thing I would like to know about Miracle Grow type soils. Could they supply the needed grit, and would any industrial type fertilizers in the media be detrimental to the worms in any way? I’m using Miracle Grow Moisture Control to provide a drier surface in my reservoir bucket. Will my worms be burned by this?

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#27. February 11th, 2008, at 4:33 PM.

Thanks for stopping by.
You are right – freezing (like cooking) is a great way to render food scraps more microbe- (and thus worm-) friendly.

As for Miracle Grow soils, I would personally stay away from them myself. Commercial potting soils send to be largely made up of peat moss which is perfectly fine as a bedding material, but provides no grit. Garden soil on the other hand has lots of fine stone particles in it.

Also, the commercial fertilizer in the commercial soil may irritate the worms as well. Are you just layering it across the top of your bin contents? If so, this might not be an issue (would be more potential for headaches if it was your main bedding material).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Jen(aside)
#28. February 25th, 2008, at 10:19 PM.

Hey Bentley.

I am going to start my bins and start getting scraps for them tonight. I’m pretty excited, but I have no idea what to do after I get my worms! Hopefully you get some of those videos together soon. ;)

Also, I hope to feed some of my red wrigglers to my turtle. I have no idea if this is possible in this kind of system or not. I know nothing about worms! At some point would I be able to harvest some of my worms without harming my bin, and feed them to my turtle?

(I’m also trying to grow more of my own lettuce to help keep my turtle’s food local. ;)

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#29. February 27th, 2008, at 1:54 AM.

Hi Jen,
Once your worms arrive and you add them to your aged bin, the next thing you’ll want to do is simply monitor the bin. Definitely don’t add any more food scraps for a little while – just let your worms settle in and feed on what’s there. Eventually (maybe a week later) start adding scraps again (preferrably after they’ve been aged in a separate container) a little bit at a time. As they are consumed add more – gradually you will get a feel for the amount they can process (and this amount will definitely increase over time).

I think the problem is that most newcomers tend to overthink things and want to keep “feeding” the worms to make sure they don’t starve.
The fact is, worms are far more likely to die from overfeeding than starving.

As for feeding worms to turtles – that’s a good idea, but just make sure you don’t cut back your worm population too badly. They breed quite rapidly, but still need to be left to their own devices for awhile if you plan on harvesting decent numbers of them.

Harvesting some for feeding could be easily accomplished by hand.

You can even start using some of the worm castings to help fertilize your lettuce!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Robyn
#30. March 31st, 2008, at 12:46 AM.

Hi Bentley,
I now have a plastic milk jug full of food scraps and found an old recycle bin for my compost project, but it does not have a lid. I’m wondering if I can use foil or something else to cover the top or if it’s more important to have a sealed lid with the holes drilled as demonstrated in your video.
Thank you,

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bill Mace
#31. April 9th, 2008, at 5:48 PM.

Enjoy your site. I was sitting here dreaming of opportunities for a retiree and found you on a Google search. My question is how do the worms react to citrus fruit scraps? Grapefruit, lemons and limes.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#32. April 9th, 2008, at 6:47 PM.

Thanks Bill!
Glad to hear you found the site!
Despite what some might suggest, citrus scraps are perfectly fine in a worm bin – BUT I do recommend that you use them in moderation, and make sure to add more bedding material any time you add them.
If you have huge quantities of citrus, you might think about making a big hot compost pile with it first, then try feeding the partially composted material to the worms after a few weeks.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Ramon
#33. April 11th, 2008, at 11:08 PM.

Hi Bentley
About a year ago I found big amount a red worms maybe the regular garden type of worms in a place where I was placing dog pop. what got me thinking of starting a worm bin, I had a 55 gal plastic container I placed some kitchen scraps, leafs from the garden and been doing so for a year now. the amount of worms grew. if this are the garden type of worms are they bad to have around. could they get out of control and affect my garden?
Thanks for youre help

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#34. April 14th, 2008, at 4:16 AM.

Hi Ramon,
Having lots of garden worms is actually typically a sign of having high quality soil (rich in organic matter). If anything, I would say they’ll likely help your garden – they’ll help to aerate the soil and will produce lots of worm castings, which are an ideal natural fertilizer for plants!


Get your own gravatar by visiting JohnH
#35. May 31st, 2008, at 9:33 PM.

Great videos Bentley!
I have heard that using non-chlorinated water will help preserve the microbes in the bin that are essential for the composting processes. What is your experience in the use of straight out of the tap (chlorinated) vs. aged/rain (non-chlorinated) water?
Thanks for the great site – keep up the good work.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#36. June 2nd, 2008, at 8:39 PM.

Hi John,
Sorry for the delay responding!
I have wondered about that myself. I generally let my water age before using it, whether it be in larger holding bottles, or simply in my water sprayer itself. I also avidly collect rainwater – I definitely would prefer using it for most things (other than drinking – haha)


Get your own gravatar by visiting nino
#37. August 20th, 2008, at 2:15 AM.

sorry if you recieve this multiple times but i keep getting timed out.

I started a vermicomposter about 6 months ago.
I started with an 18 gallon roughneck bin as the tea catcher and 3 10gallon bins stacked for the worms. 2lbs of worms and all is great. Note that instead of a sprayer my wife put an old bath towel on top of the top layer and will dampen it. It works great.
I am a science teacher and I want to start another set up for my classroom.
1. I am going to steal some worms from my own stash and I saw on craiglist someone with “horse manure with lots of worms” Should I be concerned about using these worms in addition to mine?
2. when you figure the composting capacity of a bin from square feet per worm count, can I figure the square feet of all three stacked bins or only the top one.
3. I like the idea of having students make and maintain small vermicomposters using margarine containers, any suggestions for how they should aerate their containers?

Thank you very much

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#38. August 20th, 2008, at 3:38 AM.

Hi Nino,
1) Manure piles can be a great source for free (or at least cheap) worms. I’d recommend checking them out to see if they are indeed red worms. Only thing to keep in mind is the fact that they may need some time to get used to food scraps since they’ve been raised on manure. This hasn’t been a mjor issue in my experience.

2) I would think of the area in terms of one tray at a time, at least when starting out. Some people start with all trays operating, but to me this kind of defeats the purpose of having flow-through bin.

3) Margarine containers with holes drilled in them should work just fine – nothing fancy needed – just make sure not to overstock or overfeed these small systems.


Get your own gravatar by visiting bryant
#39. August 24th, 2008, at 4:10 AM.

in setting up deluxe bin what will filter down to the bottom bin, worms, juices etc. n how will u harvest the worms

fantastic videos tks for all

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#40. August 27th, 2008, at 2:34 PM.

Hi Bryant,
What drains down is known as “leachate” – not to be confused with worm tea. To harvest worms, I’d recommend starting a new top bin (letting it age just like the first one), then laying a perforate garbage bag over top of it (directly on the surface of bin materials). Dump the vermicompost with worms from the other bin on top and simply let it sit. The worms will migrate down to the new bin.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Mary
#41. August 31st, 2008, at 1:18 AM.

Hi Bentley,
Thanks so much for all the information. I was disappointed to find out that all of my images of how to do worm composting was VERY wrong.
I will tell you how/why I was planning on using the worms, and you can then let me know that my ideas were very uninformed.
We have an open compost pile toward the edge of our garden. By open, I mean we simply put our veg/fruit material, weeds, dirt, deadheaded flowers in this pile and turn it every once in awhile. We have added some dirt and water and don’t worry about it too much. I was hoping to just add red wigglers and thought they would just stay where there is food!!
The reason I put the compost in the garden is that I thought it would be pretty easy (once the compost is done), to just toss it around the garden!! I guess I need a bit of education.
Now I’m wondering if I can still do that, but instead, bury the rubbermaid container in the ground so that the top of the container is flush with ground level, and add my scraps that way. Please tell me why this would/wouldn’t work. I thought burying it would be good since I live in Wisconsin and temperatures can range from -10 to 100 F.
Thanks for having such an informative site!

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#42. September 1st, 2008, at 2:29 AM.

Hi Mary,
Don’t be so quick to assume that your approach is “wrong”. I’m definitely not a “my way or the highway” kinda guy. :-)
There are LOTS of different ways to vermicompost!

I get the feeling you haven’t read my articles about trench vermicomposting – this is pretty much what you are describing. ie simply tossing waste materials into the garden and keeping the composting worms in the area with additions of organic matter (food waste, grass clippings, straw etc). I wouldn’t ‘toss it around the garden’ (the compost that is) however – simply because the trench is part of the garden (plants feeding on it directly) and I also don’t want to lose the worms.
I would suggest forgetting about the tub – just do it directly in the ground (tub might actually be good if you were planning to remove the material/worms at some point – just make sure to add lots of holes).

Ok – think you have another related comment somewhere. Going to go track that down.


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#43. September 1st, 2008, at 2:29 PM.

Hi Bentley – I’ll meet you at trench composting!

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#44. October 16th, 2008, at 1:58 AM.

this is awesome

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#45. December 4th, 2008, at 1:51 AM.

thanks for all your advices.
i have a question
i made my oun vermicompost using your video, i have already 2 months with it, i am getting worried because i have alot of ants in it. i dont realy know if they will kill my worms.
sorry by the mistakes i am mexican

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#46. December 4th, 2008, at 5:40 PM.

I guess you must be keeping your system outside?
Generally ants only invade worm systems to eat the food materials added. They don’t like wet conditions, so you might want to add some more water to your bin.
Hope this helps


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#47. December 7th, 2008, at 10:59 PM.

I am new to this. Helpful Video. When is composting done and how does a person segregate/remove finished compost from the worms so a new batch can be started? Thanks. Glen

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#48. December 8th, 2008, at 5:02 PM.

Here is another video I made that describes a method for compost separation:

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#49. December 28th, 2008, at 8:34 AM.

im in the northern part of vietnam where there are many minority cultures google sapa hmong red dzao. they are suffering from the infusion of chemical fertilizers and which can amount to 90% of a subsistent farmers salary. i want to introduce vermiculture to the people here and would like to ask for your advice. its cold here and i dont know if i am getting the right kind of worms. i explain that i am looking for a red worm with a ring around its neck. could i send you pictures to see if we got it right? also, what do you recomend as the best technique for the very poor subsistent farmer? they do not have food scraps and would rely on buffallo dung and the wilderness. according to you website the kind of worms you need do not grow in the wild. what is your recommendation be for getting the right ones.
p.s. they people are skilled at making bamboo structures so i would imagine that a baboo structure with cob for the exterior surface to keep the worms warm. a bin needs to feed 10-15 people per household and it is required to grow rice, corn, and vegetables. do you have any experience with this? how would the casting be applied? how many worms can provide food for that many people. ofcourse, they do not eat steak. mostly vegetables.


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#50. January 6th, 2009, at 2:26 AM.

Hi Seth,
Sorry for the delay – your comment somehow got treated as spam. Feel free to send pictures if you’d like my opinion on whether or not you have red worms. As for food – in all honesty, the absolute best food is in fact manure – NOT food waste, so farmers are in a great position to take advantage of the composting power of Red Worms (and other composting species). You might also want to look for ‘Blue Worms’ (Perionyx excavatus) – they are commonly used throughout asia, and perhaps you could even find them living naturally in dung or organic refuse heaps.

As for the composting space and number of worms needed to feed 10-15 people, I’m afraid I don’t have a clue there. I suspect this is something you’ll need to test out on your own since there are a LOT of different variables to consider (and not enough research done). I’ve had really good success with vermicomposting trenches – perhaps you could try using these in between rows of crops, using manure as the feedstock. The ground provides excellent insulation for the systems, and the plants can directly access the compost as it is produced.

Hope this helps!


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#51. March 11th, 2009, at 1:26 AM.

Hi Bentley,

Great site, very informative! Love the deluxe Rubbermaid Bin video. I live in Florida and was wanting to use vermicomposting in my garden. I have African Nightcrawlers on order but I’m afraid the ants, raccoons and opossums will make a meal out of them. Any suggestions on preventing them from becoming dinner for the other critters?

Thanks in advance,

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#52. March 13th, 2009, at 4:39 PM.

Hi Bill – Florida is a tough place to vermicompost (hehe) – there are so many potential hazards (heat, flatworms, ants, armadillos etc), but the good news is that there are plenty of people successfully growing worms in Fla already. If you can build some sort of raised (ie space between the bottom and the ground), and enclosed bed this might be your best bet. Heat will be your major concern, but you can probably get away with locating the system in the shade and using various cooling techniques such as frozen water bottles to maintain reasonable temps. The fact that you are using Africans definitely helps since they are VERY heat tolerant – you might not even need to provide additional cooling.

Hope this helps!

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#53. March 14th, 2009, at 3:40 AM.

Thanks Bentley – I think I’m going to go with your Rubbermaid unit. It looks good and is easy to build. I might put water in the extra lid the unit sets on to keep the ants out. You have a great site and some wonderful ideas. There is a lot of horse farms in the area and it would be nice to turn the waste into black gold. Are peanut shells any good for vermicomposting? We have a processor not far from the house and the shells are cheap. Good luck and have a great weekend!

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#54. March 27th, 2009, at 3:11 PM.

Hi Bill,
I was initially skeptical of peanut shells, assuming they would have a C:N ratio that was too high to make them a good food, but I’ve since read that they are actually within the ideal C:N range. You would definitely need to soak them well, ahead of time. Not sure that I would pay for them, but I guess it would all depend on the asking price.

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#55. April 2nd, 2009, at 8:40 PM.

hi bentley,
Im new to this whole worm thing and i was wondering if its even possible to do a bin of canadian nightcrawlers.thanks

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#56. April 25th, 2009, at 2:42 AM.

I noticed that you said that worm compost systems that are in drawer systems don’t need to be stirred but if you do stir them up is that ok or not? And if I do is that better for the compost process and will it speed it up ? I understand that it may stink for a time while the stuff on top breaks down. I tend to like to paw through the compost just to look at my worms and check on them just to make sure that they are ok. I have bought quite a few and it has cost me a lot of money. Is this ok for the process? Checking on the worms from time to time…?

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#57. April 26th, 2009, at 2:52 AM.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You answered all of my questions.

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#58. April 28th, 2009, at 5:47 PM.

CHAD – Canadian Nightcrawlers (aka `Dew Worms` – Lumbricus terrestris) are deep burrowing soil worms and are not well suited for life in a worm bin/bed
STEVE – Generally, the worms do most of the mixing for you so it`s not really necessary. Too much stirring can stress out the worms as well. Checking on your worms fairly often is totally fine – I`m referring here to total mixing around of contents of bin

JUDI – you are very welcome. Glad to have helped!

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#59. May 6th, 2009, at 1:29 AM.

latest experiment…
I tried a 1/4 inch square hardware cloth ( smallest they had at menards) to seperate the vermicompost via the tumbling method. The results are that it works to remove all med to large material beautifully, but fails to retain the younger worms and eggs… what I hope to do is seperate all the rougher material and worms, (with eggs) back to the worm bin. does anyone know of a source that is fairly inexpensive for a finer grade of hardware cloth?
My other option would be a stainless steel sheet that is perforated 1/8 inch holes on 1/4 inch centers. but then you get into serious dollars for a small operation.

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#60. May 6th, 2009, at 2:01 AM.

Hi Scott I just googled 1/8 hardware cloth and one outfit has galvanized 24″ X 100′ rolls for $140 I’m sure you will be able to find it somewhere. They also have it in black poly coated 48″ X 10′ for $75 Just found 36″ X 10′ for $20.09

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#61. June 22nd, 2009, at 1:38 AM.

I thank you for the awesome information. A really good video.

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#62. July 14th, 2009, at 4:49 PM.

Hi Bentley-
Our Boy Scout Troop did your rubbermaid video and method as part of the Boy Scout Gardening Badge! Thank you!
But, I have questions.
1) Is it normal that after a few weeks, the food seems to disappear but, we can’t see the worms?
2) How often should we add bedding material?
3) And, should we wet the bedding material every time we add it?
Thank you very much for the great video and for peaking lots of interest in this concept. Many, many aunts, uncles, grandmas,etc. have been saving the “preferred foods, coffee grounds & tea bags”!

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#63. September 17th, 2009, at 5:11 PM.

Hi Bentley –

Thanks for all the info at your site, and especially for answering so many questions!

I have started a Rubbermaid bin and so far my worms seem pretty happy. However, I do have a couple of questions:

1) I’ve been unable to put a lid on the bin, b/c worms always migrate to the top overnight, with a few escaping through the air holes. One morning I found 5 shriveled up and dead on the floor – poor things. Leaving the lid off seems to work just fine, as they promptly dive back into the bedding to avoid the light. However, then the bedding on top dries out. So I tried covering it with a piece of cardboard. That slows the drying, but I still need to go in and spray down the top bedding a bit. It’s hard to tell how wet to get it that way. Any suggestions? I guess I need to address why the worms aren’t content to stay in the bedding when the lid’s on? Or just leave it be that it works with a cardboard “lid?”

2) I initially cut up cardboard to use as bedding, but didn’t cut it into strips, just smallish squares (2-4″). Later I also cut more cardboard into long strips. Now I see why that’s probably a preferred method, as the squares are kind of matting down in the bottom, while the strips that are on top, over the food, are nice and fluffy. Should I go in and stir things up to aerate the square pieces that seem to be squashing down? Or just leave well enough alone?

Thanks again for all your help and advice!

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#64. September 18th, 2009, at 5:04 PM.

Hi Ann

Leaving the lid of is actually a great technique in general since it helps to prevent excessively wet conditions from developing. I wouldn’t worry about the bedding drying out on top. Just keep a nice thick layer, and bury your wastes part way down – this should keep the lower bedding moist and ensure that your system remains somewhat balanced. You can always spray down occasionally with water as well (not recommended with enclosed plastic bin though – only if lid being left of for extended periods).

It is very normal for worms to want to roam, so don’t worry TOO much about this. They should eventually settle down, but they may always be the odd dummy that feels the need to see the world. haha

Stirring your bin occasionally (and gently) is ok, but don’t go overboard with it. Use a small hand rake and simply break up the composting mass a bit – you certainly don’t need to completely flip everything or get it all mixed up. As long as some air can get down below, that’s great.

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#65. March 8th, 2010, at 5:06 PM.

I was thinking of setting some of my red worms, which I have in bins, out in spring, onto a manure pile that has accumulated from goats and their bedding. My question is …will the garden variety earthworm mate with the red worm?.. and if so, what will the offspring result in?

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#66. March 11th, 2010, at 3:29 PM.

Petra – different species of earthworms cannot reproduce with one another, not even closely related composting species. Some have claimed to have produced “hybrid” worms, but it’s just not the case at all (unless of course you are an expert in genetic modification and happen to have a high-tech lab on hand – haha)

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#67. May 3rd, 2010, at 7:31 AM.

Hi Bentley,

I am in Beijing, and I have dug a million holes looking for worms, but there ain’t any.

Ya know of anyplace that sells them out here?



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#68. May 3rd, 2010, at 2:14 PM.

Hi Brent – the sort of worms you’d be looking for wouldn’t likely be in the ground (assuming you want to do some vermicomposting). In your neck of the woods, your best bet is to look for someone who has Blue Worms (Perionyx excavatus) – these are likely the most commonly used composting worm in east Asia.
Unfortunately, I have no idea who you might contact to get some though!

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#69. May 11th, 2010, at 10:35 AM.

Hi Bentley and thank you for sharing all of your hard work and helping the rest of us at the same time. It is very much appreciated! :)

I have a few questions though and sorry if they’ve already been answered.

1. I read here that someone was using ‘three stacked bins’. In the video I saw, there were only two bins. What does the third do and is the three stack built the same exact way as the one shown in the video? Is it more “efficient”?

2. What is the best way, or your way, of separating the compost (that’s ready to be used), from the bin without killing or damaging the worms?

3. In regards to the lowest bin that captures the ‘water drainage’ is this what is referred to as “tea” that can be used to water your food or flower gardens? Acting as a fertilizer? Or do you throw it out?

4. Do you keep lids on the bins that are stored outside and if not, how do you prevent them from escaping at night?

Thank you again and please keep up the great work!


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#70. May 11th, 2010, at 2:30 PM.

Hi Dan

1) There are many types of stacking tray systems on the market. Just do a search (in Google etc) for “can-o-worms” or “worm chalet” and you’ll see what I mean. The idea with THOSE types of bins (unlike the one in the video) is to continue adding new trays and to get the worms to continue moving up (hopefully leaving pure worm compost behind)

2) Flow-through systems in genera work very well for separating worms from castings. I use a “Worm Inn” system and it works very well. I recommend you check out the harvesting section on the HOT TOPICS page (link in upper navigation) – you should find a number of different ideas there.

3) The liquid that flows into the reservoir is called leachate – real worm compost tea is made by soaking high quality (finished) worm compost in water. Leachate CAN be used in your garden for sure, but I’d recommend diluting it with rain water if possible and perhaps even aerating it if it happens to smell bad.

4) I usually don’t have lids on my systems these days – the key is to create a habitat that worms just don’t want to leave. I certainly don’t worry too much about worms leaving all my various outdoor windrow beds since I know I’m providing them with a pretty top notch habitat. Plastic bins can be a bit trickier, and generally I don’t even recommend keeping them outside. They can overheat really easily, and when humidity is high (especially during rain), temps are warm and light is low, they will definitely want to roam.

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#71. August 21st, 2010, at 12:07 PM.

Wondering if you managed to find any vermicompost loving worms in Beijing? And if yes, where?… (Yep, I live in Beijing too!…)
Dan, great site, a million thanks for sharing all this info with the rest of us worm wanna be lovers!
I’ll keep reading and come back (GRIN!) with some questions…
Thanks again,

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#72. August 21st, 2010, at 12:13 PM.

Oops! Sorry, Bentley, changed your name to Dan… :*… sorry ‘boUt that!

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#73. August 30th, 2010, at 8:44 PM.

Bentley,thank you for all the hints. Our 2010-2011 homeschool project is to start composting. All your videos and instructions are so helpful. I think we are off to a great start.

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#74. August 31st, 2010, at 2:59 PM.

You are very welcome, Michele. Glad to help!

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#75. September 1st, 2010, at 5:20 AM.

Started a worm bin (Delux mode) tonight in El Cerrito, CA with 200 worms from a local bait shop. Spent about $20 on them. I have a mix of some new and old vegetable stuff in there. Seems they are actively skating around the perimeter. Thanks for all the tips. Bryan

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#76. December 13th, 2010, at 2:14 AM.

Hi Bentley, can I use comercial brand cow manure like Black Kow that is said to be organic. I have no way of getting manure any other way?
I used your video to make my compost bin and RWC to buy my worms they arrived when you said they would and were healthy. Your caution on not overfeeding them was a big help.
No Yellow Bucket experience for me LOL (My Life With Worms)
The Bin is working just fine. The bedding in side looks nothing like it did when I started. It smells like earth.
You should do a blog on how long it took 1st time vermicomposters to decide hey this is easy Im going to start another system. It took me about 3 weeks.

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#77. May 7th, 2011, at 2:56 AM.

How do I get rid of all the trilloin of nats????
How do I get the worms to move down to the next bin so I can use the top bin dirt???

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#78. May 13th, 2011, at 11:13 PM.

I’m on the verge of starting up either VermiPonics or AquaPonics. I’ve already got 3 lbs of red wigglers in a compost bin and another 5 lbs ordered. I’d like to know the sqr or cubic footage ratio between vermicomposting worms and water and grow bed ( running worms / plants seperately ).

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#79. July 19th, 2011, at 9:49 PM.

I just wondered if i could add waste from fish pond filters in to this system or will it cause me problems with different microbes and nitrates. Thanks for a brilliant site you should write a book,Thanks Bill

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#80. July 21st, 2011, at 3:06 PM.

Hi Everyone,
Unfortunately I’m really not able to keep up with comments on these older pages.
I highly recommend referring to the “HOT TOPICS” page for links to helpful posts – you find information relating to quite a few topics, including harvesting, vermicomposting trenches, vermiponics, gnats and fruit flies.
Here is the link:

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#81. September 18th, 2011, at 3:12 AM.

Hi Bentley. I have really enjoyed your videos and website. I like the garbage bag method of separating worms. That works well for me. I leave my bin open for a couple of days to let the worms make their way down to the fresh bedding. I had started my bins using shredded paper, cardboard and later vegetable/fruit scraps. I am now adding composted horse manure to my plastic bins. One thing that I have noticed is, I do not have the problem with the worms pooling at the bottom of the bin, once I started adding the manure to it.

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#82. November 12th, 2011, at 6:41 PM.


I recently started my own indoor vericompost bin. I purchased 2 bags of vericulture from Mr. Christie. I have no clue as how many worms I got in those bags ( Mr. Christie had told me it was not near half a pound) but I have noticed in less then a month my population has increased. Mr. Christie always answers my question that I come up with.

If anyone is thinking of starting a bin i’d suggest purchasing the worm from Mr. Christie

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#83. November 14th, 2011, at 8:28 PM.

Hi Everyone,
Unfortunately, I’m not longer able to respond properly to all the comments posted on this page (in case you hadn’t noticed). E-mail, while certainly not foolproof (unless of course you happen to be a customer), is definitely a better way to reach me – as is commenting on newer blog posts.

I DID want to jump here and firstly say thanks to John for his kind words – and secondly point out that he is a customer of my Canadian website (Worm Composting Canada) not Red Worm Composting (all worms sold here ARE sold by the pound – and are taken care of by a U.S. drop-shipper), just so people are clear on that.

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#84. November 14th, 2011, at 8:54 PM.

Hi Bentley;

Sorry about posting on the wrong site, I thought I was on the Canadian site.opps!! Hope this clears up any cofusion.

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#85. March 10th, 2012, at 7:37 PM.

So about the garbage bag harvesting does it really work?

I have been trying to find a way to harvest that doesn’t consist of building anything. :)

I was planning on building something this week but if this really works then that would be awesome

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#86. August 3rd, 2012, at 12:33 AM.

Im curious as to why you don’t try to a plexiglass or similar clear top rather than a wooden )opaque) top. Seems to me that would create a mini -greenhouse effect to keep the temperature up . This could be combined with a few black water jugs towards the top which absorb the heat and dissipate it. Just some thoughts, maybe worth a try. Works for greenhouses to get them through the winter from what I read.

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#87. November 4th, 2012, at 4:37 AM.

Hello Mr/Mrs dear
I have a question about vermicompost.
We going to get start a farm of vermicompost, but We don`t know any knowladge about it.
We have (Place: 20 m2)
So, please help us about beggining…

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#88. December 19th, 2012, at 2:44 PM.

I saw your butternut squash experiment. I was unsuccessful feeding butternut squash cut up in cubes to my worms. They were escaping from the bin daily. Finally after 2 1/2 weeks I removed each piece out of my bin and feed them watermelon. Was your butternut squash cooked? Mine was raw.

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