Worm Bin

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On Sunday I harvested my worm bins. I also have a bad fruit fly problem, so last night, I left them outside to see if the cold would kill off the fruit flies, hopefully without killing off all my worms. It got below 40 degrees.

The two blue Rubbermaids make up one bin (the catch bin is not shown) and the four black bins are the Worm Factory bins (pedestal and catch bin is also not shown).


Here is a little baby wormie I found.
I gave away the few quarts of castings I harvested on FreeCycle.

Worm Farming Advice

Here’s a letter I wrote to someone who was interested in getting started with vermicomposting. I thought I did a pretty good job, so I thought I’d post it.

Vermicomposting, if you don’t know, is composting with worms. It’s sort of like traditional back yard composting, but it’s different in that it’s done on a much smaller scale and the primary composter are red worms, not time and sunlight. Vermicomposting is ideal for apartment dwellers and those with limited space. Mostly we compost kitchen waste because we don’t have yard waste like grass clippings or fall leaves.

Resources

You’ll probably want to read a book to get started. I read “Worms Eat My Garbage” which you can probably find at the local library, or you can pick it up for cheap online. However, there are other books out there that are probably just as good.

Another great resource is the Worm Bin Board, a Yahoo! group. You can join the group easily, you just need a Yahoo! account. Here’s the link:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the_worm_bin/
You can begin with lurking just to start learning bits and pieces, and ask questions whenever you want. I suggest subscribing to the Digest email so that you can stay in touch but don’t get swamped with email. There are many, many archived posts on this bin and chances are, most questions you want to ask have already been asked and answered.

Here’s another forum that’s pretty good but it doesn’t have as robust of email options:
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/verm/

Lastly, this is a very helpful page so you’ll want to bookmark it:
http://www.happydranch.com/invertebrates.html

Bin Construction

Next, you’ll need to design and create your worm bin. The simplest method is to purchase a single rubbermaid bin (with no holes for drainage) and use it alone. I wouldn’t recommend this because if you like worming, you’re going to want something a little bit better in a fairly short amount of time.

The next step up is a simple rubbermaid with a few holes for drainage and a catch bin beneath. The more complex version of this is to use two nested rubbermaid bins with a rubbermaid catch bin underneath. That’s what I have. Here’s a description I posted recently to the Worm Bin Board:

“Basically, I have two bins, a finishing bin and a working bin. They nest because they are the exact same rubbermaid model. Each of these two bins has a ton of small holes drilled in the bottom and just along the bottom of the sides. The bins are exactly alike – the “finishing bin” is the one on the bottom and the “working bin” is the one on the top. These bins both have large holes that are along the top edges of the sides for ventilation. I also have a third Rubbermaid bin, again the exact same model, that serves as the catch bin. Inside it, I have drilled much larger holes high up on the sides for ventilation. The bottom is solid because this is where leachate gathers. I used to drop the stacked bins right into this bin, but I found that there wasn’t enough space for air to circulate, so I put two plastic flower containers upside down in the bottom of the catch bin and now the finishing/working bins rest on them. They just happened to be the right height for what I wanted -you could use anything.”

Here is a more complex version of the Rubbermaid bin, it’s called the OSCR Jr: http://www.klickitatcounty.org/solidwaste/ContentROne.asp?fContentIdSelected=483736526&fCategoryIdSelected=965105457
This is what I modeled my bin after, but I didn’t put in a spigot or make the fancy top.

One last option would be to buy a premade bin. I have the Worm Factory:
http://neatitems.com/worm_bins.htm
I got mine from Worms Wrangler, but I can’t remember why I chose that vendor. You can get them from any number of online stores. I bought a 5 bin system but I’d recommend either the 3 or the 4 – I don’t think 5 is really feasible.

Bedding

You’ll need some paper for bedding. You can use paper from your home, shredded in a mechanical shredder or shredded by hand. We use old bank statements and old bills and toss them in the shredder. You can also use newspapers and junk mail, shredded by hand or in a shredder. Toss in shredded cereal boxes and other paperboard or cardboard, too. Avoid shiny paper, waxy coatings, staples, thermal paper, etc. You will want to have some shredded paper in the bin prior to worm arrival. This is discussed in detail in the book I recommended.

Food

Vegetables, fruits, coffee, tea, egg shells, paper towels, cat/dog/human hair (tho it takes forever to break down), cotton-based dryer lint. No oils or grease, meat, bones, cheese, or dairy and go easy on citrus, grains, and acidic foods.

Worms

If you’re local, I will gladly hook you up with some starter worms. If you’re not, there are numerous places online from which to buy worms, and there is probably a local worm farmer where you live.

More planarians on the sidewalk when I got to work today!!

We counted about a dozen planarians, ranging in size from baby to 8 inches. What was most intriguing was the behavior of the worms we saw on the sidewalk as well.

Here is a close-up of one of the worms we saw. It doesn’t look like a normal worm to me. It doesn’t seem to have a clitellum. Do you know what species it is?

There were about a half dozen worms that were crawling away from the grass towards the parking lot. They were moving in a very strange manner! They seemed to have a singular focus of getting the hell away from the grass. The best way I can describe their motion and behavior is to say that they were writhing. Several of them managed to pop up off the ground as they twisted and turned their little bodies.
I captured a little bit of bad video of them crawling away, but did not get the full-featured writhing on camera.

What is going on here?

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