Supercharged food

One of the ways that I prepare food scraps for feeding my VermBins (VB’s).  If you have a rubber maid tote bin you can do this but do it on a smaller size or else you will over feed.  Preparing it this way I can “clean” out my freezer as almost all of this was freezer burnt food.

I call it “supercharged food” because: a)  food has been frozen and will break down faster because freezing food breaks down the food wall structure and helps it to decompose faster…. and b) this allows bacteria to start forming on the food which allows the worms to start eating faster….also c) no chopping or dicing needed as you can leave the chunks bigger.

  1. Find a container to put torn up cardboard (CB) scraps in. op1op2  as you can see these are fairly big chunks.  This is two pizza boxes, so don’t fret about a little bit of dried cheese, grease, etc.  Believe me the worms will still devour them.
  2. Next place frozen food still in the bags on top.  op3
  3. Cover with a old towel or t-shirt
  4. Let sit for up to 3 days.  Where you have it will determine how long it needs to set.
  5. Once thawed, empty all the bags on top of the CB.  You will notice that the CB has soaked up some liquid. Using a  fork, spoon or a garden trowel you can mix it all up together.  At this point I will add crushed eggshells to the mixture and even some coffee grounds.
  6. Add the mixture to your worm bin and cover with dry shredded leaves, newspaper or cardboard. ALWAYS cover your food scraps especially if your bin is inside your house.

Happy Worm Farming !!

Wedge experiment

I had a empty cinder block bed that I wanted to experiment in by doing a wedge type system.  Usually wedge systems are on a larger scale but I got the idea of utilizing what I already have from a conversation I had with another female small business worm farmer at the Vermiculture Conference in Raleigh NC this year.  (Thanks, Mel)

Here is what the empty bed looks like starting out wedg1

After combining all my bedding materials and food inside the bed,  I took half of an established bin of red wigglers and mixed it all together.

After mixing together I then gently pushed and formed the start of the wedgewedg2

If you notice I left some room at the top so I could add a thick layer of leaves for winter insulation.

I gently watered it some more and then placed wet leaf mold on top with dry leaves on top of thatwedg4

With a wedge you need three supporting sides and a open end.  The open end is where you place fresh food and bedding and the worms will migrate to the fresh food leaving castings behind.

When you get to the end you harvest the finished castings up to that end spot and then reverse back to the other end.

Absolutely genius idea!!   At least I hope it works out that way.  I will update as time goes by.

Happy Worm Farming all !

Switching feed stock for the worms!

I have been using hot composted horse manure which in turn has always sat in a pile for 2 to 3 months BEFORE I used it in my bins as a feed stock.  My bins are ran for 120 plus days BEFORE I consider the contents as finished vermicompost.  I have used my vermicompost on my garden, flowers and bushes for years with great success and I hope to inspire others to use vermicompost/worm castings as well and kick the chemicals (chemicals are NOT good for your plants or your soil).

I now have rabbits!!

Rabbit manure  is a COLD MANURE.  It doesn’t need to be hot composted and it has been used for years in peoples gardens very safely.  In addition to using rabbit manure I am adding aged wood chips in order to boost the fungal activity in my vermicompost.

I have discontinued using paver’s sand as well.  I am adding a little glacial rock dust to each bin every 3 weeks instead.  When I harvest a bin I am pulling out the 1/8 inch screened product to sell and the 1/4 inch is being placed back in the bins.

Worm farming can be an ever changing thing until YOU hit on the formula that works best for you.

Please contact me if you need help establishing your bin, harvesting your bin or any questions.

Sprayers vs Watering cans

1 gallon sprayer watering can


    2/1/2016…. For the past two years I have used a watering can to add water to my worm bins.  However, I use a lot of the plastic 55 gallon drums split in half lengthwise and then set them on a x-frame wood stand.  Three times so far I have had a soggy mess (not stinky) occur in the bottom of the bins.  Now granted there are 100’s of holes drilled into each half barrel to provide air flow and there are no tops or coverings at the moment on them,  just a nice thick layer of leaves.

    Last weekend was my third time finding a soggy mess in the bottom of 7 bins.  In order to correct this problem you have to literally pull back all material and then layer the wet with dry materials.  I alternate shredded cardboard and newspaper.  Some of the bins get aged horse manure and some get dry aged grass clippings. So there is a good variety of dried items you can use.

    This is a very labor intensive layering act and I decided something has to give here.  So off to the store and I came home with a 1 gallon sprayer from Home Depot.  I am hoping this $10.94 purchase will save me some labor time.  I used it for the first time yesterday and I do believe this will work.  Yes, I did have to stick my hand down in each bin (forgot where I put my moisture meter, lol) so the old fashioned way works just as well.  The moisture was still nice in between all layers and the layered  dry materials were nice and moist as well.  Enter the sprayer…. just had to pull back the leaves on top, give each bin a good spraying and put the leaves back on top.  I do believe I am going to like this sprayer!  Happy worm farming everyone!!

    X frame half barrel

    Converting a old chest freezer into a continuous flow through bin (CFT)


      My step-son and daughter in law purchased a house from her mother and in the basement was a old chest type freezer.  They needed it hauled off and I saw a new worm bin in the making!  What more to ask for (other than it is U G L Y, plan on painting it when it gets warmer) a complete box that is insulated just needed some help.

      First off with my hubby helping and advising I cut a hole all the way through the bottom front in order to be able to pull castings out as they fall or harvest.

      freezer1

      Next we leveled out a spot for the cinder blocks so the freezer will be elevated off the ground.  Hopefully this will help in keeping the bottom from rusting out too soon.

      The next part was all about measuring the insides carefully so I could build the frame for the bars.

      Here are pictures showing what I did to the inside of the freezer.  Not sure if the elevated/sloped section over the shelf will work or not in the long run, only time will tell.

      freezer3freezer2

      I am planning on keeping the top held open with 2 x 4 blocks of wood and then also with the bottom open this will create enough airflow for the bin.

      CFT’s take about 6 months once they are started up before they will either self harvest for you or you can use a garden fork to gently scrape between the bars to release the castings.

      The main factor in starting one of these bins is a very very thick bottom you create first.  If your bottom is too thin it will harvest too soon.  I always start with at least one and a half inches of layered cardboard and then at least 10 to 12 layers of newspaper on top of the bars.

      CFT’s are easiest bins I have worked with so far.  I love how they work and how you can fit them in anywhere inside or outside.

      If you are interested in building a flow through bin then visit Bentley’s site for the plans here:

      http://www.redwormcomposting.com/vermbin-series-plans-package/

      at just $17 for the plans it is a definite bargain.  I have built two of these bins myself and I am always wanting to build another one.

      flow through bins1

      Is breeding worms worth the effort?

        All through the winter (2015/2016) I have been trying to increase the number of African Nightcrawlers (ANC’s) I have.  On a side note I do like the way these worms consume and convert food and bedding into castings really fast.  These guys are huge and hungry!

        By using these bus pans and with a rotational schedule I have managed to breed some more ANC’s (maybe not enough to sell all spring and summer, but definitely a good start).

        breeder bins

        Now granted when you do a breeding program like this it is very detailed and precise.  A calendar does come in handy and being able to prepare ahead of time.  This winter has had some very cold temps and it has slowed me down on when I can get prepared for the harvesting.  This is where having the big trommel comes in handy.  trommel harvester

        On the weekends it is warm enough I use this to sift well aged horse manure as one of the components in my breeding trays.  This is then stored in 5 gallon buckets until I need it.  Because of the cold weather I have to sift at best 3 to 4 cart fulls in order to have at least 4 to 5 buckets ready for this type of breeding program that I am using.

        After a specific time frame the adults are picked out and the rest of the material is dumped into what I call a “nursery bin”.  The adults are reset into fresh components and the time frame is started over.

        In the nursery bin there is fresh bedding and food added in order to entice the cocoons to hatch.

        I use the split half barrels like these as a nursery.X frame bins1

        I started out trying peat moss as the biggest component in the trays, but I didn’t comprehend about PH levels and European Nightcrawlers (ENC’s) so I managed to kill all 2 lbs that I ordered.  I had ANC’s on hand and not enough “worm fund” money left over to order new ENC’s so this is why I am trying to breed ANC’s.

        Now I need to definitely point out that you do not have to go to these extreme’s to increase your herd of worms.  Breeding programs like this “jumpstart” you in having enough worms to be able to hopefully sell.

        The easiest way to increase is simply by splitting bins every 3 months.

        Start a bin, mark your calendar for 3 months.  When the 3 month mark gets close make sure you have ample bedding (shredded cardboard and/or newspaper.  Place half the bedding food in a new bin then take half of the contents of the original bin and mix well.  Don’t forget to add some food and some grit (crushed eggshells, fine sand, etc.) for them as well. Do the same for the original bin.  Voila!  Do again in 3 months and you will have a “bunch” of worms.

        I ordered ANC’s from a supplier and that order was mostly blue worms (newbie at worm farming and had no clue about the differences at that time, boy have I learned a lot….LOL) Anyway, I took that 2 lbs (ordered in October 2014, babied them through that winter, thinking they were ANC’s) in the spring/summer of 2015 I regularly split bins every 3 months by doing the above method.  I discovered I was raising Indian Blues quite by mistake and decided I didn’t want those through the winter as I really wanted ANC’s. So in October I harvested out all of the blues and kept the castings and essentially gave away 2 lbs each to three people who are members of the closed Facebook group (Blue Worm Composting) https://www.facebook.com/groups/633512553461827/ I did take 2 pounds and dumped them into a outdoor compost pile as I wanted to see if they would survive the east Tennessee wild winter.

        So to recap: I started with 2 lbs of worms in October 2014 in October 2015 I had 8 lbs of worms.  I know, mind boggling to say the least.  This was with blue worms, so I think I will try this approach with ANC’s or ENC’s this summer.

        So you can tell me:  Is it worth breeding worms?  I like that I can have control over the breeding system but I dislike have to reset adults every so often.  Also, you can definitely run out of “nursery bins” if you do the shortcut method like I do.  I simply do not have time to “pick out” individual cocoons and ANC’s cocoons are described as “very sticky” as in they stick to your bedding material and they are hard to see also.

        My methods are based on information I learned from being a paid member of the Worm Farming Alliance you can find more information here by being a member http://www.wormfarmingalliance.com/  (Please don’t email me asking for specific’s on this program, this is information is only available for members of the alliance).

        So in closing, whichever method you choose to try, have fun and enjoy worm farming or vermicomposting!

        Can you say addicted to CFT’s???

        Since I bought the plans to build a continuous flow through (CFT) I have been amazed at the amount of material each bin will process, which in turn provides plenty of vermicompost (worm castings).  The VB48’s that I just built when they are ready to produce castings will drop two (2) five gallon buckets each week. WOW!  Now that is a lot of material going in and then coming out….all courtesy of the hardworking red wigglers and indian blues that I stock in each bin.

        Due to the confidentiality section of purchasing the VB plans I cannot share the details in making these bins.  I am limited on what I can share with you as well.  But here are a few pictures and then a picture of the finished product.CFT1 CFT2

         

        New VB48These 2 new additions now take me to a total of five (five) CFT’s.  Three are VB48’s, one is a VB24 and the fifth one is a freezer converted into a CFT.

        I am now ready to build another one!  Yup, Can ya say addicted to CFT’s????