Interested in Designs for a Worm Bin

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by dreadlock, May 26, 2013.

  1. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I don't bother with kitchen scraps into the worm farm anymore. I just use cow poo I collect from the neighbours.

    All the scraps go to the chickens instead - I reckon they are much more efficient users of scraps.

    The worms have never been happier and healthier than when they can wallow in fresh cow crap.
     
  2. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    Big fan of the worm tower myself. I have one in each garden and it is full of worms and doesn't need any fertilizing cause the worms do it in the soil. Some scraps go into compost gardens getting ready for spring and other scraps I put in the blender with water and pour onto garden underneath the mulch. Lazy gardener thus is me.
     
  3. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Haven't had time to red all through this thread yet. The bin size is ok and I would add about 300mm deep of bedding straight up. It will soon reduce in volume and will need topping up. Horse manure holds water very well. Peat seems to be the bedding of choice in the US but on the Worm Expert Forum many over there seem to have more problems than you can poke a stick at. They fiddle and fart around with their worms. Not me just straight manure and I never check Ph or use moisture meters. Touch is all I use I never check the temps of the beds either and I don't have worms dying on me.

    I breed quite a few worms and sell on a regular basis by understanding the worms needs and managing them to suit conditions I set up. Keep it simple and manageable. I add dolomite to their food thus doing away with the need for egg shells which need to be put through a blender first. Maintain fresh bedding on top of the farm with ensure your worms stay in peak condition. As Grahame said cow manure is great. It is one of the best foods you can use and is best used in Grower Beds as bedding. Horse manure is best used in Breeder Beds
     
  4. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    I observed when rejuvenating my worm farm (rectangular four piece black plastic type) that the crushed (quickly by hand and added periodically with their food) egg shells had been separated out and taken to What I expected was their bedding area in the second to bottom layer by the worms.Perhaps there was a dolomite deficiency?
     
  5. dreadlock

    dreadlock Junior Member

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    @eco- thanks for making it allot more simple to understand. I just found a very useful website with pictures set by step. wish i found it earlier so i wouldn't have to bother everyone over small issues. I will leave the peat out this time and go for manure and a layer of shredded cardboard on the bottom. I can get hold of some cheap rotted horse manure so thought why not use that.

    @grahame - thanks for the idea, the more i learn the more i'm learning manure is good. only wish i had a good source for cow manure near me, could only find horse. I;m sure there is if i look harder, will save the thought for next time.

    @amnette- appreciate your input.

    @brian- thanks for confirming the manure will work well. hopes are high at the moment. Only managed to source rotted horse manure from a local farm for very cheap. It looks good plus any sort of vermicide residue should be cleared as the pile has been sitting in the sun by the horses for months..the plan is to go for cut up cardboard at the bottom and then straight manure all the way up to 300mm. it says worms need some sort of grit so they can have a better grip on food so should i add any sand or coco or is good to go the way it is?

    @permasculptor - i'll stay away from the egg shell and go for another source. nice one pal.

    Okay so if everything so far is okay all i need are the worms. Red wiggly tiger ones right. need a clue one how many to get guys? also is it important to add the dolomite lime as a spray over the bedding or mix it in before the worms?

    thanks you for all the help gents. made my day knowing i can start on the bin soon.
     
  6. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    I believe the egg shells are a good thing Dreadlock no need to specifically avoid them .
     
  7. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Brian has done some experiments with vermicides and it doesn't kill compost worms. Different breed of critters entirely the worms that they are directed at. So don't fuss too much about when the horses where wormed.
     
  8. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Thanks Eco, exactly what I was going to say. Dread you are making all this more complicated than it needs to be. It makes no difference which bedding goes where. Cardboard and paper have very little nutritional value and my friends in the US also use it along with the peat. As I said before they all seem to have issues with their worms. That link you posted gives us a clue as to where you are. Keep your bedding around 300 mm to start with and as it gets colder over there take them inside a building so they don't freeze. Worm eggs can be frozen and still hatch out after they thaw but the worms will die. Cooler climates are suited to Red Wigglers – Eisenia foetida and European nightcrawlers – Eisenia hortensis. The Euros are said to be a superb fishing worm.

    You need to start with about 2,000 worms or 500grams. Just fill your bed with manure and put the worms straight in on top of the bedding. Leave them in a clump and don't spread them out. This will reduce stress on them and lessen the chance of a walk out. Check with your supplier as to what bedding they are using. If it is different to what you are using place a desk lamp over them for a couple of days to keep them in the bedding. After this they should be fine.

    Manure is general pH neutral but the food you add may not be. Use the egg shells as you get them or a hand full of dolomite every week or so. Sprinkle the dolomite over the top and lightly water in. Only feed small amounts at first and not again till that food is gone. Freeze your veggie scraps first or put them in a plastic bag out in the sun for a week then feed. No point in putting in fresh scraps as they wont touch it. Worms eat the bacteria that breaks down the food rather than the food itself.

    As Eco mentioned they don't pee. If you want worm juice just pour a few litres of water over the bed and allow it to drain. Pour it back over the bed and drain again then use. Any liquid that does drip out just put t back into the farm.

    Just keep it simple, no need to buy food. Just add whatever in just as long as it was once alive. Add no soil at all to your farm as there is no point and the worms skins are not suited to soil.
     
  9. dreadlock

    dreadlock Junior Member

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    sorry for the late reply, work is really busy.

    i'll keep egg shell aside from now on. also good to know that the vermicides have no ill effects on our earth worms. Puts my mind at ease since i just picked up over 150 liters of horse manure for the bin.

    thanks for being so patient with me brian! being the only one who has an interest in the environment out of everyone i know adds allot of pressure some times. Panic sets in, gets the better of me. not sure where i would be without this site. I'll stop over thinking this now, after all i have all the information i need + much more thanks to you guys. As winter approaches i have a garage to store the worm bin.

    going to get right on it and hopefully have some pictures ready to show everyone soon. can't wait to get it up.

    really appreciate all the effort and detailed info.

    can you store worms in a friendly environment over periods, how would you do it best.. lets say i bought 1000 used 500 first. where can i keep the others safe and happy..?

    lastly guys, should i cover the bin or not? hard cover, fabric material cover allowing it to breath or none..
     
  10. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Not sure why you would use 500 worms and store 500. 1000 is not that many but can get you going. Leave all the worms together for a couple of months and then use some.
    Open bed with old carpet, shade cloth or similar as your cover. You need air flow over the bed. That's why it is best under cover.
     
  11. dreadlock

    dreadlock Junior Member

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    thanks once again. Couldn't have got this far without all the help....will try to get some pictures up soon, for everyone to see.

    take care everyone
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    Brian, i don't have any idea why people would be having a hard time with peat moss as a bedding, i've used it here when i've had left-overs available. my guess is that some other factor is going on for them (too hot, too frozen, too dry, not enough food, wrong species, etc)...

    as for a simple system, i've been happy with using buckets and no drain holes because i don't want the complication/smell/bother/potential mess waiting to happen aspects here in my room. the juice that would drain off could be a use for plant food, but i just take the whole bucket of worms out when i'm ready to fertilize anything (keeping some worms back to start the next round).

    for eggshells i have a flat ended stick and put them in a small bucket and smash them a few times, that is good enough. blender is overkill (IMHO :) ). for low cost bedding i have cardboard boxes and card stock as a fairly regular source for no cost (most big box stores will let you take their cardboard trays for free).
    i use a medium duty paper shredder (more metal in construction so it doesn't break so easily) to turn the boxes into more easily handled worm bedding but that isn't strictly needed. just makes it easier that it is moist all the way through if it is shredded. worms seem to chew through it quickly enough... i'm small enough scale to use a few cubic feet per month of fresh bedding. right now i have bean shells from the gardens that will get mixed in with the paper materials. they'll be processed by planting time next spring...
     
  13. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Songbird I have no idea the reason why. Some people have no problems like yourself and others struggle but I think it is as you said other things are in play. One problem people over here seem to have is over feeding. They only buy 1,000 worms then a few weeks later are expecting them to do the work of 4 or 5 thousand worms. I encourage people to freeze their scraps first rather than throw them in fresh. Another thing over here is those multi layered worm farms. Some people do well and the majority I used to talk to at the markets said they died. I think the instructions that come with them are written so the farm fails in a short space of time. Definitely not written by someone who breeds worms.

    I don't bother with eggshells and just use Dolomite lime when I feed. Also using only manure as my bedding it is pH balanced anyway. I did try some cardboard and paper but not a great fan of it. I think you would have to feed them more other foods when using it.
     
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    They are a bit addictive aren't they? And no one rings the RSPCA if you get it wrong and have a mass worm walk out (or massacre even)!
     
  15. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    Brian, i'm at a much smaller scale and not commercial so my goals are minimal input and minor expenses and also to keep it very simple. for $20-30 (total expenses for three+ years) i've refurbished hundreds of lbs of garden soil and put out around 400lbs of worms/castings into the gardens. not a bad return on food scraps, paper scraps and whatever else i can run through the buckets. i could have avoided $20 of the expenses by being happy using old t-shirts and large rubber bands for covers, but i wanted some uniform looking covers and elastic. i could have avoided another $10 in expenses if i would have been a bit more patient and not bought a few dozen worms and night crawlers from the bait store. it was during a dry spell and worms were hard to find.

    shredded paper by itself is not a very good bedding material (white paper takes a long time to get broken down by the worms/fungi/soil critters). i mix only a little in at a time when i have it to use.

    shredded newspaper by itself reeks. luckily i don't have a lot of newspaper to process. i don't use that much of it, i much prefer to use newsprint as a mulch material to smother problem weeds or to use as a planting cover to keep dirt from splashing up on plants when i don't have enough other mulch.

    by itself shredded cardboard is a very good bedding material. i mix it with other things too so the worms have a variety of food sources.

    shredded craft paper and shredded cardstock seem to be much easier on the worms and soil critters as it breaks down well along with the cardboard.

    i don't have a truck to move large amounts of materials, nor do i want to as that defeats my purposes of keeping it simple, cheap and easy. the only way i get added organic materials here is some friends who bring their yard wastes to me (in exchange for goodies when i have them), the random tree service that is happy to dump wood chips instead of having to haul them to a recycle/compost station or grow it in place. no easy cow or horse poo sources, once in a while deer/rabbits may wander through and make deposits, but i'm not going to harvest those to bring inside... i have plenty of other more easily harvested materials to use and the worms seem to be thriving.
     
  16. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

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    Hello Songbird
    Sounds like you are doing all right. I sell the worms for a hobby and when sales are slow I just don't feed them the corn and chick starter crumbs. I just give them some manure now and then. Several beds though I have set up for breeding and I use these for sales as required. When needed I just feed up others and in a couple of weeks they are up to size for sale. Nobody seems interested in the castings so I just dump them in the yard.

    I tried some copy paper once and the worms were not happy at all with it at all. Now I just stick with the manure as it is cheap and simple to use. Yes keep it simple and so little can go wrong lol.

    I have started to diversify into Woodies ( Speckled Feeder Roaches) Much easier that worms with no heavy lifting. They are not for composting but for food in the Reptile business. I bred a few to see if they would sell and within 2 weeks I was turning people away as I couldn't meet the demand. Next time I put them up for sale I will be much better prepared. I have just set up a friend with some and she is gong to breed to sell so we will work with each other to cover any demand the other cant supply. Well that's it in theory anyway.
     
  17. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    amazing that you cannot find an outlet for castings, but perhaps you are not tied into the local gardener circuit? if i knew i could get them for a reasonable price i'd be happy to move them a few buckets at a time in the trunk of the car. i've seen some people advertise them at $20/bag -- i don't have that kind of funds available, so generate my own. much easier on site anyways as then i don't have to transport very far and have the added benefit of the worms too.

    copy paper alone would be horrible. think of eating nothing but white bread for nutrition day after day. a little white paper mixed in with other things, seems ok, but like i say i don't have much of that to process.

    i hope the theory works out in practice. :) less weight is a definite plus. i'm glad i only move most of the full buckets once a year for spring planting, the rest of the time i have them on pieces of carpet scraps that slide on the wood floor. when i feed them i just grab a floor pillow i have and sit down on the floor and then there's no lifting for that either. scraps and water all move in easy quantities.

    as for gardening i used to daydream about having a completely mobile series of large carts on rails (old model railroader) so that i could move the gardens around by rail to come to me when i needed to water, weed or harvest, but after learning more and more about dirt i see that would not really be a good use of soil. still it was a nice daydream. now i have to just be more simple and think about a model railroad that can shuck and sort dry beans for me. of course, it would run on solar power. :)
     

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