Worms in a compost pile

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by sweetpea, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    First, I just want to say how much I enjoy this forum. I found this place when an American gardening forum made me crazy with its negativity and hostility and just plain inaccuracies. And I really admire that you guys, while you may have spats from time to time, want to be helpful rather than blaming and attacking. I get so discouraged sometimes with American aggressiveness.

    So here's a topic I found myself in the middle of that just seems whacky to me. Someone said they wondered if finding a lot of worms in their compost was a problem. As far as I know, being an organic gardener, I want as many worms as I can get. So someone else posts, oh, no, worms in a compost pile is bad. it indicates your pile is all wrong. And I say, that's ridiculous.

    Is this bizarre or what?
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    All I can think of was that they were thinking that if worms were present it was not getting heated but if you get elevated temperatures for about four weeks and then the worms move in then you start to develop the colloids and humus you need. I hope they are not right as we have many worms in ours and it seems to be great compost.
     
  3. PermaGuinea

    PermaGuinea Junior Member

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    I think there are many different composting systems and more than one right answer. Those that are averse to worms are probably confusing "hot composting" with composting in general. Worm farms and bokashi are also types of composting processes.

    In the early stages of a dry composting process, the compost gets very hot, which is useful for killing weed seeds and pathogens.

    Later the compost becomes cool and wet and worms and soldier fly larvae may be welcomed in to help break down the tougher plant fibres.

    Worm farms forgo the dry process and rely on the seed to rot or be eaten by the worms.


    There are no doubt better sources of information than the following, but it's a start:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost

    (Oops, crossed with Purplepear, but I think we are saying the same thing. ;))
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I run a cold compost system (separate from the worm farm). I add as I go so I don't get the hot composting you get if you build the compost in one go. I have lots of worms and am very happy about that. I guess the composts is like a slow worm farm in a way.
     
  5. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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  6. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    Our compost piles began to go cold about a month ago. The piles resemble nothing like a finished product, but even after adding more nitrogen, they refuse to heat up. While I knew that our piles were smaller than recommended (as I have them acting as a moving, nutrient leaching mulch for the double dug beds we are doing), I had a smaller pile out behind our fence that stayed hot and of a similar size.

    I gave up trying to add more nitrogen and decided to take the long way out and just let them cold compost on their own. I've noticed that a worm population has begun to breed in each pile, not large, but noticeably bigger each time I move a pile (typically about a week). These aren't lost earth worms either, I've found them 2' up above the soil. So I'm pretty happy to see them- if nitrogen won't work, maybe these worms will.

    I was thinking today that composting worms must have some heightened awareness that alerts them to rotting material. I don't know much about worm biology, but I do know that worms are great.

    I agree, it is bizarre that anyone would get worked up over someone having worms in their compost pile.

    (Whether or not our compost turns out fine is still TBD)
     
  7. Pink Angel

    Pink Angel Junior Member

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    You need size for a hot compost bed. The smallest bed that will go hot is a 1m X 1m X 1m. It will take 6 to 8 weeks in summer/spring or up to 12 weeks in winter.
    The worms come in to finish the job of composting after the temp has gone done to under 32C.
     
  8. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    We tried our best to keep them 1 cubic meter, but even then they refused to stay hot (even though they were initially transferred hot). But, its alright, because if they had finished composting then we would have had to store the compost somewhere more protected from the elements.
     

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