Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Worm Update

I figure it is about time for a worm composting update but pictures will have to wait for a future update. The inspiration for this update lies in the fact that I have now added a 3rd bin to the lot. This isn't QUITE as amazing as it may seem, because the first bin is just about finished and mostly empty of worms. Although, having said that, I'm glad that this first batch of worm shite is at this stage in the fall because this way I can be sure that as many cocoons as possible can hatch. Having started with such a small amount of worms, I find myself trying hard to avoid the loss of even one this stage of the game anyway.

I am still incredibly impressed with how this little project has been proceeding. My worm population has absolutely exploded considering I started off with somewhere around 150 worms. When all the worms that I have right now have reached maturity, I suspect I should have around 2 lbs of worms. But, having said that, I also have a huge amount of cocoons just starting to hatch in the 2nd bin that I started. Within a month I will be pulling that first set of mature adults which began the 2nd bin, and will be ready to start yet another bin with a significant amount of breeding adults. At that point I will have 3 bins processing mostly optimally and a 4th just about finished to the point that my first bin is now. All this in around 4 months.

At this point, I have pretty much exhausted my stored up supply of shredded paper cardboard (from drink trays and old egg cartons, etc) but that is fine. I moved the first bin out to the farm to harvest so I have started to use materials only from there. Since we have a LOT of old straw and cow manure there is a large amount of the kind of food and bedding that worms love and so I have started using it. I am soaking the old manure or spraying it well, to get it nice and moist and then I am adding a layer of wet straw at the bottom and a layer of drier hay on top to keep moisture down where the worms can use it best. Some other moisture-bearing and partially decomposed vegetable matter are also added, periodically, for shorter term worm food. The worms seem to love this environment and I find them crawling through the straw much quicker than they do through the shredded cardboard that I use here at home. Now I am waiting to see how quickly and plentifully they start dropping cocoons.

I have decided not to attempt an over-winter outdoor worm bin this winter, for various reasons. Instead, I will just do what I can to increase population as quickly as possible, while deciding just how large a scale seems feasible.

Well, that's all for now I think.

As Mick Foley would say, "Have a nice day!!"


linda said...

Very intriguing. I'm glad that you are pointing out how quickly these guys are reproducing. That was one of the questions I would of asked since if I do this, I have limited space in the apartment. I also like the idea of using straw and manure instead of newspaper. Hope you keep the updates coming. I'm learning a lot from this!

SoapBoxTech said...

I`m glad you`re getting something out of it, Linda. In truth, I could probably still have them all in one bin and they`d just process faster. I spread them out this way as I am hoping to stimulate as much breeding as possible by providing as much ideal breeding environment as possible. I suspect that focusing on waste processing would slow breeding somewhat.

As for bedding, I suggest using whatever is appropriate but easiest to procure. I am curious to find out whether straw stimulates breeding like the drink tray type shredded cardboard.