Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vermiculture Update

Time for a worm update.

There has not been quite the population explosion that I was expecting. I am still just at 3 tubs but I am just about to start an additional tub or perhaps two. My local aunt likes the idea so I am setting up a bin for her to use. Her husband, my uncle, is an outdoorsman hunter/guide and he loves to fish so I suspect many of their worms will end up bait. I feel a bit odd at 36 years old, talking like this (seems like something a 12 year old might write about!), but I think that is just some silly residual social programming that I have not quite exorcised. I am more than happy to have this beneficial little hobby that is catching on with some family and friends.

Back to my bins.

As I stated before, I was running low on drink tray cardboard so I was trying to use straw as bedding material. This has been working quite well but quite a bit of chopping helps to speed up the process and this can be kind of a pain in the ass. Scaling up will definitely require a small tub grinder or chipper but this will allow the processing of old round straw and hay bales. I think it will be a good investment because it can also chop up the bedding straw from the livestock. This is always mixed with plenty of manure so after it is piled to heat awhile, it can be shredded once more and then fed to the worms. This will maximize the nutrients and microbiological organisms present in the worm castings.

One mentionable aspect to using the straw as bedding is that I believe it has slowed their reproduction from what I saw in the first bin. That drink tray cardboard seems to provide the ideal breeding environment for these things. So anyone wanting a slow population increase might do well to find some straw to use as bedding for their worms. However, I may also be wrong about this, there may have been a low amount of adults spread among the 3 bins. The bin with the most adults seems like it has had a significant population increase lately, although I will look more closely tomorrow. At the very least, the straw provides them with plenty of oxygen and they definitely seem more physically active in it.

I have also discovered that compost worms LOVE pumpkins. This may be true for all melons but they are simply devouring the unusable pumpkins that I have been feeding them. I suppose this is because the flesh is so soft and mushy but there are not even traces of rind remaining after just a few days. I guess I will be planting lots of melons in the garden next year.

Here is a little video to give an idea of what I mean:



In the background of the video, you can hear Dmitri Orlov of Club Orlov being interviewed by KMO on the C-Realm Podcast. If you've not yet had a listen at the C-Realm, I seriously suggest it. I enjoy it so much that I have gone back to listen from the beginning. I started back in June or July and I am up to episode 129 now. That is 128 hours of listening so far! And I have loved almost every episode. From psychedelia to peak oil to philosophy, this show feeds my head amazingly well. I am downloading most of them, since I know I will want to listen again later.

Before I go, I want to pass on a little suggestion, regarding vermicomposting. After putting raw potato skins in my first bin, and turnips in a recent bin, I really suggest avoiding dense root vegetables without chopping them up quite a lot. I am not joking at all when I say these things last a LONG time in your worm bin, if you do not do so. Potato skins bits may even sprout. I would watch the starch concentrations anyway.

That's all for now, I think.

Be good to each other.

14 comments:

linda said...

Very good video, very fascinating subject. Do worms go into a period where they don't reproduce as much,i.e. during winter? We are still thinking on this project ourselves but I haven't yet done enough research.

Jerry said...

In their natural habitat, I'm sure they do have a seasonal cycle. In bins in my condo and in my folks' basement, I think its all one looooong year to them.

Get a bin, I promise its not really much effort!

MoonRaven said...

Thanks for this update.

I haven't tried wormbins because we have two outdoor compost bins that seem to work well enough. I have noticed that the 'resting compost' (when I turn it) is seething with earthworms. We haven't put any in there, they just find the compost on their own.

But it's great to hear about your experiences. I don't think it's silly to talk about wormbins at 36 (anymore than it's silly for 58 year olds to rhapsodize about compost, which I am prone to do). Besides, there are some pretty intelligent 12 year olds, some of whom think more clearly than their elders.

It's interesting to learn that the worms love pumpkin but aren't as keen on potato skins and turnips. (I can empathize--I certainly like pumpkin a lot better than turnip!) I guess they just have demanding tastes.

May your vermiculture flourish!

linda said...

Thanks Jerry
I am actually a little squeamish about worms myself (childhood horror story) but if Garry is now willing to give it at try, then I can have my cake and eat it too. He can do the looking and I can reap the rewards:)

Jerry said...

Thanks MoonRaven. Sounds like you have good vermicomposting going on already so I doubt doing it indoors in bins would be a hobby for me in that case either! Compost processes very slowly for me here outdoors, in large part due to the very cold winters. Even our aging cow manure piles tend to freeze right through.

Sorry to hear about the squeamishness linda! I can't help but grin when I look in the bins, personally. Perhaps having a bin will help you get over the childhood trauma, eventually.

linda said...

I actually have gotten over some it from digging in the dirt and your video helped a little. I'm working on it since its rather silly now!

ifthisbeterror -- a Revolution of One said...

When I did this where I live, out of space limitations keeping the worm bin in the semi-heated cellar-like crawl space under the Yrt dwelling, my worms slept quietly all winter, and then bred like crazy for the summer. Yet, we read of many who enjoy a rich, populous, garbage processing worm bin that makes fertilizer out of stuff that would otherwise go into the landfill. I say your informative work suggests we all keep trying, even if some of us are rural, and could just pile the organic stuff up and let it freeze until Spring compost season.

Jerry said...

Thanks for commenting, ITBT. I will have to share a picture of the mountainous pile of organic stuff out on the farm! Its about 10 years old and I doubt the middle ever freezes. It may well be the initial fuel if I ever scale this worm thing up significantly.

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