Tag Archives: red worm farming

Maggots in my worm bin?

30 Apr

Below is a picture from a customer who asked the question, “What are these in my bin and are they harmful to the worms”?  These are probably black soldier fly larvae.  They are a little unsightly, but are good composters in their own right and are not harmful to your worms.  These tend to show up in my manure piles when the weather heats up.  I will remove them most of the time from my worm bin if they show up, but it is not necessary.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.22.27 AM

Advertisements

Worms for the Garden

27 Apr

clayworm2 claywormThis is what I like to see.  Pictured above are some chunks of clay with some of my Texas Jumpers working through them with no problem.  The ability of these native Texan worms to work in clay is what makes them suitable for adding directly to your garden or raised bed.  They are a hearty worm that grows to 6 inches or more in a few months time.  The strength that they have at a few weeks old and small size is what separates them from European Nightcrawlers or Red Worms (eisenia foteda).  This strength makes them great aerators and tunnelers for your soil.  They can dive and tunnel several feet and can survive through our extreme temps.  Pick a spot that has good shade for these worms, keep it composted, covered (old carpet or something similar), and watered for best results.  Once your population is established in several weeks, you’ll be ready to start moving them around a couple of handfuls at a time.  With a little patience and persistence, you’ll have worms all over.

I broke open a clay clod and found this young worm working through.  If these worms can handle this South Texas clay and caliche soil chances are they can benefit yours.

clayandcaliche

Image

Spring Fever Festival Sat. March 29, 2014 in Boerne, TX

28 Mar

Spring Fever Festival small

Michael’s Rabbit Hutch Worm Bed

23 Jul

Thanks to Michael in Cypress, TX for sharing the pictures of his rabbit hutch and worm bed design.  Great work and thanks for sending.

photo3 photo4 photo photo2

Image

Red Mites and Red Worms

16 Jul
Red Mites killing a red worm

Red Mites killing a red worm

Red mites on watermelon rind.

Red mites on watermelon rind.

I’ve encountered these red devils before but not at this level.  Unlike most visitors in your worm bin, these guys are parasites to worms.  (see top picture).  Red mites flourish and can become a problem in a bin that is too moist, has too much food, or too acidic.  Don’t panic if you have a few mites, but a bin that is has been neglected and unkept in these conditions can pose a problem.  My outbreak was caused by overfeeding before we headed out for our July 4th vacation, and was left to fester for more than a week.  Getting rid of a red mite infestation can be a challenge.

I’ve tried several methods and have shown below a little experiment I began today.  I scraped the top of some red mite infected bins and partially filled some small shoebox containers.  From Left to Right in pic below 1. control 2. diatomaceous earth 3. watermelon rind 4. agricultural lime.

1. The control bin will be left open and scraped from time to time to see how long it takes to get rid of the red mites.

2. Diatomaceous Earth has been applied to top of #2.  DE needs to be kept dry in order for it to stick to bugs and make tiny cuts that will dry them out and kill them off.

3. Watermelon rind placed on top to attract red mites and discard.  I will replace with a new one and repeat and see how this does.

4. Ag Lime dusted on top.  Ag lime is alkaline and will hopefully bring the acidic bedding closer to neutral.  The high alkalinity concentrated on the top should burn up the red mites and not harm the worms.

4 methods for getting rid of red mites

These methods have been used before and should all work.  I just kind of wanted to see them head to head.  We’ll see how this turns out.  The good news is most of the red mites have been dismissed without harming too many of my bins and worms.  Additionally, I learned a valuable lesson about overfeeding, and next time I’ll use more composted manure and less of my worm chow mix.  My mistakes were 1. overfeeding 2. too wet 3. too much peat moss and too little composted manure (which made my bedding a little acidic) 4. My infected bins were unattended for a week.  Had I caught them sooner it wouldn’t have been much of an issue.

 

Red Worms, Castings, and Eggs

14 Apr

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 9.36.09 AM

Spring is here and the worms are hungry.  Cocoons, and baby worms are appearing by the minute.  Here are a couple of pics from this week’s castings harvest.

April 13 cocoons

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 9.35.10 AM

Flow Through Worm Bin 2

27 Feb

photo 2

In production since last week this TexasRedWorm Flow Through 2 has been a work in progress for several years.  I have been looking at examples of flow through bins homemade and commercially available for some time.  This latest design is the latest version predated by several prototypes.   This latest evolution has been a success thus far.   I ended up purchasing the metal racks from Costco for about $137.  Easy to assemble and very sturdy, these were a great buy at a good price.  I spent about $70 on hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, washers, 20′ of .25″ cable, and cable clamps).  Key to a long lasting box built around the metal rack, were cypress 2×6’s from TexasDozer.com cut from my dad’s saw mill.  Cypress will not rot and in it’s natural state (no chemicals used to preserve the wood)  and will not leach out anything harmful to the worms or castings.

photo 5The cutting diamond bar was fabricated out of scrap and square tubing for the guides.  This will be pulled with winches mounted to both sides of the rack to cut and harvest castings from the bin.

photo 1Two mason tubs purchased at Lowe’s for around $13 each rest on the bottom rack just below the flow through bin to catch castings.  The bottom of the bin was lined with newspaper and worms and compost were added.  We will let the worms go to work for several weeks feeding compost as needed.  Over the next few weeks the newspaper will break down and the bin will be ready to harvest.  For the initial harvest, remove by hand the newspaper from under the screen.  Use the winch from one side to move the cutting bar across the bottom of the bin one time.