Tag Archives: red worm farming

Flow Through Worm Bin part 1

22 Mar

I have tried several models of flow through systems and continue to tinker to get the results I’m looking for.  The idea is for the finished castings to fall through the grate at the bottom of the bin and the worms to work towards the top of the bin.

Materials: square metal tubing, plywood, braided cable, 1.5″ self tapping metal screws, small I beam we found for the base bar to mount winches, and 2 winches (one we salvaged and another from Tractor Supply @$20) for pulling each direction.

We welded a bar to slide along the bottom of the bin to agitate the castings through the grate.  I have tried other versions without the cutting bar, and castings tend to get clumpy and stuck.  Stay tuned for the big reveal when we add worms and a few finishing touches.

Bexar County Master Gardener event Feb. 16th 1pm-3pm

9 Feb
Master Gardeners spring gardening is almost here.  The stir of vegetable gardening and landscape rejuvenation is upon us.  Adding compost will be a big part of our chores.  Kyle Harrell will speak at our February meeting about enhancing your composting operation with a vigorous population of earth worms.  He will teach and show how increasing your worms improve your composting operation.  Our door prizes will include worm castings and tools to spread compost in your garden.  Mr. Harrell is seasoned speaker and worm farmer.  His presentations are tops on organics and composting.

The meeting is at the AgriLife Meeting room, 3355 Cherry ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230.  This is a 1:00pm to 3:00pm afternoon meeting.  A continuing education credit is earned for all Master Gardeners.  All gardeners and the public are invited.

DIY Worm Chow

12 Oct

Worms will eat just about anything they can fit into their tiny mouth, and are the ultimate composter, humus maker, and soil conditioner.  The primary feedstock I feed my worms is composted horse and cow manure, yard clippings-leaves, and table scraps (minus dairy and grease).  Between feedings I sprinkle my own version of Worm Chow over the top of the bin.  This simple recipe is great for fattening up your worms for a fishing trip or just adding some diversity to their diet and your castings.  Use for your Alabama Jumpers, Red Worms, European Nightcrawlers, or African Nightcrawlers.

TexasRedWorms.com Worm Chow is:

1 part corn meal

1 part ground up oatmeal

add crushed egg shells for minerals and flavor

Francisco’s Worm Farm

5 Aug

Francisco was kind enough to share these pics of his double tub worm bin.  Francisco got started a few months ago and is doing great.  His double bin construction technique allows for excess moisture to drain into the bottom catch tub (worm leachate).   His bedding base is comprised of finely shredded newspaper mixed w/ food waste.  As a mulch layer, he keeps a few sheets of wet newspaper on top of the bin.  Francisco also shared some of his homemade worm chow that my worms loved.  It was gone the next morning.

Thanks for sharing your ideas and pictures.

Protecting your worms from the Summer heat.

5 Aug

This Summer has been brutal, and can be very stressful to your worm bins and beds.  Redworms perform best in temperature ranging from 40 F – 80 F., and keeping them moist is essential to their survival in these less than ideal conditions. Don’t drown your worms, but  error on the side of wet in this blistering heat.

I posted earlier, how to keep worm bins cool by adding frozen water bottles.  This works great, but w/ temps hitting 100 in the shade this week, I began having to use more and more ice bottles.  I was running out of freezer spa, and was able to convince my wife to let me bring my smaller bins indoors.

My larger worm bins kept in full shade, have faired well.  Size of the bin is a big factor.  Larger bins or containers will naturally have more volume to allow for greater insulation and protection from extreme temperatures.  Smaller bins will “feel the heat” and not have as much buffer or room for protection.  I keep old rugs on top of the bedding that are sprayed down daily to keep moist and cool.  Add a few more inches of mulch to in ground worm beds and keep as moist as possible in these tough conditions. The mulch added to worm beds or flower beds will add organic matter, protection, and an additional moisture barrier.

Composting with Red Worms 10:00am this Saturday at the San Antonio Botanical Garden

20 Jul

Join TexasRedWorms.com at the San Antonio Botanical Garden this Saturday, July 23 at 10:00 am.  We will be teaching how to set up your own red worm composting bin, and how to compost with worms.  Learn how to turn your kitchen waste into rich worm castings that will condition the soil, and fertilize your plants naturally.

Composting with Red Worms

 10 am—noon. Start turning your waste into rich worm castings for your garden and plants. Red Worm composting from
TexasRedWorms.com will show you how to make your own worm bed and bin, how to feed, care for, and harvest your own steady supply of worm castings. Limit 30 participants. Fee: $20. To register, please contact Sasha Kodet at 210.207.3270 or sasha.kodet@sanantonio.gov.

Help your worms beat the heat.

11 Jul

We have had a high number of 100+ degree days this Summer in Texas.  When temperatures get into the 90s worms get stressed.

One way to avoid overheating and losing worms is to keep them indoors.  Avoid overfeeding and smell will not be an issue.  Overfeeding can also attract fruit flies.  Eliminating fruit flies is as easy as covering your bin with cheese cloth, or other breathable fabric.

Find a full shade location if your worms are outside.  Add ample bedding and keep moist.  80%- 90% moisture is recommended, and in hotter temps lean towards more moisture to keep worms cool.  Keep lids cracked to increase airflow.  A closed bin can bake even in the shade with high temperatures.  Garage kept worms still need to be monitored in the heat.

Another trick I’ve employed is freezing plastic bottles full of water and adding them to bins on hot afternoons.  My worms have been appreciative in these “dog days” of summer.

Worms doing well in Houston heat

24 May

From Mark

My worms seem to be thriving now. Have dozens of them in every handful of compost. How quickly will they reproduce? How long before my population outgrows my 20 gallon plastic container? They are in my garage and it is getting a little warm, so I put a frozen gallon of water in it every day to keep temp in high 60s. They seem to like it. I keep one jug in freezer and one in bin and rotate every day. I am ready to harvest my first batch of compost in a few weeks. Mark.

Great to hear.  Excellent idea with the frozen water bottle.

Your worms should double in # in @ 90 days.  You can start a new bin at any time.  While harvesting castings is a good time to take inventory, see how they are doing, and start a new bin.  You can get another 20 gallon container or multiple 5-10 gallon ones.  Now the fun begins, watching your worms multiply and produce castings. 

Thanks for the update. 

Kyle
http://www.TexasRedWorms.com


Help. I’m losing my worms.

21 May

Below is a question I received via email, and thought I would share it.

Question from reader:

I have a problem with my worms and was wondering if you can help. I recently purchased a worm composter manufactured by Tumbleweed called Can-O-Worms. It has two working trays that have holes in them to allow worms to migrate upwards and also allows liquid to filter down into a collector tray. I have discovered that a lot of my red worms are dropping down into the collector tray and then dying. I also am finding several worms dying in the working tray (their bodies look as though they have been pinched). Have you ever heard of this? Is this a design flaw of my composter? I am very interested in worm composting and would welcome your advice.

TexasRedWorms.com :

I’m happy to try and help. You only have a problem if you are losing more than a few.  It’s normal to lose a four or five every once in awhile, in the bottom tray. You’ll usually have a few curious worms, and they are highly sensitive to barometric pressure.

The pinching is not something I’m familiar with. The only predators are centipedes and moles. If you do suspect a predator, diatomaceous earth can be added to your bedding. This is safe for you and the worms but will kill insects and Arthropoda. You can find it in most garden sections, be sure and stay away from pool grade. The pool grade is too fine and can be ingested and can be dangerous. If your losses are more than a few, I might need some more info. What, how much, and how often are you feeding? Temp of bin? Is it too wet? What other critters do you see in your bin?

 From reader: Thanks for your rapid response. After reading your email I immediately went out and cleaned the collector tray. I counted about 18 dead worms. Today (two days later) I only found 2 dead and one alive. I was pleasantly surprised with the few numbers. Maybe things are stabilizing. I’ll keep you updated. I can only assume that the pinching I talked about is caused by the worm trying to squeeze through a hole much smaller than it can manage.  I have found worms pinched in half on the surface with guts exposed and bleeding.  At one point I was wondering if maybe I caused these injuries by scratching the surface to see how the worms were doing. Are they so delicate that I should not be probing the bed? Maybe these last couple of days by leaving them alone is the result of the few casualties. But then I wonder how is it possible for your worms to survive the tumbling action of your worm harvester? As for centipedes, I don’t know. I haven’t seen any. I started this worm composter about two weeks ago.  So far I have only fed the worms the original coir bedding, lettuce, banana peels and coffee grounds.   Today at 3:00 PM the temperature of the bed is 70F. The instructions of the bin calls for flushing the bed once a week with a pail of water. Since the water freely drains into the collector tray I didn’t think things could get too wet. What is too wet? Thanks again for all your input,

TexasRedWorms.com :

Good, those numbers are more like it. 2 rather than 18.

The worms should not be pinching themselves trying to squeeze, and are
not going to get killed by you scratching the surface. The only thing
I can think of on the pinching front, is if you might by accident be
clipping them with the tray? They can also be gripping when the tray
is pulled off and be getting pulled apart. I am pretty gentle when
pulling them out of the screen. They wrap up and coil to hang on, I
will have to unwrap them sometimes because they will hold on tight.

The weekly flush I’m not familiar with? Why do they want you to flush
it? The flush could have sent some of the 18 worms to a watery grave.

Holes can get stopped up with castings, real wet bins get real fudgy.
Too wet will clog drainage holes and make harvesting more difficult.

Hang in there, we’ll get you rolling, and it will be a breeze.

Easy DIY In ground Worm Composting Bin

21 May

With a few minutes and fewer tools you can set up your own red worm composting system in any raised bed.

Materials:

Tin snips or box cutter

Plastic planter or bucket

Shovel or other digging tool

Stone or cover for the in ground bed

Worms

Find an old plastic planter and cut the bottom out.

Find a well drained spot that is protected from afternoon direct sun.  Dig a small hole big enough to bury the upside down container.  Add some shredded paper products and some compost.  Moisten your mix and add worms.  Cover w/ a paver or stone to keep out critters, and protect from elements.

Depending on the amount of worms, a handful of kitchen scraps every week or so will be plenty to start.  As your worms grow and reproduce they will require more frequent feedings.  Do not over feed.  Be patient and when the food is processed by the worms, add a few more kitchen scraps.  Keep an eye on moisture.  If kept out of direct sunlight, the food scraps will usually provide enough moisture for your worms.  Worms like it wet because they breathe through their skin, but will drown in standing water.