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OK, we are operating on a shoestring budget.  Cancel that... we can't afford shoestrings.  We live in a small apartment.


Our current plan is to use brown paper bags and used coffee grounds for our starting mix.  To keep it from molding before use, the coffee grounds were baked back to more or less dry.  We have the square plastic coffee cans, and we plan to use them.


The current questions are:  

How moist should we rehydrate to?


Whats the best way to go from more or less sterile to "able to feed worms"?  At this point, I am thinking on rehydrating using water from the guppy tank....


Anything wrong with getting our starter worms from the bait shop?  I know... little red wrigglers, not the refridgerated monsters....  Is there a cheaper way (we live in an apartment... they would get mad if I dug up the grounds looking for worms....) and my grandfathers compost heap is 2700 miles away... a bit too far to walk...


We are open to suggestions and ideas...

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Hermaphrodites mean they have both sexes.

Tony i have had mini bins for a couple years.  I use old red-vine licorice containers.  a photo of my mini bin

I believe the container holds about a gallon and a half of bedding.  Half again as much as a coffee can.  I had several blog posts but i see that all but the last couple are gone.  So i will try to cover the results i got.  I re-started my mini bins ever 3 to 4 month or so.  I had one mini bin for a year then two for the next year.  So i ended up restarting the mini bins about 9 times total.  I found the worm volume results stayed fairly consistent.  I was never able to get more than a quarter cup of worms in a container.  That is the volume of worms would stay the same.   If the number of worms went up the size of worms would go down,  i mean they would get tiny inch long and mature.  I would split the herd, dividing one container into two. The tiny worms would just get bigger until i had a 1/4 cup of worms in each container.  I think that is about the total volume of worms in one of those bate shop worm containers.  So it should be enough to start a gallon or two.  

You can never go wrong by having too much bedding in a worm bin, not true with having too much food.  So fill the thing nearly to the top with damp bedding when the bedding shrinks add more.  Just keep them damp, ventilated and don't overfeed and the bin should do fine.  Notice the vent holes in my mini bin by the bottom and in the top of the lid under the yellow cloth ( it's bit of sham wow ).  The thick cloth allows air movement and keeps fruit flies out.  Never once found a fruit fly in those mini bins.  


On a real good day worms will eat half their weight in food a day.  Trouble is real good days don't happen too often in such a small container.  So give them half their weight in food and don't feed them again until is gone.  In such a small container a apple core can take as long as two weeks or more before its is gone.  So i would check once a week until the it was gone before feeding something else. 


An exception to the rule is used coffee grounds (URG) they take a long time to break down enough for the worms to like them.  Spread the coffee grounds out or mix them up into the top of the bedding with a bit of other food ( tablespoon full of other food ) and they will get eaten quicker.  URG are fairly sterile so have to soak up microbes from something else before they start getting "worm ready".  URG's don't smell bad while breaking down.  So they make a good "hold over" food slowly releasing nutrients to the worms ( URG are eaten slower ).  By the time the other food was eaten the coffee grounds would have started breaking down enough for the worms to start processing them.


Hope this helps






this could be a bit of a problem... the primary substance in the container IS coffee grounds... Of course,  the grounds were soaked in "bottom of the bucket" fish tank water, so they are far from sterile... and they have been wet like that for almost a month. I have a couple of those 5 dozen egg carton flats that are going in tomorrow when I mix everything up... hopefully that will  work for the bedding...

Tony, what part of the country are you located in?

southwestern Oregon... Roseburg
Worm country!
The materials I add to my bin in greatest volume are coffee grounds and corrugated cardboard.  I add "tastier" foods when I have them, rotten fruit/veggies, crushed eggshells, etc.; but my worms' staple foods are those two.  I'm not saying it's the ideal worm chow, but it's what I have on a daily basis, and it's what my worms are gonna get -- nevertheless, my bin has been a great success, as far as I'm concerned.  Lots of worms, lots of poop.  I seem to get 2 gallons of finished VC every 3 months or so.
Day one, and the worms seem to be fine.  I was worried about moisture, and drowning worms, so I took a second cat litter bucket, cut a square hole out of the bottom (about half the bottom), cut out a piece of old screen to fit down inside the bucket, drilled some holes  for the make-shift bailing wire staples that I used to attach the screen to the bucket, and then turned the removed square to diamond (to help support the weight), added a cardboard egg carton (5 dozen holder) to the bottom to keep stuff from falling through the screen easily, and then transferred everything.  I took most of the new stuff off the top, and set it aside so I had (or at least thought I had) most of the worms from yesterday.I put the stuff from the bucket on the egg crate, made a layer of ripped newspaper, another layer of stuff, etc... When I got to the bottom, and started scraping off the last bits of fishtank water soaked coffee grounds, I found 2 of the worms!  Evidently it wasn't so wet as to discourage the worms from digging down to the bottom.  I put the set aside worms on top, and covered them with balled up brown paper... Here's to hoping they like the new environment.
They'll be a little restless for a few days but that is normal. The best moisture meter you can use is your bare hand. Just stick it way down in the bucket & if it feels too wet, it probably is. If so, add some shredded cardboard...Some worms do like things a bit sloppy wet. Just like humans, they are all individuals. Try not to stress over them too much ( easy advice, hard to follow)...I've been putzing with red worms for almost 2 years & I still fuss over them probably a bit too much. Have fun, enjoy the journey.
You don't want inches of standing water, but otherwise worms like it pretty wet. It's just a pain for us to handle VC that is that mucky. The problem with drain holes or mesh is the worms eventually find their way out through the drains. If you put a catch tray underneath, leachate collects and worms can drown in that. In the end it's best just to learn how to manage moisture without the drains. But try it this way and see how it goes.

I;ve seen many worms dead on the sidewalk after a rain... I always thought they left the ground to avoid drowning... That was my big worry...  I put a few rocks in the lower bucket so they have a place out of the water to hang out till I get them if they make their way through.


Red worms can actually live underwater for long periods of time (days even), if the water is sufficiently oxygenated.  They just absorb oxygen through their skin, whether in air or in water.  I dunno if anyone really knows for sure why they run around on the surface when it rains.  My personal guess is that they are dissatisfied with their home, but don't want to die by drying up, so they stay in it... until a rain or other high humidity comes... then they think it's their big chance, and go wandering.  Then the sun comes up when they're in the middle of a concrete wasteland.




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