We are worm farmers in Antioch, CA. We collect fruit and vegetable scraps and coffee grounds from local merchants to feed our worms. We also collect manure from a nearby horse stable. We love turning all that stuff into beautiful castings!!
Assuming favorable conditions; how often would you say approx 8 lbs of worms in 2 bath tubs would need to be sifted for the castings? And, approx how much castings would that 8lbs of worms produce in a given period (i.e. 1 month or 3 months). I feed them regularly (every 2-3 days) kitchen scraps, leaves, lots of shredded paper, and recently added a worm fattening recipe for additional assurance of healthy/happy worms!
I also have a few plastic tubs of worms that I believe needs to be sifted, (is full) but dont know if its too soon, if the things remaining are actually castings, or maybe just things that have decomposed a bit, along with manure and coffee grounds that look like soil....whats the easiest way to tell if a bin is done, and if the things you are looking at are in fact castings?
hey my apologies for the delay, I've been having great difficulty determining the interior volume of the bath tubs, but just tonight finally figured out approx. 9 cubic feet, which should be perfect as you suggested to just have all of them in one tub, perhaps than, i can have the second tub ready to move them into when they are further down the composting process... (have several stages)
your information was very helpful! Do you prefer the African Nightcrawlers to the Red Wigglers than?
the part im struggling with the most with the vermicomposting process is identifying when to the right time to harvest is....from what i have learned, the better the castings you want the fewer surviving worms there will be. Therefore, for worm reproduction, you are better off harvesting a bit early....before it is entirely pure castings i assume?!?
I just started the bath tubs with some wood blocks on bottom and a mesh screen for drainage, than a few inches of shredded paper, few inches of steer manure, added the worms, added some food, fattening recipe, a bit more manure and few more inches of shredded paper instead of cardboard as a lid to keep flys away from food (somewhat)....it is already maybe 6 inches from the top of the tub, so i dont have a lot of room to mix in more paper or manure or anything so ill just bury the food in the manure bedding to keep away from flys, until it gets full or creates enough castings....whichever comes first...than i will harvest them...
any recommendations/ideas/problems etc that i could improve this process with?
I believe my plastic tubs are ready, but were too moist to sift through so i spread them out on a blue tarp, to expose all the moisture to air, and break up the clumps, added lots of dry shredded paper to absorb the moisture, and through it back in the tubs...i figure ill leave it for a few days and check back to see if the castings are ready to be sifted, i want to preserve as many worms as possible!
any recommendations with the things mentioned above?
Thank you for the welcome note. There is still of lot of learning and reading for me to do catch up on vermicomposting. In fact I have been a regular visitor to Bentley Christie's Redwormcomposting before I gathered worms from my garden and now I am glad that I found your site http://www.monsterworms.com. The worm in the pic is surely my longest worm in my collection but still need to be identified. Meanwhile I shall name it The Unknown Worm. I have ordered 1/2 kg African Nightcrawlers from a local supplier here in Malaysia and was told that they are put on a special feed of soy bean paste and goat manure. I am wondering if I could change their feed to kitchen waste instead?
Today I got a call from my worm supplier and he said that he will personally deliver my 1lb African Nightcrawlers with their feed this Sunday! Meanwhile I am preparing my own kitchen waste 'feed'. That is because I want to test 'ween' some of the worms from the commercial feed to vegetables and fruit peels. I have already frozen some chopped up pieces of honey melon peels and cabbage which I will be adding to the bedding of a separate worm bin. Finally I can say that I am composting with African Nightcrawlers! Not just my Unkown Garden Worms. lol.
"They produce a LOT of castings and a lot of babies."
Wow I really like that. My dug up garden worms do not seem to be doing anything much for a month. Yesterday I transferred them to a smaller plastic flower pot and hopefully they get to find each other and mate. During the transfer I did a search for cocoons in the bin but could not find any. Anyway I am getting really excited for my new arrivals of Africans!
Being a newbie on vermicomposting, I will definitely seek your advice when my worms start disappearing on me! Hopefully it does not happen though. lol. Thank you for your offer. For the past few daysI have been eating a lot more fruits like bananas and waterlmelons. You know just so I can collect their scraps for my worms 'home coming' celebration. I intend to wean half their numbers to my kitchen scraps and keep the balance as insurance since they come with the supplier's feed. Wish me luck!
Yes yes!!! My Africans arrived last Sunday but in my excitement, I forgot to take their pics!!! Sigh. The first thing I did was to count them. Got myself 630 sweet little crawlies. On the average they measure around 2 inches in length. A few of them do have that bloated citellum and I was really careful with them. For the past few days I let them be. Yesterday I split them into 2 bins. One of the bins has 160 of them. And in this bin I have halved it to contain their original feed (goat manure, soya bean paste and oatmeal husk with some finely crushed egg shells..... I got the details from my supplier) and this is where I want them to get a taste of kitchen scraps on the other half of the bin which has been aged for a week. I am thinking that if they liked the new material (watermelon, banana and papaya, shredded newspaper/egg carton and coco coir) they will certainly migrate. Got the aging part from Bentley's website. See I have really been doing a LOT of reading! Tomorrow will be 'checking them out time'.