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For anyone that is following along in this thread: http://vermicomposters.ning.com/profiles/blogs/sharing-worms#comments I wanted to add some details about an experiment I'm going to conduct using the 5 gallon bucket plan we've been discussing.

I'm going to try an experiment with three 5 gallon buckets. In one I'm going to put 1/2 pound of worms and in the other 1 pound of worms and in the third 75 worms. My hypothesis is that the 1/2 pound will reach about 1 lb in 3 months, but I'd guess that the 1 lb might fall short of 2 lbs due to surface area. The 75 worms is a wildcard. But hey, that's why we do experiments right?

I'm going to pre-measure a little cardboard, shredded newspaper, coconut coir, and pre-composted rabbit manure. I'm thinking about a 1/2 inch of cardboard squares, 1/2 bucket of shredded newspaper, enough coir for a thin layer across the surface area of the bucket, and exactly 1 pint of pre-composted rabbit manure. I've been experimenting with rabbit manure since January and it will definitely fatten up worms, but it needs to be leached a little and pre-composted for three or four weeks. At the end of 1 month, I’ll add exactly 1 more pint of rabbit manure. I’ll use a plastic spray bottle to keep this mixture moist. Do you see any holes in the basic recipe? I'm open to suggestions.

Ever wonder how fast 75 worms can multiply?

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/verm/msg022040513713.html


These first two buckets will be the beginning of the 5 gallon bucket pyramid plan steamyb outlined here: http://vermicomposters.ning.com/profiles/blogs/sharing-worms#comments

If the 75 worms multiply like I hope they will, that will be my third bucket in the base of the pyramid.


It's definitely possible to multiply worm supply significantly. Using mostly newspaper, cardboard, and food scraps, I've been able to turn 1 lb of worms into 8 lbs in a year without really trying very hard. I started with 1 lb, sold or gave away 5 lbs, and have almost 3 lbs left. These are not estimates. I actually weighed them. It required splitting them into 6 seperate containers, but that was mostly just me stumbling around and experimenting without a specific purpose.

Wish me luck in my 5 gallon bucket experiment. I appreciate your suggestions.

Views: 230

Comment by bpearcy10 on August 1, 2010 at 8:45am
I've added a video showing the prep work for the 5 gallon bucket experiment. Here's the link: Click here
Comment by Andrew from California on August 1, 2010 at 10:12am
Great experiment, Brian! The only adjustment I would have suggested is to use damp bedding. But you can slowly adjust moisture levels with your spray bottle.

I'm going to start a parallel experiment today. Our climates are very different, so it can't really be considered a control, but it might make an interesting basis for comparison. I'll also use a 5 gal. bucket with 1/2 lbs. of worms. Unfortunately I don't have lid, so I'll cover with burlap. The contents will be nothing but old leaves...no "food" aside from the decaying leaves. I'm going to soak the leaves in water for a few hours, then wring most of the water out before putting them in the bucket. I'll post a video when I have it set up.

Good luck!
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 1, 2010 at 10:24am
Hi Andrew,

In the spirit of keeping everything consistent as possible, I gave each bucket 30 squirts from the spray bottle. Maybe I should have dunked the paper in water, but I'll just keep spraying until I get the moisture I'm looking for. I'll just keep adding 30 squirts to each bucket each day.

I didn't add the worms yet. I want the bucket to "season" for a week first. I should be able to add them next weekend.
Comment by Andrew from California on August 1, 2010 at 10:39am
Ok, in that case I won't harvest worms today. I thought your video showed the addition of rabbit manure and the worms. I'm tempted to throw in a handful of VC to jump start microbial activity in the leaves. What do you think?
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 1, 2010 at 11:35am
I don't think a handful of VC can hurt anything.

The order of the pictures is slightly out of synch. I thought I dragged them into the movie maker in order, but somehow they got out of order a little bit.
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 2, 2010 at 6:45pm
I'd love to try the leaf mulch, but don't have any at the moment. I'll still try it, but it's going to have to be with Live Oak leaves, which don't compost very well. Maybe that doesn't matter.

My agronomist friend thought the experiment was cool.
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 2, 2010 at 6:54pm
I started a 3rd bucket tonight after reading these threads:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/verm/msg0118370814929.html
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/verm/msg022040513713.html

I'll try the 75 worm thing and see what happens.
Comment by Andrew from California on August 2, 2010 at 7:08pm
I've got old leaves, but it's not technically leaf mulch/mold. Of course leaf mulch isn't really naturally occurring if defined by the link above. Anyway, it's not gonna get much simpler than this control bucket.

So the 3rd bucket has the same bedding & rabbit manure, just with 75 worms? When's the "official" start date? 8/8/10?
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 2, 2010 at 7:17pm
I'm going to add the worms on 8/8/10.
Comment by bpearcy10 on August 3, 2010 at 9:00am
I wanted PE s originally but got EF s. I will stick with them.

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