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About a month ago i met my nephew and his daughters at a how to raise worms and save the planet. I had never attended one of these and i wanted to hear a presentation, which by the way was very well done. Plastic recycle bins very nicely prepared with drilled holes and skids attached were packed full of very damp newspaper and about a pound of worms each.
I have read over and over on this site about folks trying to keep the worms in the bins, well i am having the same problem with these bins. Except for rain storms i have never experienced the mass exodus of EF's like i deal with these guys. The only difference between these totes and the other plastic totes i have is the newspaper bedding, all feedings temperatures moisture levels are the same. I am going to modify their bedding with precomposted materials and monitor their reaction. I have three of the bins in my home. Surprise, surprise! :-)
What do you think will take place? Will the worms settle in and except for the occasional scout stay home or will getting away from the newspaper make little or no difference in their behavior?

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these are 3 of the bins there is a fourth that was given to my brother who is getting all involved with these critters. but you can see that they are very nicely done. they are stacked in the breakfast area if i don't make an area for them soon i'm going to be sleeping in the back yard already have one and a half rooms full of containers so i am going outside to finish up my 8.5' x 36' canopy that area is pretty much already full of bins and next the greenhouse gets torn down to make room. i need some meds!

Rich, is it possible the worms are leaving simply because they're in new bins? I think any bedding that contains a better microbial population will be more appealing to the worms. Of course, the remaining worms have already had a chance to settle down, so it's likely things will get better no matter what you do. You could leave one bin as-is to see if there's any difference.

Andrew with an exception of EH's that will book it out of a new bin no matter what, EF's/EA's with the exception of a scout or two the only common denominator that so many folks were having was newpaper as a bedding material. these four bins prove it to me. i have started  a number of bins with fresh, not aged produce and leaves and the worms settled in immidiately, horse manure is a no brainer no runaways there.

i think it is a big mistake for newbies to be encouraged to start with newspaper as a first bedding. even though i personally do not use it now, i never had a problem with damp peat moss as a starter. most newbies do not have aged produce or manure, but do have access to peat moss. Coir is ok, but

i started feeding purina worm chow at least once a day for the most part they will stay down as long as there is chow. chow runs out they are at the top. i believe the juviniles will settle in and i will pull the adults next week. to many projects to do it now. 

It seems that many of the "published" instructions on how to set up a worm bin (in books, magazines, on-line articles and DIY sites) say to use shredded newspaper as a bedding, and not many suggest peat, coir, much less "live" bedding.  I remember reading Worms Eat My Garbage to get educated for my first bin, and I did use shredded newspaper.  I have photos of my young daughter sitting in a pile of it (freshly shredded... no worms) throwing it up in the air and having a great time helping daddy.  What I remember doing was mixing in a few handfuls of soil to lightly, but thoroughly coat the shreds.  I think the main point then was to provide the worms some grit to aid their consumption of food waste.  I don't remember any mention of adding soil to kick start the system/bin with worm friendly microbes.  So maybe a lot of folks are not adding soil, or not much, to their initial bedding.  Maybe folks are adding too much bedding (like a tote full) with fresh tap water containing more chlorine than worms prefer.

I haven't set up a "new" plastic tote bin the way all these how-to articles suggest (again, these would be the non-Bentley, type articles) since the '90's.  The plastic bins or buckets I've set up in the past couple of years all start with live worm bedding and VC taken from other established bins, and I've never had any major problems.  I'll be doing a major sift/sort/split of the bins within the next month, so maybe I'll try a couple of plastic totes with newspaper ONLY, and a newspaper with dirt, and a newspaper with live worm bedding added and observe.

Now with me, all my bins are outside and only the wooden bin has a lid, which I keep cracked open for more air flow.  All other bins only have dry bedding material (leaves, shredded phone book, or shredded junk mail, egg cartons) on top and are open.  Oh, except the Gusinito bin I just started... I'm keep the lid on it, but may take it off during hot summer days.

As I'm sure many of you will agree, the best way to learn about raising worms is by observing them and making changes to try and do it better.  Gotta keep learning!  Especially to keep up with some of you folks.  Take care all.

Either by luck or common sense you added the dirt which added to your success. My initial start was from my father-in- law who got caught up in the worm scam in '75 and lost $5000 precious dollars he couldn't afford to loose. He gave me about a pound of L. Rubellus with castings, so i never had that problem either.

I think the precomposted materials are  going to be your solution...I just don't think newspaper alone has enough microbial activity to keep the worms happy. They thrive best on biodiversity...A few horse turds will keep them where they belong

no doubt John, but like Steve said almost all of the info out there instructs the poor newbie to load up with newspaper, that was my point. this is the first time i tried to get by with the newspaper loaded totes that they handed out at the seminar.

i have been supplementing their diet with veggies and purina worm chow. the other day i put some bedding material from an establish bin and two of the bins have pretty much settled down the third one i have had about 50 worms trying to get out tonight. i wanted to keep this strain seperate, as i have several different strains of EF's/EA's going and of course along with established bedding come coccoons.

i was surprised that even though 1/4-1/3 of the newspaper content in the bins has been converted to castings; they are still not happy in their abodes.






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