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Re: [Killietalk] worm bin/worm farming recommendations?
I've been keeping red worm cultures going for three or four years...it's
really easy, and they make an great fish food since they have such a good
size range for small fish. (A number of my adult killies will tear right
into full sized worms longer than they are, but smaller ones go down
> First question: Do you have 1 bin above another, with the top draining
> into the bottom? How do you keep the worms from migrating? Do you save the
> 'goo' that drips through for anything?
I think the folks who do this are probably collecting "compost tea" for
gardening. (some folks soak the castings while aerating a bucket of
water, others just catch the drippings). A few folks I've known also use
mesh bottomed containers so the castings will sift out.
I use 17 gallon rubbermaid containers...just becacuse I'm lazy, they were
on hand, and the worms are excellent crawlers (and will crawl out of
something with no lid at night)...the steep/tall sides make it harder for
them to escape. Surface area is semi-important for best production (both
for fish food and compost)...it probably doesn't matter much, but I would
consider 6 inches optimal.
> Do you put dirt or other grit in to get it started?
Nope. I usually start with mostly shredded bedding (anything id sensitive
goes through the shredder, and from there to the bin), cardboard,
newspaper, whatever. The more edges, the better the worms will work on
them. I usually leave an unshredded damp piece of cardboard or newspaper
over the top to minimize fruit flies and what not. I think I remember
"one lb of worms can handle one person's worth of kitchen scraps / day" as
a general rule, but it doesn't really matter...the culture will survive on
whatever you give them, and they handle neglect well.
Keep things moist so the worms are happy, but never wet. If rainwater can
get in your bins, be sure it can get out. Small drainage holes will clog
over time, and you'll have a mess. They can last in fresh water for quite
a while, but don't leave them wet. I've had ones last for more than a
week before being removed from a tank where they could "hug" an airstone,
but in the culture eventually they will rot, and rotting worms are one of
the foulest things ever.
I would recommend against any meat, it will draw pests and probably smell.
I used to keep my bins inside, but have had issues with fruit flies in
the house before...so outside they went. We have a half dozen raccoons in
the area that consider my back yard their personal playground...I've seen
them drinking from my daphnia cultures many times, but they don't bother
the worm bins...if the bins had meat in them, I imagine they'd have
raccoons in them too.
As the worms break the bedding down into castings, it will become over
concentrated and toxic for the worms. Once things start to look pretty
broken down, start putting all the food on one side to draw the worms,
then break the culture in half, add new bedding, and dump the old castings
(and whatever worms are left in them) in the garden. The plants really do
If I start to notice an over abundance of guests (spiders, mites, flies,
random bugs -- usually there aren't many) in the culture, I break it down
and start a new culture with a sample of the old.
> Lots of sites recommended shredded newspaper; on killie talk, I've seen
> something called 'miracle worm bedding,' but we get the paper too and it
> seems more 'killi like' to reuse rather than buy something.
I'm too cheap to buy things for my fish, and I definitely wouldn't buy
anything for worms. =) I find it to be the perfect use for a few copies
of The Stranger (local Seattle rag)-- which IMO shouldn't be within reach
of little kids at the library anyway...
It's a pretty budget friendly project really-- things I'd be paying the
city to throw away go into a bucket and out comes free fish food and
eco-friendly yard fertilizer.
> Finally, anyone got a starter red wiggler culture for sale?
I'll give you a starter, but if you happened to have a few fry I don't
have yet, that'd be cool too...
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