The worms one finds on the sidewalk and in the gutters are earthworms. Earthworms are deep burrowers, leading a solitary life and surface only to look for a mate or when the ground is too wet. They feed as the move through the soil and will not thrive in the confines of a worm bin. In contrast, worm bin worms, Red Wigglers, are surface feeders and do well contained in bins and they thrive in crowded conditions. The best thing to do with “lost” earthworms is to place them back on the soil so they can burrow back under the surface.
Posts Tagged ‘red wigglers’
It is easy to dry out a soggy worm bin. Simply add dry, non-nitrogen, carbon based “browns”, for example; shredded paper, coir, sawdust, shredded cardboard and/or old dry houseplant potting soil. Then gently fluff up your bin with a three pronged cultivator to mix and incorporate air. Keep your bin under a tarp or cover until returned to the correct moisture content. Make sure your tarped bin allows proper ventilation for your worms.
Earthworms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. To mate worms align themselves head-to-head and exchange sperm from the clitellum (thickened glandular band at the anterior end of adult worms). After mating the clitellum produces a thick mucus ring which hardens and begins to form the cocoon. The worm’s own egg is then deposited into the forming cocoon as it begins its slide over the head. It then seals at both ends forming a small pearl-like cocoon.
Each worm will continue to produce cocoons (without needing to mate again) for as long as the donated sperm supply lasts.
In the case of Red Worms (Eisenia fetida), each cocoon typically produces 2 -20 baby worms, which under favorable conditions hatch out in 2-6 weeks. Temperature, moisture content, population and acidity of soil determine how long it takes for a cocoon to hatch. If poor conditions prevail, cocoons can remain in a dormant state for years.
“Rotline” Question of the Week: Why are there so many worms in the bottom collection bin of my worm farm?
Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged compost bins, escaping worms, food scraps, red wigglers, removing chlorine, sediment in worm tea, soil amendments, too acidic, vermicomposting, wandering worms, wayward worms, worm bin, worm bin problems, worm castings, worm tea on October 6, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
If your bin becomes too acidic, too moist, too dry, too compact, full of rotting food, full of food they don’t like, too hot, too cold or they just organize an expedition, your worms can attempt an escape from your bin. This thwarted escape plan (if your lid is on tight) ends up with many worms in your bottom collection tray.
To rectify this situation add water to the collected liquid in order to dilute the sediment and ease its flow through the sieve. Then strain the liquid through a sieve or small holed colander, rinse the collection tray out and reassemble the worm bin. Add the worms, collected in the sieve, back into your top working tray. If you clean out the bottom bin regularly you can save all your wayward worms and keep the liquid fresh and in top condition. Dilute the liquid with 5-10 parts tap water before adding to your garden. Remove the chlorine from tap water by letting it stand in the sun for several hours.
Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged compost, compost bins, composting faq, green tips, harvesting a worm bin, Master Composters, organic gardening, red wigglers, red worms, sustainability, vermicomposting, worms, Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin on September 21, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
The Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin is designed with two different tiers. When the first tier fills to the line inside the bin, you add the second tier and start feeding and add some new bedding. The worms will usually go wherever you are feeding them but oftentimes there are a few that stay behind. Here are a couple of tips from our Master Composters to speed up the process of harvesting:
1. Irresistible Foods Method: Add some melon or avocado to your bin. The worms will not be able to resist and will all congregate in the same area to eat. After a couple of days, physically move them where you want them to go.
2. Sun Method: Dump the contents of your bin on a plastic tarp outside in the sun. The worms do not like light so they will burrow to the bottom. You can even make cones of compost and take off the tops to speed up the process a bit.
3. Slurry Method: One of our Master Composters suggests putting some of your vermicompost in a bucket of water. Once in the bucket, the worms and compost will separate and you can quickly rescue your worms and put them back in your bin. Pour out the extra water and add your compost to your garden!
4. Waiting Method: Your worms will eventually move to other areas of your bin as long as you continue to feed there. If you happen to accidentally grab some worms with the vermicompost don’t worry too much about it. Red wigglers reproduce very quickly and your bin will not be affected.
Have any other tricks for harvesting?? Leave a comment and share them with us!
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged carbon, compost, Composting, crock pot composting, decomposition, food scraps, Heat, moisture, red wigglers, Temperature, vermicomposting, worm bin, worm bins, worm castings, worm food, worms on May 19, 2010 | 1 Comment »
Crock Pot Composting
How to make the ultimate worm food!
By: Diane Hollister, Master Composter
Worms have no teeth, so they can’t consume the kitchen scraps you feed them until the scraps are broken down a bit. You can do this yourself very easily by putting your food waste in a crock pot. Here’s what I found works.
1. I bought an inexpensive 5 qt. crock pot from Target for around $20.
2. Put about ½ cup of good compost or some soil from around any plant that is growing well. This will provide the microbes needed to break down the material in the pot.
3. Add kitchen scraps, the smaller they are cut up the faster they will break down. Crushed egg shells are great to provide grit.
4. Put the lid on and set the crock pot on warm. Check the temperature in 24 hours. In mine, the temperature was 140 degrees, which was ideal.
5. Stir when you think about it and add water to keep it moist.
6. If the contents start to smell, add some paper from your paper shredder, some compressed pine pellets (sold as kitty litter), some coir or any other small sized carbon rich material. Mix well. If it still smells add more carbon.
7. In about a week everything will be nicely broken down. Let it cool and feed it to your worms. They will go crazy for it!
I found you can add meat and dairy to the pot as there is no problem of rats getting into it. Also, if I think about it I turn the pot off at night and back on in the morning and that works fine too.
If there is more material than your worms can process, just bury the rest in your yard or add it to your compost pile.
Leave about a cup of material in the pot to start your next batch.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged "Rotline" Question of the Week, Composting, food scraps, frozen fruit in worm bin, fruit scraps, moisture, mushy food, red wigglers, thaw, vegetables, vermicomposting, water, worm bin, worms on February 17, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
If you just made a fruit salad or cut up a large watermelon, you may have more material than can be fit into a worm bin at one time. It’s very convenient to stow this food in the freezer until the worms are hungry again, but will the worms eat this food after it has been frozen? Does the food need to thaw before it goes into the bin?
Yes and no.
Fruits and vegetables are 80-90% water. When water freezes, it expands, changing the texture of the food when it thaws. Humans may not like to eat mushy fruit and vegetables but the worms love it! Because worms do not have teeth, they can easily suck the mushy food into their mouths. If the food is easier for the worms to eat, it will disappear more quickly so you’ll be able to feed your worms more food!
Although worms do not like the extreme coldness inherent with frozen food, it will not kill them to put non-thawed food into the bin. The food will make a cold spot in the bin that the worms will avoid until it thaws to a more comfortable temperature. If it is warm weather, it will not stay cold for long. Then the worms will be all over the food like white on rice! As the frozen goodies thaw and the ice crystals melt, water will be introduced to the bin. If frozen fruits and veggies are going into the bin, additional water should not have to be added. If the bin seems to be getting too wet, add some shredded paper to absorb the excess water.
The worms will love this mushy treat!
Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged "Rotline" Question of the Week, anaerobic, bins, browns, compost, compost bin wetness, Composting, home composting, moisture, nitrogen, rain, red wigglers, straw, vermicomposting, water, worm bins, worm tea, worms on January 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Bin wetness from rain is usually a non-issue in San Diego County but recently, with the extreme rain that has fallen on our lovely County, outdoor compost bins are probably on the soggy side. Remember, optimum bin dampness is comparable to that of a wrung out sponge so if your bin is dripping, it is probably too wet!
Backyard Compost Bins
A “too wet” compost bin will naturally dry out over time as the water in the bin evaporates, but if it is rainy or cold outside, the bin may stay wet for an extended period of time. A bin that is too wet can lead to a smelly, anaerobic situation that most strive to avoid. To speed up the drying process, add additional browns (materials high in carbon) to your bin. Items like dead leaves, straw, shredded paper, and mulch will suck up the excess water, drying out the bin. Once the bin is back to the dampness of a wrung out sponge, the microbial population will increase, speeding up composting in the bin.
Red Wigglers are terrestrial creatures. They will quickly perish if placed into a pool of water. If their environment gets too wet, they will wriggle for their lives, migrating to a safer location, probably out of the worm bin. To dry out the bedding, add shredded paper or cardboard. The worms will eventually eat the paper and in the meantime, it will absorb excess water. If space in your bin is at a premium and additional material cannot be added, placing a piece of cardboard or burlap on the surface of the bedding will absorb moisture and can be replaced if additional moisture needs to be removed. Make sure to also check the worm tea level of your bin. Most of the water in the bin will end up in the worm tea level. If it fills, it will saturate the lowest level of the worm bin. If the tea levels are high, drain the tea from the bin and use it as a liquid fertilizer on your plants! They’ll love it!
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Solana Center, vermicomposting, worms eat my garbage, worm bins, organic material, red wigglers, eisenia fetida, redworms, earthworm, reproduction, burrow, cocoons, red tiger, eisenia andrei, worm habitat, lumbricus rubellus, bait, earthworker, nightcrawler, lumbricus terrestris, soil mixing, The Worm Book, Loren Nancarrow, Mary Appelhof, worm retailers in san diego on December 3, 2009 | 1 Comment »
“Earthworm” is the common name for over 2,500 species of Earthworm. But not all species are suitable for vermicomposting or the compost bin. Earthworker worms do not eat a large volume of organic material, do not reproduce well in confinement, and do not thrive when their burrow systems are disturbed. Vermicomposting worms on the other hand, reproduce quickly, eat large amounts of organic material, and tolerate disturbance.
Red wigglers are the most common type of vermicomposting worms. They are rust brown in color with striping between segments. Adults can grow to about 3 inches in length, they prefer temperatures between 59-77 degrees F, and cocoons hatch between 35 and 70 days. Red wigglers work well for vermicomposting because of their high reproductive rate, ability to survive in varying conditions, and because under perfect conditions, they can eat their body weight in food everyday. Red wigglers are not soil dwellers and will likely perish if added to a garden.
The tiger worm is a close relative of the red wiggler and shares very similar vermicomposting abilities. They are dark red or purple in color and can grow up to 3 inches long. They prefer temperatures between 64 and 72 degrees F and can process large volumes of organic material. They are often not separated from red wigglers by commercial growers.
This worm works well for vermicomposting and bait as well. It is said to be irresistible to fish. This worm is dark red to maroon in color with no striping between segments. They can grow up to 3 inches in length and prefer temperatures between 64 and 72 degrees F. Redworms cocoons hatch in 12 to 16 weeks. This worm can potentially do double duty as a vermicomposter and earthworker.
Nightcrawlers are not ideal worms for vermicomposting bins. Nightcrawlers are deep dwellers that can burrow up to 6 feet into the ground. Nightcrawlers do not like their burrows to be disturbed and prefer temperatures around 50 degrees F. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and prefer to eat leaf litter and mulch. Nightcrawlers are earthworkers, performing an important role in soil mixing, taking organic matter from the surface into deeper layers of the soil.
For more information on worms, please check out The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow or Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof (available at the Solana Center). For a list of worm retailers in the San Diego area, please click here.
Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged "Rotline" Question of the Week, browns, compost bin, compost bin sitter, decomposition, greens, Heat, moisture, new worm bin, red wigglers, red worms, Solana Center, vacation, vermicomposting, worms on September 17, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
With holiday season approaching, we have received a lot of questions about what to do with your compost bin while on vacation. No need to hire a compost bin sitter!
If you have a backyard composting bin (Biostack, tumbler, etc.) your bin will be fine while you are away on a trip. Your bin will continue to decompose on its own. You may find when you return that the temperature dropped and the bin is dry but this can be fixed very easily. Just turn your bin, add water, greens and browns and your pile should heat up once again.
If you have a vermicomposting bin (WrigglyWranch, etc.) your bin should be able to manage on its own for an extended amount of time. The most important thing to keep in mind is the possibility of extreme temperatures. Be sure that your worms will be safe from any extreme temperatures that may occur while you are gone (heat waves, etc.). Make sure you leave your bin with plenty of moisture.
If you just started your bin, make sure you leave plenty of food and bedding to keep your bin going. If your bin is nearing harvest and has lots of vermicompost, less food is necessary. The worms will continue to process the vermicompost while you are gone. Our Master Composters suggest adding carbon rich bedding and coffee grounds or vegetables that take longer to break down (carrots, brocoli, etc.).