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Posts Tagged ‘red worms’

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.

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Worms don’t lay eggs, they produce cocoons which contain multiple fertilized eggs.

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.

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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!

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It is very important to consider the possibility of extreme temperatures that may occur while you are gone if you have a vermicomposting bin.

Make sure your worms are safe from any extreme conditions that may occur while you are gone (hot/cold temperatures, etc.)

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.).

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Redwiggler1The City of San Diego provides a convenient list of recommended locations to purchase worms. If you are starting a Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin, you will need about 1 lb. of worms. The type of worms you need are “red wigglers” or “red worms” (eisenia foetida). If you have any questions about getting started call the Solana Center “Rotline” at 760-436-7986 ext. 222 or email the “Rotline” at compost@solanacenter.org.

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42-15876024Wriggly Wranch Worm Bins come with a brick of coconut fiber bedding to get your worm bin started. It is often sold at hydroponics stores and nurseries. Coconut fiber is great for worm bins as it retains moisture, provides aeration, and gives your red wiggler worms nutrients. It is a renewable resource made from recycled coconut husks.

Coconut fiber is great for bedding but is not the only bedding material that you can use in a worm bin. Moistened shredded paper (newspaper, office paper, cardboard boxes, etc.) works great as well and is readily available. Paper shredders are often quite inexpensive and do a great job preparing the paper for the bin but hand shredding will work as well.

The bottom of a pile of decaying leaves can also be a great source for worm bin bedding. Just make sure to do a quick check for unwanted organisms. If you have manure at hand and would like to use it as worm bedding, make sure it has aged to ensure all salts have leached out and the ph has stabilized. Be sure that the temperature is appropriate for the worms as well. Manure also often contains other organisms such as sowbugs, mites, grubs, or centipedes which some people would rather not have in their bins.

To prepare your bedding for your worm bin, fill a clean bucket with water. Add your bedding and allow it to absorb the water. Wring out the bedding (it should be as moist a wrung out sponge). You can add your bedding by placing a layer on the top of the bin and adding food underneath.

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117809-main_fullDon’t forget about your worms during this hot weather. The ideal temperature for your red wigglers is somewhere between 55 and 77 degrees Farenheit. Some sources note that worms can survive in temperatures ranging from 40 to 80 degrees but after 85 degrees, your worms are unlikely to make it.

During extreme weather make sure to add some extra moisture, keep your bin out of the sun, and, if necessary, move it to an indoor location. Building a small shade tent for your bin can also help a lot. If you live in a location that has extreme weather, you may consider building a more travel-friendly bin that you can move around easily.

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