Posted: Aug-04-2004 at 9:24am
I may not be doing garden waste composting any more but I want to do worm composting. We generate a lot of kitchen waste (love my veggies!) and I can't bear to throw it in the garbage or send it down the disposal. It would seem wasteful. I could, as another Rainy Sider suggested, save them up, puree them in a blender and then pour them straight into the garden but I think I'd rather feed them to worms in a worm composter. Besides, I already own one (got a heck of a bargain on one at a garage sale).
Since I know we have raccoons, skunks, oppossums, etc in our area - and in my garden - do I need to be concerned about these animals knocking over my worm composter and making a mess? It's one of those stacking varieties and it seems that it would be easy to break into. I could have hubby include space for it inside our soon-to-be-moved-and-rebuilt storage lean-to. This will have doors, which would give me access to the bin but keep marauders out.
Advice? Tips? TIA!
Posted: Aug-04-2004 at 9:30am
I'm sorry Lisa I'm not familiar with the type you have. I have a big wooden worm bin (about the size and shape of a coffin--eeww that sounds weird--but it's the best way I can describe it.) But it's imperviable (I know that's not spelled right) to marauders and I found the smaller ones didn't accoate the amount of fruit and veggie waste we were producing.
What about 4 posts around it so you could unstack it but not tip it over? Make sure to keep it convenient enough that you'll use it--like close to the back door or something.
Posted: Aug-04-2004 at 9:57am
Posts around it is a good idea, Theresa! I could still access the layers easily enough, I think, but it should stump the marauders.
Another option is to build a 5-sided wire cage with around it. Hinging the lid as well as the front door should be easy enough. LOL, I'd have caged worms! So would it be a worm zoo or a worm prison?
Posted: Aug-05-2004 at 7:55am
LOL, Lisa, would you let them out for good behavior? So - how does this stack? Are there four compartments? Is the lowest compartment the most complete? And then how do you harvest? Just curious, as I don't have one.
Posted: Aug-05-2004 at 3:46pm
Struggling to avoid all the demented aspects of composting worms; do you shred them, are they red wigglers, are there brown and green worms; and failing, perhaps you would be willing to explain why you are composting with worms when you have, with adequate guilt, chosen to avoid the more common form of composting?
For example, how long do the worms take to make castings and how many castings do how many worms create? Like how much wood would a wood chuck chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood, only with worms and worm poo.
You can just point me to a web site, but as always the experience of a veteran worm composter is more valuable than an impersonal sales pitch.
I like the image of worms on parole for good behavior. Little Panama hats and a Bermuda short (only one leg, right?).
Posted: Aug-05-2004 at 4:45pm
Ok Tommyb couldn't answer this until I stopped laughing. I'm really not good with statistics like how much and how long, takes all the fun out of it for me. I like to do things by intuition, touch, feel and looks. I've worm composted for about 3 years now. They almost become like pets and they work so darned hard!
Worm bins are nice for lot's of wet smelly stuff like rotten veggies, moldy bread, used paper plates and napkins stuff that might cause you problems in your compost pile because it attracks scavengers. A worm bin can be more scavenger proof and easier to have closer to the house. The finished castings are much richer than compost and have more soil fauna. A little goes a long way.
As I mentioned above I have a nice big wooden bin (it breathes--which makes it more aerobic and therefor less odiferous than a plastic bin) I like chopped leaves the best for bedding although shreaded newspaper or wood chips are other options. I just alternate left, right and center every couple months and by the time I go to a new spot, the old stuff is ready to harvest. Most of the worms have moved eaten everything and moved onto the next area. Not all though--I spend a lot of time rescuing the few stragglers because they won't survive in the soil-they aren't that kind of worm. That's my own neurosis though!
Uses: They say you can use it to topdress or dig in around your plants, amend soil, put it in your houseplants, etc. But I have the best luck mixing it into potting soil or some of my finished compost. Otherwise, it tends to dry into hard clumps.
It isn't for everyone, you have to be comfortable around creepy crawlies and sometimes mucky, occasionally smelly stuff (like the time I put a bushel of apples in at one time...opps!) Lisa's type is probably a little more civilized though.
We've had great fun with the kids and the Camp Fire groups looking at some really neat creatures with magnifying glasses and microscopes. There is a lot of neat science to be learned with worms.
Ok, enough already, if you want to learn more check this out: Wormwoman.com This is Mary Applehof's site, she is the author of "Worms eat my Garbage"
Posted: Aug-05-2004 at 4:59pm Many longtime readers of these site know that I am a LARGE (no Lisa not my weight) FAN of Chris Smith's Seattle PI and Bremerton Sun Columns. As a "low cost" answer to worms, compost, and mulch, take a look at today's column.
Good Enough To Eat:: It's time to dig into biosolids as fertilizers"
Posted: Aug-05-2004 at 7:12pm
I think the worms are wearing the little Panama hats and a bermuda shorts in the bin- happy as can be thinking they are on a long vacation! Too funny Tommy.
I just do worm composting- with kitchen scraps, maple leaves, shredded paper, and a bit of garden stuff. I have started disposing a lot of my 'bigger' garden stuff in a spot where I feel I would like a new flower bed someday. LOL. It worked very well. I laid paper first then just threw it all on top. eventually what I threw there also seeded there. The long way to go about it, and space is I have the space- but it worked great. I've since started a new one. Hmmm. Kind of a funny thing for someone to do who doesn't want to add more garden beds. LOL
Posted: Aug-06-2004 at 9:01am
At a worm class I went to, the guy said to flatten 3 or 4 empty toilet paper rolls then inset the flattened rolls into a round empty roll and to place it in the worm bin. Apparently it makes a good place for them to, umm, make out. It would seem to make prison life a little more bearable.
Keep the topic going, I'm almost convinced I need to get one of these.
Posted: Aug-06-2004 at 9:28am
Visitation rights for worms, Wanda? LOL. Very interesting! I am not convinced I need both a worm compost bin and a regular compost bin. Theresa said they are not the same worms. What are the other differences?
Posted: Aug-06-2004 at 9:52am
ROTFLOL! The family all wondered what the heck had me roaring with laughter when I read the above posts last night. Imagine their disapointment to discover it was just worm coposting! They shook their heads, finding no humor in worms in Panama hats, Bermuda shorts and making whoopie in toilet paper tubes, and walked out, with that look on their face that meant "poor, crazy mom."
Theresa stated the reasons to worm compost very well. As I wrote in my Compost Confessions thread, I have plenty of kitchen waste so worm composting just makes sense to me.
This is a plastic stacking worm bin. It goes by the name Can O' Worms. I bought it a few years ago at a garage sale. Wife was selling it and said hubby knew all about it but he wasn't there. (Hmmmm, do you suppose she was selling it without him knowing?) Each tier fits together, one on top of the other. Each has holes in the bottom, which is good for 2 reasons. All the rich compost liquid (Tommy, don't go there LOL) drips down and can be drained away for the garden (there's a spigot) and the worms can move to the next section with new food as the compost on their level is completed. The hope is that the worms will have moved on from the finished compost and I'll have to do little rescueing of worms. At least that is company hype (I stopped at their booth at a garden show years ago).
Since I bought this, I've seen homemade versions made with plastic storage bins at a worm composting/composting lecture by Frieda (just spaced her last name) with Metro. They were stacked, had holes drilled in the bottom but didn't have the spigot on the bottom one. Frieda did say that the bottom bin had to be drained to avoid liquid build-up and drowning the poor worms (guess the program didn't offer swimming lessons.) btw, if any of you locals ever get the chance, go to hear Frieda speak on composting and worm composting - excellent lecture and tons of info. (When her last name occurs to me, I'll add it but Frieda is a fairly uncommon name so there shouldn't be any mistaken identity). I think I bought my copy of Worms Eat My Garbage from Frieda.
Gary, you are large in my eyes but not in size - in wealth of gardening knowledge!
Thanks for all the links. I'm looking forward to checking them out when I have the time.
Posted: Aug-06-2004 at 10:21am
A link of local interest: Wormdigest. Thanks one and all for way more information than my casual interest could handle.
The "conjugally rolling worms" reminds me of a PBS show on workers in Tokyo and their weekday apartments...
There are way too many temptations for jocularity in this thread, I'm going back to just reading.
Posted: Aug-06-2004 at 11:54pm
ok - was I confused or what? LOL. In my defense- I read that awful fast the first time. Shouldn't do that. My apologies- I just have worms in my mulch pile. LOL.
Theresa> I like your idea with the wood box. Is that homemade or bought? Just a wood box????
Good information Lisa and Theresa. And, oh my gosh, I never dreamed there were so many types of worms. An interesting site Tommy.
Posted: Aug-09-2004 at 9:47am
The kind you use in worm beds are "Red Wigglers" (I can't remember how to spell the latin name for them) they dwell in the top decomposing layer of the ground, earth worms dwell in the soil.
Wanda, if you decide to go for it, I'd be happy to supply you with worms.
I built my bin in a class and paid about $45 for materials. after that, everything else was/is free. Here is a link to plans for the bin I built:
King County Worm Bin
Posted: Aug-09-2004 at 1:42pm
I wondered what the different worms were, Theresa. Great link on the worm bin. Thanks! Have you noticed a difference in your plants, soil etc. when the worm castings have been added as opposed to your garden compost?
Posted: Aug-09-2004 at 2:15pm
Well, JeanneK, not sure I've paid close enough attention. That would require remembering what I've added it to and what I haven't! Since I've started using it in my garden many other factors have changed too, that have contributed to the overall health and vigor of my garden. I can say in general, I have a pretty healthy garden, good growth, very few pests/problems/diseases (well, other than gardener problems like like of weeding, lack of water, lack of attention....)
Posted: Aug-09-2004 at 11:20pm
Theresa - good directions on the site you posted. I am thinking this would be a great idea for me, too. Seems we suddenly have an incredible, endless supple of mice. Caught 20+ in the greenhouse this early spring alone. (located right next to the mulch bin ) Since then our dog and cats have caught many, many. At first I figured we just had wintered a few in the spare shed and they had had babies (and it was rather funny...) - but they've kept catching them. Then to top it off dog just got a huge rat. The mice were enough to make me give it up!! But this is it. Cost to pack it off to the dump or not. That's it for me. So- this would be a simple solution. Thanks!!
Posted: Aug-11-2004 at 1:35pm
I looked at buying or building a worm composter a couple years ago, and I remember reading about a guy (I'm guessing he was single) who kept a composter in his bedroom. He said there was little or no odor, and I guess the little guys don't make enough noise to keep him awake at night. They were probably happier in the controlled, temperate climate of a house. It's not like they're going to escape their box and run amuck in the house.
Posted: Aug-11-2004 at 2:56pm
Wow, in the bedroom? Seems like it would be a little messy for a bedroom or even indoors! Theresa said it's a bit "mucky". Is that dedication or what?
Posted: Aug-11-2004 at 5:21pm
LOL I'll admit I am probably a little more devoted to my gardens/yard than my hubbie would like, but I draw the line at worms in the house~specially the bedroom?!? Had to have been a single guy!
Posted: Aug-12-2004 at 9:48am
In the bedroom? Whoa! I'm having a hard time picturing that. I've heard of people having them in the basement, garage, even under the kitchen sink. By the way, mine stay out all year long and they survived just fine during the winter with no special accoations--they tend to burrow closer to the center. They did slow down but so did our kitchen waste.
Posted: Aug-12-2004 at 2:17pm
Ah now that reminds me of a story I read a few years back, someone's idea for a story on Seinfeld about worm bins. Pretty funny I thought. Did a quick google and found it is still up on the net.
Posted: Aug-12-2004 at 3:36pm
Oh that was great! Got a good laugh. Thanks for digging that one up.
Posted: Aug-12-2004 at 6:10pm
Ohmygosh, that is funny! Thanks for sharing that, Debbie.
I will do worm composting but I will *not* keep the bin in my bedroom! Wow!