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Peg's garden - vermiculture (long)

Ok - here's the worm story.  Hopefully I can spread my love of worms and
vermiculture! (That said, I do not currently have a wormbox! LOL!)

The first consideration is where to put the box, indoors or out.  If you
choose an outdoor box, you have to accept the fact that you will need to
start with a fresh crop of worms because they will die at temps over ninety
ur under 40 (ish). At the height of my worm frenzy, I had both an indoor and
an outdoor box.
Indoor box:  Get a nice rubbermaid tote container, ideally the size that US
Post Office uses.  Drill holes in the bottom, use the lid as a drain pan.
Soak newspaper overnight, and wring it out and tear it up and put it in the
box. Add a scoopful of soil and the worms.  The kitchen waste gets buried
about midway down and completely covered by the damp newspaper. If it is too
close to the surface, fruit flies will lay eggs on it, and let me tell you,
you will lose spousal support quickly if this happens.  ;^)  If this does
happen, just make sure you add an extra layer over the top to cover it
better and eventually they die off. They have a very short life span but
have lots of kids. Add the food scraps to a different spot each time.  If
you feed them more than they can consume, the box will start to smell.  If
that happens, wait till they catch up.  Things not to put in the box: meat,
grease, citrus or onions.  Potato peels seem to be something they wait till
last to eat. Mine always LOVED canteloupe rinds.  If they get really hungry,
they even eat the newspaper.  Make sure that you keep the newspaper as wet
as a wrung out sponge.  There shouldnt be a whole lot of water coming out
the bottom. In a couple of months (depending on box size and population) the
castings will be ready to harvest.  I found it easier to do half the box at
one time.  Slow down the food you put in till its almost all consumed, then
put something especially nummy on one side of the box.  They will RUN to
that side of the box ;^) and the next day you can remove the castings from
the opposite side and put in fresh newspaper.  The other method is to do the
entire box at once.  Put the box under a bright light, and they will scoot
down in the box to get away from it.  Remove the top layer, saving any
remaining newspaper and putting the castings in another container.  By the
time you get to the bottom of the box, they will all be huddled in a corner,
freaked out as can be.  Toss any stragglers in the castings back in with the
others. Put fresh newspaper in the box and give them a nice treat since you
basically just did a Hurricane Hugo on them and its the least you can do.
Or, if you're really lazy and don't feel bad about them dying, you can just
grab a handful of worms, dump the entire box and start over with the
handful.  They'll live in the garden until frost, so you don't need to feel
bad until then.  ;^)
Now on to the outdoor box.  Mine was a wooden box that sat in the shade next
tothe garage, and had a hinged lid.
I put mostly finished compost in there (compost that was not going to heat
up anymore) and a handful of worms from the indoor box.  It stayed out there
until fall, and I harvested the compost serveral times.  Great stuff.
Do the same trick in the fall with the canteloupe and you can scoop them all
up and bring them inside.
The population will stabilize given the size of the box and the amt of food.
They are asexual and reproduce by parking like cop cars (heads together,
tails in opposite directions) and they form a membrane around their
clitellum (the "collar") and swap genetic material that way.  The eggs look
like pearl barley, and let me tell you, the babies are about a cute as can
be. About 1/2 " long and a little thicker that thread.  Its a very
satisfying hobby, and I am going to get back into it this spring as soon as
its warm enough to get a shipment of worms.  Oh! the worms. They are
sometimes called red wigglers or manure worms.  Many people use eisenia
foetida.  I had lumbricus rubellus.  Neither form tunnels as nightcrawlers
do (lumbricus terrestris).  They are too skinny to really use as fishing
bait.  I'd say toothpick sized.  Give it a try.  If its not for you, you can
always dump them in your garden, where they will enrich the soil with first
their castings and then their decaying bodies.
Whooo,  was that long-winded or WHAT?????  Get the pegster on her fav topic
and she doesn't shut up! LOL!!!
-Peg, wormless in Va.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Theresa- yahoo" <tchessie@YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 1:54 PM
Subject: Re: Peg's garden

> Peg- where are you gardening in your apartment?  Do you have a balcony
> containers?  Also, I'm really interested in hearing more about your worms-
> the idea has intrigued me in the past and would love more info.  Thanks
> joining us and sharing!
> Theresa
> Sac, CA zone 8-9
> (Formerly in Montgomery Co, MD and Virginia Beach, VA- and I love
> Charlottesville)

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