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More on wormies

  • Subject: [cg] More on wormies
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 13:36:32 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, Sharon,

Just wanted to confirm what Cary (hey, Cary) and Mike
said. I'm in Zone 7B, my worms now do all my home
kitchen scrap composting for me, outdoors all through
the year. Like Cary, I discovered this by accident
after putting some red wiggler worms (Eisenia foetida,
'stinky worms' though they aren't really) in an Earth
Machine. Same experience Cary had, to my delight.

These guys are great for fisherfolk or gardeners. Same

I now use the largest plastic composter I can buy, a
'covered bridge' composter with a top
(http://www.cboinc.com/forsale.htm). They are
relatively cheap (we sell them through our composting
program 'PLANT' at a discount, about $30 I think) and
they roll up, as opposed to being a little molded 'ET
call home' contraptions like an Earth Machine. I use a
lid to keep critters out. My worms are in their fourth
year outside. Way cool, they gobble down everything
our veggie family of 4 sends their way, and the
resulting vermicompost is super. I put a 4-6 layer of
chunky wood mulch in the bottom and stick a 4 in
diameter plastic pipe with holes in it in the middle
for aeration. My bedding materials are mostly
newspaper strips(Charlotte Observer is pretty hefty)
and dry leaves, well soaked. I have 2 bins
side-by-side, I use one while the other gets finished,
then harvest the vermicompost and start a new bin with
a few buckets of worms and scraps from the working
bin. The bins are in a semi-shaded spot at the end to
the driveway, on the pavement (otherwise, tree roots
just love to grow into it). I keep it moist, otherwise
it is effortless, much less trouble than the indoor
box-type bins I kept for years.

I'm going to be setting one of these units up at the
Robbins Park Community Garden, where we have a
composting display area in partnership with
PLANT/Waste Reduction. As Cary says, garden debris
isn't ideal for these guys, who actually like living
in manure best, I think. But they will survive. In
winter, since the garden is pretty exposed, I might
put straw bales around the unit, but I don't need to
at home.

btw, we are seeing here that manure/compost worms like
E. foetida do seem to survive in the garden in spite
of much written to the contrary, particularly in areas
that utilize a deep mulch. This has come as a
surprise, but that's what we are observing. They are
quite different in appearance from our earthworms
(Lumbricus terrestris, Aporrectodea caliginosa).

Practically speaking, in a community garden setting, I
think I'd try to find a shady spot where it is easy to
get water for the wormies. I'd encourage gardeners to
contribute all green leafy succulent stuff and spoiled
veggies, and snack and lunch scraps too, following
common sense rules. You could pick up coffee grounds
from your favorite brewjoint, but I'd be careful. My
trials with coffeegrounds as the major foodstock were
not successful, though as a small part of other
kitchen scraps they are fine.

I've seen very cool plans for a garden seat that is
really a big worm box (Seattle, maybe, has that?) That
might be very cool indeed.

Good luck, 

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

And, yes, Mary Appelhof is the best,
www.wormwoman.com. I also like the ideas of Patrick
Lavelle, who talks about worms as 'the prince' whose
kiss awakens the 'sleeping beauty' of the microbes in
the soil. He also calls them 'engineers of the soil'.
Joel Gruver of NC State's sustainable ag project is
very knowledgeable on this as well.
> Message: 1
> From: "Sharon Gordon" <gordonse@one.net>
> To: <community_garden@mallorn.com>
> Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 09:23:18 -0400
> charset="iso-8859-1"
> Subject: [cg] Some wormy questions
> One of my fellow community gardeners brought up a
> question I couldn't
> answer, so I thought I would ask here.
> Is there a worm that is a good compost worm and also
> useful as fishing bait?
> And related to this, does anyone do vermicomposting
> on their plots? And if
> so how do you protect your worms from Zone 6-7 heat
> and cold extremes?
> Sharon
> gordonse@one.net

> From: "Mike McGrath" <MikeMcG@PTD.net>

> Sharon:
>     The best worm bin citizens are red wrigglers;
> which, yes are also sold
> as bait worms. But they are only recommended for use
> IN worm bins and the
> bins must be indoors over winter in the North.
> Outdoor beds should already
> be full of their own worms--naturally.
>     ----Mike McG

> From: Cary Oshins <caryoshins@lehighcounty.org>
> Eisenia foetida, know variously as redworm, red
> wiggler, tiger, tiger
> brandling, and others, is the best worm for
> vermicomposting.  Go to
> www.wormwoman.com for lots more info.  As for
> vermicomposting in the garden,
> garden wastes by themselves are not the optimal
> food, but will support some
> level of population.  I have played around with
> adding Eisenia to Earth
> Machine home composters that have been distributed
> by Cooperative Extension
> here in PA, with very good results.  The worms
> helped process the wastes, so
> that it actually looked like the adds where food
> goes in the top and
> beautiful crumbly compost comes out the bottom.  The
> worms are able to
> adjust to outside temp fluctuations by moving up and
> down in the bin,
> hanging out right down near the bottom where it does
> not freeze over the
> winter.
> Cary Oshins
> Composting Specialist
> Lehigh County Office Of Solid Waste and Recycling
> Allentown, PA
> caryoshins@lehighcounty.org

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