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Worm Farm Question

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  • #257165
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    I set up a worm farm about 6 weeks ago in an old bath tub. I put some chicken wire in the bottom over a bit of lattice and shade cloth on top of that for drainage, a couple of shovels of horse poo, and then the worms. After a couple of weeks I started adding vege scraps.

    Since I’ve never seen one in operation before, I’m not sure what to expect. But if I dig around near the base of the pile now, all I find is damp stuff that looks a bit like decomposing horse poo. I’ve seen worm castings before but I can’t see anything like that in the bottom of mine. I’ve taken 3 or 4 litres of worm tea from it which is good, but I’m just wondering when I should see some good deposits of worm castings in it?

    #526441
    AndreAndre
    Keymaster

    Hi Silent ..

    Have you googled info yet?

    Maybe it was too much, too soon …

    How many do you have?

    http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1620935.htm

    http://www.livinggreener.gov.au/waste/kitchen-food-waste/start-worm-farm

    Also, not forgetting, it is cold (not sure of your locale) and they don’t move fast in the cold …

    #526442
    BlueWrenBlueWren
    Member

    OK I am no expert , so anyone please beg to differ , add your own advice etc.I can only write about what has worked for me.

    I haven’t checked the previous post’s links , but I’m wondering if these larger tub type worm farms are more suited to just getting wee? I’m assuming the wee runs out from the plug hole in your bath? I’m assuming the tub is covered with something to exclude light but allow for ventilation? Sorry if I missed that bit in your post.And that the tub is in the shade.

    I believe to use the worm castings it’s not so much a point of actually seeing them – as you do with earth worms on the surface, squiggly heaps – but of periodically separating the worms from the medium they are in.I think the castings and medium just combine together into a glug.

    The only way you could do that in a bath tub is to starve the worms for a few days and then put some food that they really like on the surface at one end.Hopefully the worms would migrate to that end so you could remove all the stuff from the other end to use as is on your garden, and then refill that end with compost.Then put the worms’ favourite food at the new end and repeat the process , then refill the second end.I guess a piece of vertical mesh or something across the centre of the bath would make that easier.

    My worms have been in a plastic rubbish bin for over three years and I have no practical way of doing the half and half thing with such a small area so I just use it for wee.There’s a small outlet flap at the base of the bin which is set up on a slight incline , and a row of small holes all around the top a couple of inches down for ventilation.The lid is on at all times of course.

    One day soon I am going to get DH to help me tip the whole thing into a wheelbarrow and then pick out as many worms as I can before putting them back in the bin with fresh compost , then wheel the barrow to where I want to dump the stuff.I might put a few chooks there too to eat any remaining worms and scratch everything in for me.Compost worms may survive in very humus/organic material rich soil if other conditions are suitable for them.

    Linda Woodrow suggests using an old laundry tub, the concrete two tub type.When she wants to remove the worms to get the castings she allows a hose to drip into the plugged tub veeeerrrry slowly so that the worms migrate to the top to avoid drowning – that’s her theory, I’d be terrified !! – and can then be put into the second tub to start again.I suppose the first tub could then be drained to get diluted tea and the remaining castings etc be scooped out.

    The commercial small scale worm farms work on the same separation principle using the layered trays.

    #526443
    BlueWrenBlueWren
    Member

    …and don’t ever give compost worms fresh poo – it’s too strong.Gave mine fresh roo poo once and thought I had killed the lot! :jawdrop: Fortunately they had just retreated further down into the bin.Someone on here advised me about fresh poo, so once I had removed it the worms came back up!! :laugh:

    #526444
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Thanks for the replies and the links. I did Google a bit before hand but there’s nothing like being able to ask someone whose actually got one – Google tells you how to set one up and what to feed them (lots of contradictory info there too I might add) but not what to expect down the track.

    I’ve got a jar under the plug hole which is where the wee collects. I put a sheet of outdoor ply over the bath, which allows plenty of ventilation but keeps the sun and most of the rain off.

    My plan with accessing the castings was to only put food in one half of the bath and then when it looked like it was ready, to start putting it in the other half – the theory being they will eventually migrate. What I’ve got now is worms all through the bath, they’re obviously still happy in the old stuff.

    Guess I’ll just wait and see what happens. One half of the kitchen scrap providers have gone away for 6 weeks, so food will be cut back now.

    I bought a kilo of worms to start it. There are lots of tiny ones in there, so I’m assuming they’re being saucy little worms and I’ve caught a couple in the act. Guess that means they’re happy.

    Actually that second link suggests putting 15cm of soil in as bedding and then you just remove and replace that – maybe that’s what I should do.

    #526445
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Just had a re-read of the Gardening Australia fact sheet:

    >After four or five months the worm casts or vermicast on the bottom level will be ready to use.

    So I need to be patient!

    #526446
    RavykRavyk
    Member

    One other thing with using horse manure, make sure the horses you are getting the manure have not recently been wormed. The worming products come out in their poo and will kill worms if they come in contact with it.

    #526447
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Yes I read that in a book I have here *after* I set the worm farm up! I was lucky…

    #526448
    BlueWrenBlueWren
    Member

    So in your bathtub system when everything I presume is in together how are you going to know what is the “bottom layer” and how will you access it? That has been my problem with the rubbish bin.

    #526449
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Hadn’t gotten that far!

    I guess that it will be a matter or moving everything but the bottom 15cm or so to the other side of the bath, then digging out what’s left. Apparently if you dump it on a board or sheet of plastic in the sun, you can gradually pull stuff away from the outside of the pile and the worms will burrow down to get away from the sun. Keep doing that throughout the day and you should be left with a mound of worms, which can be put back in the tub. Or so I’m told 🙂

    #526450
    BlueWrenBlueWren
    Member

    Not meaning to be difficult …….but in the tub/bin systems …. if the worms are feeding at the top….why are the castings going to be at the bottom? I am not being facetious but surely the worms don’t go to the bottom layer to poo? :shrug:

    #526451
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Good question, glad you asked. I have no idea 🙂

    All I planned to do originally was just start putting food on the other side and when all the worms migrated to that, I assumed the first side was ready to put on the garden. But all that’s happening now is that I have worms everywhere and mushy stuff in the bottom of one side. So I’ll just wait and see what happens next.

    The guy I bought the worms from reckoned that the best way is to put the worms in a garden bed you’re not using, throw your vege scraps on the surface and cover with hay. That way all the good stuff is in the bed and you can start another one next season and plant in the old one. I wanted the worm tea though, so I gave this a go.

    #526452
    S.O.PS.O.P
    Member

    Not an expert but I have been running a horse manure bathtub worm farm for almost a year now and having excellent results.

    Rather than me trawl the thread, pose the questions in your next post and I will give you my answers.

    Here is a post explaining my setup on another site.

    Edit: With bonus

    [video]http:/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZUW5rIjf24[/video]

    And picture:

    #526453
    silentCsilentC
    Member

    Looks like the main difference between what you do and what I’m doing is that you’re blending up the kitchen scraps – I’m just chucking them straight in. Otherwise what I’m trying to do is very similar.

    Questions:

    1. How much horse poo are you putting in to start a new cycle?

    2. How long roughly does it take to get to the casting removal point?

    3. I think part of my problem is I’m putting in too much food. Do you put all your scraps in? I’m putting in two household’s worth, which probably equates to a kg every other day

    Thanks for the link, it’s good to see where I want to go, now just have to work out how…

    #526454
    S.O.PS.O.P
    Member

    OK.

    How much horse poo are you putting in to start a new cycle?

    Exactly how much it takes to replace how much I removed. In my case, it’s a $2 bag and then some more when it sinks after the worms start processing it ($3 worth?). They love it and most will move straight to it and you will get an explosion in worm count.

    How long roughly does it take to get to the casting removal point?

    2 months round robin/vice-versa, so one side takes 4 months. With my half/half (vertical half/half – I am not harvesting the BOTTOM layer!) system.

    Do you put all your scraps in? I’m putting in two household’s worth, which probably equates to a kg every other day

    You’ve nailed it. You are feeding them way too much. I bury, in the garden (for the earthworms) 50-75% of my kitchen waste from a family of 4 (2 adults/2 children).

    Whatever I’m doing, seems to be working. I could take another video and they are going absolutely mental again so it’s not too cold for them here. I get a feel for how much food they need, I don’t feed them when they are working new bedding, I start feeding when the bedding doesn’t look like horse manure any more. So, I’ve recently replaced a half, all my food waste is being buried in the garden. And, if you want to feed earthworms, it works because I dug up an old area last night and there was at least 50 in there.

    In your case, I would bury in the colder months and setup a BSF system when it warms up. The worms love BSF castings so they would process your huge amount and reduce it to something the worms could handle. Chickens or fish would come in handy with that BSF excess. I bury all year round, I have no chickens or fish.

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