worm farming/composting

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worm farming/composting

Postby chris oak » January 10th, 2020, 7:49 pm

I started a diy kit and got hit up with so many questions that I'll do a quick write up.

I bought the worms mainly for my kid to fish with, unfortunately red worms are harder to find and are my fav bait for small bluegill and catfish. You can get night crawlers almost anywhere but red worms (red wigglers) are harder because they don't last as long at the tackle shops. We bought nightcrawlers to fish with and had some left over, my old boss was fishing with us and told us about how he composts so he has red worms all the time to fish with.

I also am trying to improve the shitty soil at my track house. When I moved in it was all clay, I've been mulching it for two years now and with all the rain in so cal the soil has improved tremendously. I'm getting ready to plan a reed avocado tree, they don't grow as big as most avocados and are heavy producers. I'm hoping to keep it pruned to about 10 feet but we'll see. At any rate I want great soil for the tree and my veggies.

You can watch hours of youtube and figure it out but basically what I found out was:
You want a 18 or so gallon storage tote with lid. I got it from home depot for like 5 bucks. You drill holes below the lid all over and also about 12 or so holes on the bottom for ventilation.
You don't want a ton of soil in it. I used shredded paper on the bottom, a little soil and a lot of dry leaves. I added a bit of water to the whole thing to make it moist.

I ordered worms online from here: https://www.ebay.com/usr/louswormfarm?ul_noapp=true
I was killing time when I was building my composting stuff so I did a bid for 18 bucks shipped. If you are impatient you can buy them for 20 bucks shipped all day long. I bought from these guys because their pound is by worm weight, not soil. The guys from craigslist had them but I'd have to drive about twenty miles and they said "a pound of dirt an worms". They also said there would be about a thousand worms but there's no way, the pound from lous is all worm and they say 1000. I got the worms today and believe me there's a ton of worms in there, it was like one gigantic ball of worms it was crazy. The worms I got are a mix of:



• Eisinea fetida (Red worms)

• Eisenia hortensis (European night crawler)

• Perionyx excavatus (Blue worm)

I guess that's a good thing because they work all the layers of the compost, red worms usually are surface eating worms.

The worms can put away half their body weight each day, so theoretically once they settle down they will eat half a pound of scraps a day. When you start though you want to just throw in a few things and see how they do, if you put too much you can get bad mold or bacteria or parasites and kill off your colony. You can't feed them meat or a lot of citrus, so you are looking at grass clippings, leaves, fruits, veggies, eggshells. I'm juicing a lot now so I should have a lot of carrot and apple fiber.

Once the worms have turned everything into castings, you have to separate out the worms from it and then throw it in your garden. Most guys use screens to screen out the stuff but I'm just going to dump the stuff in the garden with some of the worms and keep adding. The worms can tolerate from 40-80 degrees so I'll have to figure out where to keep them in the summer when it gets real hot.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Behslayer » January 10th, 2020, 11:39 pm

Cool. One thing you could do now is to figure out where you plan to plant the Avocado Tree and dig out a nice hole, like 3-4' accross and 2' deep and remove any major rocks. (around here I might get a Wall of rocks...) Amend the soil in any way you are thinking, maybe mix in some peat moss or compost add some worms, a bit of manure, bury a fish carcass way deep, not sure what PH you are hoping for or if that is an issue there, whatever you are into.. but then fill this hole back up and cover it with 6" of Mulch until you are ready to plant. This will get all those other micro organisms into high speed. When I do this and then come back a few months later to plant a tree it's like a Chocolate WormCake under that Mulch. Same goes for beds. I prep the same way. You don't want to get the Mulch into the Soil.. you want to keep it on top as protective which prevents weeds and retains moisture, a slow feed compost, and to encourage and protect organisms including worms below. If you use a good thick layer of mulch like 6+" it will also heat up a bit as it breaks down and further encourage the good stuff. I use Mulch from our MonkeyPod tree branches which were put through a wood chipper. I like Big Tree Mulch because I know nobody ever sprayed or screwed around with those chemically. You still need to occasionally surface edge the perimeter of the mulch to keep weeds, grass, from growing up on top, but the mulch should keep anything from growing inside your 4' hole other than your Avo. Also allows you to mow/trim without coming close to the Tree's trunk. The other thing you might want to look into is getting a grafted Tree. This should produce Avocados quicker than a seed sewn plant.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby chris oak » January 11th, 2020, 3:27 pm

Thats an excellent idea Jon! I'll start that next week. I'm definitely getting a grafted plant, I've been reading up and if you start one from a seed there is only a 50 percent chance it will fruit and even then it's after ten years. A grafted plant can produce from 2-4 years depending on size. I'm going for a Reed as they don't get too large and produce fruit every year, I was blown away at how many varieties there are of avocados, even at home depot they had probably eight varieties. I know where it's going to go but I have a raised bed on stilts there and I'll have to move that first. The soil is just okay and I've been amending it over the years but I'll add mulch to it as well.

I've been doing a direct root watering system on most of my trees where you put a 2" pvc pipe directly on the root ball, then I add crushed rock. I'll put a little chem fertilizer in there and then when I water I'll water that pipe first and then around the plant root. I was told about this from one of my buddies who worked on the city gardens and when I tried it years back I was blown away at how the roots migrated towards that pipe when I transplanted the tree.

I'm pretty excited on doing the worm farm/compost and avocado thing but am bummed that I will probably be moving from this house in about 20 years when it's too much a pita to walk up and down the stairs to the bedrooms.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Behslayer » January 11th, 2020, 10:24 pm

Here, there's so many kinds. Sometimes a neighbor will bring some over which are completely different than any I've tried before. What I tried to do for planting here is to pick different varieties which have different fruiting seasons so I have an extended harvest. Always good to plant 2 different kinds of trees if you are going to plant one. Eventually I'll try some grafting experiments. But it's always good to have atleast two rooted plants incase something happens to one.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby dariian » January 15th, 2020, 10:08 am

Thanks for the write up on this, I've been wanting to give this a shot. With bin composting, burying fish guts and chickens I can get rid of a lot of my kitchen waste but not all.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Behslayer » February 10th, 2020, 11:30 pm

Chris, when you put those PVC Tubes in place, do you put them out a foot or two from the stem/trunk, down about 2 feet? Then when you want, you mix up whatever fertilizer you are going to use into a gallon of water and pour in? Is there a trick to not burning the roots? Do you put a cap on the tube when not in use?

Is this for Fertilizer or stuff like a Fish or Seaweed emulsion? Thinking of trying.

Maybe we should start a gardening thread here?

Ova here, a daily harvest looks like this. Made some good Pickles out of those Japanese Cucumbers. Thin Skins. Kale and Collards and Beans are going off.

Thinking to have a go at some Vertical Trellis' like these for Passion Fruits, Cucumbers, Melons, Beans, etc.. Might not go with the Landscaping Timber Raised Beds and just do in ground with Rebar Stakes. Figure it's about $11 x 3 for Beams, $26 for Cattle Panel, $10 for Wire, $4 for Turnbuckles, $10 for Rebar Stakes. But will hold a LOT of stuff for a Long time..
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby chris oak » February 23rd, 2020, 10:12 am

Jon I do it about a foot away from the trunk, and I usually do it when I bury the tree the first time. The best luck I've had was scattering a bit of gravel at the bottom of the pipe right under the rootball and then having the pipe directly next to the roots. I'll put a bit of gravel in the pipe too, my hope is that it helps diffuse the water to the rootball instead of getting stuck in the pipe should there be clay or some hard dirt. I can usually tell that it is draining well because it takes forever to get that pipe to spill over. I leave it uncovered, but then again I don't have a lot of stuff that can get in there either.

I only use it for watering because I'm afraid of burning the roots with any fertilizer. I've heard that the avocados don't do well with direct fertilizer so my plan is to scatter fertilizer around the base later on when the tree becomes stronger. I did bury some fish heads, carcasses etc a month or so before I did the planting though to hopefully enrich the tree. I'll take a pix of it later on this week, because the avocados like drainage I built mine above the soil with a box. So far the plant is doing well and didn't show any shock when I transplanted it from the pot.

The worms are doing great, but man they don't eat much like I thought. I don't know if that's because I put a lot of leaves in there, but I threw in bread, eggshells, veggies and when I dug them up a week later most of it was still there. The worms are multiplying, I saw a lot of tiny ones too.

I also started a mealworm grow box, we use those for bait too.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Andrew » February 27th, 2020, 3:34 pm

Behslayer wrote:Maybe we should start a gardening thread here?
.


That's a great idea.

Just had bud break on a bunch of the stone fruit trees (Santa Rosa plums, etc.). I'll try not to dwell for too long on how odd that is (or the 80F day we're having today on the Peninsula up against the SC Mountains). It's nice to see the growing season getting underway. I'll probably lay fresh mulch around the bases of all of the fruit trees and ensure that they have a nice dose of compost, too.

I'm more excited about waiting for our last frost to pass so that I can get the summer garden underway. I'm not growing tomatoes from seed this year, so I'll aim to have the started plants into the beds by the end of March. I've had great luck the last few years with tomatoes, all kinds of peppers and eggplants.

Corn continues to elude me. I lost my crop two years ago to some black tailed hooved rats. Last year the corn set but the maturation process seemed to stall. I'd be open to hearing about others' experiences with corn if you've given it a go.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby TFinator » February 28th, 2020, 3:15 pm

FYI, do not include citrus in your compost. Any citrus peels should stay in the garbage. Citrus kills some of the bacteria the worms depend on.

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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Andrew » March 2nd, 2020, 12:26 pm

I've heard the same thing about garlic (alleged anti-microbial properties). I've not

- done the research to validate whether this is true or not
- attempted my own hokey experiment to prove or disprove the same

Does anyone have strong feelings about garlic in their compost?

FWIW, I've found that the most critical aspects are weight/density, aeration (not being a lazy bastard and actually getting after it with the spade fork regularly), and appropriate moisture level (keeping it sheltered from excessive rain in the winter, although not this year in the Bay Area, keeping it wet enough during the heat of the summer).
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby Behslayer » March 3rd, 2020, 11:19 am

I have a strong feeling about Garlic in my beds. Or atleast I used to back when I could grow Garlic over the Winter.. I used to co-plant Garlic in most of my beds, I needed the room to grow enough Garlic for the whole year anways, but I found it was great to co-plant with all my crops and seemed to act as a deterrent to pests. Here is Garlic co-planted with Sugar Snap Peas waning and Tomatoes kicking in. Garlic in North East is planted in late fall. Over winter you can harvest the Green Shoots which poke through the snow. In summer usually around July 04, the Garlic leaves turn yellowish and start to fall and it is time to harvest and cure.
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Re: worm farming/composting

Postby mike n » July 27th, 2020, 2:40 pm

I currently have a 2’x4’ watering trough with a plywood cover as my worm bin. I add kitchen scraps and dog dodo to it. The worms love it, until the heat comes And many die off.
But there is a silver lining. During the warm months my worm bin becomes infested with black soldier fly larva, bsfl. These things are voracious feeders and eat everything; kitchen scraps, dog dodo, fats, meats, fish parts, you name it.
The real benefit is that when the worm popular recovers in the cool months, the worms really flourish by eating the Bsfl frass. And the bsfl over winter as pupae in the worm bin ready to emerge in the summer. The end result is black gold, level worm castings.
If you have chickens, try to get a bsfl colony started. They love chicken manure and the chickens eat the larvae as the migrate out of the bin to pupate in the ground.

My strange Obsession.

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