No Worm Farm For Bedlam Farm

Notes from the Vermiculture talk

A worm farm  is not going to work for us.  Jon and were pretty excited about the idea of composting indoor with red wiggler worms.  We even got up and out of the house by 8:45am on Saturday morning to hear a talk by Bill Richmond from the Adirondack Worm Farm 

I loved the idea of just tossing the banana or orange peel in a bin in the laundry room filled with worms who couldn’t wait to munch on our scraps and poop them out as nutritious soil (called castings).

But red wiggler worms have more needs than we imagined.

The first problem is that they need  temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees to survive.   Our house gets colder at night than that, especially in the laundry room where we planned to keep them.    Too much moisture in the plastic bin filled with paper, cardboard and food scraps makes “Worm Tea.”  It might be good for watering your plants with, but can kill the worms. Too little moisture can do the same.

Also, red worms don’t do well on citrus.

I feed most of our vegetable scraps to the sheep and donkeys.  What I have left for the compost is usually banana, orange and avocado peels and pits, egg shells and teabags.  But the worms need a more balanced diet than that.  And citrus isn’t good for them at all.

Then there’s the potential for attracting mice.  All those food scraps, they don’t smell to us humans, but mice (and rats) have much better noses than we do.

The worms are kept in a plastic container.  The first and last time I kept cat kibble in a plastic container the mice ate a hole right through it.

And we just got rid of the rats who destroyed our stove, we certainly don’t want to invite more.

The other thing is, red wiggler worms are sensitive.  The more you disturb them, the less they eat, and the less they thrive.  So my idea of opening the top of the big bin we’d keep them in and throwing food scraps as we eat them, wouldn’t work.

Jon and I  were disappointed.

We were looking forward to composting indoors with red worms.  But it simply doesn’t work for us.  That does’t mean it wouldn’t work for someone else.

I could imagine getting into having an  indoor worm farm if we didn’t already have and outdoor farm.  And if we didn’t already have a good way of dealing with our food scraps.

I feel like it might be something to keep in mind for the future.  I imagine I could enjoy it the way I enjoy my snails.

Although, even though snails don’t turn our food into soil, they are a lot easier to care for an a lot more beautiful to watch.

3 thoughts on “No Worm Farm For Bedlam Farm

  1. I have had a worm compost bin for over 20 years and maybe I don’t take it as seriously as others but it works well for me. I read a book “Worms Ate My Garbage”‘ and even met the author before she died. I did a lot of research because I wanted to do this project with my class but I needed to do it at home first. I weighed shredded paper, measured water etc. that all the books said. My dad helped me make bins out of plywood (they looked like baby coffins!) Over the years, I stopped all the measuring stuff. I switched to Rubbermaid Tubs and lids from Walmart that sit on 2 cement blocks. My husband drilled holes around the sides so excess water can drain out and along the top of the sides so air can flow through (keeps it from smelling). We used to shred paper and now I just rip it in strips by hand and fill a plastic trash can. When it is full, I soak the paper in water overnight and then toss it in the worm bin. We put all food scraps except meat and things with acid. They love watermelon and cantaloupe rinds. Twice a year (April and August), I separate the worms and the poop by putting the poop in a separate Rubbermaid tub so it is ready when I want to use it. I had so many worms, I started a second bin. In the winter, they hibernate, and I fill the bin with wet shredded paper, wet undershirts from my hubby and wet t-shirts to keep them warm. I’m wrapped tarp around the sides and tape with duct tape to keep them warmer. When it warms up, they start reproducing again. It really is easier than any of the research that I’ve read. I have probably over 30,000 worms now. I repeated this in my classroom but instead of cement blocks, we just put it in another Rubbermaid tub with no holes for drainage. As long as it had good airflow, it didn’t smell. We had it for a year in my classroom and no one outside the classroom every knew we had worms! LOL

    1. Wow Pat you gave me more practical information in your two posts than I heard in the two hour talk we went to. And you also make it sound not only very doable, but fun too. I’m going to keep what you wrote for the future. You make me want to do it! Thanks for taking the time to write.

  2. I forgot to mention that my bins are out in the back yard and I put all my scraps in an empty coffee can until I’m ready to feed the worms. I wish I had a barn to keep them in but I don’t so they sit sheltered under some trees. I mainly give mine tea bags, coffee grinds, eggs, and vegetable/melon scraps when I have them. The main food I give them is usually ripped up paper.

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