Saturday, April 6, 2013

Backyard Worm Bin

I haven't researched using the liquid by product of a vermicomposting bin in the manner described in the video, so I cannot vouch for it's usefulness. I did experiment with it on an area of my lawn a few years ago and after several months I could not see any negative effects from using it on my lawn. I would not feel comfortable using it directly on my garden where it might come into contact with food that I eat.

Note:  I would feel more comfortable using a Rubbermaid livestock water tank if I tried to make a similar worm bin for my use. The Rubbermaid tank like I have for my aquaponics system is made from High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE). It also has a threaded valve that could be used to remove any liquid that builds up within the tank. Rubbermaid stock tanks are not approved for "food grade" use, so individuals must make their own personal decisions about their suitability for use in your own food supply.

I have attempted to make a "tea" from the vermicast several times and I have applied it to my lawn using a pump sprayer. I was not able to generate it in large enough volumes efficiently to continue using it, so I did not notice any positive effects (or negative).

My personal interest started in reducing household waste and using the vermicastings as a soil amendment. I have been using the worm castings in my garden for about 5 years at this point. I have also used my army of red wigglers to vermicompost more than 1,500 lbs of household waste including newspaper, kitchen scraps, leaves, cardboard, garden waste, etc.

Red Wigglers Are a Valuable Commodity

I started a vermicomposting project a few years ago. For those that haven't heard the term previously, that is composting with worms (usually some type of red worm or "red wiggler").

Red wigglers are a valuable commodity. I literally started out with 1 lb. of them in my spare room and multiplied them into roughly 25 lbs. Note: This was done in a subdivision with 100 homes, not on a rural farm or large residential 1/2 acre lot.
In terms of money, that's like turning $20 into $500 in a couple of years. If you scale that up a few notches, it's like turning $100 into $2,500. I also sold them in 1/2 lb. amounts for $17, so I really earned more than $500, but it's a nice round figure for demonstration purposes.
I am still vermicomposting today, but after my relocation to Michigan I am doing it on a micro scale compared to the only slightly larger "small" scale that I used to earn the $500 in Florida. I am no longer selling worms to earn money, but after some hardcore brainstorming this weekend I think I need to re-start this project soon. I sold them on Craigslist and quickly received referrals from a local retailer.
Based on my seat-of-the-pants experience and rule-of-thumb calculations 500 lbs of red wigglers would generate more than $10,000 in cash not including sales of the 100's of lbs of vermicast that would be generated. Of course there would be some minimal expenses that would reduce net profitability slightly, but nearly 100% of the inputs for this type of operation can be obtained at zero.

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 Vermicomposting Conference NCSU

Rhonda Sherman is a vermicomposting hero of sorts. She is one of the foremost leaders in promoting vermicomposting in the United States and she's the organizer of an annual conference to teach others about it.

Here's more information about the conference from Rhonda's web page:

November 5-6, 2012 (Monday/Tuesday)

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

UNC - William and Ida Friday Center

Redbud Room

Monday Registration opens 7:15 AM

•Monday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

•Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home Composting with Red Worms

It's been 12 months since I started tracking the amount of waste my red wigglers are eating in my home worm bins.  I have other worm bins, but I've only been tracking the volume composted in my personal bins.

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting SystemIn case you haven't been following along as I updated the totals (see the right hand column) throughout the year, the total newsprint, cardboard, and kitchen waste has passed 320 lbs.  To put that figure in perspective, that's nearly the weight two average sized human adults.  And in case you're still not impressed, let me shed some more light on those figures.

I've put 320 lbs into the worm bins.  Assuming an 8:1 reduction ratio, that 320 lbs of garbage has been composted by my red wigglers into a resulting 40 lbs give or take of worm castings that I have used as a soil amendment in my backyard garden, in our flower beds, and in a dead patch of my front lawn. And this was achieved by a starting amount of 1 lb of red wigglers.

As a further illustration of the power of red wigglers (and why you might want to consider using them to compost your own kitchen, cardboard, and newspaper waste, suppose 10 households started a vermicomposting program like mine. Those figures above can be multiplied to 3,000 lbs of garbage and a resulting 400 lbs of worm castings. One hundred households vermicomposting their household waste multiplies to 30,000 lbs of garbage saved from the landfill. 

If you've ever wondered how you can make an impact to help improve the environment, have fun, and learn something new at the same time; I hope I've demonstrated why red wigglers might be a nice place to start.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Worms Can Swim

I've been experimenting with vermiponics for a couple of months. I don't feel comfortable posting my methods here yet, because my methods have been very seat of the pants.  I have not been trained in vermiponics and have no qualifications to teach others about it, but I've observed something interesting in my efforts. Worms can swim!

I have been using an aquarium pump to inject air into my deep water culture tubs that include several pounds of worm castings. I took the castings out and started using traditional hydroponic nutrients, but a couple of week later when changing out the water I noticed several worms in the water. I fished them out and put them in a container I had nearby. Assuming they were dead, I left them for a few minutes while I finished my work. I came back later and discovered that the worms were very much alive. They lived 3 weeks submerged in 10 gallons of water. Worms are pretty tough dudes!

European Nightcrawlers

I've been experimenting with European Nightcrawlers for my home composting efforts since September with mixed results.  The quality of castings is very good, but the quantity has been disappointing compared to red wigglers aka eisenia foetida.

Everything I've read online indicates that European Nightcrawlers do not "ball up" when foraging like red wigglers do. My European Nightcrawlers must not have read those articles because they do actually "ball up" periodically. At first I thought it might be due to something in the bedding that irritated them, but the more I've observed them I'm convinced it's nothing to worry about. My bedding is very neutral and smells like plain old dirt.

Well, I've got to go sort some castings. See you later!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Forgive Me Please

Its' been awhile since I have written a new post for this blog. Let me take a couple of minutes to explain why.

On July 3, 2011 I relocated to Michigan for my "day job".  My new job assignment has kept me very, very busy for the last several months. I have been trying to decide what I should do with my worm blog, since it doesn't seem quite right to write about composting in surburban Detroit, Michigan on a blog that is named after Tampa, Florida.

The way I see it, I have a few choices at this point:
  • Sell the domain name to someone else.
  • Change the name of my worm blog.
  • "Redirect" the website to a new domain name.
  • Keep posting on the blog without making any changes.
I haven't made a final decision yet, but stay tuned. I will. (I promise.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Wigglers Compared to European Nightcrawlers

I have been composting with worms for almost 3 years in my home. I started with 1 lb of eisenia foetida and in a two year period I grew that amount to more than 19 lbs. I supplemented my composting efforts with rabbit manure purchased locally from a rabbit farmer to help multiply my worm population faster. If you have lots of worms you also need lots of food for them :-)

Here's a comparison between eisenia foetida and eisenia hortensis worms based on my experience with both types of worms.

  • 2-3 inches long  
  • small and skinny worm  
  • eat almost anything  
  • tendancy to ball up and group together in the bedding  
  • multiply quickly, 1 lb can double in size within a couple of months  
  • will compost and reproduce well in temperatures up to 100 degrees air temperature  
  • lots of room for error in bedding, they will tolerate poor bedding conditions for short periods of time 
  • commercially viable for vermicomposting ventures

  • 5-6 inches long (even longer when extended)  
  • fatter worm than EF's  
  • a very active worm compared to EF's  
  • do not multiply as quickly as EF's, 1 lb can double in size in 5 or 6 months  
  • tendancy to roam and will escape if conditions do not suit them  
  • favor cooler temperatures  
  • favor lots of neutral material in their bedding  
  • do not like bedding that heats up  
  • do not like bedding that is too wet  
  • appear to do well in paper and cardboard bedding with small amounts of food material  
  • commerically viable for retail and wholesale sales as a fishing worm  
  • less desireable for vermicomposting and home composting, but acceptable

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How I Sell Red Wiggler Worms

I have been vermicomposting with eisenia foetida worms aka "red wigglers" for several years. My worm population has increased gradually during that time and I now have some extra worms that I would like to sell.

I am selling 1/2 lb of worms (approximately 600 worms) for $17.00 and 1 lb of worms (approximately 1,200 worms) for $30.00 to help others start their own vermicomposting programs. I'll also include a significant amount of bedding material that will help kickstart your worm bin.

To give you an idea about how effective you can be, here's an example from my own records. In a 12 month period I have reduced 350 pounds of kitchen waste, newspaper print, and cardboard that would otherwise be placed in my garbage bin, into approximately 40 pounds of worm castings which has been used in my flower beds, vegetable garden, and dead patches in my lawn. I'm reducing garbage going to landfills and increasing "greenery" around my house - with red wigglers.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Worms for Sale

Vermicomposting has become a major passion for me. I started composting with worms to create a soil amendment for our house plants and garden patch. It's worked well and has even allowed me to revive some plants I'd left for dead. After repotting them in a 50% vermicompost mix they're now flourishing better than ever.

I've also reduced our household waste stream by more than 50%. We use newspaper and cardboard for bedding and feed our redworms kitchen scraps (minus meat and dairy products).

These results have inspired me to tell everyone I know about the benefits a few redworms can provide for gardens and the evironment. It's also led me to provide worms for sale to anyone that is interested.

We've got African Nightcrawlers and Red Wigglers for sale. You can purchase them via PayPal in the right hand column of this screen.

We can ship year round to locations in Florida.  Availability to other zip codes may vary according to the local weather conditions.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Square Foot Gardening

Some people think it takes a lot of space to grow a garden and it might if you are planting a traditional row garden, but with a little creativity you can grow a lot in even the smallest space.

Several years ago Mel Bartholomew authored a book about Square Foot Gardening that has helped many aspiring backyard gardeners get started growing their own food.

You can built a square foot garden from wooden planks, scraps of plastic, or even vinyl fencing. Here's a picture of one built from vinyl fence scraps that might give you some ideas for building your own.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What is SPIN Farming?

S-P-IN stands for Small Plot Intensive farming or gardening. You can use land you already have whether it's in your backyard, a friend or relatives backyard, or you can even barter with your neighbor to use theirs. You can even implement the SPIN concept if you live in an apartment.
Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening: How to Grow Like a Pro, Save Money, and Eat Well by Turning Your Back (or Front or Side) Yard Into An Organic Produce Garden
It's all about choosing the right growing techniques, the right crops, and using a lot of ingenuity to make it all work. 

It's a whole new way of thinking about farming and about who or what a farmer is or does.  Whether you grow for your own consumption, for your relatives and friends, your church, or the local farmer's market, the possibilities are almost endless.

You can start with 500 sq ft and grow to 3,000 sq ft. Your crop quantity will grow too.

Want to learn more about SPIN? Visit the website at:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DIY Home Hydroponics

I built a homemade DIY Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System from a plastic storage container this past weekend.  I got the idea from a You Tube video. Deep Water Culture is based on the theory of sumerging the plant roots in water containing nutrients to encourage root growth.  The water is oxygenated with an aquarium pump or ideally, a hydropnic pump specifically designed for the task.

I am using a 18 gallon container (Tuff Tote version) and six 3 inch net pots (55 cents each at Worms Way). I am using coconut coir for growing medium and some hard water liquid fertilizer also from Worms Way. I am growing 6 pepper plants.

If all goes well with this version of the experiement, I plan to switch to a more organic version of nutrient going forward. Worms Way has a large variety of seabird guano nutrient available.

The most difficult part of making this DIY system was cutting the holes.

I plan to upgrade to a better pump later, but for now I'm using an Aqua Culture pump that I had on hand. A better pump from Worms Way goes for $16.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cheap and Easy Worm and Castings Harvesting

If you've been vermicomposting for a few months or a several years, it's likely that you've discovered separating the worms from their castings a time consuming process, if you attempt to do it by hand.

The video below offers a cheap and easy solution you can implement for you home vermicomposting efforts. I spent 99 cents on this harvester. (I told you it was cheap.)

Worms will move away from light, so a few minutes before you plan to harvest worms or castings, simply expose the top layer of your bin to light. The worms will move down away from the light and you can scrape the top layer of castings up with the kitty litter scoop.

Keep going until you are left with mostly worms in the bottom of your bin.

Worm Composting Bin Information

I made this worm bin video to demonstrate that you can make a worm bin out of almost any kind of storage bin that you may already have on hand. It's likely you have all the supplies needed.

1.  A storage bin - I used a low-profile under-the-bed plastic storage tote
2.  A drill - I drilled holes in the lid for ventiliation
3.  Newspaper - Shredded news print makes great bedding for worms
4.  Kitchen scraps - Vegetables and fruit go in the worm bin instead of the garbage bin

After a couple of months you can use the resulting worm castings to provide nutrients for houseplants, flower beds, or you can even start an above ground vegetable garden like I did.


Related Posts with Thumbnails