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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased 1000 ( I did not count them, but they delivered) red wriggler worms. I got a bag of sheep manure from the big box, an 18 gallon plastic tub, and put them together. I will begin adding daily scraps from food preparation.

Here are the questions. I was hoping Shrek would have answered on the Singles group, but he did not. None of these worms are married, nor me. So, now, I post these questions here.

How much water? What temperature? Can I use dog poop? What about table scraps? This is new to me and I appreciate your suggestions on how to become a major worm dude.

Thanks,
Gary
 

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Hello gobug!
This is my first venture outside of the livestock forums, and lookie at what I found! A post about vermicomposting! :)

Maybe I can help ya out - first of all, moisture is very important. When you first start up a bin, make sure the bedding isen't sopping dripping wet. You want it about as damp as a wrung out sponge. This is freshly set up bin:
See how it's just damp, but not dripping?




Don't expect your worms to eat a whole lot at first. It takes a little time for the microbial community to populate, but you should notice a big difference around a month and a half or so, when the young begin hatching.

For foodstock, most table scraps are fine. Don't add salty foods, or meat or dairy. Salt is very bad for worms. Pocket feed small amounts for the first while, and don't add anymore food until the previous food is gone. Remember, the worms feed mostly on the decomposter organisms, not the scraps themselves. I wouldn't use dog doo, but I feed mine a good bit of aged rabbit manure, which they relish...

You can freeze your scraps prior to feeding your worms, which will begin the first step of decomp, and also help to destroy fruit fly eggs, which can be a real pain in the butt this time of year...

Temperature - will you be keeping these guys inside or out?

Kyah
 

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Only suggestion I can come up with is when posting on the singles forum not to brag about the fact that you have worms. Some women are funny about that. I wouldn't mention any rashes you have either.
 

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What Kyah said.

I never use any manure from meat-eating animals in my worm bins. Goat, rabbit, cow, horse, etc. are all good. Dog, or cat, bad. I would also freeze any manure before putting it in the bin.


Have fun.
 

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No citrus or acidic scraps unless thoroughly composted. If you drink coffee, the grounds are a must-feed, they love 'em! Yes. moisture is critical - never let the bin dry out - please don't ask me why I know this. Grab a handful of the 'dirt' and try to squeeze water out of it - if you can, it's too wet. Temps - as I remember 60-70 F is ideal, but worms have an amazing tolerance for temperature range.

Good luck. Have you named them all yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for the excellent advise!

Regarding the dog poo, even though my dogs primarily eat dry food, that does contain meat products. Why are meat products not recommended? Does it kill the worms or taint their droppings?

I don't usually have dairy scraps, but if so I won't add it to the worm bin. A neighbor a mile away has a cattle pen, and just a bit further is a shetland pony collection. I will approach both to get some manure and trade back some worms. I had a question about chicken, duck, or turkey droppings. Should they be composted first?

Thanks for the warning about citrus and since I drink coffee each morning, the worms will love it.

One last question: The sheep manure I added fills the 18 gallon tank only about 4". I only used about half. Should I add it all?

Thanks again.
Farmerwilly2, I appreciate the suggestion. I guess that means women on the singles group want a different kind of worm than a red wriggler.
Gary
 

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Doesn't matter what your dogs/cats eat- they aren't herbivores. Stick with manure from herbivores. Dog and cat manure can contain zoonotic disease organisms which could be transferred through handling. Trust me, at some point in the not-too-distant future, you WILL be up to your elbows in worm castings!

Honestly though, you will probably find that you don't have room for a lot of manure once your worms start working. You also definitely want to pre-compost any manure you are using- manure gets really hot when composting- you want a "clod" composting action in your bin- otherwise, the heat can kill your worms. You'll have to add bedding material as needed- I love to use shredded paper in my bins.

Other things my wormies love-

banana peels- actually, any fruit/veggie peelings except citrus/alliums (onions, garlic, etc).

Powdered egg shells. I wash the shells, dry in a warm oven, then grind them to a fine powder in my little $2 yard sale coffee grinder. Sprinkle a tablespoon on top of the bedding a couple of times a week. ummmmm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the information. I will use aged manure.

Regarding comosting: I understand how hot it gets and the importance of letting nature get it ready for the worms. An ingredient I am curious about is crushed oyster shells used for poultry. It is also a garden additive. Do the worms like it also? Since it is a sea shell, an the broken shells are lightly coated with some sort of debris (untested by me, except I rinsed some clean and saw the dust which was on the broken oyster shell) it could contain salt. I ask because I do have some.

Thanks again,
Gary
 

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Just one little piece of advice,those bins if left in the rain at night and they have no cover, them worms will crawl out. What I did for my worm bed was put a light over them on rainy nights and they will stay in the bed, but if you have covers on the bins they should be ok but in the daytime they may get too hot. just my 2 cents, Eddie
 

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Regarding the dog poo, even though my dogs primarily eat dry food, that does contain meat products. Why are meat products not recommended? Does it kill the worms or taint their droppings?
In addition to what Elizabeth said about the disease organisms, another issue with dog and cat feces is worm eggs, many of which people can get too. One in particular is caused by a tiny tapeworm, called hydatid disease. It's quite rare, but very serious. The main problem with intestinal worm eggs is that they can remain viable in the soil for a long time, and in worm castings too.

Meat products are not necessilary harmful to the worms, but the smell from the decomp will attract vermin and many flies, and will curl your nosehairs when you're tending to your bin.

I've used the crushed oyster shells before, but not now. I found they were good for maintaining ph, but I sell my castings, and they were such a pain to screen out of the finished compost. The other issue I had with them was the warning lablel on the side of the bag - "this product contains compounds known to be carcinogenic". That frightened me away. Lol!


One last question: The sheep manure I added fills the 18 gallon tank only about 4". I only used about half. Should I add it all?
Hey gobug, do you have access to some fallen leaves? If I were you, I'd cover your current bedding with about 3 inches of damp leaves or a mixture of shredded newspaper and leaves. Reds will typically work the top 6 inches of bedding material, and leaves and/or shredded newspaper make a great covering.

I had a question about chicken, duck, or turkey droppings. Should they be composted first?
Definately. If memory serves me right, all these droppings have high amounts of urea when fresh. Even when I use my rabbit manure, I let it sit out in the rain and weather for at least 3 weeks before I use it for bedding. I make sure I can't smell any ammonia at all. I don't have to be so picky if I'm using it outside, but when I first started vermicomposting, I killed a lot of worms inside before I realized what had happened. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks again for the good answers.
It snowed here last night so I will wait till it melts to get a load of freshly fallen leaves. I have a lot of shredded paper. It was not newspaper that I shredded, but old checks, bank statements, etc from my former company. It is easy to shred the daily newpaper and I would feel more comfortable about both the paper and the inks.

I did toss the coffee grounds in today. Is it OK to toss in the filter?

Thanks again for all the help/
Gary
 

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ya - they'll eat the filter, too. If you can shred the leaves, that would be good. Go ahead and put the rest of the manure in there. And go get a second bin - 1000 worms in one will be quite crowded quickly. If it gets too crowded, they'll migrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Based upon what Kyah said about a month to 6 weeks, I will get ready for the inevitable population growth, providing I follow your collective advise. Thanks. gary

Didn't respond earlier, I am keeping them in my basement which is about 65-70 degrees through the Denver winter. Since their condo has a lid, they cannot get out. So I will watch each day as I add my fresh coffee grounds and other worm edibles.

Thanks again.
 

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That temperature should work well for you, gobug. :)

Just one final thought for you on the coffee grounds - worms really love them, but just make sure that not too many get put in the bin at one time, because they can heat up a bin very quickly.

Enjoy your little wiggly friends,
Kyah
 

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Kyah, i noticed you were from New Brunswick!have friends down in Charllotte county! do you keep you worms indoors or out during the winter? have thought about a worm bed compost system for the house garden but have not had the time, may start one for fishing worms, be nice for fishing the Magaguadavic!
 

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We have kept worms for about 5 years, they ebb and flow under our lax management, but we do get some awesome vermicompost.

best thing about vermicompost is it is a great amendment to seed-starting media!

Moisture is important, and Kyah is great with the explanation of moisture level.

Good luck, have fun!
 

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Hello Ford major!
Hey! That's cool - Charllotte county isen't very far away from us. That's up towards Bristol if memory serves me right..... small world, isen't it? :)

We keep most of the worms inside, although I do have a manure "box" for composting outside that has a good population of natives in it, and we have a special bed for fishing worms at the back of the garden. Thy grow HUGE out there, and we don't have to go very far to dig worms for fishing, so that's a bonus.
...may start one for fishing worms, be nice for fishing the Magaguadavic!
We do a lot of fishing here, especially ice fishing in the winter, and there's one type of worm called the "European night crawler", which is not only an awesome fishing worm, but they're great composters, too. They turn a lovely shade of red if given rabbit manure. Fish really go for them.

Kyah
 
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