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Post  llama momma 8/17/2012, 10:50 pm

Cinci -
The short answer to producing 11 pounds is 5 months and a week. There was a lot of castings that stuck to the worms so I am guessing it was even more than 11 pounds but less than 12 pounds.

The details - March 1st of this year I paid for a pound of worms from Uncle Jims Worm Farm. I didn't count or weigh them as the instructions said they lose weight from the shipment anyway plus I wasn't about to touch and count them, too squeemish at the time.

I felt a little bad for you when you said you were blending. Even when I use the blender for my personal use I don't enjoy cleaning it.

Back to worms - Having just split my bin into two I can only imagine in 5 more months, that is January 2013 there should be double the amount of worms and castings. I will store it in kitty litter containers, stir it up to keep up oxygen levels and moisten every few days and I hope to have bumper crops of everything by this time next year. Hey I can dream!
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Post  Cincinnati 8/17/2012, 11:08 pm

@llama momma wrote:Cinci -
The short answer to producing 11 pounds is 5 months and a week. There was a lot of castings that stuck to the worms so I am guessing it was even more than 11 pounds but less than 12 pounds.

The details - March 1st of this year I paid for a pound of worms from Uncle Jims Worm Farm. I didn't count or weigh them as the instructions said they lose weight from the shipment anyway plus I wasn't about to touch and count them, too squeemish at the time.

I felt a little bad for you when you said you were blending. Even when I use the blender for my personal use I don't enjoy cleaning it.

Back to worms - Having just split my bin into two I can only imagine in 5 more months, that is January 2013 there should be double the amount of worms and castings. I will store it in kitty litter containers, stir it up to keep up oxygen levels and moisten every few days and I hope to have bumper crops of everything by this time next year. Hey I can dream!


L-Mamma,

Dreaming is good! GO FOR IT! Are you sure your worms are making more than castings? I'm guessing you have discovered lots of eggs or little wigglers? This is a good sign that you created the favorable environment for the worms. I discovered eggs, and some smaller worms, but I don't know if the maggots upset the eco-system or not. My worm population diminished rapidly after they showed up.

As far as cleaning the blender, it is a piece of cake. I have a Vitamix. Rinse with water. Fill about 80% with hot water plus a drop or two of soap. Spin at high speed for a minute or two and rinse. Clean as a whistle!.

Nonetheless, it is still too much work and the liquid is a problem.
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Post  Kelejan 8/19/2012, 4:42 pm

@llama momma wrote:

I very much enjoy Redwormcomposting.com and think its a terrific and extensive site for everything about the care of worms, it discusses all types of worm bins, indoor and outdoor set ups too.
Maybe you'd like to check it out.
Happy Worming! Very Happy
Thanks for the link to this site, and I found it really, really interesting and must find some more time to read it, having already spent a couple of hours there.

Another question. When worms lay their eggs/cocoons, how many offspring are produced? One or several? How many eggs does one worm produce?

How many ounces of frozen food per week do you use for one tray that is fairly full. Do you freeze it in little blocks of a certain size for ease of handling?

I have just had a look at my new Hilton, and some of the worms have clitella so I should soon be having cocoons and new worms.
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Post  llama momma 8/19/2012, 5:18 pm

I am glad you liked the link. If you like scientific stuff, google Dr. Clive Edwards, he is a soil scientist at Ohio State University and world famous for worm knowledge. He is a prolific writer of books and all kinds of studies regarding soil and worms.

Your other questions will get you different answers depending on the sources. I'll give you Mary Appelhof's quotes from her book, Worms eat my Garbage.... offspring-- on page 48 it says ..."each cocoon may contain as many as 10 fertilized eggs, normally ...two to three hatchlings emerge....depending on factors... age of the breeder, nutritional state, temperature ..or fluctuating temps.
One worm depending on the same factors...one breeder would produce 96 baby worms in six months. But the situation is more complicated, the first hatchlings will be able to breed...and some will die...anyway it also says 8 individuals could produce 1500 offspring within six months depending on lots of factors ....." blah blah blah, it goes on and on and gets complicated so believe it or not there's your short answer!

I use 18 gallon bins so I have no idea about your "ounces of food" question. I would say if the food is not cleaned up in a week, stop feeding, take out the old moldy stuff, wait a few days and add less food next time. This way I let them tell me how much to feed. And yes I freeze all their fresh food no gnats to deal with that way. Little itty bitty mites are still around from time to time, but those come and go. They cannot survive outside the bin which was a relief to me, as I don't want to raise bugs, its bad enough I raise worms.

And yes it sounds like you have mature worms, congrats that means things should go well. Don't forget to sprinkle crushed eggshells, it helps the pH and helps with reproduction (how it specifically helps repro. I don't know ... I go on faith with that one. I sprinkle a small handfull once a week and wallah I got loads of babies. Take care and enjoy.
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Post  Kelejan 8/19/2012, 8:04 pm

Thanks for your answers, LM. I believe I will be successful this time with so much (to me) new knowledge.
I did know that worms were useful creatures for our earth, but never realized they did so much.
I was so interested that each of the 120 segments of the worm has its own function, right through the length of it, and that as food passes through the worm, different elements are added so now I know the superfood it is for plants. Fascinating!
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Post  llama momma 8/19/2012, 9:10 pm

Your welcome Kelejan -
Guess what -- Last night I looked at a preview of a book called Biology and Ecology of Earthworms By Clive Edwards and P.J. Bohlen and it details what you are talking about. Worms are complicated little critters and I agree they are fascinating. You can google the book title and see an incomplete version of the book, even the incomplete version is chock full of neat information. I am going to put this book on my Christmas list. santa
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Post  Kelejan 8/23/2012, 7:27 pm

I have completed the third tier of my Wiggler Hilton so I am all ready to go for when my guys reproduce enough to need to go up a floor. So far I am resisting the urge to look into their habitat every day as I know if they need more food there is plenty of bedding they can survive.
I have added a few more worms that I found today that I harvested from my tumbler, but that is all for now.

A question: does one need any more tiers, or is the base plus two sufficent?
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Post  Kelejan 9/10/2012, 8:54 pm

Another question for someone to answer if they know right away.

Night time temperatures here will be in the low 40Fs this week.
My Hilton is outside on my deck: when should I bring it indoors so the worms will continue to thrive?

The day time temps are in the 70Fs. Very Happy
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Post  Kelejan 11/13/2012, 3:30 pm

@llama momma wrote:Cinci -
The short answer to producing 11 pounds is 5 months and a week. There was a lot of castings that stuck to the worms so I am guessing it was even more than 11 pounds but less than 12 pounds.

The details - March 1st of this year I paid for a pound of worms from Uncle Jims Worm Farm. I didn't count or weigh them as the instructions said they lose weight from the shipment anyway plus I wasn't about to touch and count them, too squeemish at the time.
. . .
Back to worms - Having just split my bin into two I can only imagine in 5 more months, that is January 2013 there should be double the amount of worms and castings. I will store it in kitty litter containers, stir it up to keep up oxygen levels and moisten every few days and I hope to have bumper crops of everything by this time next year. Hey I can dream!
LM: The above post was made in August. That was when I started my Wiggler Hilton, so in January next year, you will be harvesting two Wiggler Hiltons and I will be harvesting my first.

So I will dream with you. I really have to restrain myself not to have a go at harvesting right now, so I must practice patience.
Perhaps I can think about adding the third bin to my Wiggler Hilton?
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Post  gurgi1970 11/20/2012, 7:56 pm

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this or not, but I wanted to start a worm hotel/farm. My wife however is not too kean on having the worms in the house or anywhere near internal areas. She wants me to keep them outside. I don't have a problem with this, but I read that the worms will die if kept outside in below normal temperatures.

How about it, would it be possible to have a successfull worm farm/bin/hotel/etc outside in Central Pennsylvania winter weather?
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Post  camprn 11/20/2012, 8:02 pm

They will freeze to death in your area. I tried a worm bin in my house a few years ago and I don't have one anymore.

Another way you can get worm casts is to have your completed compost age for a few months sitting upon the earth in it's own bin.

Or worm tubes within the beds.

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Post  gurgi1970 11/20/2012, 8:06 pm

@camprn wrote:They will freeze to death in your area.

Well I guess it's back to the drawing board then or start trying to convince the wife harder to let me keep one inside (if I really want to do it). Gonna have to research this more. Thanks Camprn for the quick answer.
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 11/20/2012, 10:31 pm

I am not an engineer, but could the strip lights mentioned in building "Heating mats for seeds" be retrofitted to add enough warmth to a worm bin to keep its occupants cozy enough to outlive cold weather? (access the topic header indicated within the quotes above). Nonna
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Post  Cincinnati 11/21/2012, 3:22 am

@gurgi1970 wrote:...How about it, would it be possible to have a successfull worm farm/bin/hotel/etc outside in Central Pennsylvania winter weather?

Do you have a basement or a garage? My worm farm has zero smell. I didn't want it in my house, but any enclosed room that protects it from the weather will work. However, if the room is not heated you must build an insulated enclosure. bales of straw will work as will sheets of styrofoam building insulation. Use a light bulb or an electric blanket to provide enough heat to keep them alive. I think the soil temp has to remain between 45 and 85 F. Do a little research and verify that.
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Post  llama momma 11/21/2012, 8:28 am

Gurgi1970
If you go to redwormcomposting.com there is a large section devoted to outdoor vermicomposting. The site belongs to Bentley Cristie, he's been into worms over 12 years. He lives in Ontario and has a successful backyard worm operation. His knowledge is quite vast, more recently he contributed to the famous soil researcher Dr. Clive Edwards book(approx. $140 !) on worms. If the outdoor system works in Ontario it will work in PA. I wanted to move my indoor worms outside this winter, but I chickened out. Decided to devote more time to learn as much as possible before risking the worms I have bred so far. Mary Appelhof's book, Worms Eat My Garbage, has info on outdoor worm set up too. I'd love to know what you decide to do!
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Post  llama momma 11/21/2012, 9:38 am

Here is info on Dr. Clive Edwards 623 page book on worms called
Vermiculture Technology. The price is 120 dollars, on special for around 95 dollars until Jan21st 2013. Should find more info here if any one is interested. http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439809877 Since this is a specialty book hope it's ok to talk about it on this site. If not please delete.
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Post  plantoid 11/21/2012, 11:53 am

It seems to be available on Amazon UK at £52 so it could be cheaper four you guys & gals over the pond .
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Post  yolos 11/21/2012, 8:29 pm

In the beginning of this thread, some of us were looking for plastic spigots for the Wiggler Hilton. I just came across some today while I was looking for a used restaurant cart to wheel my veggies in and out of the garage to keep them from freezing. I found the spigot in a store that sells beer brewing equipment.

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Post  Kelejan 11/23/2012, 3:27 pm

Yesterday morning I decided to have a closer look to see how my Wiggler Hilton was doing, and perhaps add the third tier.
I am glad I did have a look because I found that it was too dry.
Having looked at a number of videos on YouTube I realized that my poor angels Very Happy were suffering from dehydration.
So I dumped all the contents and placed them back in the WH layer by layer and watered each layer thoroughly (with rain water) without getting it sopping wet. Then I added the third tier with some food and bedding, and today I am happy to report that already some worms have come through the holes up into the third tier.
Picking out the worms from my compost in the beginning, I should have had a good idea of the conditions worms need. There was about four inches of vermicompost in the first tier but the worms were somewhat skinny.
This has taught me a timely lesson, one I will not forget.
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Post  southern gardener 11/23/2012, 4:12 pm

all of your posts peaked my interest in my worm bin. We have the "Can O Worms". We had the bottom valve closed to collect the liquids. WOW, we have Compost Coffee, not tea! It was black and fairly thick. I emptied it into a bucket, added water to dilute and fed the garden. If this doesn't make it take off, nothing will! There are tons of big fat worms all over. I was surprised at how many were in the middle tier with only the castings, instead of the top where the food/castings are. Is that what most of you find?
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Post  Kelejan 11/23/2012, 5:00 pm

Let us know how things progress, southerngardener. I haven't yet got to the stage where I can harvest and add to the garden.
Next year, perhaps.
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Post  llama momma 11/23/2012, 5:23 pm

kelejan, amazing how versatile and forgiving our little angels of the earth are. I have the opposite condition right now I think I over sprayed when I fed them yesterday. So I went in there today and fluffed up and took off the lid for a few hours.

southern gardener, supposedly from what I learned at redwormcomposting.com the liquid you have is called worm leachate. It seems you will have some worm tea stuff in it but it is also the liquid portion of the foods that have decomposed. This means you may not have the super duper worm tea you are hoping for. Just wanted to share with you the things I am learning from others. Smile I've only begun this worm adventure since March of this year, there is so much knowledge out there re: these little guys and I've only just begun.
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Post  southern gardener 11/23/2012, 6:40 pm

Thanks for the info ML...I'm sure some of it is the liquid from the foods. The middle section where it is primarily castings was very moist and lots of worms. Do you find a lot of worms in this section of your worm bin? I'd have thought they'd be on top with the food?
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Post  Kelejan 11/23/2012, 9:25 pm

southern gardener I would think that there are many worms in that section with the castings because there is still plenty of food for them to eat mixed in with the castings. I think that happens because of the setup with the Wiggler Hilton. Perhaps in a flow-through the worms keep rising to the top and the castings fall down below?
Next year I may try a flow-through to see how it compares with a WH.
RedWormComposting has done many experiments and I find them very interesting and food for thought.
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Post  southern gardener 11/24/2012, 12:19 am

@Kelejan wrote:southern gardener I would think that there are many worms in that section with the castings because there is still plenty of food for them to eat mixed in with the castings. I think that happens because of the setup with the Wiggler Hilton. Perhaps in a flow-through the worms keep rising to the top and the castings fall down below?
Next year I may try a flow-through to see how it compares with a WH.
RedWormComposting has done many experiments and I find them very interesting and food for thought.

Kelejan: What's a flow through bin? Mine has tiers that you can add as the castings fill up...maybe that's a flow through? It's super easy to use, and really kind of takes care of itself. It's a "Can O Worms" and the worms are about a year old if I remember correctly? Maybe even older. They sure are chubby!!
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