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Old 04-25-2008, 06:11 AM   #21
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Can I defend vermicompost? I've made vermicompost in plastic storage bins with holes punched in the sides for ventilation, and used worms gathered from my garden. There is no sound, smell, or mess, and you can forget about the bin for two weeks at a time if need be. Earthworms are the most agreeable, well-behaved pets you'll ever keep! Of course, some bears are known to eat earthworms, too, but I don't think they would break into your house for them.
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Old 04-25-2008, 06:12 AM   #22
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Well, the only reason we compost is reduce our garbage output. That is, we rarely actually use the compost. By composting and recycling, we only have to take our "blue bag" out to the street once a month or so.

Perhaps I will just use a pile and not the bin. However, that means that I'm really feeding the wildlife rather than composting, which isn't a good idea.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:10 AM   #23
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Al - back east we used to have some 1950's era in-ground composters at a lot of houses. Someone came by with an auger and some digging stuff and made what amounted to a porously lined dry well about 8' deep and a couple of feet wide. Had a metal plate over it with a foot pedal to lift a small hatch. They all helpfully said "Garbage" on them. By the time I was looking at houses they were pretty much a "what the hell is that?" even with the helpful label and all the cast iron covers were rusted through and made for nice ankle hazards.

Not a whole lot of use for recovery of the compost, but I dont think a bear would have much luck at getting to the goods. These were usually located in a flower or garden bed so perhaps the idea was to let the goodies from the composting move into the adjacent soils over time.
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Old 04-25-2008, 07:57 PM   #24
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How about just letting them root around in the compost? My cousin keeps her pile quite a ways from the house and just lets the wildlife go at it.
Our compost pile is supporting a family of mongoose scavengers. The mockingbirds & red-vented bulbuls hate them, so when the rodents scamper up to the bin there's an amazing racket from the screeching & dive-bombing. Cheap backyard entertainment.

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Looking into the worms, I'm thinking it's just too gross.
They may be an acquired taste, but they're no worse than what's been running around in the compost bin. Worms work faster, though.

There was a woman demonstrating vermiposting on Oprah's Earth Day show this week, but she freaked out a bit on stage and totally blew her performance. I think she set vermiposting back about a decade. But ignoring her abysmal performance, we know people who've built their own worm bins as outside benches (just lift the seat/lid) or as part of a potting shed.

I'm amazed at the volume reduction. We've spent six months putting literally hundreds of papaya rinds, banana peels, coffee filters, teabags, and other fruit/veggie remnants into a Can-O-Worms tray of about a cubic foot (one of three trays), and it's only now starting to get full. (We've also been getting over a gallon of leachate a week for the plants.) So this weekend we'll take out the bottom (first) tray and empty it around the backyard gardenias. We'll set a new (third) tray on top of the second (now at the bottom) and begin filling it. The worms wil finish up their work on the current tray and move "upstairs" when they're ready.

There are actually people selling their worms on Craigslist. A pound of good vermiposters can go for over $150 around here... the challenge is getting them to all sit on the scale without wriggling around...
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:29 PM   #25
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There was a woman demonstrating vermiposting on Oprah's Earth Day show this week, but she freaked out a bit on stage and totally blew her performance.
My wife was watching that the other day when I walked through the room. Oprah, Julia Roberts and the composting lady all going "Ewwww! Worms!" and skittering around.

Nice. Made my day.

Almost as funny as Julia Roberts telling everyone which paper towels she likes to use. As if the woman could get through the hordes of hired help to even touch a paper towel... :
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:30 PM   #26
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Al - back east we used to have some 1950's era in-ground composters at a lot of houses.
Here's a similar rig, but with an above-ground cone that they claim helps speed up the composting due to solar heating of the cone. When it fills up (every year or two) just move it to a new spot.

http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/greencone/index.html

I don't think I'd pay $125 for it (plus $55 shipping), but I could see making one from available materials. Maybe going with a flat lid flush with the ground would make sense if bears are a problem.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:35 PM   #27
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I'm thinking that the problem they were solving back then was that there was no regular municipal trash pickup then and the garbage would get a little gamey sitting around until someone got around to taking a trip to the dump.

Nobody used them anymore and most of them were flush full of dirt, but I remember an awful lot of homes built in the pre-1960's that had them.

I cant see myself paying $125 for a plastic cone. Maybe $12.50.
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Old 04-25-2008, 09:11 PM   #28
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Our compost pile is supporting a family of mongoose scavengers. The mockingbirds & red-vented bulbuls hate them, so when the rodents scamper up to the bin there's an amazing racket from the screeching & dive-bombing. Cheap backyard entertainment.


They may be an acquired taste, but they're no worse than what's been running around in the compost bin. Worms work faster, though.

There was a woman demonstrating vermiposting on Oprah's Earth Day show this week, but she freaked out a bit on stage and totally blew her performance. I think she set vermiposting back about a decade. But ignoring her abysmal performance, we know people who've built their own worm bins as outside benches (just lift the seat/lid) or as part of a potting shed.

I'm amazed at the volume reduction. We've spent six months putting literally hundreds of papaya rinds, banana peels, coffee filters, teabags, and other fruit/veggie remnants into a
tray of about a cubic foot (one of three trays), and it's only now starting to get full. (We've also been getting over a gallon of leachate a week for the plants.) So this weekend we'll take out the bottom (first) tray and empty it around the backyard gardenias. We'll set a new (third) tray on top of the second (now at the bottom) and begin filling it. The worms wil finish up their work on the current tray and move "upstairs" when they're ready.

There are actually people selling their worms on Craigslist. A pound of good vermiposters can go for over $150 around here... the challenge is getting them to all sit on the scale without wriggling around...
I saw that episode on Oprah.

You have a Can-O-Worms?

Is there some minimal level of food/scraps input?
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Old 04-26-2008, 01:38 PM   #29
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The problem Trombone has is that bears are powerful scavengers, just look at any refuse container in bear country. If his compost pile has anything with food value a bear will tear it apart. The other issue is that if bears find food near people it isn't good for them as they will view humans as competition for their food source. If a bear becomes acclimated to humans moving isn't an option.

Better to compost food scraps in a worm bin in a secure garage and when it gets full set aside a few cups of worms, empty the bin either in the yard or compost pile, and put the cups of worms back in the worm bin.

Yes there is a 'minimum' of sorts. The worms need to have enough to eat and be happy enough to reproduce. I would start off with a gallon of dirt with lots of old leaves, add coffee grounds and a couple cups of fruit/vegetable scraps and they shouldn't want to leave. They like to live about 5 inches or more below the top of the material. When scraps are added mix it up gently, you will see the worms - who will promptly retreat to do their thing.
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Old 04-26-2008, 02:59 PM   #30
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Concerning the worm composting:

The nice thing about they system until now was that there was zero maintenance. Since I was in no rush to get the compost, I just went out, dumped the stuff in, and I was done.

It sounds like with the worms I'll need to periodically lift and separate, etc. Yes? How often?

I've got Worms Eat my Garbage on hold at the library, so I'll take a look at that.
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Old 04-26-2008, 04:17 PM   #31
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I hope that book is what you think it is. Sounds like a potentially awful euphemism.
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Old 04-26-2008, 05:44 PM   #32
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Concerning the worm composting:

The nice thing about they system until now was that there was zero maintenance. Since I was in no rush to get the compost, I just went out, dumped the stuff in, and I was done.

It sounds like with the worms I'll need to periodically lift and separate, etc. Yes? How often?

I've got Worms Eat my Garbage on hold at the library, so I'll take a look at that.
Every 8 weeks or so in my case because I was/am lazy and would just throw the veggies on the top of the pile (outdoor composter). The problem with doing that is that the veggies aren't in easy reach for the worms.
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Old 04-26-2008, 06:00 PM   #33
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What I do with my free time in early retirement: rearrange garbage to make it easier for worms to eat.

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Old 04-26-2008, 06:26 PM   #34
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What I do with my free time in early retirement: rearrange garbage to make it easier for worms to eat.

Should this be in the FAQ: What do you do all day?
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Old 04-26-2008, 06:36 PM   #35
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Years ago I had hung 12 bars of Irish Spring soap from various bushes and trees that the deer had been feasting upon. Supposedly the odor would keep the deer away. A couple of days later all the bars had been eaten, except one which had teeth marks in it. That deer or bear brobably had the runs for many days.
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:19 PM   #36
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Nice for a new commercial..."Strong enough for a bear, but deer like it too..."
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:27 AM   #37
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As if the woman could get through the hordes of hired help to even touch a paper towel... ::)
That hired help includes the guy who deposits the checks sent over by the grateful staff of the American Paper Towel Manufacturer's Association...

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You have a Can-O-Worms?
Is there some minimal level of food/scraps input?
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Better to compost food scraps in a worm bin in a secure garage and when it gets full set aside a few cups of worms, empty the bin either in the yard or compost pile, and put the cups of worms back in the worm bin.
Yes there is a 'minimum' of sorts. The worms need to have enough to eat and be happy enough to reproduce. I would start off with a gallon of dirt with lots of old leaves, add coffee grounds and a couple cups of fruit/vegetable scraps and they shouldn't want to leave. They like to live about 5 inches or more below the top of the material. When scraps are added mix it up gently, you will see the worms - who will promptly retreat to do their thing.
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The nice thing about they system until now was that there was zero maintenance. Since I was in no rush to get the compost, I just went out, dumped the stuff in, and I was done.
It sounds like with the worms I'll need to periodically lift and separate, etc. Yes? How often?
I've got Worms Eat my Garbage on hold at the library, so I'll take a look at that.
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Every 8 weeks or so in my case because I was/am lazy and would just throw the veggies on the top of the pile (outdoor composter). The problem with doing that is that the veggies aren't in easy reach for the worms.
Everything makes much more sense with the book.

We attended a local workshop, which included materials and an ounce of worms. (The class helped our teen get over her "yuck" factor, plus she enjoyed working with a woman entrepreneur.) We started with an 8" flowerpot, filled it with yummy shredded newspaper, and added a few tablespoons of leftover veggies. The worms burrowed into the cellulose (they're photophobic) and waited for the veggies to decompose. All we had to do was add food every day or two and a few tablespoons of water to keep things moist.

The worms don't actually eat the food-- worms got no teeth-- they slurp up the decomposed slime that's left by all the other organisms eating the food. Vermiposters are full of critters, including earwigs and compost mites. If done wrong, vermipost bins they can also attract flies (unless wet newspaper is laid over the food) and maggots (don't vermipost meat products). The critters sound pretty yucky but they stay in the vermipost. They have plenty of food & company and see no reason to go roaming. I don't know why not, but ants and mosquitos have never bothered any of our vermiposting pots or the Can-O-Worms.

The thumbrule is that an ounce of worms will eat an ounce of food a day. When we started with one wormy ounce in a flowerpot, we'd put in a banana peel or other fruit rinds every day or two. With just two of its three trays in business, our Can-O-Worms is too heavy to lift without taking it apart.

Worms reproduce by trading sperm, so they reproduce faster if they're in a smaller volume that encourages worm encounters. With the conditions of your average pot, an ounce of worms will double in about three months. A Can-O-Worms may be sold with a pound of worms but ours ramped up just fine on eight ounces. We started with a pot on Dec 30 2006, doubled by the end of March (two ounces), doubled again at the end of June (four ounces), doubled again at the end of Sep (eight ounces), and got tired of taking care of multiple pots by the end of October.

Daily vermiposting is so simple that a caveman teenager can do it. Ours clears the dishes off the table, lifts the lid, throws the fruit/veggie waste onto the pile, and closes the lid. (Cutting, grinding, mixing, and otherwise playing with the pile can speed things up but it's not necessary.) Decomposition & critters do the rest and the worms slurp up the end product. Every few days I'll throw a sheet of newspaper on top of the food waste to discourage flies, but it's not a problem even if I forget for a week or two. The worms enthusiastically ramp up reproduction to accomodate the food supply (it only takes them a couple weeks to catch up) and they'll breed to equilibrium. If we go on vacation for a couple of weeks we don't have to do anything. If we left for a couple of months we could cut up a few bananas or papaya and throw them into the vermiposter, but in our neighborhood we'd turn them over to a neighbor's kid for a science project.

We just changed out a Can-O-Worms tray yesterday. (See photo link below.) We drained the bottom reservoir through the spigot (a couple cups of leachate), lifted off the top food tray and set it on a stack of old newspaper, then lifted the bottom tray of vermipost off the reservoir. We pulled a few worms off the surface of the bottom tray and emptied the tray over a couple backyard gardenias that have been looking kinda scraggly.* The top food tray went on top of the reservoir to start a new stack. We'd let it get too full so we shook some of the contents into a second tray, which went on top of the first food tray. We added some shredded newspaper to a third empty vermipost tray and added it to the top of the stack, where we'll begin adding our new food waste. The critters will immediately go to work on the waste in the top tray. The worms will spread through the bottom two trays and eventually work their way up to the top one as they slurp their way through the waste.

In 2-3 months we'll pull off the top two trays, empty the vermipost from the bottom tray, and rotate the stack.

*Anal-retentive Frugal vermiposters would set aside the vermipost in a couple of covered two-gallon buckets for a few weeks, occasionally spritzing with water to keep them moist. Baby worms, only a millimeter or two long and difficult to see without a magnifying glass, would grow and congregate in the center of each bucket of vermipost. The buckets could then be cautiously emptied to expose the half-ounce or so of worms, which could be returned to the vermiposter or sold for profit. We decided that we have better things to do all day.

The rest of the photos: Nords_Nords/Vermiposting - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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File Type: jpg Fresh yummy vermipost.jpg (756.4 KB, 0 views)
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Old 04-27-2008, 12:26 PM   #38
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Okay, it all sounds great but I think I'll just keep buying bags of composted dirt over at home depot for $3...
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Old 04-27-2008, 05:10 PM   #39
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Okay, it all sounds great but I think I'll just keep buying bags of composted dirt over at home depot for $3...
Hey, composting & vermiposting can be done for free. No one's making you buy the cool hobby supplies unless you want to.

When Ed Begley & Bill Nye roll up to your house with the rest of the Green Police, just remember that you had your chance!
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Old 04-27-2008, 05:26 PM   #40
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Eh, those guys wouldnt be able to make it up my driveway.
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