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Old 04-28-2008, 05:05 PM   #41
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We vermicompost with a couple of do-it-yourself-bins (I never had luck with the Can-O-Worms Nords uses, don't ask me why. Everyone else I know who uses them loves them and they make harvesting the compost so easy.

Right now we've got three bins running. I use 18-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck totes ($6 each at local hardware store). I drill a dozen holes in the bottom (in the lowest part of the bin, for drainage), a dozen in the sides near the top (for ventilation), and fill 1/2 full with a mix of coarsely shredded newspaper (just the black and white sections, no color funnies) and coconut fiber. Moisten it up so it's about a wet as a wrung-out sponge. Toss in veggie scraps. Toss in worms. Repeat.

When it looks like your bins are mostly worm castings (you'll know, it looks like coffee grounds), put a thick layer of newspaper on the ground and dump the bin out. Wait 1/2 hour, then scrape the castings off the top and put in another container (we use 5-gal buckets). Wait another while, scrape again (like Nords said, the worms are photophobic and so will burrow down into the pile on the newspaper, which means less worm wrangling for you). Do this several times until you've got mostly worms on the newpaper. In the meantime, put fresh bedding in the now-empty bin.

When you're down to worms wriggling on newspaper, pop them back into the bin and cover it up. Feed as above.

If you're going to do this in your garage, I recommend putting some sort of drip tray beneath the bin and elevating the bin on 2x4s or so, so any leachate doesn't either drown your worms or run out and make a mess of your garage floor.

As far as the type of worms, you want red wrigglers, not earthworms. The vermicomposting worms don't live in soil. I got ours from our local organic gardening store. You're in CA, right? You should be able to get them easily. I think I paid $20 for a 500 count bag or so -- this is enough for two bins and they'll happily reproduce and make enough for all the bins you want.

They also make great snacks for chickens, if you've got any, or good bait worms if you're into fishing.

"Worms eat my garbage" is a good book -- worth the read.

Have fun with your bear....

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Old 04-28-2008, 06:02 PM   #42
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Thanks guys, I think I'll try it. How many pails of scraps per month are they eating?

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Old 04-28-2008, 06:12 PM   #43
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Depends on what you're putting in the bins and ambient temperature. Lettuce degrades faster than cantaloupe rinds for example. Warmer temperatures increase the speed with which things decompose, and thus how quickly the worms can get to the stuff. Our three, sort-of-tended bins (all 15 to 18 gallon Rubbermaid Totes) take care of about 4-5 gallons of scraps a week in the summer, and about 3 a week in the winter. That's total, so a single bin, in the summer, can probably do around 2 gallons (about what composting pails contain, conveniently enough). Ambient temperature in the summer is around 70, in winter around 60. Much higher than 90 and you risk cooked worms; don't put the bin in direct sun or a really hot location. And if your bin gets too soggy it'll go anaerobic and all stinky; add some dry shredded junk mail or newspaper until the excess water is sopped up.
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Old 04-28-2008, 06:19 PM   #44
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"A Bear Ate My Compost" would be a good country-western song.
"Knowin' no one nowhere's gonna miss us when we're gone..."
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Old 04-28-2008, 06:27 PM   #45
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Only if it also damaged your pickup truck or ran off with your wife.

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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