Wednesday, November 28, 2007

African Nightcrawler Can-O-Worms establishment.

We've just gotten back from a 3 week motorhome (that's Austrailian for RV) tour of relatives, friends and wineries. I was worried that the new African Nightcrawler would all die from neglect in their new Can-O-Worms home. I underestimated their durability.

They had done more than survive. They'd eaten their cut lunch of vegetable scraps on cardboard and started breading. Baby african nightcrawlers are just so cute. :D

The numbers are still too low to make the worm farm of much use but their numbers are building. The day after adding food they had formed an eager knot under it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reln FAQ

Reln make the Can O Worms. Here is there FAQ.

Baby nightcrawlers :)

After one month of keeping African Nightcrawlers in a Can O Worms I spotted two baby worms. They were less than an inch long wandering around looking cute. This is a really good sign. A heard has to like its surrounds and food sourse to reproduce. If the eggs were with the worms that I bought it is still a good sign. The environment must have been comfortable (not too hot and the right pH) for the eggs to have hatched and the babies to have survived.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wearable worms

Cafepress now has everything. Wearable worm art.


A vermiposting how-to.

Feeding worms.

If you are fattening worms for faster breeding, storage or to give a bin some extra food if you are going away you might want to make up a batch of worm fattener to keep them fat and happy. My goal for worm farming is to turn my rubbish into fertiliser instead of land fill, not to make worms fat. Each to their own though.

Worm Fattener Recipe from Worms of Endearment

1 part agricultural lime, bone meal, or powdered oyster shell (available at nurseries)
2 parts wheat or corn flour
2 parts bran or wheat meal
2 parts alfalfa meal or pellets (available at nurseries or feed stores)
2 parts chicken layer pellets

When I was at the tackle and bait shop buying african nightcrawlers the owner showed me a mysterious substance that his worm grower provides him for feeding the worms he is holding. What he didn't realise was that he was being buying polenta at a substantial markup. Cunning as a frog!

Monday, October 22, 2007

An excellent educational worm farm.

The nice people at are selling a see through worm farm suitable for worm farming demonstrations.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A good home made single tray worm farm.

Boreal Wormers' site shows a feeding pattern for a home made single level worm farm. My big problem with a singel level worm farm is the loss of eggs and younger worms during the seperation process used to harvest the vermicaste. Allowing the worms to migrate horizontally from one side to the other to allow harvesting of half of the bin might assist with this loss of young worms and eggs.

I'm not saying I have a better solution... I just don't think that this will work well. Maybe I'm just buying in on the Can O Worms idea too heavily. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Worm Farms in Foam Boxes

This is an New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency instruction for making a work farm from foam brocolli boxes. I have made two. I kept one and gave the other to a friend. Both are still going strong.


Composting and worm farming are different but similar. With composting often you are looking to generate heat to help with the breakdown process of organic material. This level of heat is sufficient to kill a worm herd.

As with vermi-posting, composting uses organisms to eat organic material. This is why you get slaters, fungi, beetles and bacteria in there. Sometimes cockroaches will be attracted to the bins. Often these are native insects and a sign of a healthy garden. If they are huge, scary cockroaches then burying food scraps and giving the bin a dose of ag lime will probably get rid of them.

You can turn your composte often or just leave it as I do. Turning it will make the process quicker. Lazy patience is my preference. :)

For me the point of composting is to keep organic material out of the dump.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vermiposting Cat Litter.

Eric has done an enormous amount of work, analysis and research on vermiposting cat faeces.

Frogs will eat your worms

Frogs are ground predators. They will catch and eat worms if they find them. Because of this worm farms need to be frog proof. If a frog moves into your worm farm you'll need to catch and move it because they will eat all of your worms as they come to the surface in to eat.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

African Nightcrawlers

Recently I wandered by the tackle and bait shop looking for some red or tiger worms to freshen up the herds in one of the bins. I just wanted to kick the bins along a little after having split two worm bins into five. This left the populations a little depleted.

To my suprise they were selling African Nightcrawlers as bait. I understood that they made good bait I just wasn't expecting them to sell them. Remember, biases don't need to make sense. Anyway, I thought I might buy some to see how they would go.

My initial plan was to clear out one of the Can-O-Worms bins and pop them in there. Easy. :) However, then I developed some doubts. I wondered if the red worms in the Can-O-Worms would like that. I convinced myself that I would have enough food for another worm farm. So, off I went to the hardware store half hoping that they would be out of worm farms all together to save me from buying one. As luck (good or bad) would have it they had a Can-O-Worms.

Part of the reason for wanting a good home for the African Nightcrawlers stems from their notorious reputation for nocturnal wunderlust. Often I read of reports of half the herd being dead and shrivelled on the ground around the worm farm when the worm herders do the morning rounds.

With the first 25 African Nightcrawlers settled in I added another 25 today. Buying from a bait shop is an expensive way to buy worms but these are an interesting breed and I'm totally hooked on them. They have burrowed into and eaten some of the coir bedding supplied with the Can-O-Worms and started eating some of the scraps of food and weeds I have given them just to started them off. I am being careful not to overfeed them as I do not want the bedding to become acidic as this would encourage their natural wunderlust.

Good things about African Nightcrawlers:
. the name!
. heat tolerant
. better bait as they are bigger and not as slimey as red wrigglers (I do not fish so this point is for people interested in fishing)
. they are HUGE! They grow to about 8 inches in length
. they leave larger, more aerated castings.

Bad things:
. they are escape artists
. they are less common so there is less information out there about them
. they are not strictly surface dwellers so castings harvesting may prove more difficult than with red wrigglers who really like to be near the surface.

Link for a full Can-O-Worms instructional booklet - 2 meg pdf.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Harvesting Pics

Gary has put some pics of manual vermicast/worm harvesting up on photobucket. It looks like hard work.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Harvesting a non-layered wormbin.

I understand that alot of people like to just have a box with worms in it. However, when it comes time to harvest the vermicaste Amy's style of worm box creates a lot of work.

An hour and a half! It takes a few minutes to harvest a tray from a Can-O-Worms. This method of vermiposting is just too labour intensive for me. I think I would stop feeding them from dread of having to do this job. I have 3 Can-O-Worms bins and 2 Worm-A-Roo bins. Any one of these bins can be harvested in a few minutes. If you go to harvest your Can-O-Worms and find that the worms are still in the tray you want to harvest it is easy to just do it another day. They might be in a lower tray because they felt a bit hot or because they knew it wouldn't rain that day so they are off for a bit of exploration... who knows. Chances are that they will not be in the lower trays for long.

Another problem I find with the idea of manually seperating worms from their castings is that any tumbler as shown on Amy's site must allow some of the worm eggs and new born worms through. This is a whole generation of worms that are being thrown out into the garden where they are unlikely to survive or don't fit into the eco-system.

I have stopped throwing away all organic waste. I only put my bins out once every 6 weeks or so unless they get smelly. This is compared to every week like my neighbours. To put that much rubbish through worm farms that have to be sorted manually would mean that I would be spending hours every week emptying worm farms. It is most important to know yourself and I know that I would get sick of doing that very quickly.

So, my advise, for what it is worth, is to spend a little extra so that you can fully enjoy your hobby and get the maximise the environmental benefits.

More than worms.

Many worm bins have more than just worms. Woodlice also break down organic materials into compost that is good for your garden. Often the larger creatures in a worm or compost bin are only the visible members. Once they have eaten your organic waste, other creatures will consume their waste and so on until you have the final product.

Pictures of Worms

The nice people at Nurturing Nature have made up a page with pictures of various worms often used for vermiculture. This might help in identifying what kind of worms you have.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Worm Scams (no, really)

Many people approach the whole topic of vermiculture as a way to make a quick buck.

Now, because everyone wants to make a quick buck many people are attracted to this idea. It is often offered in terms of turning rubbish into money and there are guarantees on the buy prices offered. This really needs to be looked at in terms of outwork at slavery rates of pay. There are successful large scale worm farms in existence and I am sure that there are people who will say I'm wrong because they are making money from vermiculture.

That said, people are being offered guaranteed incomes if they buy industrial size worms farms from worm farm makers. This is often about selling an overpriced worm farm rather than setting the buyer up with an independent income. If you are looking at this be very sceptical. If they are for real they should be able to produce existing clients who can show you that they are producing sufficient volume to justify the expence of the worm farm. An investment should return your capital to you within the working life of the machinery. Remember you have to take a cut from this for living expences.

Simply, if there was good money in worms I wouldn't be in shares. :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

RedHen's Helpful Can-O-Worms Pictorial Setup Guide

RedHen has been kind enough to make a pictorial guide to setting up a worm farm. I have three Can-O-Worm brand worm farms (COW). One I have had for 11 years or so. Two of the farms (inculding the oldest COW) have red wrigglers (Eisenia foetida). Within the last week I have started a new bin with African Nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae). These worms are apparently difficult to grow as they have a habit of dying in the cold and escaping but I thought I'd give them a go just for something different.