Splitting The Easy Worm Mix Test Bin

April 22, 2015

Earlier today I “split” my Easy Worm Mix test bin and then created a video to show you how it was done (and to provide you with some info on “splitting” in general).

I had hoped to get to this last week, but alas things have been pretty busy (tis the season! lol).

Everything still looked great inside the system. It looked as though the worms had literally processed ALL the food waste I’d added. There even seemed to be some roaming around on the sides of the bin (likely due to higher moisture levels up top as the upper bedding layer became moistened – but also could be an indication of hunger).

With the worm population split between two systems, my hunch is that there will be a LOT of worm reproduction going on over the next couple of months.

As touched on in the video, I’ll probably wait for at least a few days (realistically, it will probably be early next week) before adding more food to both bins.

I’ll definitely keep you posted!

If you haven’t been following along, these other Easy Worm Mix posts may be of interest as well:

Feeding My Easy Worm Mix System
Straw Bale Gardening With Easy Worm Mix?
Easy Worm Mix Update
NEW – Easy Worm Mix

Feeding My Easy Worm Mix System

April 10, 2015

As promised, I shot a new video today showing how I am “optimizing” my food wastes and adding them to the Easy Worm Mix system (again, the one used as an example in the Easy Worm Mix Guide).

It shows my basic chopping process and how I mix the wastes with “living materials” already in the system (remember, Easy Worm Mix comes with a lot of this) to help accelerate the break down process even more.

Based on the success of this system I will actually be showing you how to “split a bin” next week (be sure to look for that post – and other updates – on the blog if you are reading this at a later time). This will leave me with TWO thriving vermicomposting systems – all started from a single bag of Easy Worm Mix!

Straw Bale Gardening with Easy Worm Mix?

April 10, 2015

I recently learned about a VERY cool gardening method called “Straw Bale Gardening” (yeah, I`ve clearly been living under a rock! This method has become very popular!). Joel Karsten (featured in the video above) seems to be one of the leaders in the field, and his Straw Bale Gardening website is excellent!

The reason I am SO excited about this approach is that it offers a “perfect” opportunity to combine vermicomposting with gardening! As I’ve discovered countless times, Red Worms absolutely love wet bales of straw and hay – especially once they have started to decompose.

I have written previously about Gardening With Composting Worms – and am a huge proponent of “vermigardening” – but I haven’t been this excited about a new method in a long time!

Needless to say, I’ll be testing out straw/hay bale gardening this season (have already been scouting out local sources of bales).

Easy Worm Mix offers the ultimate way to inoculate your bales with Red Worms, BUT let me offer you some words of caution if you are thinking about giving this a try.

  • DON’T use any sort of inorganic fertilizer on your bales (as described in video) if you plan to inoculate them with worms. Salts (including fertilizer salts) are very harmful for worms. Using some liquified manure, blood meal, or some other natural “fertilizer” will be the way to go.
  • Make sure you let the bales “cook” and age in general, before attempting to add the worms! Temperatures inside the bales can get very hot early on, and if you are adding a rich nitrogen source, there could potentially be a fair amount of ammonia released (which is also very toxic for worms). Ideally, wait until core is down to 30 C or below – and make sure you’ve given the bale a good soak as well (just in case there are salts in the manure etc).

    I will definitely be writing more about my adventures in straw/hay bale gardening once I get things rolling, so do stay tuned!

    Easy Worm Mix Bin Update

    April 9, 2015

    Yesterday (April 8th) I shot a video showing how my Easy Worm Mix bin (the one used as an example in the Easy Worm Mix Guide) is coming along.

    Since starting it up on March 16th, I have fed the bin twice, not including the food added when I set up the system:
    March 27th – 1.54 kg (3.40 lb)
    April 5th – 1.60 kg (3.53 lb)

    I plan to feed again tomorrow.

    For a brand new enclosed plastic tub worm bin, these are pretty impressive numbers.

    Speaking of “impressive numbers”, if you watch the video you`ll be able to get a feel for the sheer quantity of worms in the system. Easy Worm Mix might not look like much fresh out of the bag, but it`s important to remember that a lot of the Red Worms come as tiny hatchlings, and unhatched cocoons (each of these releases an average of 3 babies), and these worms grow quickly when you provide them with the right environment.

    Plus, the “living material” that comes in the mix, when mixed in with optimized food wastes (chopped up really well, and frozen-then-thawed), greatly accelerates the process. There is no real lag time between when the food is added and when the worms start moving into it and actively feeding.

    During my quick exploration yesterday I kept hitting on incredibly dense pockets of worms in my most recent feeding zone.

    Tomorrow I plan to shoot a video showing exactly how I am adding food to the system.

    Stay tuned!

    NEW – Easy Worm Mix!

    April 8, 2015

    Over the last few years we’ve been selling composting worms in the form of some sort of “mix”, rather than by the “pound” or “count”. This year I’ve decided to stream-line things even further by offering a single “Easy Worm Mix” (EWM). As the name implies, this is meant as a really EASY way to start up a typical home (or school etc) vermicomposting system.

    Rather than adding a big gob of worms to a fairly sterile, foreign – potentially even hostile – environment, you are introducing loads of worms and cocoons (present in densities much closer to what nature intended) along with a large quantity of beneficial-microbe-rich habitat/food material that will help to kick-start your system. This virtually guarantees your success (if you stick to the guidelines)! And you also won’t need to pay nearly as much for it.

    To demonstrate just how “EASY” working with EWM is, I set up a worm bin using 1 bag of it back on March 16th. I included the set-up procedure in the Easy Worm Mix Guide, but will share it here as well.

    It’s important to note that the bin being used is a simple plastic (Rubbermaid) tub, with a volume of about 58 litres. The basic approach will still apply to other types of systems, but you may need to tweak your methods a bit (be sure to check out the guide for more info).

    STEP 1 – Fill 1/2 to 3/4 of the volume with moistened bedding materials. My favorite is shredded corrugated cardboard, but for the sake of speed, I used mostly shredded newsprint for this particular bin (and it is a great bedding material as well).

    Normally I recommend “as moist as you can get it without pooling on the bottom of the bin” (this assumes no drainage of course). When using Easy Worm Mix this is less of an issue because it has excellent water-holding capacity. Obviously you don’t want a deep puddle in the bottom of your bin, but if your nicely moistened bedding does create a bit of pooling down there this is not an issue at all.

    STEP 2 – Add about 1/4 the volume (i.e. in relation to bedding that is) of well-optimized food scraps. These should be chopped up really well and (ideally) frozen-then-thawed. Anything you can do to help out the microbes and worms is highly recommended. Bulky, fresh scraps will take MUCH longer to break down, and can lead to other hassles such as fruit fly (etc) outbreaks.

    Mix the scraps in with the bedding so they are well distributed throughout the bin.

    STEP 3 – Now it’s time to add the Easy Worm Mix. Just so you know, a bag of the Easy Mix contains about 10 litres of worm-rich material. Remember, it’s definitely NOT about worm weight – especially since many of the worms are hatchlings or are still in cocoons – but be assured that you will end up with plenty of worms. Plus you have a lot of very helpful “living material”, which helps to inoculate the system with beneficial microbes, and just generally helps to kickstart the vermicomposting process.

    Adding the mix is very EASY (lol). Just dump it on top, then very gently mix in down into the bedding/food.

    STEP 4 – Lastly, I recommend adding a thick layer of dry bedding up top. This helps to keep the upper zone fairly dry (encouraging worms to stay down in the composting zone), and also provides you with an ongoing supply of bedding (assuming you keep it topped up) that can be mixed with the new food deposits as you go.

    I wanted to also quickly show everyone the sort of air holes I now put in my plastic bins. I used to drill lots of holes in the lids and sides of my bins, but I’ve found that adding bigger (but far fewer) holes greatly enhances air flow. This is really important for the process, and helps to prevent your bin from getting too swampy over time (the thick dry bedding layer up top can help with this as well).

    So there you have it!

    As you can see, setting up a system with Easy Worm Mix is indeed incredibly EASY! No more need to set up the system ahead of time (I normally recommend 5-7 days), no more need to inoculate the system (with materials from another worm bin, composter etc), and no more worries about whether or not your worms are going to try escaping en masse (they won’t – unless you include worm-unfriendly materials in the system).

    My recommendation – as with all new systems – is to leave the bin to sit for a week or so before starting to feed again. This allows the worms time to get settled in and to feed on the food you’ve already added.

    My own system (one pictured above) is doing extremely well so far. I will provide an update in another blog post very soon (may actually be multiple updates by the time you read this post, so be sure to check out the blog links on the main homepage).