Author Topic: Worm Composting  (Read 12101 times)

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Dorine

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Worm Composting
« on: August 07, 2011, 02:17:33 PM »
Here is another idea for container gardening. I want to try this around the top of my back deck next year and plant lettuce and greens for smoothies and salads. Just a step or two from the kitchen. I like the rubbermaid idea also. I've been using them for composting. We had trouble with rats one year because of our open composting  bin so I came up with this cheap idea and the rats have found another home far from us I hope. The compost bins are now used for seaweed. All of my gardens are in raised beds and the soil stays loose and easy to weed. I never have to dig or till.

http://juneauempire.com/stories/072508/nei_309624417.shtml


But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Vicki

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 03:14:58 PM »
Here is another idea for container gardening. I want to try this around the top of my back deck next year and plant lettuce and greens for smoothies and salads. Just a step or two from the kitchen. I like the rubbermaid idea also. I've been using them for composting. We had trouble with rats one year because of our open composting  bin so I came up with this cheap idea and the rats have found another home far from us I hope. The compost bins are now used for seaweed. All of my gardens are in raised beds and the soil stays loose and easy to weed. I never have to dig or till.

http://juneauempire.com/stories/072508/nei_309624417.shtml

 :D I love the gutters! They are so cute!

I've been contemplating your use of Rubbermaids for composting. I might give it a try this winter; it usually heats up good enough in the afternoon that I think enclosed scraps would compost. I don't know, it'd be fun to try. Last year I tried an above ground wire composting bin holding straw & food scraps thinking it would drain nutrients into our nearby fruit trees. It only attracted mice. I went back to trench composting. Using a Rubbermaid would prevent the nutrients from soaking back into the ground before it could be used; I like that idea.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2011, 04:47:36 PM »
I buy the largest rubbermaids I can find. Holes are drilled along the sides (about 1/4 in. size) and bottom but not the lid. As I layer my kitchen scrapes and dirt I then sprinkle it with water. It's the consistency of a rung out sponge. There's no drainage that comes from the bin. The holes on the bottom allow the earth worms to find their way into the container. Every week I try to turn it with a pitch fork to hurry the process along but it doesn't have to be done. The worms do a pretty good job.

My open bins that attracted the rats are where I now put my seaweed. We are 2 minutes from the ocean and after a storm we can gather all we want.

I'll have to learn about this photo bucket so I can share some pictures.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 11:02:35 AM »


My kitchen scrap compost bins. No more rats.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2011, 11:14:41 AM »


Close up to show size of holes and where I put them. I did the same on all sides and bottom.



Close up of my composted seaweed bin ready for the garden.


But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2011, 11:22:44 AM »


view looking toward back of house. We have a rugged natural beauty. So much to do to maintain it all and Eric has bad knees and I have a bad back so the going is slow. I love it though.


But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Vicki

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2011, 11:58:22 AM »
In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. "His strength setteth fast the mountains." "The sea is His, and He made it." Ps. 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father's love. - DA 20.1

As I was reading this section this morning I thought it would be perfect read outdoors in the very presence of the wonders of God's creation that speak of His love. But, we are in a desert, and although evidence is still found in the beauty of creation around here it is not always easy to see. My weary eyes longed for the rest of natural greenery.  And here it is.  :)  Thank you for sharing. It has given me an idea where to place an arbor in our garden. 

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2011, 04:31:33 PM »
Thank you for sharing Dorine.  Share with us what you do to make your compost, step by step.  Both in the containers and your seaweed compost. 

Vicki, I am reminded by your post of the home of John when he was on Patmos.  Read his thoughts about seeing God in nature even on Patmos.   
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 09:52:11 AM »
I was waiting so I could take pictures of what I do but it won't stop raining. My poor string beans are ready to pick but are going moldy. They say you are not suppose to pick them when they are wet but it looks like I'm going to have to or lose the whole lot.

On the bottom of the closed container I put any one of these things:
shredded paper
old straw
dried leaves
garden soil or any dirt

The next layer can be any of the following
kitchen scraps
weeds that haven't gone to seed
grass clippings

I keep layering this way until it is full ending with dirt.
This may take a couple of weeks

I keep it moist but not wet. The layers are not thick. I make sure the green stuff is fully covered with the dry layer. I use mostly composted sawdust between the layers because that is what I have lots of.

Once a week or more often I will mix it up with a pitch fork and again make sure there is no green material showing. I mixed it up yesterday and it was loaded with worms. It's amazing how they find their way up through those small holes on the bottom.

The open compost bin is very simple. I start with coarse material like twigs or shredded paper then about 4 inches of seaweed and then completely cover the seaweed with dirt. I keep doing this until it's full making sure the last layer is dirt. I don't mix this. It's too hard on my back. We will be going to the beach after the next storm we have to get a few loads of fresh seaweed and start again. By spring it is already for the garden.

So much fun. If it ever stops raining I'll post some pictures of the above.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 03:13:32 PM »
Thanks, I am going to try it!!!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 05:36:32 AM »
Layer of dirt



Layer of 'green material'



Then another layer of dirt 'brown material' until container is full. If dry sprinkle with water to moisten.
Mix with pitch fork to hasten break down of material about once a week. Not necessary but will not break down as quickly. Things like orange, avocado, canteloupe skins take a long time to break down. Best to cut them up into small pieces before putting into container.

Will post pictures of the seaweed bin when we collect our next load of seaweed.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2011, 11:40:43 AM »
How does summer heat effect the tubs?  Does that keep the worms out?  And, are some locations better for worms?  What happens to large seeds like mango and avocado seeds?  Are they ok?  Anything need to be done different in winter?  Are the lids necessary?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2011, 01:45:13 PM »
1. Our summers are not terribly hot so we do fine. I don`t know how they would do in extreme heat. They could be placed in the shade.
2. Any location is fine for the tubs. Ours are on ground as hard as cement and the worms find their way in. The fuller the tub gets the more worms there are.
3. Large seeds take longer to break down. When mine is ready to empty the seeds are still there. I just dump the whole thing in the garden as is.
4. I keep my lids on to keep animals out and to control the moisture. Like a wrung out sponge.
5. Our winters are too cold to keep them out so I empty them out, clean them and store them away. If your winters don`t freeze they should be good.

Hope that helps. I just emptied mine and they were full of worms and nice black sweet smelling soil.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2011, 07:37:08 PM »
Thanks, Dorine. I have eight tubs out now and am filling them.  Looking forward to the leaves that are just  now starting to fall.  We have lots of kitchen waste. Peels from all kinds of fruit. I am drying mangoes, so I have filled up two tubs with mango seeds and peel.

I don't have any sawdust, how would newspaper work?   We have lots of leaves this time of year, but in the summer we don't have dry material, just a lot of wet kitchen scraps. 

How much soil do I put in?  Many layers?  I also noticed the holes in the sides.  Are those the same size as the bottom holes? 
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2011, 03:28:51 AM »
Sounds like you are well on your way to wonderful compost. I'll be anxious to hear how it works for you.
Sawdust is not important. It's what I happen to have available.
Layer your dry leaves with your kitchen scraps. It's a layer of brown (dry matter) and a layer of green.
Your tubs with seeds will take much longer to break down but they eventually do. Tough skins also take longer so I cut them up.
The holes are all the same size.
In the summer if you don't have dry material use shredded paper. Take garden soil and mix in with it if you have enough to spare. If not it wouldn't hurt to buy a bag of cheap soil. Or maybe some friends have old dirt around they wouldn't mind you taking. When we first moved here I would go into the woods and dig up the black soil and put in my compost.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2011, 09:06:46 AM »
Help us all to understand this process better. I have saved all of these materials for years and have never really been successful because I do not take the time to turn the pile or to properly mix the ingredients.  I remember having a box that all of the grass went into and we go beautiful soil out of the bottom. I did nothing except put the grass in the box. So, over the years I have just piled up whatever I have hoping to get compost. :(  I have even collected dead fish and put them in my gardens. But, I have never produced the beautiful black compost that I want.  I am hoping that with the tubs it will work.

I even took a 50 gal plastic barrel, cut a hole for a door and put my scraps in it. All I had to do was roll the barrel.  But, it was a mess. I did not have dry material and you can imagine what I had to deal with. The barrel sits out in the north 40! Even the skunks stay away from it!  :(

I don't have time to turn the material in the tubs. I know that will take longer, but will it still work? I keep remembering the grass box that I did nothing to and got compost. I keep hoping for a miracle! And, unless there is a fast way to cut up peels, I won't take the time. So, it will take longer, but I have a lot of time to wait.  :)  That is one of the great joys in my life. I love to wait for my cuttings to grow into plants!!  I will take the time to cut and plant, then I don't mind waiting five years, if all I have to do is water and repot.   :)

Dorine, tell me that my tubs of garbage will make compost if I just wait long enough!   :)  The time may soon come when we will do whatever is necessary to make compost. The price of food is headed up and will keep going up. Famine in America is coming. The Bible does not err when it speaks of the difficulties in front of us. To grow food is not an easy matter for those who have no experience. Today, is the day to prepare for what is coming upon the world. Plants need to be fed and compost is food for plants. Soil is often poor and even if it is rich, it wears out as the nutrients are used up. Rotation, cover crops, and compost are the answer to being able to feed one's family in the days ahead. Dorine, thanks for your tutorial on composting.  I know others will appreciate it also.  I will take some photos and let you make suggestions as I move forward.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2011, 04:33:17 PM »
 ;D I can smell it from here. I've had that happen once and as you say, what a mess. Two things were wrong. Too much wet and no air circulation. In the spring I dumped it all out in the yard in a pile and covered it with old dirt I had around. I left it that way for about 2 months and it did the trick. I do not turn my piles that are not in tubs. What's in the tubs I just mix quickly with the pitch fork once a week making sure that the green/wet stuff is covered with soil or shredded paper. I've never tried layering just food scraps and then shredded paper. I always add soil of some kind even when using the shredded paper.

Could you borrow soil from your garden to make your compost and then dump it all back into the garden when it has decomposed? There are composters that you can buy that let you just dump in whatever and in any order and it breaks down into compost. Don't know how that works. Has never worked for me in my home made bins. I don't know if your climate makes a difference in how it all breaks down. The whole thing needs to be the consistency of a wrung out sponge at all times. I dump my tubs 3 times in a season. I start in March, it's ready to dump in May and then again in July and again in September.

You mentioned fish. Do you have access to seaweed? It is an excellent soil builder. When you get a moment post pictures of your tubs. Mine have never failed to produce lovely soil. It takes about 2 months here but in a warmer climate it would take less time. Don't worry about the seeds. They will break down in about a year. My garden has mango and avocado seeds in it partly decomposed from a year ago. How big is your garden plot? It does take quit a bit of compost to make a difference. Mine is about 578 sq. feet and it takes a compost pile of seaweed 3ft.high x 3ft deep x 3ft wide plus my 2 tubs of kitchen scraps.

There is so much about gardening that I do not know. I am constantly learning. We long for another piece of property that has good soil on it. Everything we have here has been built up from scratch. 7 years worth.

I have confidence that your tubs will produce lovely soil. You'll get the hang of it and be on here telling me of a better way to do it.  :) I hope I've answered all your questions. Ask again if I didn't or my explanation is not clear. Happy gardening.  :)
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2011, 07:01:08 PM »
Thanks. I think I got it.  The soil ought to make the difference. I have lots of dirt.  I graded the site and have a mountain 50x20 12 feet high.  It has a lot of clay in it.  It ought to work well for the compost. Right now I have a load of composted soil I am adding to the tubs.  Mine have no lids, but I can cover them with plywood if necessary. I think it would be good to keep the rain out. I don't have holes in the sides, but I can add them now.  We are far from the ocean, so we have no seaweed. Will take some pics to show my progress.

Our garden varies considerably. Right now, we are beginning from scratch, so we have a very small area.  We have three raised beds 4x6 and one 4x12.   I have grapes spread around and some citrus in the front yard and more in containers in the back yard.  That leaves enough room for another seven raised beds and an area where I have planted artichokes and a raspberry plant and a few fruit trees. That is not counting a half acre of weeds that is not in the fenced area. 

I am not sure what size the tubs are, probably around 30 or 40 gallons.  I have I think nine of them. So it ought to be enough to keep the raised beds fed if all works out.  :)  I hate manure and chemicals, but love the compost. Right now I have purchased bulk compost that I am not sure what it was made from. The refuse people recycle green waste and make compost out of it.  I keep thinking that I may have chemicals and poison oak.  :(  But, it seems to be working ok.  We do the best we can and leave the rest with God.

Thanks again for your good tutorial.  I am sure that others will be blessed also as they begin to see the need for a garden and compost.  Many are using manure and that is very risky because of the deadly diseases in the animals. 
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2011, 05:49:08 AM »
Sounding good Richard. Can`t wait to see/hear how it is working for you. Wish I had that mountain of soil you talked about. Those weeds you mentioned can also be added to your tubs before the seeds develop of course.

Sounds like you have everything you need to make a healthy compost pile. I'd be tempted to make a free standing compost pile beside your 'mountain' of dirt by putting down a layer of course weeds on the bottom to help with air circulation, then soil, then about 3 inches of the weeds you have growing on your property, then enough soil to cover most of the weeds. It doesn't have to be a thick layer. Then ending with soil on the top. Make it 3 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft. You don't need to add food scraps to this. Just an idea. 

I got the idea of the tub method from my sister that died. She lived in an old farm house with a pantry and she had quart cardboard containers lined up with old dirt in them that she added chopped up food scraps to, stirred around and misted and in two weeks she had compost for her house plants. I thought why not try that on a bigger scale and use tubs.I had also read about the idea somewhere.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Marelis

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Re: Worm Composting
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2011, 04:35:35 AM »
Dorine, I have a similar worm farm to this but larger and have been impressed.  It is a large dark rectangular box with a lid and holes in the bottom so the worms can come and go as they please (for when it is too hot or cold and so they can distribute the worm castings into the garden.)  It sits directly over the main vegetable patch and is covered around the sides by a heavy layer of straw to protect it from the elements.  I bought 4000 compost worms (5 different varieties because they do different things) to get it started.  Now I have an army of them.  I feed the worms all the softer items like leafy greens and banana skins.  Sometimes some moistened broken up newspaper and cardboard.  Compost worms don't like too much citrus or onions/garlic, so those items go into the compost bins. 
"Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."  Ps 16:11