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10 Worm Multi-Level Experiment with Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers

Red Wigglers

10 Worm Multi-Level Experiment

Experiment Explained

This experiment will be done with Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers.  There will be six containers each containing 10 worms.  Three containers will contain 10 RW’s each and three containers will contain 10 ENC’s each.

There will be three different types of food source used.  One pair of containers ( 10 ENC’s and 10 RW’s) will be fed fresh horse manure.  One pair of containers will be fed a food mix containing 40% UCG (used coffee grounds), 40% soaked rabbit manure (soaked for 24 hrs) and 20% soaked leaves.  And the final pair of containers will be fed a mix containing 25% UCG and 75% household food scraps.  Each container will start out with approximately 1.5 inches of shredded and soaked cardboard bedding

We will make any adjustments needed to all containers equally unless inappropriate.  All containers will be fed the same amount of food by weight.  Fresh bedding will be added equivalent to approximately 10% of the amount of food fed by volume at each feeding.  This experiment will last 6 months with updates of progress every two weeks.

XL Glad Lock Containerssimple containercardboard bedding

The Goal of the Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers Experiment.

The goal of this experiment is to see how fast RW’s and ENC’s compare to each other in reproduction and total mass gain.  Also, to find out which of the three food sources will produce the best results in reproduction and increase in mass.  Additionally, I would also like to find out how well both Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers reproduce and gain mass with a fairly large percentage of uncomposted coffee grounds in their food mix.

Some of the Details of Preparation

I spray painted the containers since they are clear with black spray paint on the outside to darken them up some for the worms.  For some air flow, I drilled 31-7/16th-inch holes in the lid.  I am planning on removing the lids from the containers to maximize airflow once all the worms are settled in.  If possible I will keep them in a controlled environment at approximately 70 degrees F.  I will start with all small, juvenile worms that do not have a visible clitellum to keep things as even as possible.

container paintedcontainer darkenedAll 6 containers readyholes drilled in lidholes drilledcontainer with bedding

Rapp-up

We will be using 6 XL Family Size Glad Lock containers 104 ounces (3.07 Litters).  When those containers get too small we will upgrade all the containers at the same time.  Anyone who wants to do the experiment with us please sign up for the Midwest Worms Newsletter.  If you advise us that you are going to perform the experiment with us we will publish your results also.  I will be starting the experiment on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

If you would like to get started today composting with worms feel free to contact us or go to our Composting Worms page and get some Red Wigglers or European Nightcrawlers today.  Even better get a gallon of our Compost Worm Mix, the least expensive, easiest and most effective way to start.

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Organic Gardening with Worm Compost

Organic Gardening with Worm Compost

Organic Gardening with Worm Compost

Organic Gardening with Worm Compost

If you are someone who greatly desires to provide your family with quality food.  Food that does not have pesticides and other chemicals in it.  Food that is non-GMO.  Then, Organic Gardening is the best option, unless you don’t mind paying the increased prices at the health food store.  And the best way to have an amazing organic garden is Organic Gardening with Worm Compost.  Worm compost will give you amazing growth, disease resistant plants with natural pest resistant properties all in an extremely healthy product.  And your organic produce will taste great.

Here is a great article on Organic Gardening and worms.

Get Some Composting Worms Today

The easiest composting worms to start out with is Red Wigglers, they compost very fast and very user-friendly.  If you are a big fisherman I would recommend European Nightcrawlers, they compost very fast also, are almost as user-friendly as the Reds but are amazing bait worms.  Just let us know what you need.

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Super Simple Worm Farm Bin

Do you want to grow lots of worms at home? My advice is K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple). It’s a lot easier to get started than many people think!

The basic plastic bin set-up described here is especially well suited for European Nightcrawlers – since they love moist condition – but it’s a great starter bin for Red Worms as well.

Here is all you need to get started:

  1. A Plastic Bin – my personal favorite is a Rubbermaid “Roughneck” tote, approx 21″x15″ and a depth of 9″. I wouldn’t recommend going much deeper than 18″ with a bin like this since it will impede air flow to the lower reaches of the bin.
  2. Bedding – these are absorbent materials like shredded cardboard, shredded newsprint etc. They help to soak up and hold moisture and to provide the worms with a nice habitat to live in. Contrary to popular (newbie) belief – soil is NOT a good bedding material for a worm bin.  Here is a great article on Worm Bin Bedding.
  3. Compostable Kitchen Scraps – fruit and veggie wastes are ideal. When starting out you are probably best to steer clear of citrus wastes, spicy/salty materials, and even starchy wastes.
  4. Composting Worms (not needed right away) – again, Euros and/or Red Worms are very well suited for this type of system.  For a beginner Red Worms (Red Wigglers) are the easiest and most tolerant.

Setting up the bin is as easy as pie – really, it’s just a matter of starting and ending with thick bedding layers and putting some food waste in between. I recommend freezing/thawing the food materials and then chopping up before adding to the bin, if possible (i.e. MORE optimized than shown in images below, in case you are wondering), since this speeds up the breakdown process.

If the bedding is not already moistened, you can spray it down as you go. This is especially important if you plan to add the worms fairly soon afterward – but, if possible, I actually recommend leaving the bin to sit for a little while before the worms are added.



The key with moisture is to get the habitat as moist as you can without excess pooling of liquid in the bottom. If you DO end up with pooling, simply add in some dry bedding to soak it up.

The bin itself should have some air holes in it. I used to drill lots of smaller holes in my bins, but have since switched over to cutting out fewer (but considerably larger) holes – as you can see in the image at the beginning of this article.

Ideally, your bin should sit someplace indoors. It is possible to keep plastic bin systems outside at certain times of the year, in certain locations – but once the weather gets really warm or cold, things can get a lot more challenging (impossible in many cases). We’ll talk more about effective outdoor systems in upcoming articles.

Adding worms to the system (a pound, or 2-3 bags of our “Composting Worm Mix” for a bin of the size mentioned earlier) is easy too. Simply create a small depression in your bedding, empty out the worm bag(s), and leave in a well-lit location for several hours. If at all possible, I would actually recommend leaving the bin in a location that has some light all the time – at least until the worms are well settled in. Euros, in particular, can be prone to wander early on.


Important Take-Aways

  1. Use LOTS of bedding – again, shredded corrugated cardboard and/or shredded newsprint are prime examples of readily-available, highly-effective bedding materials (bleached office paper should be avoided if possible – or at least soaked and rinsed well before use). It’s always amazing to me how many people don’t add enough bedding when starting a new worm bin. Do not be afraid to fill the entire bin – the level will settle down quite quickly
  2. Start the bin a week or two before you add the worms – this provides time for the microbial community to develop (and waste materials to start breaking down as a result), helps moisture to become evenly distributed throughout system, and just generally leaves you with a habitat that will seem more like “home” for the worms. Many make the mistake of adding worms to a bin that’s basically sterile since set up right before the worms are added.
  3. DON’T add soil to a worm bin – people naturally associate worms with soil, but it’s important to remember that these are NOT soil worms. While a small amount of good quality organic soil certainly won’t hurt (and may even help to inoculate the bin with beneficial microbes), a lot of bagged potting soil can actually be very hazardous for the worms since it often contains fertilizer salts.
  4. Go easy on the feeding early on – people often get it in their heads that they need to “feed” their worms on a regular basis. It is important to remember, though, that the food and bedding added when the bin was set up can actually sustain the worms for quite some time. What is FAR more common than people starving their worms (next to impossible when loads of bedding materials are used) is overfeeding, which can create a lot of problems – and potentially even lead to the death of your worms!