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

10 Worm Multi-Level Experiment

10 Worm Multi-Level Experiment

Experiment Explained

This 10 worm multi-level 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 10 Worm Multi-Level Experiment with Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers.

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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My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed will give me the ability to raise a much larger amount of worms and keep them alive through even the harshest of winters.  I’ve raised compost worms for several years now in the basement of my home. Raising worms in the basement is not a bad idea. It’s amazing how many worms can be raised in a relatively small area. A few good size bins can support a good many worms. It also works out nicely in the winter time when it’s freezing cold outside, or in the heat of the summer.

With that being said, there “are” limits to what you can do in a small basement compared to the wide open spaces outdoors. Being blessed to live in the country with 40 acres of land, and a desire to raise more worms than I could possibly fit in my basement, I thought it might be nice to construct some outside beds last fall. As with everything I do it tends to be more work than fun. What made it difficult is the rocky ground around here.

I decided to put the worms into the outdoor in-ground worm bed in order to make it easier to protect the worms through the winter. So far I’ve completed one bed and began digging the second. Winter put a stop to things for now but I’m looking forward to getting going again this spring. The bed that I’ve managed to complete is four feet wide by twelve and one-half feet long.

Let’s look now at how I constructed the bed.


Below is a picture of the hole I dug for this first bed. Note the pick, rake, and scoop. There is no such thing as simply digging with a shovel in this ground. I used the pick-axe to loosen the ground then a garden rake to rake up the dirt and gravel into the scoop. It was a difficult slow process. I ran into some rocks that were quite big. One thing that really amazes me is that there is a pretty large mole population around here, even with such rocky ground. Another thing I should mention here is that the bed is located in a shady area under the trees so there were also roots to be chopped out.

Trench Hole

These are some of the rocks I dug out of the hole. Also I was surprised to find a little ring-neck prairie snake while digging the hole (sorry the picture isn’t in focus).

big rocks
trench-snake

After digging the hole to a depth of about a foot and a half deep I framed the bed with scrap oak boards that I had available. I ended up having to splice some of the boards together in order to have enough. After fastening the frame together I filled the bottom with crushed limestone. This will hopefully help to keep the bedding from becoming too acidic. After placing the crushed limestone in the bottom I raised up the frame and fastened 1/2″ wire mesh to the bottom.of the boards. This should keep moles from coming in through the bottom.

trench-framing
trench-screen

At this point I placed boards inside the frame on top of the wire mesh to prevent digging into the wire mesh and limestone when I harvest worms or change bedding. The boards I used for this are 1/2″x 6″ scrap pine.

cross boards

Its Coming Together

After this I filled the bed with the bedding. I used aged horse manure for the bedding material. I then added another level of boards to the frame and placed more bedding inside.

trench6
trench5

Once I finished filling the bed with the bedding I then filled in around it with dirt and after that I stocked it with the worms. I used Red Worms from bins in my basement to stock the bed. I didn’t stock it heavily. I’m counting on the population increasing really good come spring.

finished bed

The Final Result


The image below shows the outdoor in-ground worm bed as it appeared on January 31, 2015. It had been piled high with horse manure to help hold in warmth through the winter. At the time this picture was taken the bedding had thawed due to warmer weather, but a week earlier the top four to five inches of the bedding was frozen. The worms have plenty of room to go deeper to escape the frozen bedding. Upon inspecting the bed I found a good many healthy large red wigglers. There were also a good many smaller worms.

trench-winter
trench-red-worm


Now, with the weather finally starting to warm up, I am looking forward to getting back to work constructing some additional outdoor beds (and harvesting worms from the finished bed)!

by Lonnie

I will be sure to share my updates here.