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I have tried spraying them off with water but now they are all overthe GB and floating in the FT. Plant leaves are turning yellow and brown around the edges. Can't beleive how fast the multiplied.

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Most pesticides will not affect spider mites and miticides that do work are expensive.  Water is just as effective, cheaper and less trouble.  I'm speaking from my own experience.  The spray must be forceful enough to knock the mites off of the plant and it must be repeated often enough to deal with the new mites hatching from eggs already layed.  Repeating the process 3 times or so in a week will completely solve the infestation, usually.  If you use a miticide, you will also repeat that process to deal with the new mites hatching out.  Your infestation seems to be quite advanced so chances are the plants already have a lot of damage.  New growth will look fine after the infestation is solved but damaged growth will not recover.   I will also add that some soaps, such as Octagon, are effective against spider mites, not that you should use it in an aquaponics system and it's a bit difficult to spray anything on the underside of leaves where the mites are.  Really the key is eliminating them early.  Good luck.

Dan Ponton said:

I have red spider mites by the thousands on my flowers. I have tried two different organic sprays and they have not phased them at all. Today I am going back to chemical warfare.

Is this aphids?

Looks like a lot of aphids.  I washed a few off today.

Freshly Brewed Worm Casting Tea will work to rid of spider mites, aphids, tomato horn worms, white flies just to name a few.  I am currently working on a website...I 'bit the bullet' and decided to dedicate some time to this, even though we are in full swing for harvesting fern fiddleheads and planting and other farm chores, along with the regular spring redworm farm rush.  So I should have some info online soon. First and foremost we are farmers...and love to help people out.  Computer time is crammed in there.  I am happy to answer any questions  via e-mail, and soon most the FAQ info will be up on the website..  Send me a private message and I'll be happy to help.


  Charlotte, I answered your private message...Did you get the replies (2 of them?)


   I do not recommend adding food  to a vermicomposting situation on the top EVER. That is a recipe to start a horrendous fruit fly infestation.  ANd yes, you can get rid of an infestation, but it is not fun, and it is sooo easy to prevent.

    Entomologists have discovered that fruit flies and gnats will not penetrate a 2 inch layer of bedding to get at food matter. It is therefore wise to bury all added food matter under a minimum 2 inch depth of bedding matter.  All food matter should be covered (top, sides and bottom) with bedding.  This also help dampen and disseminate the gasses given off by food matter you feed the redworms that tend to be attractive to fruit flies and gnats.  This is also why we do not recommend the use of the expensive vermicomposting bins that have a stackable tray system.  The reason is that the food that is fed to the redworms does not have the room to be completely buried (top sides and bottom) with bedding.  Gasses escape, bugs get in. ANd there is an infestation.  Then there is another person who is sure that vermicomposting is a horrible scam, and   will tell their freinds and neighbors about their bad experience.  All because of an inherint flaw in the stacakble design.  Yes, they are convienent.  Yes, many use the stackable systems without problems...but if you are one of the unlucky ones you will have a gnat or fruit fly challenge in the stackable system.  We have spent many many hours over the years at markets and in classes helping people get over the hump of a bad experience they had or heard about with a stackable system...and then get them to try again....Our experience with dealing with the public is that there is a large enough group of those who have tried or are currently struggling with a stackable system with infestations, that we do not recommend using these.

  Dan, your (stationary) tumbler bin will be perfect. Just do not top feed.  Dig a small hole, plop in the food and then cover the hole up. 

   So go head and use your tumbler, but do not tumble it and bury the food pulp you will be adding.  If you already have a gnat or fruit fly infestation, I can let you in on how to get rid of it...


My best to you in this!

Dan Ponton said:

I have red spider mites by the thousands on my flowers. I have tried two different organic sprays and they have not phased them at all. Today I am going back to chemical warfare.

I have my two compost tumbler in a part shade condition, so I guess they should be OK.

Should I work the new food (vegi pulp) into the bed or can I toss it on the top?


Good advice, Converse. I must be one of the lucky ones that has no fruit fly trouble. I'm way too cheap to buy a worm bin, but my sister gave me a Can-O-Worms, and I have added table scraps to the top for 5 yrs with no trouble. Every so often, I lift up the lid, drop in some scraps, and close it, no flies, no mess, no dirty fingers. I really like the stacked design, mostly because the bottom tray is the oldest, and extremely easy to harvest castings free of worms. 
The compost tumbler will certainly work, of course, and so will a bucket, barrel, shoebox, etc. But it seems like such a waste to use a tumbler for a half-assed worm bin. Shoot, sell the tumbler for $200 and use a five gallon bucket for the worms. Converse, what style bin do you recomend? Or do you already have a discussion here somewhere?  Thanks for your time and expertise. 

I do not get them much on my vegi plant, mostly on my yellow cone flowers. The flower stems are covered with them every year. So far I don't have problem with aphids. yes on tomato worms, caterpillars on my collard greens ( i pick them off).

The best worm composting bin is one that you will use. Beyond that, there are some definate recommendations and need-to-know pieces of information to have the best possible success.

  John, you are right, that it is odd to use a tumbler composter for vermicomposting...But it will work.  It is not that rare for people to convert their tumblers to vermicomposting bins.  We have talked to a LOT of people at the farmers' Markets who do this after they realize the increased benefits they can get from vermicomposting over just composting in the tumbler as the directions that came with the unit describe. Using-what-you-have is being a good steward of your resources. A commendable re-purposing strategy for a tumbler. Of course, selling it and putting the redworms in a less expensive unit and having the cash for other uses makes sense too.

    As far as the stackable tray units go.  I will fully admit that the design of having the trays you can remove with matter 'processed' into castings is very appealing.  The drawbacks that we have been loudly and volumously made aware of, in my opinion, out weigh the advantages of this system design.  Yes, people DO have success with these units.  However the number of people who end up disgusted with the whole situation due to inherent design issues, has led us to the conclusion not to recommend this design to the general population.


  I reality, the redworms do not care if you spent over $100 on a vermicomposting unit or you use a bucket you got at the local grocery store deli for free.  As long as the basic needs of the redworms are met, you will have 'happy', actively composting redworms.  We got our very first redworms given to us in an old plastic kitty litter bucket.  They lived there for months,  busily doing their thing.

    Currently our redworms live outdoors year-round in wormbeds.  These are not pampered redworms!  They live under a blanket of snow over 4 feet deep in the winter, happily doing 'their thing'.Yes, we do care for them though.  Of course, we do prep the wormbeds for winter, but they are not in a heated environmentally controlled building. They are outdoors in over 100 degree weather in the summer...And some people DO have redworm operations that are very controlled.  A wormbed can be fancy, or it can be a lump on the ground.  The redworms really do not care.  Just meet their needs.


  We do practice what we teach.  We actually have a 10 gallon tote in our livingroom behind our recliner full of redworms doing their thing.  No one ever knows it is there unless they are told.  The redworms stay put.  The unit is small enough to fit under most kitchen sinks. It is simple to use and harvest from.  This is the type of unit we most often recommend. They are for sale, all ready to go, or you can fix a tote to work as a vermicomposting bin.

  My advice for those looking for it:  Use what you can afford.  Keep it simple.  Keep it where you will actually use it.

   You can use a rubbermaid type tote,  a wooden box ( avoid aeromatic woods), an old chest freezer, an old cooler, a lump on the ground, a bucket, and old garbage can.... Yes, I believe I covered this  in another thread on this I'll not hijack this with a redworms/vermicomposting 101 class.   And I am closer to having my website with info to a point where I would not be too embarrassed for others to look at...It'll be available soon.


A good concluding point to my reply  is that if you feed redworms your compostable waste you will have  worm castings to use in your AP set-ups.  No more buying chemicals or expensive organic mixes to get rid of insect pests or fight plant maladies.  You will not need to buy potting soils.  Gardeners' Gold!  From your compostable trash to Gold! 



Hey Converse, Did you mean 3/2 cup as in 1 and 1/2 cups or did you mean just a 1/2 cup of castings?



Converse said:

If you have access to fresh worm castings you can brew a tea that will get rid of aphids.  Take 3/2 cup worm castings and put it in a gallon jar with 2 TBSP sugar and a gallon of non-chlorinated water. Add a fish bubbler for 24 hours. This will make the tea.  You can add the worm castings loose in the jar (you'll need to strain them out after brewing, but that is what we do) or you can put them in an old nylon or cloth sack and hang in the jar.  After brewing (aerating) the mix for 24 hours, spray this liquid on your plants, top-sides-and bottoms.  It will get rid of the aphid problem and feed the plants in the process.  It will not harm any plants, nor harm your FT. Warning: do not put a sealed lid on a jar of brewed worm casting tea.  It will build up pressure. Use the brewed tea within 18 hours of removing it from the aeration source. 

  I am sure there are other methods, but this is what we use recommend.  All natural.

Best of luck to you in this!

Well, there's an 'oops!' for you! Thanks for pointing that out. It is 2/3 cup of worm castings in one gallon of non-chlorinated water.

Two-thirds cup. 

- Converse

Hi Consverse,

If one were to dig a trench say, 70-80cm wide by 70-80cm deep by how ever long (4-5 metres) and line it with geo-textile and put down some straw bedding (probably not very absorbent)...could you dump half composted veggie scraps and rotting leaves mixed with straw in the first metre or so of the trench, let the worms do there thing, then move them along by putting down an other big pile of (fresh) more of the same next to the first one...and so on and so on til you get to the end of the trench (or winter comes), harvesting castings as the move forward? 

Speaking of winter, could you then put down bedding (straw fresh leaves, composted cow manure and some veggie scraps) and place a big pile of fresh NON-composted cow manure (it's non-grain fed) next to that for some warmth, and then cover the whole thing with bales of straw? Will the worms gravitate into a "comfort zone of warmth" over the winter?

Or is this idea just stupid? I have a LOT of ALL of the above materials and a lot of space. I've only ever kept a small home-made plastic worm bin(s) and was very, very pleased until they turned into worm-cicles this winter. Any thoughts or suggestions on the trench would be vastly appreciated.

On a non-hi-jacking note, I did kill 3 aphids and 3 gypsy moth worms today in a sort of test run (the rain foiled my plans for the real spraying) by using 2 handfulls of cigarette butts and the tobacco from 3 cigarettes soaked in a jar of warm water (about 4 litres) till it turned the color of a well steeped orange pekoe tea. Strained it added a spoonful of dish soap...put the bugs one by one on a big white ceramic tile sprayed a bit and observed. The aphids (from a neighbors roses) died way faster than the gypsy moths (which seem hellbent on destroying my quince trees).

Does anybody know if this nicotine brew would be fish/bacteria safe?


Then danger with tobacco is that tobacco can carry viruses that can also devistate your tomato and lettuce crops (to the point that commercial grower will say you shouldn't even let smokers visit your property in fear that they might not wash their hands after smoking before touching your plants.)

so if you do try to use a tobacco spray you should probably boil the tobacco to kill viruses before using it in your spray.

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