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I went on a recent urban chicken coop/chicken tour here in AZ last week.  There were several folks who had a worm bin going.  Is this something that would be beneficial to do for AP or do you just need to buy a bag of worms once and then they will reproduce in your system?  Do you ever need to buy them again?  I have many things I want to do and although a worm bin sounds easy enough, it's one more thing to do and I'm wondering if it should be on my list or not.  The chickens would love them, I know!  Another benefit of worm bins or worm composting is the compost that comes from the scraps...  Since we don't use dirt in AP, we wouldn't necessarily need the compost, unless, maybe do folks use dirt in AP wicking beds?  Or wouldn't that dirty up the water in the system?  anyone here have a worm bin?  thx!

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We have composting worms in our gravel beds and in our compost bin.  There are lots of native worms on our lot too, mostly underneath mulch.  I feed worms to our fish but mostly feed our chickens commercial feed along with greens from our garden.  Chickens live to eat.

If you had composting worms, the castings can be sprayed on your vegies for insect control.  I suspect some nutrients would enter the system that way too.  They're great in potting mix.

  We raise LOTS of redworms...We have a commercial scale redworm farm.  Our get sent over the USA.  They are not just for sending away.  Redworms are the backbone of our farm... but we do more than just talk...we 'walk the walk'.  So we have a redworm compost bin behind the recliner in our living room (no one ever knows it is there).  There is one outside our chicken coop.  So all our farm fowl get redworms.  We also feed redworms to our fish too.  We have redworms in our media growbeds, and in our vertical towers.

    You can use any worms to feed to fish and farm fowl...In your media beds you might want to consider knowing what spefic worms you are investing in before you buy and add them.  Some species of composting worms have a wandering habit - these work great in large compost piles.  If their particular parameters for comfort in the way of food source, moisture levels, pH and temperature and dissolved O2 are not met, they will leave the growbeds (en mass).  Eisenia fetida (scientific name) redworms are one worm that has a tolerance for a wide spectrum of pH, temperature and   food stocks. They also are the fastest at feeding and reproducing of the composting worm species....This translats to a lot of redworms working for you and keeping your growbeds in tip top shape.


  As far as a worm composting bin being "one more thing"...really as farm critters go, they are about the easiest keepers. Just add food scraps and leave them alone.  The more they are NOT disturbed, the faster they will work. Just make sure the moisture in the worm bin is fine once a week.  If you'd like worm bin instructions, I'll send you some so you can weigh what time commitment it really would present.. If Redqworms are in your media growbeds, they really do not require anything ( as in actual "care")...they will live there just as if it were soil.

 Having a worm bin for AP is a good idea.  You can have your own stock of worm castings that can be used to make a brewed tea to get rid of insect pests and plant maladies. You just spray the plants with the tea.  (I can send you the 'recipe") You can use the worm castings as planting medium  for starting seeds.  Because worm castings naturally contain plant growth hormones, you can spray seeds with worm casting tea, and you will increase seed germination success and lower seed germination time.  It is well worth keeping a vermicomposting bin for your AP project.


Hope this is helpful.  Send me a message if you have any more questions.  Always glad to help out a fellow AP enthusiast.


- Converse

George and Converse, both very helpful info.  thx and sounds like something I'll do.  Converse, yes please send me recipes and info.  I was wondering, why do you have a bin in your home?  why not put them all in the same bin?  is there a limit of how many will grow in one bin or is it more for ease of discarding waste...?  I'd like to hear what bugs worm castings gets rid of.  I was told soapy water, but then read that's not a good idea in an AP system, which makes sense.  thx, again!

  We have a bin in our home simply because: 1) Human Nature - If it is conveniently placed it will get used. A matter of success with a family all doing kitchen duty.  Kitchen scraps get put in the vermicomposting bin more consistently if it is convenient to do so...Traipsing out in the dark in 3 feet of slushy snow or driving rain to put stuff in a worm bin, is not something most people relish doing.       2) We 'practice what we preach'.  Yes we have large outdoor wormbeds (we have a commercial scale redworm farm), but we also want to be able to tell people in the classes we teach that we also have vermicomposting bins in our house and they DO NOT smell. We know first hand the convenience of a vermicomposting bin indoors. My children also all know the value and practicality of having a vermicomposting bin indoors.  Actually I recommend keeping the bin in the kitchen under the sink, but at our house the plumbing and cabinet will not allow for this. This is why is sits in our living room behind our recliner.

     We also have a goldfish tank in our kitchen.  The goldfish get redworms from our indoor  vermicomposting bin as part of their diet.


   Freshly Brewed Worm Casting Tea will get rid of any hard bodied insects.  Worm Castings contain an enzyme called chitinase.  The exoskeletons of insects are composed of chitin.  The enzymes in the worm casting tea attach the chitin of the insect exoskeleton...and your bug problem is gone!

I'll send you the info you need tomorrow.


- Converse

makes sense.  sounds great!  thx, I'll look forward to the recipes.  :)

I harvested a double handful of redworms today and fed them to the fish.  It's a cool deal that the worms consume our kitchen waste and then become food for fish and vegetables.  It made me wonder, however, how often I could or should do this.

Converse, could you give us some information on the productive rate of composting worms, assuming that they have plenty of space and food?  The worms you sent seven months ago seem to be doing very well, both in the planting beds and in the cubic yard compost bin.  Thanks again.

Hi George,

   Glad to hear the redworms are doing so well.  They really are easy keepers, and yes, I still find it amazing too, that so much good can come from feeding what we term 'waste", to some worms!    We also feed our fish and farm fowl  the redworms we raise.

  Here is the scientific, lab conditions numbers on reproduction rates for Eisenia fetida:  each worm is capable of producing an average of one cocoon per week.  These cocoons hatch in about 3 weeks.  On average, 1-5 juvenile worms emerge from the cocoons.  These juveniles are in the reproductive population in 60-90 days.  True exponential population growth.

    Keep in mind that this is with ideal temperature, food stock, pH, moisture conditions.  Even with our redworms being outdoors in wormbeds, we see very good reproduction rates year-round. We do not baby our redworm population.


     I hope this information gives you the facts you need.  If something needs more detail or clarification, please let me know.

- Converse

Worm compost is also great for adding beneficial trace minerals and the like to an aquaponic system. Glenn Martinez has got an interesting design for a worm tea brewer that simultaneously incorporates it into your system.

Hey Converse, what kind of medias do you like to use for worm bedding, especially for larger scale production? I'm still wanting to bump up my worm production, but I'm using shredded paper as media and it's not efficient for me to shred that much paper...

I'll check out Glenn's brewer.  I've done some aerated brewing.  

My worm bin is outdoors and I don't use bedding, other than the odd garden waste thrown in from time to time.  The bin gets quite a menagerie of bugs, BSF and lizards going during the summer.  The composting worms seem to hang in with all the rest.  It should all work together to make good compost.  The lizards are fish food too (the ones I manage to catch) so there's a lot of recycling .  The potential reproductive rate of the composting worms is really something to take advantage of.

Some of the worms in the gravel beds come up for crawlabout on the surface at night - don't know what they're up to.  

  Local sourcing  is always best.  Not sure what is available in your area, but out here in the Fall there is ample supply of maple leaves, alder, and other deciduous tree leaves (avoid oak/chestnut and others that have high tannin content).  These make great bedding.  They can be used whole or shredded.  If you have a leaf or brush shredder you can shred leaves, or run a lawn mower over a pile of leaves.  Cardboard can be used as bedding too. It can be shredded using a  leaf shredder.  Most paper shredders will not handle corrugated cardboard. We also use malted barley from a local brewery...a LOT of it. It also serves as food for the redworms.
   I hope this is helpful.

- Converse

Alex Veidel said:

Hey Converse, what kind of medias do you like to use for worm bedding, especially for larger scale production? I'm still wanting to bump up my worm production, but I'm using shredded paper as media and it's not efficient for me to shred that much paper...

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