Is it wrong (to compost with worms) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-11-2006, 09:16 PM
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to compost with worms? I live in an apartment, so this is the only composting option available to me. I'm starting an organic veggie garden in my tiny space, and I really want a totally chemical free (and manureless) fertilizer for my veggies. not to mention that composting will cut down on household wate, even if just a teeny bit.



I'm generally opposed to caged animals as pets. I feel kind of guilty for having a housecat, but she really does NOT want to go outside, so I guess we're all in agreement on her being here. (She's sleeping on my feet right now)



I have what I hope will be a cozy home set up for the worms. They will be well fed. I'm purposely under populating so that they will be able to reproduce without over crowding. It is a very small box, and once the garden gets going I may get a larger crate for them. It has a tight fitting lid to protect them from scavengers. I think it is well ventilated, and they should not be too hot or too cold. (I will bring them in for the winter, but we're in Louisiana and it doesn't get cold). I will put them in the shadiest corner and keep them moist and cool.



Even with all of my precautions, I am still learning, and they may not survive. I hope they do, of course. I believe this is an envrinmentally responsible thing to do. What do you all think?
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#2 Old 02-12-2006, 08:19 AM
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I believe that the environmental benifits are huge, and outweigh any slight objections to worms being kept in captivity. I don't even think the worms will notice the difference between living in the wild and living in a composting bin. Of course, this is VB, so you'll get plenty of differing opinions. Also, I think this topic has been posted before...you could try a search.
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#3 Old 02-12-2006, 08:20 AM
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#4 Old 02-12-2006, 09:44 AM
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I'm all for it. I'm thinking of doing it myself. I'm not vegan, though. But I feel fairly confident that the suffering of well-cared-for worms is likely to be either non-existent or tiny enough that the benefit to the planet of worm composting will outweigh it. I would check carefully on how likely they are to have a population explosion inside your bin, though. The last thing you want is thousands of extra worms and no appropriate home for them.
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#5 Old 02-12-2006, 11:17 AM
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OK, People actually object to composting with worms? My composter is full of worms and I did not place a single one in there. They went there from their own "free will" (LMAO). Please, I cannot believe that there would be an issue with composting with worms. I say, go for it.
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#6 Old 02-12-2006, 12:37 PM
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I think worms would look on compost like it was Disneyland.
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#7 Old 02-12-2006, 01:39 PM
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Yes, agreed. But be sure that it is VERY well ventilated... because my mom had a big tupperware with a tonne of holes punched in and we kept it in the coldroom all summer... they did very well (they were HUGE) and it really wasn't hot (because it was in the coldroom, duh) but the heat that's produced from the compost ended up cooking them Now our compost is in the backyard and the worms are free to come and go, probably better for our situation.
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#8 Old 02-12-2006, 02:16 PM
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Its great thatg you are so concerned for them, I'm sure they'll be fine. Worms are tough. I mean they can survive "in the wild" and even during winter, so don't worry.
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#9 Old 02-12-2006, 02:26 PM
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I live in a condo, and have a Worm Factory (see one here). The worms only have to be held captive temporarily, because even with the different levels in the bin, lots of the little guys are always hiding out in the lowest level, which contains compost/castings you can put back into the earth to nourish plants.
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#10 Old 02-12-2006, 03:45 PM
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FYI: Earthworms often take up residence in regular compost piles, but the red worms used in vermicomposting aren't regular earthworms like you find in your garden. They are a different species. You have to order a startup batch, which is where the animal welfare/rights issues come into play. I'm not entirely certain, but I also don't think they are native to many of the areas where they are being used, so there are potential ecology issues as well.
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#11 Old 02-12-2006, 03:55 PM
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Vermiculture worms need very particular conditions of warmth, moisture, and organic material. I don't think they will tend to compete well with native worms, which are capable of burrowing deep into the soil to escape cold and drought. These composting worms are the hot house flowers of the worm world, and will tend to perish in the wild.
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#12 Old 02-12-2006, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigel View Post

I think worms would look on compost like it was Disneyland.

I howled with laughter when I read this. I really think you are right!! Thanks for the laugh!
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#13 Old 02-12-2006, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tesseract View Post

FYI: Earthworms often take up residence in regular compost piles, but the red worms used in vermicomposting aren't regular earthworms like you find in your garden. They are a different species. You have to order a startup batch, which is where the animal welfare/rights issues come into play. I'm not entirely certain, but I also don't think they are native to many of the areas where they are being used, so there are potential ecology issues as well.





Oh, ok! Thanks for telling me, I didn't know that different types of worms were used. Now I see what the issue is.
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#14 Old 02-13-2006, 08:04 PM
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Hey SnowNose, I liked your old avatar better
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#15 Old 02-14-2006, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

Vermiculture worms need very particular conditions of warmth, moisture, and organic material. I don't think they will tend to compete well with native worms, which are capable of burrowing deep into the soil to escape cold and drought. These composting worms are the hot house flowers of the worm world, and will tend to perish in the wild.

Which I think brings up the other potential ethical issue-- suppose you order some worms, and they love your compost bin and breed like crazy. You now have excess worms on your hands. You are presumably responsible for these worms, and if they'll die in the wild, what do you do with them? I'm not sure how likely that is to really happen... maybe someone who has done some vermicomposting can tell us.
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#16 Old 02-15-2006, 11:18 AM
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As a result of the older vermicomposting threads posted above I decided to bite the bullet and get a worm box for our deck. I did not purchase the worms [feeding the Exploitative Capitalist Worm System] but did have my mom mail them to me [no lie!]. She was taken aback by my concern for the worms.



They arrived safe and sound with no casualties that I could see and have been hale and hearty ever since. This is one of those applications of AR that I find theoretically fascinating, but in practice: my worms are happy, I am happy, I have a healthier garden...it would seem on the surface that we are all winning.



And Tesseract, if I have "extra worms" I put them in the garden boxes themselves along with the compost, but I haven't noticed any overpopulation problems. I don't know if that counts as "in the wild" but they seem fine. No worm corpses have come to my attention.
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#17 Old 02-15-2006, 11:27 AM
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As a result of the older vermicomposting threads posted above I decided to bite the bullet and get a worm box for our deck. I did not purchase the worms [feeding the Exploitative Capitalist Worm System] but did have my mom mail them to me [no lie!]. She was taken aback by my concern for the worms.



They arrived safe and sound with no casualties that I could see and have been hale and hearty ever since. This is one of those applications of AR that I find theoretically fascinating, but in practice: my worms are happy, I am happy, I have a healthier garden...it would seem on the surface that we are all winning.



And Tesseract, if I have "extra worms" I put them in the garden boxes themselves along with the compost, but I haven't noticed any overpopulation problems. I don't know if that counts as "in the wild" but they seem fine. No worm corpses have come to my attention.
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#18 Old 02-15-2006, 11:36 AM
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There's a bit on here : http://www.wormpost.com/worms/biology.html about invasive worms, down towards the bottom.



Presumably, if you use a species of worms that naturally occur in your region there are fewer problems, although you will still be introducing a new genotype...



A friend of mine started her own worm bin with worms she found in her garden in leaf litter, they were red tiger worms, Eisenia fetida, I think.
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#19 Old 02-15-2006, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madder View Post

There's a bit on here : http://www.wormpost.com/worms/biology.html about invasive worms, down towards the bottom.



Presumably, if you use a species of worms that naturally occur in your region there are fewer problems, although you will still be introducing a new genotype...



Oh, I should have clarified that I have a container garden only, on a deck in an apartment building. So basically I'm just turning all the containers into "worm boxes" of sorts; I guess they COULD shimmy down the posts to the other decks and the dirt below. But if they are as fragile as Ludi said they'll probably prefer to stay where they are.
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#20 Old 02-15-2006, 11:46 AM
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This has piqued my interest!



Here are some tips for ecologically friendly vermiculture:



from http://www.bbg.org/gar2/topics/susta...4su_worms.html



What's in My Worm Bin?

With invasive earthworms wriggling amok in our forest soils, gardeners who use worms to decompose kitchen scraps and plant waste may want to take a closer look at what they’ve got growing in their compost piles. Some of the traits that make worms ideal for vermicomposting—such as high reproductive rate and adaptability—may also make them potentially successful invaders.



The worm predominantly sold for composting is the red wiggler or red tiger worm, Eisenia fetida. It has a rusty brown color with alternating yellow and maroon bands down the length of its body; a pigmentless membrane separates each segment. It grows up to three inches long and is highly prolific. Though the worm has established itself in the wild here, so far it has not been identified as a problem species.



Another popular compost species, the red worm, Lumbricus rubellus, is causing trouble, however, and should be avoided. It also grows up to three inches long and has a history of being confused with E. fetida. This worm is dark red to maroon, has a light yellow underside, and lacks striping between segments.



In The Earth Moved (Algonquin Books, 2004), a wonderful new book on earthworms by Amy Stewart, forest ecologist Cindy Hale advises worm composters to freeze their castings in air-tight bags for a least a week before adding them to garden soil, no matter what worms species they use. "It won't hurt the soil microbes, but it will kill all the worms."
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#21 Old 02-15-2006, 04:10 PM
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Hey SnowNose, I liked your old avatar better





which one? the elephant? or the puppy?



I decided to change it cus the old one was bad quality.

but i can always change it back!
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#22 Old 02-16-2006, 11:45 AM
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LMAO - no, I just like elephants, so ya know, I like see them!
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#23 Old 02-16-2006, 08:41 PM
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Ok, a friend told about a vermicomposting farm in my area. I assume they are local worms. I'm going to contact them and ask them to inspect my box, and decide how many worms I will need. If the worms overproduce, I will get a bigger box (I'm gong to check with the worm farmers about appropriate boxes), and if it gets really out of hand, I'll see if I can't bring them back to the farm, where they can run free in the fields.
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#24 Old 02-17-2006, 01:01 AM
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Once the weather warms up a bit, why not go out at night and gently dig up some worms of your own? If you don't have a yard, ask the landlord if you can dig on the grounds of the complex, or find a friendly neighbor.



Bear in mind I know nothing about composting, so tell me if this is a stupid idea, folks.
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#25 Old 02-18-2006, 03:24 PM
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I seem to remember reading about this in the university library many years ago. I think I'm right in saying that the worms will regulate their own population by reducing breeding once there is an "optimum" number of worms in a given area - i.e. your composter.



In the UK at least, Wiggly Wigglers sell worms and wormeries and I believe they sell native (to Britain) species of worms. Think I'll nip to their site and have a look...
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#26 Old 02-19-2006, 03:25 PM
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Once the weather warms up a bit, why not go out at night and gently dig up some worms of your own? If you don't have a yard, ask the landlord if you can dig on the grounds of the complex, or find a friendly neighbor.



Bear in mind I know nothing about composting, so tell me if this is a stupid idea, folks.

Regular earthworms don't convert kitchen waste into soil. They eat soil itself-- stuff that has already been converted into soil. To do vermicomposting, you need a different type of worm.
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#27 Old 02-19-2006, 03:39 PM
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#28 Old 02-20-2006, 06:44 AM
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Hippymama, your thread gives me a warm squishy wormy fuzz to think that people actually consider things like this



Overall, I don't think there is anything wrong with setting up a true symbiotic environment with any species (they help you; you help them). But I wanted to raise a different point. If you purchase worms form a commercial worm-seller, isn't that the same as if you were to buy dogs from a breeder?Depending on your stance on breeding, this may be a significant point.
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#29 Old 02-20-2006, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by DeflatorMouse View Post

Hippymama, your thread gives me a warm squishy wormy fuzz to think that people actually consider things like this



Overall, I don't think there is anything wrong with setting up a true symbiotic environment with any species (they help you; you help them). But I wanted to raise a different point. If you purchase worms form a commercial worm-seller, isn't that the same as if you were to buy dogs from a breeder?Depending on your stance on breeding, this may be a significant point.



I'm glad that I was able to supply some warm fuzzies. I find captive animal and pets disturbing (always have) and this feel a bit like that. It's easy to say that they are well cared for and happy, but I wonder if the animals would really agree. I don't care how nicely my DH takes care of me, if he never let me out of the house, I would NOT be happy, kwim?





I don't think vericomposting is quite the same as commercial breeding. If as previous poster stated, worms will self regulate their breeding, then there is no real danger of overbreeding. Also, I doubt the worms are being artificially inseminated or forced to mate, as is done with cattle and dogs. My biggest concern with commercial breeding of pets is that there are so many unwanted pets being put to death because they don't have the proper lineage. I'd rather adopt a pet slotted for death than puchase one that was created specificly for sale. (though my kitties all came from private pet shelters that don't kill).
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#30 Old 02-20-2006, 08:48 AM
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hehe I can see it now:

"Worm overpopulation! Spay/neuter your worms!!" You're right. In the practical sense, worm breeding can't screw up the world. But I was just thinking of the philosophy of creating life for commercial gain. (I assume the worm farms are trying to make some sort of profit.)
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