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Worm harvesting using a banana

silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Composting & Soil Fertility


  • dottile46dottile46 Posts: 436 ✭✭✭

    Wow! Amazing.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm sorry but to starve an animal for my convenience... I don't think so.

    You mention at the beginning to make sure your worms are good and hungry and then give them a half of a banana buried in the top of your soil. I would not appreciate being starved just so I can get some food at a later date.

    Yes, I can see how it would be convenient but I'd be ashamed of myself doing it this way. I'm one of those wierd people that all God's creatures are important, not just us humans. And I just don't happen to believe my comfort is more important than the worm.

    Sure I know I'm in the minority but I still would pass by that worm bin every day knowing I'm withholding their food just so I could force them to make my life more convenient when I do get around to feeding them.

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,133 admin

    @silvertipgrizz thanks so much for posting this! I'm toying around with the idea of setting up a biodynamic farm in the tropics - Puerto Rico (yeah, of all places, huh?). And I want to figure out how to raise chcikens for meat, egs, and most land fertility. Since chcikens are natural insectavores, I'm looking at how I can feed them by raising insects (instead of importing expensive grain).

    There are ton's of bananas and plantains that grow super easily and you've inspired me to consider growing worms on bananas...

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,133 admin

    @greyfurball uh did I miss something? what about starving the worms? I didn't see any reference to that...

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited January 2020

    I don't know that you need to starve the worms. It would be more like letting all the food to be used up, then feed them.

    I tend to do this with their food or I end up having too much food sitting in the bin, and you don't want that. I do need a bigger bin...and a larger space...but that is exactly why my bin is not bigger.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft yes, Marjory re-listen to the video again starting at 36 seconds and you will hear how it is recommended that the feed is withheld until they have no food and they are all super hungry. To me, that is unnecessary... bordering on cruel.

    @Laurie I also do not understand your reference to having too much food in your worm bin. Sure you don't want a lot of super wet food sitting in it (because it can suffocate them) but the bin is also just another form of a compost pile. What the worms do not eat will be composted just the same as a regular compost pile over time also. So ending up with some extra food between feedings would never become a problem. If you see extra then on their next scheduled feeding day, all I do is add a couple more days until I feed them. This isn't starving them, it's just keeping their "home" as clean as possible. But if there is some extra it isn't a big deal because it will be composted down the same as a regular compost pile anyway.

    As I said, I know I am in the minority here but it infuriates me how mankind feels it's OK to run roughshod over the animal kingdom just because it makes life better or easier for us humans. What ever happened to the trait of compassion?

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft

    She has a couple more vids on her worms. I'll have to look for them but I'll post them too in a day or two when I get a chance to look for them.

    Take care of yourself over there. The food shortages are getting worse all over I've been reading.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @greyfurball To clarify, I have had extra food go moldy in the bin. It did not smell good and earthy like when it was more balanced. I needed to cut down on what I gave them. Mold is not a great thing to have in a bin.

    I didn't starve them, rather fed them less at a time. It is like not overfeeding your pet. I was overfeeding the worms.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie thank you for clarifying how you are trying to do it. I know I can be a pest, truly opinionated and any other choice words anyone would like to think up but to me cruelty to animals is unjust and totally not called for regardless what type of animal it is.

    Some instances can not be prevented (especially for us gardeners if we chop a worm in half while digging etc) but to intentionally starve any animal is just plain cruel and uncalled for, according to "the world of Kathi-isms (that's my name so that's where it came from).

    So I'm not pointing fingers at you here. I just did not appreciate the method this individual went about making her life easier by using her methods of cleaning out her bins. And then to advertise it on a video and spread the word that being cruel to an animal is OK in certain circumstances,,, well that upsets me completely. Behavior like that is what makes the trait of compassion lose its importance in anyone's life.

    And if you are a parent or guardian, well all you are teaching your children is a shortcut to convenience can be OK as long as it helps your daily activities along. So, so wrong in so many ways.

    So don't take my words to heart as if I'm directing them at you, I was not. I'm just speaking in generalities here.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @greyfurball I was not offended, but wanted to clarify what I was doing since you stated that you didn't understand how I could have too much food in my bin. I would prefer it to compost beautifully instead of just going moldy, but that just didn't happen.

    I think this ORGANIC (I would not give them sprayed) banana thing could work no matter what. What I see is that it is a favorite food...as is coffee grounds. I might experiment with both to see what happens when I clean my bins. The thing is, if my kids even leave any bananas, they are made into banana bread for our own mouths. I would rather experiment with "waste" foods.

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 325 ✭✭✭

    I like the idea of drawing them to the food. I use a rectangular shaped container, so I place all the food on one side for a while. If they need a clean place with no food, they just wander to the other side. When I am ready to harvest the castings I simply place food on the other side. After a week of so of food being placed in the new location most of the worms migrated over there and I pull out the castings and refill that space with new bedding material. I still tend to sift through the castings to pull any wandering worms or some of the worm eggs to go back into their container.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @gardneto76 yes this is a perfect description of how I do it also. So easy and so simple and the worms take care of their own priorities with just a little help from us humans.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 311 ✭✭✭

    Hey there, we've been worm farming for over a decade.

    Too much food in a bin causes many problems. The bin should have a neutral pH, acidity increases every time we add kitchen scraps, especially coffee grounds or teas in excess of what the bin worms/springtails and other creatures can process. Too much acidity, create a great opportunity for red turtle back mites. These mites eat worms, really they suck their blood. Not good at all. Our bins became infested once, I was over zealous about coffee grounds. So I made a mite trap, melon rinds were added to the bin, then I rinsed the rinds in the garden and kept reusing them to reduce the mite population.

    Too much food can also attract flies and ants. Too much food can lead towards too much moisture. Saturated worm bin can turn anaerobic.

    I've learned worms have their favorite foods. Melon rinds, pumpkin to cantaloupe they love. It's almost as if worms have a sweet tooth. :) These could be used to lure your worms to the surface. Our bins our horizontal migration. We add fresh bedding to one side and fresh feed. The worms go to the fresh side, then we harvest from the older side.

    Worms never really run out of food. Worms are microbe farmers. Bedding materials and finished compost are sources of food too. Perhaps the person in the video could have chosen different words.

    Anyways I love worms and had to chime.

    Great conversations.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭


    A couple questions for you when you have the time:

    Could you show a couple of different angled pix of your design? It looks like an interesting build but a little more detail would help.

    I have been trying to find the best design for a long time and so far the worm tower is the most appealing and since you have been doing this a long time your input is import for those of us on a learning curve.

    Also, I did some looking into the specific type of worm a couple years ago as all I saw was the 'red wiggler' was the only composting worm.

    What I found is that there were 3 worms that 'dwell' at different levels. One type close to the surface, the ones we always see at the surface after a rain, or under cardboard at the surface. The other two at their diff levels, so that all three types live fairly close to each other but each just a little deeper than the one before. What that told me was the a worm tower would fit all three levels of worms for max benefit. So that the worm tower should be designed long enough to allow for each and produce three times as much 'gold' for the plants. It seems to me then that there are really 3 types of compost worms, one just has to have a design to accommodate them.

    Your explanation of how you manage your bin is more info than I have been able to find so please chime some more 🍅

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @Hassena I love your bin. It is very attractive! Mine is just a tiny rubbermaid. It is all that I have room for.

    I would also appreciate more pictures, or if you made the bin, some instructions.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @Hassena your bin itself is beautiful but I just have one question.

    I have always heard that worms hate sunlight (or any kind of light) so it was always recommended using some kind of covered top Yet your bin does not look like it has a covered top.

    Myself I am using a large old chest freezer. The entire case is intact except I added air holes with PVC pipe on both sides and then I added another pipe and screen through the lower sides as a drain hole to prevent a build-up of moisture on the bottom of the freezer unit.

    So is your bin actually open to the sunlight/light all the time or do you have some kind of blackout shade for the top and we just don't see it?

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭


    your bin sounds interesting too.

    I also was told that they didn't like sunlight.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭


    This early Summer is the first time I have tried worm poop harvesting and I have had some great success already this first season. I only started my unit in early May and I've already harvested the compost from it twice before the end of Fall. It is the most beautiful compost I've ever seen. The stuff I've always got from my regular compost piles can't even come close to competing with it.

    It has slowed down considerably now because I live in a four seasons climate. I did add a layer of straw all around the sides of my unit by packing it inside cardboard and then attaching the cardboard to the outside of the freezer all the way around. It has helped but later this Spring I have got some old barnsiding so I'm going to try adding that to the outside and hope that keeps enough heat in for next winter since my bin does stay outside all year long.

    But I happened to just lose another upright freezer a couple of months ago (it was time...I got that freezer 27 years ago and it's worked for me all those years). So I figure I will just lay it down on its back then convert it also into a worm bin and then I can get two units going since I do tend to use a lot of compost since I have a pretty large area I garden.

    So keep your eyes and ears open and if you come across an old freezer or refrig... they work great as a new worm house.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball On the freezer unit... be careful regarding the .. what is the chemical that cools it lol.. freon 🙃 I have been told I can't put my small portable unit out for the trash for potential leaking until it is dealth with...and I have no idea how to deal with it...ie neutralize it I guess or maybe have someone who knows how, disconnect it from the unit. If that was poss, I would be planting it too lol. Or, I could use it for a worm bin.

    Another possible option might be to use pallets to use in addition to the card board and even the fixed I think 8 by 12 pieces of insulation that some have been known to put in the windows for insulation could be put up against your bin and taped. I can't remember what they are called but one side has I think a thin piece of shiny, maybe a thin piece of foil? But the entire piece is white? It can be bought in diff width's too.

    I yearn for worm poop. 🤩 My ground here had been packed hard due to being in a flood plain and I cannot think of digging a new garden here. I need the cardboard no dig attempt and the worms could make that endeavor actually possible. Other wise I have a bunch of 'cattle mineral' tubs I plant in every year, and this spring is my 'rotation' year so now I have to figure out how to raise another horde of tomato's in or on something else or risk the disease's of non rotating.

    I'm open to all your ideas and experience as I'm still trying to figure out a way to make the worm towers deep enough for a trial run, in the hard ground that I have at present.

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,555 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @silvertipgrizz I believe you need an air-conditioning expert to "unload" your freon in an environmentally sensitive fashion. Maybe they would do it for free because the freon is worth money.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭


    Hard ground... I can relate. I live on land which is a former old junkyard. When I dig down, which is almost impossible to dig thru, you'd be amazed at all the things I find.

    So I started all my garden plots 5 summers ago as raised beds. So about 75% of my garden area is raised beds (with many layers of cardboard underneath to prevent seepage to my soil level) which I just keep adding depth to each plot each year. The other 25% is on areas of my property which wasn't part of the junkyard so I can actually dig thru it even if it is piss-poor dirt. So those areas needed amended also.

    But I guess most of us have some kind of problem with our soil unless we are lucky enough to find property where the former tenant wanted her/his own garden and they worked their soil before we moved in.

    Next, yes I had thought of that silver insulation but I believe I would still need to cover it since with weather, overtime it is going to degrade also. So I was thinking of putting it under my barnsiding. That way I should have enough protection for them, I hope!

    And freon... yes you are correct. You must get it removed. So what I found out when I called around here locally where I live was #1 the EPA states it must be removed by a registered experienced individual. Lots of places have experienced employees which can do it (check any local company you have which sells or repairs appliances, Also many HVAC service people can do it.). The price of the removal is very reasonable. It's the labor you get racked for. #2 I also found out, if you wish to go this route you must keep your information to yourself but take a metal cutter and cut the line then just unscrew the casing and place it in the trash. Once the line is cut you will have a few seconds of hissing, it is a small canister and then all is done. The EPA guy told me 98% of the local residents use plan B.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭


    In reference to your worm towers, are you saying you want them to be underground? You mentioned "worm towers deep enough for a trial run, in the hard ground that I have at present."

    So if you can't dig down to get your towers in there have you thought about a pallet frame above ground for your towers? I've been making some pallet frames this winter for some of my Spring beds this year. I'll attach a picture so you can see it but all I did was stack pallets one on top of each other to get the height I want. I have different size frames so I'll end up with different size beds. I filled them in November with stuff so they can decompose down and I just keep adding stuff to them each week as it goes down. By Spring I'll top it off with some good compost and plant. You could just place your worm tower inside one instead if you wanted.

    Since the pallets are stacked you can remove the layers to work down thru your bins and then add all the layers back when you are finished working.

    Also, you'll see the pallets are just a square frame. I've been able to find them at hardware stores (which sell appliances), HVAC shops (their units come in packed on them), or any place which gets large equipment. Most companies are now packing and shipping on these different size of frames.

    So I'm not sure if you were thinking above ground or in-ground but I would think you could easily get this arrangement to fit your needs.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @silvertipgrizz Used is not worth anything to them. They use new freon. A service charge would still apply. My dad used to work with this sort of thing.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @shllnzl Great idea! I had no idea that might be possible. Thanks a bunch for that info.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Actually your pallet bin is a great idea. I'm having a hard time finding some lately and I only have a car to transport but I could cut them down to fit in my car with an ele saw.

    I'll look for a vid on the worm bins I am wanting to do. Hopefully it might give you some additional ideas..you never know. But my ref to them being deep in the ground to attract the different worms at their respective levels, is for the awesome convenience this type of worm bin looks to be.

    First I'll look for a vid on my desired bin so you can see what I"m talking about. And until I can get some pallets, or if not I'll just use some of my old wood as your idea really looks task oriented in itself.

    Then, I'll move on to plan B..... 🤫

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭


    hmmm, maybe it would just be a good planter then lol.....

    do they ever loose pressure due to the freon just eventually leaking out?

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @silvertipgrizz it is my understanding unless there is a leak or the canister is somehow damaged you will always have a percentage of freon in that canister and it will slowly release over time because of that leak. But if the canister does not degrade or spring a leak etc. you have an airtight canister which will hold onto its contents. That is mainly I'd say because of the materials used in their construction. It uses copper mainly for accessory parts so it doesn't rust.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭


    In reference to your statement "Actually your pallet bin is a great idea. I'm having a hard time finding some lately and I only have a car to transport but I could cut them down to fit in my car with an ele saw."

    It is kind of hard to see this from that photo once they are stacked but each layer on that stack is just one 1X4 frame and then turn that frame over and there is 4 little feet, one in each corner. So when the thing is all stacked that is why you can see snow in between the layers on the side walls. The snow sneaked in because of the short distance the feet raised the 1x4 frame.

    So #1 these would easily fit in a car if you can find someone who sells appliances locally (or you have an HVAC installer who gets their units sent on them.) Or if you have scrap lumber they can easily be made to whatever size you want.

    Here's an image of a smaller box. It was made from a combination of 1x4's and 2x4's. Maybe you can tell from it better how each layer looks constructed.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball I was wondering if you had pulled some of the slats off standard type pallets, or if they were from the HVAC.

    The picture is clear and I can see how you have made them. Where are the feet? Are they at the close end and attachec between the thin bottom wood piece? Please don't go out in the slick weather for another pix. Your explanations are pretty clear. and Is there something on the left and right side (according to this pix) that holds the dirt in?

    I"m getting ready to post a vid on knee therapy/exercise so tomorrow I'll post the worm tower vid that I haven't dug up yet. The thing about the type I will send you in the vid is that all you have to do once it is built and placed is feed the tower and replace the screened top. That top keeps the flys and other insects out, and straw is placed atop the most recent addition to help with the smell. Imagine having a worm tower under ground that would reach the 3 main types of worms...at some point one might need stilts to keep from sinking into the glorious soil lol.

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