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Trying out VermiCulture and then VermiComposting ...

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  • Trying out VermiCulture and then VermiComposting ...

    my wife and i enjoys gardening which is why composting (berkely method) is an integral part of what i do at home. the fact that's it's such a waste to see agri materials (e.g. byproduct) left unuse knowing that it can be put to better use is also a factor why i'm finding out ways of making compost efficiently.

    an example, this area (south cotobato) mostly grows banana and corn in large tracts of land. the shreded dry leaves of 1 clump (7-10 trees) of banana trees is more than enough to fill my compost plastic drum in one go. the material is almost unlimited as there will always be dry leaves while the banana is growing :-).

    in my research, experts mentioned that one effective and efficient way of making rich compost to combine the process of both normal composting (stage 1) and vermi composting (stage 2).

    i created this thread to start documenting the things that i have done in the past and what i'm doing right now ... cheers

    Boo!


  • #2
    Subscribed!!!
    The devil will find work for idle hands to do.-Morrissey

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    • #3
      they say that when you are getting old, you tend to think about the earth and the things around it.
      does that mean, i am already old too? hehe

      subscribed boo!
      The devil will find work for idle hands to do.-Morrissey

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      • Boo-Semi-Retired
        Boo-Semi-Retired commented
        Editing a comment
        :-) ha ha ha ... your right! ... i have been thinking about this method of composting since early this year but i just could not start it then because of the El Nino. now thats its the rainy season again, it was the right time to really start testing it and see it's potentials :-) ... it has a lot of backward and forward potentials in case one has it in ones home ... and one good thing about it is that it does not cost much to start it at home :-) he he he ... cheers

        Boo!

    • #4
      ... 'combine the process of both normal composting (stage 1) and vermi composting (stage 2)' ...

      my understanding of what the experts are saying ... in simple terms, it's basically to feed the worms with organic materials that has already decompose (aerobic bacteria has already broken it down) or in the late stage of decomposition. this will let the worms quickly digest the material in a shorter period of time and turn it into casting (worm poop) which is the end compost product ... they say that vermi compost is a much better organic fertilizer than natural compost which is what i wanted to see first hand for myself :-) ...

      for the stage 1 (use of aerobic bacteria to breakdown the organic material), this i have been doing in the past using the berkely method of composting. it's simply using activators (e.g. soil + water + yeast + sugar) and regularly mixing (e.g. tumbler or mixing with shovel) the material to speed up decompostion and produce compost in about 3 weeks - once most of the organic material completed the thermophilic process by the bacteria, then it's ready to be fed to the worms in the next stage ...

      next post will be about the worms that can be use in stage 2 (vermiculture or vermicomposting) ... cheers

      Boo!

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      • #5

        about the worms, well there are basically 3 types, (1) Endogeic, worms that live completely under the soil, (2) Anecic which lives both under the soil and above it with semi-permanent burrows, (3) Epigeic, worms that live mostly above the soil or just an inch or so under the soil (to hide from sunlight during daylight) and have no permanent burrows.

        for vermi culture or composting, you need the epigeic type of worms. the most common that you read in composting articles are the ANC or African Night Crawler (Eudrilus Eugeniae ; this grows to a foot long) and Red Wigglers (Eisenia Foetida). both are not native to PH.

        one worm that is native to PH, which i'm interested is Perionyx Excavatus (known as India Blue, Bark Worms, Spiketails). they are everywhere in PH. mature worms are about 4-8 cm long (3-4 inches).
        you can easily find them under decaying banana/wood trunks or decaying banana/coconut leaves. after a heavy rain, with a fork garden hand tool, scrape an inch or so of the top soil (most moist and dark soil area) and you'll likely to find these worms.
        the worm is light/pale red in color and has a bluish sheen near it's collar and its tail is a bit pointed (why it got it's name India Blue or Spiketails). when disturb, it thrashes around in the ground.
        in an ideal condition (80-85% moisture of the organic material), these worms reproduce more than the ANC worms. a mature worm on average will lay 24 cocoons per week in which about 19 worms on average will survive.

        having some info about the worm (Perionyx Excavatus) that is common here in PH, its time to test/verify if the info from the articles are true :-). this i'll discuss in my next post ... cheers

        Boo!

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        • #6

          in most of the articles i have read, ANC was the recommended worm species for vermicomposting. but it might be difficult to find a source of ANC here in our area since up to now i have not found a source yet :-) he he he. which is why i wanted to see if Perionyx Excavatus which is indigenous to PH can be a good substitute ...

          in late June when the rain started to be regular here in south cotobato, i started to setup a test to determine if the indigenous worm species P. Excavatus can be a good substitute for ANC ... below are some notes of how i performed the testing:

          the medium for the worms ...

          1. use a plastic wheelbarrow as a temporary bin for the worms.
          2. for the bedding use manually shredded cartons/egg trays that has been soak in water. for the testing, i just made the bedding about 1" thick.
          3. for the worm feedstock, use decaying grass + kitchen veggie garbage + shredded banana leaves until the wheelbarrow is half full. then cover everything with a layer of saw dust. lastly, cover the whole wheelbarrow with a plastic tarp to always keep it dark at all times.
          4. sprinkle water on the material on a regular basis to keep it very moist. this was done for a week to prepare the material before introducing the worms into it.

          gathering the worms (Perionyx Excavatus) for the testing ...

          1. this activity is not for the squeamish person :-) he he he ... after a heavy rain at night, next day, early morning look for worms around the area and take note of how many you have caught. in my case, all i need is a fork garden hand tool + a small bucket (e.g. small concrete plastic pail) with a little soil and simply pick up each worm that i found and place it in the bucket :-).
          2. all the worms i gathered each morning, i just place it in the wheelbarrow. over a 2-week period, i was able to gather 28 mature worms.

          verifying the results of the test ...

          after another 2 more weeks, i then manually checked how many worms are there in the wheelbarrow. the only way to do this is to dump all of the material in a plastic tarp and manually count/segregate the worms from the material. the total number of worms is now 67 which was 139% more than what i initially started in a period of just 4 weeks.

          the test showed that given an ideal environment (lots of moisture, food, and space) a local worm can perform much better in terms of reproduction to increase worm density in a given compost area.

          next item i will be posting is about the enclosure where the vermicomposting is to be done ... cheers

          Boo!

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          • #7

            since last year, i have seen a number of vermicompost setup here in our area, mostly of the bed type like a pit dug in the ground or a concrete bed above ground. all this types of setup (e.g. beds/bins, continuous flow-through, windrows) is readily available via the internet for one to learn.

            one aspect that is always limited or lacking in the design of the enclosure is its flexibility in terms of changing capacity in worms, feedstock, or compost output. without flexibility, it simply means additional cost and time in upgrading or degrading the setup to handle the changing scenario.

            consider the following possible scenarios in which changes in input or output is unavoidable which must be handled by the enclosure design to make it efficient:
            1. volume of worms: during the early stages of production, the volume of worms can be small (e.g. 1kg) but as you progress over a period of time, the volume of your worms will increase because they will always reproduce. if your enclosure is a fix size, then at some point, it will not be able to accommodate all the worms as overcrowding will happen which is not a good thing. the normal worm population density in vermicomposting is about 1kg per square feet of area (11kg per square meter).
            2. volume of feedstock: the normal ratio of feedstock to worms is 1:2 (e.g. 1kg of feedstock to 2kg of worms). with a given worm population density, there will be times when the supply of feedstock will be abundant and at times it's going to be low. so the enclosure must be able to handle this with an adjustable feeding area for the worms.
            3. volume of compost output: there will be times when you need to produce more compost for your needs or you want to produce a fix amount of compost constantly over a period of time. a good compost output estimate to use is 50% of the input volume - e.g. if the feestock is 1 cubic meter of material, then the compost material after the worms have processed it will be approximately 1/2 cubic meter.

            the windrow method of outdoor vermicomposting is i think a good candidate of a flexible system. with some modification to the wedge windrow method/design, it will be suitable even for a small scale DIY setup. for my case, it has to be an outdoor setup as my wife will never agree to an indoor vermicomposting setup :-)

            the enclosure i plan to make is basically a 'U' shape corral. the 2 opposite side walls is fix while the 3rd side wall is movable. at the open side, 2 movable walls (same size as the 3rd) are use to (1) limit the feeding current area of the worms and (2) prepare the next batch of feedstock. when the current area is completely eaten by the worms, the movable wall in the middle is remove for the worms to move and eat the next batch of feedstock. the wall that was removed is then use to setup the next batch of feedstock along side the current batch being eaten by the worms. thus in the process, the movement is going in one direction. once the end of the other side has been reached, the movement is reverse so that you now move in the opposite direction.

            next post is a more detailed description of the setup with a diagram of the design ... cheers

            Boo!

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            • #8


              early first week of Sep 2016, i completed the setup for the next phase of my vermi compost testing. using the kitchen sink and laundry waste water 'poso negro' concrete top area (1m x 1.2m) as the flooring, i built a bigger vermi compost test area. the details of the setup are below:
              1. floor area of the vermi compost is approx 1m x 1.2m
              2. use bamboos and scrap coco lumber for the walls (1m high) of the vermi compost
              3. use only half of the area for 2nd phase of my vermi compost testing - one wall was place in the middle of the 'poso negro' area instead of at the end to enclose only 1/2 of the area with bamboo.
              4. in a 1 week period, build up 1 foot high vermi compost in the enclose area using the following:
              - lowest portion of material consist of approx 2" high of shredded cardboard paper heavily soak in water. this serves as the base area for the worms to stay when not feeding.
              - the rest of the material consist of daily kitchen vegetable waste material and then covered with saw dust and then watered to prevent insects from accumulating in the compost material. this is done on a daily basis until you achieve the 1 foot high compost.
              5. once the material is 1 foot high, place the 67 adult worms (Perionyx Excavatus) into the compost.

              since Sep, the only thing i need to do is to check 2-3 times a week to make sure that the compost is always damp or wet. if the top portion of the compost is dry, i just use a pail of water to re-wet the material.

              after about 3+ months, today i notice that the compost looks completely done (e.g. black in color, granule in appearance even deep inside the compost, volume reduce by about 50%, height of the compost now is around 5-6"). experts also said that it takes about 3 months for the worms to completely process the material.

              this morning, i collected the compost using a small plastic pail (e.g. durable plastic pail use for pouring concrete) and transferred all the materials into a 'trapal' sheet to form a pile. i did the following to be able to count how many adult worms are in the compost:
              1. collected all of the adult worms visible in the pile.
              2. waited 3-5 minutes and then start scraping (top to bottom) the compost and collected it. while doing this, i also collect all the adult worms that i found and put them in a separate container.
              3. once you have collected 1 pail of compost, wait for about 3-5 minutes again and repeat the process. the 3-5 minutes waiting time is to give the worms some time to go to the bottom of the pile while you are harvesting the top portion.

              in about an hours time, i was able to complete the whole process. the result of the 2nd phase testing is below:
              1. collected 8 pails of rich vermi compost.
              2. collected 473 adult worms - 3-4" long whose body is about 1/2 the size of a cigarette stick, quite fat if i may say so :-) he he he
              3. with 67 worms to start with and ending with 473, that's a 700% increase. the high reproduction rate (i was expecting this) was due to abundant food and the big compost area compared to a small worm population.
              experts said that for a 1kg of adult worms in a 1' square area and 1' high compost material, you should get a reproduction rate of 300% in a 3 month compost cycle.
              4. i also notice that the harvested compost still has a lot of baby worms in it, about 1" in length which i never bothered to gather as they are too small to pick up one by one :-).
              5. also confirmed the statement of experts to be true in this 2nd testing - that worms will never leave an area as long as there is abundant food supply and it's conducive (always wet) to their reproduction.

              to complete the process and start all over again, i mix some old saw dust with some of the harvested compost to again cover a 2" high initial compost and then soak it in water and then put back the 473 adult worms into the compost area.
              in the next few days, build up again 1' high compost using kitchen waste and saw dust.
              with the same compost setup again, in the 3rd testing, i need to determine what will be the reproduction rate now given that there are more worms (473) to start in the next batch ... my goal is to get actual result data about Perionyx Excavatus while building my stock of the PH local worms ... need to wait again for 3 months for the next update :-) ... cheers

              Boo!
              DIYers Innovate ...

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