Homestead Worm Ranch 101- The preliminaries : LUSENET : A Country Singletree : One Thread

Go out and "shop around" a little to find a suitable bin. a 60 quart Rubbermaid style tub with lid is a minimum requirement. a plastic pick up truck toolbox makes an excellent bin and is more geared to eventual commercial operations. Bins of this type can be purchased at retailers such as Big Lots / Odd Lots , K- Mart, Wal Mart, Family Dollar, General Dollar and Target for between $4 and $9. I found the dollar stores generally have off brand models at $4 to $5 a piece. Bin color is of minimal concern, clear is just as suitable as dark.

Next find a fishing bait shop that sells "Red Wiggler" bait worms. Different areas of the country may have various names for these. red wiggler, tiger worm, brandling and manure worm are some of the names you may find. Be wary if you see someone advertising a "hybrid worm" at a higher cost ( the reason being is that there is no known "hybrid worms. Hermaphroditic creatures don't readily force hybrid). Cost of the worms should be between $2 and $4 per container ( I f they cost more than this in your area, worm ranching is definatly for you :>). DO NOT buy your worms just yet. Wait until you have your other materials on hand and your bin ready for population to buy the worm stock to ensure healthy stock for cultivation.

Other items to acquire are:

A Sunday newspaper $1.50

10 pound bag unscented clay kitty litter 2.00

25 pound bag composted cow manure 1.00

leaves free

This is all you have to acquire to begin your own homestead composting system.

We will cover modification of the bin in the next thread. Please post here as you get the items listed so that those of us that started this adventure can progress together and help each other in the search for materials if neccesary. We can also keep track of our progress better this way.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 10, 2002


I'd like to add or amend a few things from my own worm experience. Hehe Jimmi you didn't know I too had worms at one point in my life. Yep I got a local school into worm composting leftover lunches.

Coffee Grounds. If you work at a school/or know anyone at the school offer to take their coffee grounds. They may go moldy, that's o.k.!

Brown paper towels. Again many schools or offices use these type of towels. Offer to take the used ones off their hands. Everyone is happy to be rid of garbage they don't have to have hauled away.

In our bins we used some sort of plastic grate. I found the old florscent light fixtures with the plastic grid stuff is good. Also some sort of landscape cloth. These went in the bottomof the bin. First the grid then the cloth. It kept the worms dry and safe. We also put a spout on our bins. Worms produce a liquid/juice and you need to be able to pour it off. Liquid gold!!!!!!

Good job Jay!

Hope you don't mind my additions/alterations


-- Susan in Mn (, March 10, 2002.

Don't mind at all. Wait until you see a few of the possible bin modifications. I bought us a new dryer last year so I could us the old one as parts on one of my bins in a commercial upgrade.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 10, 2002.

I have dry sort of powdered horse manure. Will that work? If so, then I am ready. I already have all of the other stuff.

-- Jodie in Tx (, March 11, 2002.

Jay and all.. this is a great idea. I have a friend who is very interested in this subject and does not have a computer. So I will copy out all your instructions and pass on to him. I think he mainly wants to keep a supply sufficient enough for his own use and some left over for his son-in-laws etc. They all live on the lake and do a lot of fishing, mostly catch and release. Thanks for taking your time to do this. C

-- Carole (, March 11, 2002.

Not single but am interested in worms .I am very far North in NY , will they do ok ? I want to put worm bins under my rabbits , will this be ok ? Thanks, Patty

-- Patty {NY State} (, March 11, 2002.


The powdered "horse buscuits" will work just fine as a manure feed additive.

NOTE: The only requirements of the manures used is that it not be high in heavy metals and other toxins and be precomposted to eliminate anerarobic decomposition and heating in the worm bin.

Cow, horse, rabbit and goat manures are the first choices followed by chicken manure as an alternate choice (chicken manure often takes two heating cycles to be usuable as bin additive)

* While I personally do not use swine effulent in my compost production, I have read where worms are used to process it for disposal on grass fields at large farms. Most articles that I have read group swine manure in with the other toxic manures that should be avoided in vermicomposting for food product use.

Manures considered non-suitable for food production use vermicomposting are human, swine, dog and cat feces. This is due to toxity, heavy metal content and/or communicability potential of desiese.

Cat feces can be a source of Toxiplasmosis, which can cause brain damage in fetus' through exposure by the mother to infected medium. So it it important. when operating a vermicompost system in your home, cats are not allowed access to the bin. They will use it as a litter box .

Swine effulent can pass on ringworm and other desieses. Chicken manure is high in ammonia. These can be utilized, however extra pre vermicompost decompositions are required to neutralize the toxic components

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 11, 2002.

Being as it is still very much winter in my neck of the woods, question then: ideal temperature? where to leave the bin. I'm not wanting to leave it in the house.

-- Jim-mi (, March 11, 2002.

Patty in NY! The worms will freeze and die if you leave them outside to overwinter. They do not need to be too warm but if you want active worms you need to keep them where there is a heat source during the winter months. They do not smell so you can keep them in your house.


-- Susan in MN (, March 11, 2002.

Yeah.. I know, stupid question, but how do you precompost? Such as goat manure? have plenty of that. C

-- Carole (, March 12, 2002.

During my work as a student technical instructor in college, the instructor to whom I was assigned told me the only stupid questions are the ones that are unasked or you fail to ask again should you not understand the first time.

I have listed all the questions that were asked in this thread and we will have them as part of our discussions in our woekshop threads.

You guys just imagine me sitting here in mortar board cap and gown and a "red wiggler " for a tassle and we will start our studies.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 12, 2002.

I read somewhere, maybe ATTRA, that to keep worms over winter in cold climates; put a trough filled with fresh cow manure lengthwise to the center of the bed, put on a tight sealing top and pack it with snow. The composting manure gives off enough heat to see them through. I haven't tried it.

-- mitch hearn (, March 12, 2002.

Carole, That is the beauty of goat and rabbit and I am sure sheep. It doesn't need composting. You can use it right from the animals. The best tomatoes I ever had were from the year I put a scoop of rabbit poop under each plant. I have never had so many tomatoes.


-- Susan in MN (, March 13, 2002.

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