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Compost worms

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:50 pm
by Odsox
Where do compost worms come from, anybody know ?
I'm talking about the Tiger Worms that you get in your compost bins. I've never come across Tiger Worms in the soil except when I've just spread compost and digging it in.
But .. last year I foolishly bought one of those rotary composters (foolishly as it doesn't work as easily as the make out) and today I opened it and stirred the contents, only to find Tiger Worms.
Now, this composter is off the ground by about 9", so where did the worms come from ?
Before you ask, the contents were pure grass mowings and shredded newspaper.

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:23 pm
by diggernotdreamer
These worms, brandlings, Tiger Worms or their latin name Eisnenia Foetida don't actually live in soil, they spend their time in leaf litter, decaying vegetable matter and manure. It is possible that the eggs were in your grass lurking under some leaves or old mulch and when you put your mowings into the tumbler, you picked up the eggs with the mowings and the worms hatched out. I read somewhere a long time ago, eggs can be present on vegetables waiting for an opportune moment to hatch, if you look under flower pots, you always find some underneath

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:38 pm
by Skippy
Odsox wrote:Where do compost worms come from, anybody know ?


Well when a mommy worm and a daddy worm love each other........

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:48 am
by Odsox
Skippy wrote:
Odsox wrote:Where do compost worms come from, anybody know ?


Well when a mommy worm and a daddy worm love each other........


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:33 am
by Green Aura
I was going to suggest eggs in your source material and then it occurred to me that I have absolutely no idea how worms reproduce!

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:03 am
by Odsox
Thanks for that DnD, that makes perfect sense if they lay there eggs on leaf litter etc.

But now I have another question, if I try to make compost with pure grass mowings instead of 50% brown added I get a slimy wet goo.
Yesterday I mowed the lawn for the first time since November and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't clean the mower last time. When I started it up it threw large chunks of brown stuff out from underneath, which turned out to be perfectly composted grass.
Any idea of the mechanism behind that ?
The only thing I can think is that no heat was involved, so it must have been aerobic. But it only took 2 cold months to totally break down the grass into a dry powdery compost.
Now if I could only manage to do that in bulk I'd be happy as a pig in whatsit.

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:55 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I guess that the conditions were just right for the grass to dry under the mower, it didn't get wet again, there was some kind of air flow which allowed it to dry out, bit like when they find mummified body's in the loft, the right combination of slow decompostion and air flow. Inside a tumbler, there is no airflow, it starts to sweat and there is nowhere for the moisture to transpire, which is why you need the paper to take up the moisture. A few months back, I put paper on top of some beds and covered with the last of the grass mowings to keep the weeds down, it is now perfectly brown dried grass

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:19 pm
by Odsox
Mmm, well conditions were obviously just right, but I wish I knew what those conditions were.
If there's no airflow you get sludge, if you have airflow you get hay.
This was perfectly crumbly compost, unrecognisable as grass.

Mind you, if you have no airflow but with fermentation you get silage, so there's more than one way to deal with mown grass. As I get vast amounts of grass mowings from now onwards, perhaps some experimentation is in order

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:44 pm
by Weedo
They don't care! daddy is mommy and mommy is daddy but they really get twisted when they get together.

Odsox - the reason your grass goes to goo is simply that it is 80 -90% water with only a little mechanical tissue to hold it up, if it was then out in the rain it added to the problem. If you can get aeration (regular turning) in cool composting you will get a usable product, If you can get fermentation you will get silage but not compost (if you know a helpful farmer who makes silage try to grab a handful and use in the same way as a yeast culture) and will still need to go through the turning process with aeration. Old hay and silage bales left out in the stack for a couple of years (yes, I do store my hay in uncovered stacks in the open air) do begin to turn into a great compost fairly quickly.

Under your mower was dry but the grass was compacted, natural bacteria and fungi obviously had the right conditions.

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:50 pm
by diggernotdreamer
[quote="Odsox"]Mmm,
This was perfectly crumbly compost, unrecognisable as grass.

Oh, I understand now, maybe our friends the little compost worms had something to do with this, when my teabags go through the worms (I have a worm bin and they live on tea bags) they produce dark compost, so maybe the grass attracted some worms there and they converted it to worm casts,

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:26 pm
by Weedo
Worms on a larger scale?
I have just bought some processed worm castings; 2000kg of them. The material is worm casting, added micronutrients and added microorganisms. Some may recall my previous posts regarding the degraded state of my soils, the virtual non-existence of organic matter and lack of microbial activity (dead soil). Well, this is an attempt (experiment) to use another method to rectify the problem. I can throw tones of artifical fertiliser at the problem but if the soild are dead and compacted nothing is really achieved. I can put organic matter into the soil with green manure crops but if there is nothing to process it it does nothing.

The site is about 20 Ha, has only been used for grazing for the past 15 years and has had little fertiliser in that time except for some urea. The whole site will be ploughed and irrigated - 10 Ha will receive the worm poo at 100Kg / Ha ploughed in. the whole site, at sowing, will receive 40Kg/Ha placed under the seed - so 10 Ha will have 140Kg / Ha total and 10Ha 40kg/Ha undersown.
The whole area will be sown to Sorghum this summer and irrigated via two travelling sprinklers cover 60m wide swathes each (if I can get the @*^#* contractors off their posterior protrusions to lay the piping).

The main target is soil condition and soil activity as well as plant growth differences between the two. No differnt to you guys on your patches, just a slightly different scale.
Worm Poo.jpg
Worm Poo.jpg (90.08 KiB) Viewed 160 times

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:07 am
by Flo
Oh my Weedo that's quite some quantity to try and get your soil up to scratch. Is the cost worth the end results is the question?

It's taken some 10 years to get the soil on number 1 allotment to a really wormful condition. Number 2 plot wouldn't know a worm if it saw one and only seems to have some slugs that attack potatoes in smaller quantities. Not even wood lice and I thought that these lived almost anywhere with wood type remains (hedge cuttings, border edges ...). After 11 months I know that it's going to be the long haul.

Re: Compost worms

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:17 pm
by Weedo
I will take what improvement I can get so will try this; I really need to get the soil condition up and improve the bioactivity. Result is to get a better use and cycling of natural and applied nutrients, better root penetration and better water holding capacity. Out of this there should also be a much improved breakdown of crop residues.

I have a 4 tonne, 28 disc plough behind a 200 Hp tractor and can't penetrate more than 50mm on this site- full cultivation depth should be 300mm.

The cost in materials works out at about $70 per Ha X twice annually plus application time - too high for my average paddock but,as this one will be irrigated, cost recovery should be OK.

My veg patch, except for the raised beds that have been "loved" is like your #2 plot - I can barely get a spade into it in summer.