Saturday, October 24, 2009

More questions on manure

I have received request for information from one of my subscribers to my Worm Bin Composting Course.

Here are her questions:

My worms said they're already ready to move on, so preparing new bin. The old bedding is already gorgeous dark stuff :)And the worms are climbing to the top, so time to move, right? Does that seem right? Most of what I read usually gives longer times. Maybe mine is too shallow and they compost it all faster?

Main question is - what to do with horse manure before using it in the worm bin.

About a month ago I got a small box of it from a guy down the street and it's been sitting on my back patio. The horses had been dewormed 3 wks before that. It's dry, so it needs to soak, right? Not sure of the ratio of manure to carbon material. Can you direct me to the info?

There is no set in stone time to move your worms. If you have the right set up, ie. a worm tower, you are free to move your worms whenever you want. The difference will be the amount of castings that will be in your finished material. The longer the worms work it, the more castings.

The amount of time it takes for worms to work is unique to each system. It depends on many factors. The size of bin in relation to the amount of worms and how ideal you keep the system - temp, moisture...and how you feed. The worms will consume bedding material in relation to how much fresh "food stock" you provide.

I have recently made a post on my blog about using manure.

However, I will elaborate for your specific questions.

One of the main reasons manure is a perfect bedding for worms is that you don't have to worry about C - N ratios. The material has a near perfect balance already. Moisture is the biggest concern.

If the material has been sitting dry then you want to put it into something that you can wet it down and let the excess moisture runoff. Make sure that ALL the manure absorbs moisture. Then you need to let it sit and make sure it is not going to heat up. It is always best to let the manure sit in a composting state at least 3 months if not 6. That means it needs to have moisture and air incorporated into the material.

If the manure is manure pooped from the horses three weeks after worming I don't think there should be any worming chemicals in the poop. There is mixed info on that anyway, since the worms that the worming chemicals target are different from the composting worms. Just always a good idea to let the material compost at least 3 - 6 months. I usually get a load in the fall that I let sit over winter and use in the spring/summer. Then another load in the spring I use in the winter/fall.

But everyone has their own set up. Just make sure the material is not going to compost further after you add your worms and start adding other bedding and food stock. The temps could kill your worms.

Hopes this helps. As a final note in regards to your setup - I always listen to my worms. If they are telling me they are happy I don't change a thing. Why mess with success. If your bin works for you and keeps the worms happy you're doing everything right.


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Let's Talk Shit! I Mean Manure :)

Manure is my bedding of choice for starting a worm bin.

I mean, think about it. What is the other name for red worms...manure worms.

You dig around in a healthy pile of composted manure, no matter what kind and you are going to find red worms.

So let's look at some guidlines about manure if that is a route you want to take.

  1. Any type of manure will do - horse, cow, pig, llama, alpaca, rabbit, zoo doo... Stay away from domesticated animal and bagged retail manure.

  2. If the source is questionable (ie. medicines or other ingredients otherwise not natural) then you will want to let the manure set for 6 months.

  3. Non-composted manure or fresh manure should not be used for bedding. The main reason is because the bedding will start heating up and this will surely kill your worms.

  4. Manure that has been removed from stalls should not be used as this will contain high concentrations of urine and salts. Worms will not like that.

  5. When I set up my manure for composting I build a three sided bin out of old pallets and pile the manure inside. This creates a pile much like a conventional compost pile and will allow the material to heat up, killing pathogens and weed seeds.

  6. I try to control the moisture in the pile much like that of a conventional compost pile as well. If needed I will cover the pile to prevent too much moisture leaching out nuturients or creating an anaerobic condition in the bottom of the pile.

  7. You'll notice when a pile is fresh there aren't too many other critters hanging out. Once these other critters start moving in I figure it's ready for the worms.

  8. With a new bin started with manure, you don't mix it up too much or you will get active composting happening. Just add food stock the first three months in small amounts, then you can start layering in different bedding material. Always be mindful of composting. Things can get real hot real fast and fry all the inhabitants.

  9. Other bedding materials I layer in after the first 3 months - shredded newspaper, leaves, grass clippings (sparingly).

Has this created more questions than answers for you. Send them to me and we will answer them together.

Happy worming,

Christy Ruffner

Worm Factory® 360

New product online now

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I have so many emails from all of you asking questions, needing answers, looking for solutions...and you know what? I haven't been able to get back to any of you.

Lots of reasons all dealing with a little thing called life. But I promise!!! I will be setting aside a whole day (fingers crossed), Friday to personally write each and every one of you.

Many of your questions are so good that I am simply going to have to write a blog post for the benefit of everyone.

So have heart folks... I have not foresaken any of you. I will be in touch.