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Use of plastics and what we are doing about it.

Worms Direct has been in business for almost 20 years, during this period we have been conscious of the use of environmentally unfriendly materials and processes, it was inevitable that plastics would be used, particularly in packaging after all, worms tend to live in damp materials!
The tubs we use are manufactured from high grade plastics making them readily reusable and easily recycled, boxes and packaging are of cardboard or paper, again easily recycled, we admit we did get drawn into using plastic tape for the packaging, mainly because it was quick and easy to use, however, we have now dispensed with plastic tapes and replaced it with gummed paper tape and it looks a lot smarter! the plastic documents enclosed envelopes used for attaching the paperwork have been replaced by “green” envelopes, the manufacturers claim these biodegrade in a few months but there seems to be some doubt about this if and when buried deep in landfill so we are still looking for a viable alternative.
The biggest challenge we still have is finding an alternative to the white woven poly bags we use for the larger orders of worms, we have looked at cotton and hessian bags, both ideal but very expensive to buy ready made, we have been making up our own but this is not ideal so the search goes on.
There are several other areas where we are eliminating plastics too many to list but an example being we no longer use the plastic bags supplied by the courier for shipping lightweight items as a “5kg pack” instead we are paying a little extra to send them as a normal parcel in a cardboard box.

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Chilly Mealworms?

Posted on the forum in Feb 2009, ianandjoy want to know is it cruel to chill mealworms?

“I have up until now kept my medium sized mealworms on the top shelf of the fridge supplied with porridge oats to supplement their bran. They appear to have kept OK for 2-3 weeks but I must admit to not knowing what a poorly worm looks or behaves like.
The current recommendation to not keep them in the fridge – are they more likely to go into the beetle phase being out of the fridge and is it cruel to chill them?
I have fed them apple and banana and they are eating these, so I am expecting to see more beetles in future.

Many customers tend to keep their mealworms in a fridge but usually this is a bit too chilly, they tend to go dormant and this slows their feeding down, like all living creatures, lack of food leads to losing condition, however, as you say, the warmer you keep them the quicker they will turn to pupae and then beetles, the pupae are almost immobile and look like little aliens but birds will still feed on them quite happily.

We find the ideal temperature to keep them is around 10degC so possibly the top part of a warmer fridge may be fine or at this time of year a garage or somewhere similar, freezing temperatures will definitely harm them. If they are feeding ok they will continue to shed light brown dried skin as they grow and you will see white, fairly soft mealworms in the container that have recently shed their skin, they will also consume more food.

The dry, dusty material that collects should be sieved off every now and then. Apple and Banana, particularly Banana skin is a great source of food and moisture but don’t put too much on causing the dry food to become damp and mouldy creating problems.
A poorly worm just dies off, dries and turns black and its not cruel to chill them as they would experience colder temperatures in the “wild” Hope this helps.

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Do blackbirds have long memories?

A nice story posted by gbw in April 2009…

“For a number of years families of blackbirds have used the same nest in the garden. Each year I have fed them mealworms from when the young appear to the point where they have fledged. At the beginning of the season I keep the amounts relatively low and build up as the spring and summer warm up and the parent birds show signs of exhaustion as the drier, harder ground makes finding food more difficult. The norm seems to be 4 clutches of four young.
I put the food out in a plastic tray which I tie to the back rail of the garden bench and very quickly the female blackbird becomes quite tame and will tolerate me being close. I generally make sure she gets used to me because of the garden noise (mower, moving bins and so on) could be quite stressful and I wouldn’t want her to abandon the nest. She quickly realises when food is going out and is at the bench before I get there.
I was very suprised this year when I found the female waiting on the back rail of the bench when I was attaching the tray for the first time. Not only does this suggest that it is the same female from last year, but that she remembers the feeding routine and was able to anticipate it before I even came out with the white plastic pot! Good to see she survived the winter, and has what seems to be an outstanding memory.
This first batch has only been three young and they fledged this morning. Bad news for our two cats and italian spinone – they are going to be kept in for a few days until the young move away from the garden. The dog is more risk than the cats – she can sense the young and find them in the bushes.”

Hello gbw

I think you are right about Blackbirds and their memories, we have a female bird that returns every year and we know it’s the same bird as she has a displaced wing feather which is the same every year, my office door is open to the area where the birds feed and a couple of years ago she started coming into the office looking for food and she was then given her own tray of mealworms, this year, having not really seen her since last year, she was back stamping round the office DEMANDING her tray which was, of coarse, immediately put out so she clearly remembers the routine!

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How many??

Posted in Feb 2009, afcbpaul asks about the number of worms in a wormery.

“OK I am very new to this, but I am a grass care professional and I would like vermicompost to make compost tea.

I have access to large amounts of horse manure, and I know that will make good worm feed once it has completed the first hot composting.

But what I would like to know is:
1.Is it better to have fewer large worms in my wormery or many more smaller ones?”

The more worms you have the quicker the waste will be composted, also if you have a mix of sizes, you will have worms of breeding size that will be busy laying eggs, increasing the population and there will also be juveniles and babies that like all creatures will be feeding and growing. Have a look at our advice sheet,  “Establishing Your Wormery


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Reusing Old Bin Contents

Previously posted on our forum the following post form March 2009 asks is there any use for old composting bin contents.


I have two worm bins, one of which is fine and healthy, but the other unfortunately needs to be started afresh. It’s about two thirds full, the contents are dark brown but not smelly, but very wet – well, sodden really. I didn’t drain it often enough, I didn’t put in enough paper and the whole thing became wet and therefore anaerobic and that’s why my old worms died. The fault and associated guilt are all mine, and I promise not to let it happen again! My question is, can I reuse the contents? It’s surely full of microorganisms which I can’t quite bring myself to just get rid of, and I also don’t have a garden to just tip it out onto to start again. I don’t propose, obviously, to just chuck it all into a new worm environment – I thought I could drain it, then mix in paper/cardboard until it’s dry enough to store in an old compost bag or bucket, then start the bin anew and just add the old stuff a little at a time over a long period. I’m also wondering whether it could be of use to feed or mulch very hungry plants that need a lot of moisture like courgettes or potatoes (more of a gardening question I know, but if you don’t ask you don’t get), or whether I should treat it as poisonous and find some discreet place to get rid of it. I’d very much appreciate any ideas or advice.

Many thanks,

From the details it does sound as if the “compost” was heading towards being anaerobic, if it was fully anaerobic it would have an unpleasant smell about it, heading to being anaerobic could well have killed off the worms particularly if your wormery is of a design with a clamp down lid designed to prevent worms from leaving whatever the conditions! if not then it is more likely the deteriorating conditions would have caused the worms to leave, end result is no worms and dubious compost.
If the compost is truly anaerobic the micro-organisms (and gasses) will be harmful to worms and would do your plants no favours either, best disposed of the best way you can. If it does not smell then treating it as you suggest and feeding back to a new worm system should cause them no problems, use your nose for a decision!
See our advice sheet about Liquid Feed From a Wormery for more about aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

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Could I start a small wormery indoors?

In the past I have been asked by customers if a wormery can be kept inside.

Below is my response to a forum question posted by woofwoof in 2009;

“hi i am a keen angler but i live in a flat with no garden could i start a small wormery indoors, do they smell ?”

Wormeries are a great way of breeding a supply of worms for fishing and getting rid of some kitchen waste! The most commonly used worm in fishing is the Dendrobeana it also happens to be an extremely good composting worm, although “Tiger worms” are often claimed to be sold on websites for composting it is actually Dendrobaena you are likely to be supplied with.

If a wormery is running properly you will get no smell, any offensive smell from a wormery is a clear indication that things are going wrong, from this point you are safe in keeping one indoors, HOWEVER, the waste that is put in for the worms should ideally be high in vegetable and fruit waste, as this decomposes it will inevitably attract the tiny fruit fly and this could be a real nuisance so from this point it may not be such a good idea indoors, whatever the claims, there are no wormeries that exclude access to this fly, it can be controlled to a certain extent but during the warmer months it will be present. If possible I would keep it outdoors, even on a balcony or similar.
We supply a smaller wormery called the Tumbleweed and you can find it on our website under fishing mail order called “The worm breeder” it is supplied complete with the necessary bedding and choice of Dendrobaena worms and would usually be fed on the waste veg and fruit BUT there is an alternative, instead of using waste fruit and veg you could keep topping it up with the specially prepared bedding, this would not attract fruit fly, would feed the worms but, although low cost, would need to be purchased from us.
I hope this has been of some use.

Regards, Nigel.