Gusanito Worm Farm


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1) How many lbs of worms shall I start out for a 4-tray Gusantio worm bin?
2) I cut up my orange rinds for the ordinary compost..shall I use them for the worm bin? I read on your page that they dont like citrus - does that apply to the citrus rinds?

Here are the answers to your questions:
1)The number of pounds you start with really depends on how fast you want your worms to start producing for you. I happen to have a lot of worms, so I went ahead and used 2.5 pounds to get my 5 tray started. However, you can easily start off with one pound and just ramp up a little more slowly. The worms will reproduce within a couple of months and you will have lots of them!
2) Citrus and citrus rinds are too acidic for worms. They will shy away from them in the bin, and if there is too much citrus then the bin will go "sour". Stay away from citrus altogether. Onions, too.

Good worming!

We have a 5-tray Gusanito bin, and we are on our second try. The first time (Feb) we started with two pounds of worms and had to leave town on an emergency. Our neighbor stepped in and fed them 1/2 a cup of food a day (I think this was a typo in the instructions that came with them). They all died within three weeks, but left behind legions of babies and cocoons. In April we tried again with another 2 pounds (we did not know about you yet, and I can promise future orders will be through you!), about 1/3 of which arrived dead (pe-ew!) due to being smashed in transit. The company offered to replace the whole order, but I wasn't sure we made enough waste to support three pounds of worms- so we just took a pound. So, now... four trays of the Gusanito are active. Most of the worms are in the bottom tray, which I wnat to harvest. BUT it is very wet, and FULL of babies as well as adults who seem happy and don't want to leave. I've tried coaxing by putting watermelon rind in the trays above. I've tried turning them over and replacing their cloth with brown paper (I was keeping a cloth- really the bag they were shipped in- over the bottom of the bottom-most tray to stop them from diving into the drip tray)... since it's so wet I've also put cardboard on the edges- I don't want to add more paper or coir unless I have to because our garden/farm really needs intense compost when we change over to late crops after the early ones harvest soon. Also, one of the upper trays is suddenly host to something I can't identify but which has me curious - it looks like seeds but not from anything we eat, it's not cocoons, and at first I thought it was some kind of creature but they don't move or change. I'll add the photos I took to this post. So the questions, to sum up, are:
What are the things in the pictures and do I need to address them?
How do I dry this bin out without adding much dry stuff?
How do I get the babies out of the tray whose compost I want to harvest?
How do I stop the bottom tray dwellers from diving into the drip tray without retaining excess moisture (or do you not think the cloth was a problem? Someone suggested weed cloth. What do you think?)
Thanks very much for what you do; we are very sustainability motivated and really appreciate your work and your website is lovely!

A follow up to the above... oh yeah, they don't eat much! I give them maybe 1/2 lb once a week, and they are barely keeping up. The bedding is coir, because I got a good deal on it and it is so easy; the shredded brown paper was getting hard to manage. We juice 4 days a week at a minimum and are gardeners with a mostly raw diet, so we would love to see them turn food into compost... it is more like babysitting the worms than having them work for us though. Ideas?

Please check out an answer to your questions here: http://www.mamaswormcomposting.com/2009/07/reader-question-how-to-harvest-worm-compost-from-the-gusanito-worm-farm.html

A couple other things: Don't feed too much, if any, citrus (you mentioned juicing). Make a new bottom tray and line the bottom with cardboard. The worms will love it, eat it, mate in it, and eventually it will turn into compost. Any excess water will flow through. Good worming!

Great site -- lots of wonderful info.
Found lots of good info & love your sense of humor (your husband's suggestions of harvesting spaghetti-style just cracked me up!).
Living in Alaska, I'm limited to indoors on account of bears in summer and cold in winter.

I've had a simple worm box (Rubbermaid box w/ holes) in the garage that has worked well for me, but am ready to move up to a worm bin systems such as the one you sell. Do you ship to Alaska? Sorry, I can't make your "contact us" work with my computer -- would you please email me back?

Thank you for your prompt responses to my questions. You are both informative and friendly. I intend to make this my first stop for worming!
I make all natural body lotions, sprays, and bath salts. Also lip balm...and other items... please visit my website at www.allnaturalforme.com

You don't need to waste citrus by not including it in worm bins.

This works as long as you are not a huge citrus eater, also depends on the size of you wormbin and other ingredients you add.

Experiment and watch the results.

When adding citrus, sprinkle ground limestone over the rind (not lime as it's too caustic for worms) preferably over the the moist part so it sticks. Make sure it's a good dusting.

I have found this neutralises the acidity and the worms get to work on the rinds.

Do I need to turn the compost and bedding in my Gusanito trays?

I have been reading over your website and other about how to start up a worm bin. I am planning on building the OSCR Junior this weekend. however, I know they have a lot of bins systems that you can buy. Is there a benift of buying one -v- making one. Is there a higher success rate with the bought ones?

thanks for the info.

I built one originally, and my worms just weren't as happy. It was difficult to keep sectioned off areas. The bedding tended to get packed down, any my worms didn't thrive. Within a month after moving my worms to a Gusanito bin they are flourishing and it's a lot easier to control the environment (including any pests - mine is an outdoor bin). I wish I'd started with it originally! If you're really trying to pinch pennies, it might be worth it to build your own, but in the long run I think it's probably cheaper to just buy one because you get faster results and more worms. But that's just from my own personal experience. Happy worm farming!

I was reading an earlier blog of yours and you had said you found out the hard way NOT to use horse shavings with their manure because it contained their urine and it ruined your composting. I think that is what has occurred for me. what did you add to your compost bin or bedding to counteract the urine in the horse manure ?? I also have a new worm compost bin from stopwaste.org and will be buying my worms from you. I live in Alameda near the Naval Air base and the weather is temperate in the winter/summer. Can I keep the bin outdoors in the shaded part of my large yard ??

thanks for all you do and any advice you can give now and in the future ---

John V.

I ended up mixing the material with water and garden sulphur. This worked alright, but it's still not the worms' favorite materials. I have started using compost from Sonoma Valley Compost for my bedding material (the "Vineyard Mulch"). I have found that the worms love it and it's just below 7 ph value. I think eventually the manure mixture will get incorporated.

Yes, as long as your bin is in full shade you will be fine! Thanks for the kind words.

I love worm composting and your site is great. I haven't been able to find what the nutritional value of worm compost is. For example, the organic composted cow manure I buy says its 1.0-1.0-1.0. I figuring worm compost is probably something like .5-.5-.5 or similar to cow manure. Do you have any idea? Most of the organic fertilizer I use is 4-3-3 and when I use compost and castings I try to keep tract of the value of what I add so I know how much blood meal or bone meal to add. I guess what I'm asking is can my organic garden be sustained just on worm compost or will I need to continue to add organic fertilizer?

I just started worm composting about four days ago and bought a pound of your worms from Flowercraft in San Francisco. We get a lot of fog and dew now in SF and my worm bin is outside in an area that does not get any direct sun but does get wet as it is not stored in a covered area. Will this create a problem? Should I bring the bin inside? (I've kept it outside just because I am not a lover of most insects and would prefer to keep them outside than inside.) Please advise on what would be best for the worms. Thank you!

Hi Kim,

I would suggest simply placing a plastic sheet over the bin when it's raining. Otherwise, you can leave the drainage spout open at all times so that any rainwater that does come in drains through and doesn't drown your worms. Hope this helps!

I have a very healthy bin. BUT I noticed some weird clusters of tiny brown egg looking things. They are not worm cocoons, for sure. And I also have some very teeny white bugs, they look almost like ants but are white, they are NOT baby worms, these things have legs and are kinda jointed bodies. But really small and in the hundreds of thousands.

Hi Leilani,

How are you? Nice to hear from you. :-)

The white guys are good and normal. They are among the many types of tiny bugs that pre-digest the food for the worms. In fact, they probably originated from the bag of worms I sent you myself. The eggs I'm not sure about, but unless you are overrun with flies or your worms are starting to die off, I wouldn't give it much thought. Wouldn't it be great if they were cocoons? Sadly, not so, of course. They are probably larvae of some other sort of microorganism. They could even be the larvae from the little white bugs (I have 1400sf of horse poop, so I don't have much time to dig around and diagnose which larvae is which).

Good luck! Let me know if anything starts to turn or smell bad.


I started a plastic composting bin in May and now I think it may be time to change bins, because some worms are crawling up the sides of the bin (although there are many happily hiding in the compost). What do you think? How do you know when it is time to change bins? And how do I get all the worm poop off the sides of the plastic bin?
Thanks for your help,


oakland/emeryville, can i come by to kick the tires of the compost tumblers and ask a few quick questions re odor and need for two? don't know if you keep any on hand or only by order.

-len raphael
4922 desmond st

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