Earthworm Incubator: Installation

2017-12-14

The purpose of incubating earthworm is to reuse kitchen waste to produce fertilizer.

The size is 50x50x28cm. (Price does not include freight, lid, and PET bottle)

If you need bigger case (can be extended to any size), please contact us.

Environment requirements and feeding

(Thanks to Prof. Chen, Dr.  Lai and Mr. Hsu for their advisory.)

Bed

  1. Cultivation Soil (+Coconut fiber).
  2. woodchips and dry leaves.
  3. newspaper and cardboard has to be shredded.
  4. Mushroom fertilizer.
  5. If no particular problem, the bed can be their home for a long time.
  6. Can be used alone or mixed with dry leaves or stiches. Spray water unto it and adjust the humidity at 60%~80%, then the bed is ready to use.

Environment:

  1. Temperature: Within 15℃~25℃. When temperature is below 10℃, earthworms become less active and lose appetite; when above 30℃ and worm food is heated up, worms may die.
  2. Humidity (>60%): proper humidity falls within 50~80%. (For an ordinary cultivation box, humidity should be kept within 50~80%, water about to come out when use hand to squeeze it.) Usually, a beginner makes a common mistake that is over watering when the soil surface becomes dry. Too much water retained at the bottom soil layer and food turning stinky would cause worms to fled away. For better practice, stick finger into the soil to test the humidity. A little bit wet is enough.
  3. Ventilation: the more air supply the better. (Every 3~4 weeks, the few inches top level of the bed should be stirred a little bit.)
  4. Light and vibration: do not expose earthworms under light nor disturb them.
  5. pH(5~9): at pH6~8 earthworms grow best; pH7~7.5 largest amount of earthworm cocoons. pH will decrease along with time (if feed worms the food with pH>7, pH decrease more slowly). When pH<7 mite and toxic proteins will grow. CaCO3 can be used to adjust pH.
  6. Position of the incubator: avoid direct sunlight and rain. Maintain steady temperature and humidity. Balcony, roof top, kitchen, garage, basement are all suitable. Need shade in summer when temperature exceeds 30℃. In winter, when temperature is under 5-10℃, it’s better to move them indoor.

Food for earthworms:

  1. Uncooked leftover – fruit peel (esp. watermelon), coffee grounds, tea leaves, tree leaves, eggshell, papers (newspapers, napkins). Eggshell can be used as calcium supplement; newspapers as neutralizer of acid/alkali.
  2. Crushing the food into puree or fine pieces, by grinder or juicer. Cooked soybean dregs are also good.
  3. Things should be avoided:
    • Droppings of cats and dogs;
    • Citrus fruit: tangerine, orange, pomelo;
    • Hot and spicy vegetable such as green onion, garlic, leek, ginger, onion, etc.
    • Food contains oil and salt (cooked leftovers need to be washed before feeding)
    • Diary and meat (would become breeding ground for insect pests)
    • Mayonnaise
    • Peanut butter
  4. Do not cover up whole surface with food when feeding. It’s recommended to divide the surface into four quarters. Put food in one of the quarters at a time and in turn. The leftovers produced by each family usually need more than 1,000 earthworms to digest. Feed with little amount each time but frequently. Only feed when food is eaten up. Be careful when feed the food which contains high nitrogen.
  5. Do not water them every day.

Harvest earthworm feces: using food as bait to let worms move. 

  1. Horizontal method: divide incubation area into two or more zones. Put fresh food at one zone, and wait until worms move to the food side, then you can harvest the worm fertilizer from the no-food side. And do it again in reverse.
      
  2. Vertical method: Because earthworm is light sensitive, you can put a light shining from above and the worm will escape and get down to lower layer. Then you can harvest the fertilizer layer by layer.
    harvest the fertilizer layer by layer. Put the remaining worms in fresh food. 
  3. Mixed (horizontal and vertical) method: you may combine both methods.

Make incubation case from Frame set

  1. Incubation case (50 x 50 cm x 80 cm)
    a. one set of 1×1 double-decker Frame set
    eight connection poles

    four pole bases

    eight Frame50 side boards and eight side-base boards  If it is to make the frame size of 25x50cm, half of them have to be changed to Frame25 side boards and side board bases. [to be provided soon.] 

    four base plates and sixteen bottles

    one piece of bottom fabric (487.5 x 487.5mm)

    two pieces of breathable and light-stop non-woven fabric: attach to side board to prevent earthworms from escaping.

    scissors and double-sided tape (not provided in kit)

    b. cover: a piece of board about 55cm x 55cm in size; may add a handler too (optional)
  2.  Earthworms

Installation procedure:
The following procedure mainly demonstrate how to install a 1×1 double-deck frame.
(1) Assemble  2×2 base plate and put on bottles.

Please refer Base: Installation for how to assemble the base. Put the base as flat as possible to ensure its stability  
Then, assemble a single- or double-deck Frame set on the base.
There’s a round-shape mark above the side board and on the side board base respectively, which are to be seen from outside after installation and both marks are at the same side.

The round-shape mark on the side board base has to be at the same side as the round-shape mark on the side board.

To improve the fastness, small barbs are designed to hook side board and its base. 

The red marks on the side board represent the heights of 5.5cm, 8cm, 9.5cm, 12.5cm and 13.5cm respectively, by which the height of soil put in the frame can be known. 

(2) First, hook up two connection pole base with one side board base.

(3) Put the assembled base on the base plate, as show below.  Be sure the round-shape mark on the side board base has to face outside. The prominent points on the bottom of the base has to be fastened to the ditch on the base plate to fix the position. 




 
Assemble one connection pole at each corner.

Assemble the side boards to the side board bases with their round-shape marks face outside.
  


Single deck set (50x50cm).
  
The photos below show the frame size of 25x50cm. Half of the site boards are Frame25, which are 3D printed currently. Photos will be replaced once the boards are manufactured.
   

If it is to make a double-decker, additional connection poles and side boards are needed.

  

(4)Put bottom fabric into the frame.

Single deck sets:
(50x50cm)
    
(25x50cm)
 
Double deck set:

(5) Put a piece of thinner and breathable fabric on side boards.

Stick a 5cm double-sided tape on the fabric and add one more at the distance of every 10cm.
 
Stick a 2.5cm double-sided tape under the fabric ad add one more at the distance of every 5cm. (Because there’re two layers, two pieces of fabric are provided. You may find one piece of fabric but big enough in size, but be sure the fabric is breathable.)

Photo of finished work

Stick the fabric on the frame side from the starting point, as indicated in the following photo.

Photos of finished single-deck incubator.
(50x50cm)

(25x50cm)

Photos of double-deck incubator.

(6) Pour incubation layer into frame (about 7cm for single-deck).
Put a mark surrounding the the think fabric at the place 7 cm above the bottom.
 


Put soil or other materials as the bed.

(7) Prepare the lid 
Install a handler (optional): drill two holes on the lid and screw up the handler to it.

Put handler on the front side of lid and screw it up from back side of lid

Lid is finished

(8)Put on lid then the job is done.

(9) The liquid in the bottles can be diluted and used as fertilizer.