December 2011

Winter Vermicomposting-12-09-11

I finally decided to finish off my winter vermicomposting bed yesterday afternoon (while my WF-360 was having a “time-out” on the deck – haha) – good thing, too! It ended up snowing quite a bit overnight and this morning.

As you can see, the design is a wee bit different from my usual “worm composting windrows”. Our street was torn up this fall for water main work, and they ended up yanking out a couple of nice railway ties that bordered the entrance to my driveway. I can’t say I was too pleased, initially, to still see them sitting on my driveway when all the work was complete – but it certainly didn’t take me long to come up with a way to put them to good use!

One of the things I found annoying about the windrow beds was their tendency to be messy – it was very easy for materials to fall out while doing any work with them. The ties will serve as a nice retaining wall, making it easier to keep things tidy. I’m confident they will also add some insulation value as well!

The first thing I did was stuff the space between the ties and the windrow with fall leaves.

I then moved back the upper layer of straw and removed a substantial quantity of wormy material from the bed for the purpose of re-stocking the shelving-unit-worm-beds in my basement.

Next, I added a decent quantity of food scraps, along with some leftover squash etc (chopped up) from the garden, before dumping in the older material from my indoor bins and covering with a thick layer of fall leaves.

Lastly, I topped everything off with a nice thick layer of straw…

…before securing my trusty winter windrow tarp over top! (shown in first image above)

Previous 2011/2012 Winter Vermicomposting Posts
Winter Vermicomposting 2011

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Worm Factory 360 | 12-09-11

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

In this case, most of those words would look something like this: “@#*$!”

So, yeah…it seems my mellow ways have landed me in hot water…UhhhhGAIN! This time with a different little annoying pest. The day after I added the “1.39 lb” of food waste (see “Worm Factory 360 | 12-01-11“), I noticed lots and lots of fruit flies (more than usual – haha) down in the room where I keep the wf-360 – and, sure enough, plenty of them seemed to be hanging out around the bin!

Obviously, I shouldn’t be too surprised! Raising fruit flies on purpose is bound to land you in trouble eventually, right? lol

OK – joking aside, I should explain that the situation isn’t quite as bad as it looks. My Worm Factory 360 isn’t actually sitting out on my deck in sub-freezing weather – well, at least not anymore! I put the bin out there for a period of time yesterday (perhaps a couple of hours) to see if I could kill off the resident fruit flies. I also worked hard to vacuum up as many fruit flies in the house as I could find (LOTS).

All of this has certainly helped, but I think the main problem was that there were still plenty of fruit flies inside the house, and yes – now that the bin is inside and warm again, it seems they have decided to move in….UhhhhGAIN!

Thankfully my wife is used to my shenanigans (and the critters that seem to follow) by now, so it doesn’t look like I’ll sleeping on the deck myself quite yet – but, I do think it’s time to start focusing a bit harder on getting rid of the FFs! Unfortunately, the nematodes just don’t seem to be up to the task of really keeping them under control (hope to write more about this soon) – especially not in an active worm bin – so it’s back to my “multi-pronged” approach I go.

Needless to say, I won’t be adding more food these week! In their defense, the worms have actually done a great job with the food materials in the bin – so the potential fruit fly real estate has certainly been reduced – but nevertheless, I don’t want to push my luck any farther than it’s been pushed.

Will keep everyone posted.

Don’t forget about this month’s WF-360 contest! Less than 6 days left!

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Worm Inn Journal-12-02-11

I wanted to post a quick Worm Inn Journal update to bring everyone up to speed before the weekend. As you may recall, I added quite a lot of waste (7 lb or so) all at once back around the middle of the month (November, that is), along with the contents of two of my particle-size-experiment bins. The level of material at that point was actually up quite close to the screen!

I haven’t added anything (other than some water) since then, and it’s amazing how far down the level has dropped.

That’s the good news!

The not-so-hot news is that my super-mellow approach with gnats and fruit flies this last little while has ended up coming back to bite me – BIG time! I now have an unbelievable infestation of fungus gnats in the Inn. As always, I LOVE the fact that they are basically trapped in there – much nicer than the experiences with plastic bins where they are coming out the air holes en masse etc etc!

Of course, it’s also a good opportunity for me to really put these parasitic nematodes to the test (BTW – I will provide an update on the nematode-fruit-fly front next week). Yesterday I mixed a substantial quantity of the nematodes with water and gradually poured it all into the system. I have a bucket of coco coir sitting below to catch all the run off (actually transferred some of this wet coir over to my Worm Factory system since it likely has a decent number of nematodes in it).

I’ll likely hold off on adding more food waste for the time being, at least until the gnats are a bit more under control. Should be interesting to see what sort of impact all those nematodes have!

One thing I really “like” about fungus gnats is that they move towards light sources very readily – this means I can position a lamp over top of the system and loads of them will congregate up on the screen where the light is shining. All I need to do then is suck them all up with the vacuum! Should help me put a serious dent in the population of “breeders”.

Anyway – that’s basically all for now. I’ll try to provide an update on the fungus gnat situation sometime next week.

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Worm Factory 360 | 12-01-11

I’m definitely overdue for an update re: my Worm Factory 360 bin! Things have continued to hum along very nicely in the system since my last update. I haven’t really added a huge amount of food waste, but everything that’s been added has ended up getting consumed quite rapidly.

I’ve decided to start adding more food, and on a more regular basis moving forward. I will also start monitoring the weight of wastes that get added. Today I used some materials that had been sitting in a bag out on my deck. Temps are now a fair bit below the freezing mark at night, so while the stuff certainly isn’t freezing solid, I think I’ll still see some of the same benefits as I would if it had come from my freezer.

I didn’t have an exact weight in mind – I just want to end up with a “decent amount” of food wastes being added today. This turned out to be 1.39 lb worth. The black plastic contraption that came with the WF 360 (name escapes me now) worked really nicely as a scrap mixing tub and a weigh boat (and yes, I DID remember to tare it before adding the wastes! lol).

Once I knew the weight, I spent some time “optimizing” the material for faster worm processing. I cut it up as much as possible, then mixed in some shredded brown paper, and a small amount of rock dust.

Adding it to the bin simply involved created a shallow depression, dumping it in, spreading it out a bit, then covering it up with bedding materials already in the system along with some new dry bedding.

I’ll be very interested to see how quickly this mix gets processed. Ideally, I’d like to be adding more waste materials by the middle of next week.

There still doesn’t seem to be any worms finding their way down into the reservoir, so my newsprint floor is likely still mostly intact.

IMPORTANT – Don’t forget that today is the start of yet another Worm Factory 360 contest! I thought it would mean that participants would have to fill out another survey, but when I checked out the contest page today I saw that it’s something totally different (cool)! I’m really glad the folks at Nature’s Footprint have decided to mix it up a bit – definitely keeps things a bit more interesting!
Be sure to check it out for yourself: Worm Factory 360 Contest Page

NOTE: I always forget to mention this (sorry!), but unfortunately these contests are limited to those living in United States and Canada.

Previous Worm Factory 360 Posts

Worm Factory 360 – My New Toy
Worm Factory 360 Set-Up
Worm Factory 360 – Important Follow-Up
Worm Factory 360 | 11-10-11

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