October 2013

RWC Fall 2013 Update

I’m sure some of you have been wondering why I haven’t been blogging very much as of late, so I decided it was time post an update.

Unfortunately, I need to step away from (or at least cut back on) my Red Worm Composting writing efforts so as to to put most of my focus elsewhere.

In the past, I’ve always made an effort to keep the blog going no matter what. Something I’ve come to realize, however, is that I’m a really lousy multi-tasker (lol) – and basically everything I am working on tends to suffer when I try to do too much at once!

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

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Repairing a Damaged Worm Habitat

Great question from Leanne:

I have learned a lot from the reader’s questions but how do you fix a
compromised environment? I think I killed 2/3 of my worms by not
having enough bedding and it some how overheated even though it’s in
the shade. I pulled out the worms I could save and have added fresh
bedding. Should I let it sit a certain amount of time? Should I keep
the worms out while it repairs or will they survive with my
corrections? Lot’s of worms died and decomposed in the bin, so does
that make the environment toxic?

Hi Leanne,

What you have done in response to your issues is absolutely on-target. When there is clearly a population meltdown taking place, the key is always to get those survivors out as quickly as you can. Ideally you can get them into another bin containing lots of moistened bedding (recommend either strips of newsprint or shredded corrugated cardboard), and in a location that’s not experiencing any extremes (heat, cold etc).

Any additional stress can end up killing off more of the survivors. Speaking of which, you should closely monitor the worms in your new bin to make sure there aren’t any more of them dying off (any that do should be removed immediately). Provide this bin with excellent air flow. Maybe instead of a lid you can just lay some sheets of newsprint across top of worm zone. If possible, I also recommend shining light over top. The worms may be restless in their new (relatively sterile) environment. As for feeding – you might try adding a very small amount of food to the new bin, but err on the side of moderation for sure!

Getting back to the original bin… (more…)

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Worm Inn vs Plastic Bin – 10-15-13

As it turns out, the beautiful “homemade manure” mix I brought inside to use as food/habit material in my Worm Inn – along with various other systems (including VB48) – was absolutely loaded with Stable Fly larvae. Let’s just say it’s been an interesting few weeks! lol

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Stable Flies, they are basically biting house flies (whoohoo!). It is very common to find the larvae, and pupal capsules in horse manure, but they don’t seem to be nearly as interested in ‘regular’ waste materials, such as kitchen scraps etc – and thank goodness for that.

What’s really cool, though, is that the Worm Inn is (more…)

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Wool Vermicomposting – 10-10-13

I just happened to be harvesting the bin I put my little ball of wool into (then promptly forgot about) the other day, and was amazed by how decomposed it has become.

As you may recall from my last update, early on the material didn’t seem to be breaking down at all. Nor did the worms seem particularly interested in it.

While I still did not find concentrations of worms in and around the material this time, it certainly looks (more…)

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Composting Worm Traps – 10-08-13

I decided to check on my “worm traps” this morning. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since early checks didn’t seem too promising (didn’t find many worms).

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the concentration of worms in all three traps when I dumped them out today! Two of the three had (more…)

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Composting Worm Traps?

Yesterday, while looking through some of the past worm harvesting blog posts (listed on Hot Topics page) I came across “John’s Passive Worm Harvester”, and it reminded me that this was an approach I had wanted to try out for myself.

With my WF-360 system now dismantled, I figured the empty trays might work really well as passive harvesters (aka “worm traps”).

I also happened to still have a (more…)

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Worm Feeding & Cold Protection

Some questions from Vadim:

I’ve built a flow through worm bin and got the habitat established. The system has been functioning for about 2.5 month now. If I dig a little into the bedding material, I can see good population of red worms evenly distributed throughout the bin, fair amount of worm castings and mixture of bedding material and some food I’ve been feeding them.
Here are the questions I have:

1. When I add more food for worms (mostly vegetable food scraps, etc.), I try to bury them under the bedding material. Is this OK, or should I just add them to the top only without mixing?

2. How much should I feed the worms? I try to add food only occasionally, since I can still see come food that is not fully digested. Do I need to wait until all of the old food is gone, or just add new material and let the worms feed at will. After reading various posts, I do not want to overfeed them, but I want to make sure they have enough food and encourage the population to increase.

3. The winter is coming and I plan to move the bin into an unheated shed. We don’t get too severe frosts here (South-Eastern Washington State), but I wonder if that will be enough to get the population through the winter. Anything else I need to do to help them along?

Hi Vadim,

1) Burying food wastes is always going to be the best approach. This exposes the materials to more microbes, encourages the worms to feed sooner, and helps to avoid invasion from flying pests like fruit flies (or helps to suppress them if they are already in the material). A good strategy is to always keep a really thick layer of absorbent bedding over top of the main composting zone. This way you will always have lots of bedding for cover and to mix in with the food. It also helps to keep the upper zone fairly dry, thus discouraging any worm roaming.

You should still aim to (more…)

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