I finally got around to checking up on my compost tumbler vermicomposting experiment yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to see that everything has been coming along beautifully in the system. With very little in the way of assistance from me, I might add!
The overall level of material in the bin has gone down considerably, and a lot of it seems to have been converted into nice looking vermicompost.
I dug out a tray-ful of the material for a closer look (unlike a regular worm bin, it’s not all that easy to dig around in a tumbler), and was pleased to discover that it was loaded with worms. Interestingly, Euros and local Lumbricus species (likely L rubellus and L castaneus) have done really well in there – but there were still plenty of Red Worms as well.
Apart from the worms themselves, I also found plenty of cocoons, along with a diverse “compost ecosystem” of critters.
It’s important to point out that this summer has been quite cool, and fairly damp overall – in other words, GREAT for outdoor vermicomposting…not so hot for gardening!
I think I’ve added food waste maybe once or twice since early May, but clearly the worms have done just fine with the mix of old alfalfa cubes, leaves, and shredded cardboard that I added early on. I think I will add some more cardboard and food waste just for fun, though – might be interesting to see what sort of worm densities can develop in the tumbler before it’s time to empty it out in the fall!
Again, just a word of caution for those of you who might be thinking about vermicomposting in a compost tumbler…
In many regions (namely the ones that get really hot weather) this approach is definitely NOT recommended – at least not outdoors. But if you do live a zone with more moderate temps, and you have a fairly shady location to put your system, perhaps you will want to try out tumbler vermicomposting for yourself!
P.S. I should also mention that I only did some turning very early on, and have left the system to sit as-is ever since. The worms themselves to a great job of mixing things around – and they likely prefer less disturbance as well!