Four Worm Update-06-23-10


I felt like an archaeologist this morning as I unearthed my ‘4 Worm’ BOM-6000 from beneath a heap of stuff down in my basement, and then brushed off the dust before nervously peering inside!

It has been ages since I did ANYTHING with this system, and even longer since I last posted an update here (the last update was “Four Worm Update – 02-16-10“).

I can’t say I was too surprised to see that the level of material in the bin had dropped drastically, and appeared as a much more amorphous mass of brown stuff, rather than the various different materials that had been added. I also wasn’t all that surprised to see that it had become pretty wet ‘n sloppy (with a beautiful sewer smell down in the bottom – haha) as well.

Something I didn’t end up writing about back in March or April (I think) was when I added a good heap of “Homemade Manure” to the bin – which helps to explain why things have become pretty wet over time.

The good news is that the system also happens to be full of big fat Red Worms, along with loads of worm cocoons! This highlights the fact that: 1) Red Worms are pretty tolerant creatures, and 2) Can survive (and even thrive) for months without any additional “food” being added to their system. That being said, it’s important to point out the fact that had I continued to add food waste to this system (without bedding) things definitely would have gone south on me and I likely would have killed off all the worms fairly easily.

That is an important distinction to keep in mind – and an important warning to those of you who don’t really add much new bedding after the initial set-up of your worm composting bins. You can certainly get away with this for awhile, but once the bedding you started with is mostly processed, you’ll almost certainly start to see what I’ve referred to as “Mature Worm Bin Syndrome” – even in a nicely aerated system like da Bom!

I ended up mixing in quite a lot of dry drink tray cardboard, and added a thin layer of it on top as well. I will check on the bin again soon to see how much moisture I am able to soak up, and if it still looks too wet I’ll simply add more.

At SOME point I will certainly be curious to see how many worms we have in the system! We are getting close to the 7 month mark since the bin was first set up. Obviously this won’t be a realistic demonstration of Red Worm population growth (since not even close to optimal conditions) but it will still be fun to do a count (or at least an estimate, if it looks like it’s going to take hours upon hours to do a tally).

Will likely provide another update in the next few weeks.
Stay tuned!

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    • mark
    • June 24, 2010

    Hi Bentley, This is interesting. I love to read about your worm experiments! I think my most obvious “vice” with wormeries is setting up bins with lots of shredded cardboard and not really adding enough food. This is mainly due to my fear of overfeeding / protein poisoning / sour bin etc.
    Also I have a very big compost heap which can easily cope with all my food scraps. When I do feed my worms it is usually with homemade manure. Having said that, they do seem to thrive. LIke you say, they are very adaptable creatures.
    By the way, have you seen that video on YouTube about Compost toilets?

    • Anna
    • June 25, 2010

    This is very inspiring, Bentley. It also reminded me to check on my experiment and I found wormlets (or whatever babies are called).

    • John Duffy
    • June 27, 2010

    Hi Bentley,
    The drink tray cardboard you like to use is available in another form. If you have a McDonald’s in your area, you could sweet-talk the manager to save the cardboard egg grates for you. It’s basically the same stuff pressed out in a different configuration. My local Mc D’s saves theirs for me & the worms love it;)

  1. Well hi there bently been a while since I’ve commented on anything.

    My worms are doing great have 20+ now and i started with 2.

    My other inverts include:
    1-Dermestes Lardarius[have around 50+]
    2-Woodlice[Have about 10 females ready to have babies]
    3-Mealworms[have 500+ babies]
    4-Grasshoppers[nymphs about 10-12]

    All is well with my breeding projects and i do have an ant queen with two pupae/cocoons. Its a carpenter ant:
    Camponotus pennisylia.

    • Kevin Jiang
    • January 3, 2012

    The worms in the picture look like European nightcrawlers. Just saying.

    • Steve
    • June 17, 2014

    Did you ever do a count? Alternatively, can you reference me to a study, or a similar home experiment where they have done this with closer-to-ideal conditions and a final count after >6 months total?

    • Bentley
    • June 30, 2014

    Hi Steve
    Don’t think I ended up doing a count with this one, but did so with the last “4 Worm” project:

    You should also check out this post:

    • Bentley
    • June 30, 2014

    Kevin – this is WAY after the fact but…it’s not uncommon for large Red Worms to look a lot like Euros.

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