Waste Optimization – Day 17

Time flies when you’re having fun! Here we are at Day 17 in our Waste Optimization Challenge.

Although most of the results were fairly predictable, it’s still been really interesting to see how things have progressed over the last couple of weeks. All the once-frozen carrots have now disappeared, and it doesn’t look like the last group (added fresh) is going to last much longer.

Day 0

Day 6

Day 12

Day 15

Day 17

A lot of people tend to be concerned about having lots of springtails in their vermicomposting systems – assuming they are negatively affecting the worms’ ability to process the wastes (or harming the worms in some way). I’ve always been pretty mellow about them since I know they play essentially the same role as the worms. After watching them closely during this experiment, however, I’m actually starting to think that they can be quite helpful (not just “harmless”)!

One thing I’ve noticed is that, unlike the worms, they will start colonizing the wastes materials pretty much right away. I suspect that his can help with the spread of microbial decomposers. As the wastes soften and become loaded with microbes, the worms can then get in there are really start fragmenting and mixing everything (and of course, digesting a fair amount as well).

Perhaps my next experiment should involve vermicomposting systems with and without springtails to see how much of a difference (if any) they make. Looks like I’ll be wrapping this one up fairly soon, so that might be a good follow-up!

Stay tuned!

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    • Sava? Gönen
    • February 27, 2012

    Realy good! But why all the waste are not consumed by the worms at the same time? Is there any diffrence between there carroots?

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2012

    LoL- guess you haven’t been following since the beginning, Sava!
    There were 4 treatments:

    1) Whole frozen-then-thawed carrot
    2) Frozen-then-thawed carrot disks
    3) Frozen-then-thawed-then-aged carrot peelings
    4) Fresh carrot disks

    It was definitely expected that there would be differences in terms processing time – but it’s been fun to see just HOW different they’ve been.

    • Savas Gönen
    • February 27, 2012

    Oh I’m sorry, I was a quick looking, so I missed the beginnig. Ok, everything all right now. But I wonder if the fresh caroot is better then the frozen or not. While carrot freezes, is it possible that some micribial bacteries or other beneficial microorganisms die or not? So which one is important, time or quality?

    Thanks and Forgive me for careless!

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2012

    Oh no worries, Savas! I’m sure plenty of people are joining this part way through.

    The idea is freeze the carrots BEFORE there is a lot of microbial growth on them – but either way it doesn’t really matter. Once the carrots (and really any sort of veg/fruit waste) have been frozen and thawed, they are very easily colonized by microbes (more than enough in the worm bin, that’s for sure).

    The only loss of “quality” I could possible imagine would be in the form lost nutrients brought about by freezing – but if this is the case, I really don’t think it would impact the quality of the final compost.

    • Kerri
    • March 2, 2012

    Brilliant. Thanks for the pics so we can follow and see exactly what goes on in the wormfarm when we aren’t looking. Sometimes it’s a little much “feed them x pounds a day, or a week, or if they are actually mature worms, or …” I put a celery leaf in and it’s still there 2 weeks later.

    It’s easy really: make it little, let microbes go crazy, worms will eat it. (Barring just those few things they shouldn’t have). How complicated we want to make it after that is up to us.

    It’s like raising children, they’ll eat it if they are hungry (but make it appetising). Just need help naming the kids…BigRed, Wriggler, Muncher, Cruncher…

    Thanks for your great info

    • Kim
    • March 2, 2012

    I’m really interested in seeing a with/without spring tails experiment. My box is loaded with spring tails. The first time I saw their activity I panicked and thought I had some kind of fly larvae in the box. A Google search and a magnifying glass solved that.

    I have noticed that the spring tails are more active in the fresh food corners of my bin. The worms seem to migrate to the food a couple of days after it is added but those spring tails are right on top of a new feeding!

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