Question from Leslie:
I have a Worm Factory 360. All was going well for a while, then a
bunch of food went bad and I thought I could add it all and just get
away without feeding for a while. Bad move. I think my bin is souring,
Could I add a new, clean bin (of mostly coir) on top of it? It’d make
a safe space for the worms to get away from my mess, but still allow
them to go back and eat at their leisure.
I also get a little too involved in things, and worry that any more
hands-on approach at fixing things will invariably make it worse and
leave me obsessing.
I really appreciate your help. This site is awesome
Thanks for the kind words (I wrote “worms” the first time…happens a lot! lol)
I think you are on the right track for improving the sour bin situation. If it was me, I would add a lot of new bedding, likely some “living material” (eg. really well aged manure, compost etc), and provide plenty of air flow. I would then basically just leave the system to sit for a period of time. I like your idea of giving them a new habitat to move into. I would likely set it up using exactly the materials I just mentioned, rather than something like coir.
You’ve brought up a REALLY important point. Trust me when I say that you are NOT alone in “getting too involved in things”, trying to “fix” your system when trouble arises. This is likely one of the most common challenges that eager vermicomposters (especially new ones) face. It’s so tempting to keep trying different things – often resulting even more issues. I used to be exactly the same way myself.
Over the years I’ve learned that a “K.I.S.S.” approach and a fair amount of patience can go a LONG way!
*** IMPORTANT NOTE (For Others Reading This) ***
Leslie mentioned something else that was really important as well. If you leave food waste to age and it ends up turning into stinky anaerobic sludge (this can usually be avoided if you mix it with lots of bedding and provide good air flow), DO NOT add it to your worm bin right away – at least not in the case of smaller systems – since this can really create issues. Mix it up with lots of dry absorbent bedding, ideally some “living material”, provide plenty of air flow – then let it sit (notice a recurring pattern here?). Once the bad smell is gone (might even start to smell a bit earthy) it should be fine to feed to your worms.
Hope this helps!