Winter Worm Windrow-12-2-10

I’ve been feeling like I’m in a bit of a rut these days as far as vermicomposting inspiration goes, so I figured I’d keep everyone SUPER-updated on my winter worm composting activities in an effort to get some new posts up!
😆

I was supposed to meet with the “local business” (mentioned last time) person today but she ended up being busy with her pre-opening activities. Rather than keep you in suspense any longer, the business is a brand new coffee shop in town – but not just ANY coffee shop! This is a cafe with an eco-twist (or perhaps “socially responsible” might be more accurate), since all the coffee used will be what’s known as “fair trade”. I read about the new business in our small local paper on the weekend and decided to get in touch with the owner to chat about starting up some sort of fun coffee grounds vermicomposting project.

After my recent “failure” with coffee grounds, some of you might wonder why I would want to keep using them. Well, the fact of the matter is they are a GREAT material if managed properly. In my big winter bed I know they will be an awesome heat-generating material, so that is a big part of why I want to strike up some sort of arrangement with the cafe fairly soon.

Anyway, when I got back from my cafe expedition I decided to do a bit more work with the winter windrow. I’ve been REALLY slacking this fall as far as taking care of my beds goes – and my big wooden bin is certainly no exception! We are consistently below the freezing mark now, with snow on the ground, yet most of the material (and worms) are still sitting in the bin (where they are guaranteed to freeze solid at some point).

When I started digging around in the bin today I realized that there are actually a LOT of worms in there, so I’m feeling extra guilty about the whole thing.

So far I have transferred three or four big garbage cans full of wormy material over to the winter bed, and hopefully I’ll be able to move a bunch more before it’s too late. As you can probably tell, by looking at the first picture, I also added more leaves and hay today.

Apart from securing some coffee grounds, I am also hoping to get some manure – I know it would really help to warm things up in the bed. I haven’t taken any readings yet, but the fact that snow is not yet melting off the top of the tarp tells me we’re not quite there yet!

Anyway – I’ll keep everyone posted!
8)

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Comments

    • Larry D.
    • December 2, 2010

    Didn’t you have something going on that kept you extra busy? 🙂
    I haven’t given up on the coffee either.But unfortunately some costly repairs has me staying at the house! But coffee is still on my worms menu!
    Do you get sleet where you live? The snow we got in ’89 was sleet first for most of the day.I went to move my riding mower,and the ignition was froze.But after it snowed,i decided to use a torch to heat it up to get the key in.It worked,but doing circles in the snow, i blew a tire off the rim! Costly day of fun! That is the last year i saw,or wanted to see snow! Hope my worms don’t see any!
    Oh yeah! My manure easy bake oven approach is working good so far! You might not want to sample the sheets of cookies though!HA HA!!

  1. It might help to keep you out of the doldrums to do an update on Mark from Kansas. I swear he’s been stuck on 2200 lbs for about 6 months now. I haven’t kept track of how much I’ve run through my bucket system, but I topped them off over the last few weeks. I’m also thinking about an improved bin design but wonder if it wouldn’t have already been tried (I’m usually late to the good ideas)

    • Frank
    • December 4, 2010

    Hi Patrick,

    I am intrigued about your “bucket system.” Can you provide any links to details?

    +Frank

  2. Hi Frank,
    While not every one of these posts is strictly “worms” I do have some photos and descriptions posted of my worm bucket system. I didn’t post that I recently “topped” off the buckets by putting all the kitchen scraps into the bins. They’re full now so it’s back to the traditional pile for the current scraps.

    • Frank
    • December 4, 2010

    Thanks, Patrick. Just after I sent / posted my comment, I clicked on your name and found the pictures and what you wrote.

    I have considered the 5-gal bucket mehod. It could be neat, orderly, and efficient. Yet, such a bucket environment would be require careful feeding and monitoring or disaster would strike, I would think.

    How long have you run your system?

    +Frank

  3. Frank,
    The system does take more care on my part than a large flow through. My mom and my wife’s boss both managed to reduce their worms into gray, gooey, smelly messes. Underfeeding is definitely better than anything close to overfeeding. I also find that I have lots of leachate build up which has to be watched and dumped. My buddy and his wife have a couple of setups and they almost don’t feed. Those worms usually get fed when I stop by and ask about them.
    My systems have been running for just over a year so I know it can be done with the appropriate amount of care. I have also harvested a fair amount of castings – not a ton, but I have around three gallons of vermicompost. It’s probably 15 lbs worth or so. I’m hoping to get another few gallons harvested for our garden this coming year.

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