Worm Bin Journal
Welcome to the ‘Worm Bin Journal’ – where I share my thoughts re: the set up and maintenance of a small home worm bin. This resource was set up specifically for those people on my email list and cannot be accessed from anywhere else on the site.
The project got started back on March 26, 2008, and will continue as long as this particular bin is kept active. I basically want to take everyone along, step by step, as I maintain this particular worm bin. I’m hopeful that by forcing myself to document everything I am doing, I will provide more insights re: how to keep a healthy worm bin. I often do most of this stuff without thinking about it these days, so there may be subtle details missing from my other instructions. I also intended to include audio commentary with each journal entry but unfortunately just haven’t had the time. I definitely will do so at some point, and will let everyone know when I do.
If you have any questions or comments along the way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
DAY 0 – March 26, 2008
The bin I am using is a small Rubbermaid tub, approx. 14″ long x 10″ wide x 7″ deep.
The set up of this bin was essentially the same as that shown in my ‘basic worm bin’ video (which you can find at the bottom of my video page), as is the type of bin used.
My bedding is entirely made up of shredded corrugated cardboard, and I simply added alternating layers of cardboard and food scraps. I added 4 layers of cardboard and 3 layers of food scraps (approximately 1 litre per layer). Just for fun I decided to push my luck a little bit by leaving wastes only partially cut up, and by adding half of a large onion.
I started with a ‘false bottom’ of cardboard – this helps to absorb excess moisture
Next I added my first layer of food scraps
Another layer of cardboard
I then sprayed down this layer with water
Then another layer of food
Another layer of cardboard
The final layer of food (note the big chunk of onion)
One last layer of cardboard
And a final (thorough) spray down
The bin was then closed up for the aging period
DAY 5 – March 31, 2008
Moisture seemed to be well distributed in the bin, although there were some dry areas still so I decided to spray the upper layers of the bin thoroughly again.
So far so good!
No pooling in the bottom of the bin, but moisture nicely distributed
Food scraps rotting nicely, but creating a stink – I decided to mix everything up.
DAY 7 – April 2, 2008
Everything looking very good – nice and moist and food scraps well-decomposed. Level of material in the bin quite a bit lower than when we started, so I…
Added some more shredded cardboard and sprayed with water
DAY 12 – April 7, 2008
Finally, the day everyone has been waiting for! I decided it was definitely time to move some worms over from another system. Below is a (very poor quality) video showing how I accomplished this.
DAY 21 – April 16, 2008
I FINALLY removed the garbage bag harvester from the bin! Not too surprisingly, I wasn’t able to find any worms left in the vermicompost up above. Everything looking great – the bin seems to be coming along very nicely! I’m still going to hold off from adding food though (plenty of rotten food waste still available in bin)
Materials somewhat compressed due to weigh of vermicompost on top of harvester (removed prior to taking this picture), but worms seem quite content down below.
Lots of vermicompost amongst the cardboard, indicating active feeding
DAY 27 – April 22, 2008
Just another check to see how the bin is doing. Everything is looking great. I’m sure I could easily get away with adding some more food waste at this point, but will hold for now (since still some recognizable remnants of food waste added when bin was set up).
Still no pooling of water down at bottom (a good sign). Worms seem to be well-distributed throughout bin
DAY 36 – May 1, 2008
Ok, enough is enough – time to start adding some more food scraps. As mentioned in my last entry, I could have easily gotten away with adding some earlier (i.e. don’t assume you have to wait this long before adding your food scraps).
Level of material in bin has clearly dropped
Worms have been busy converting bedding and scraps into worm castings
The big chunk of onion seems to be rotting quite nicely – lots of worms in the immediate vicinity and the mites certainly seem to like it too!
I added some napa cabbage, one full coffee filter and part of a banana peel.
I also added some shredded ‘egg carton cardboard’ (was actually a shredded drink holder, but it’s the same stuff)
DAY 48 – May 13, 2008
I’m definitely overdue for a worm bin update (as per usual). I checked out the bin today and it seems as though the worms have made some progress on the waste materials I added on May 1. One thing that’s really important to mention is the fact that I am doing nothing to help speed up the process – if I had shredded the cabbage a lot more and cooked it, there likely wouldn’t even be any recognizable traces of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be VERY laid back (aka “lazy” – haha) when it comes to my worm bins. I have quite a few on the go, so I can easily spread my kitchen waste among all the different systems, and never worry about overfeeding. If you are wanting to get your bin working more quickly, again I would recommend dicing things up as much as possible (I don’t recommend making a paste however – this will go anaerobic very easily) and cooking any raw scraps.
Some progress has been made with the wastes added May 1. There seems to be a fair number of mites in the bin – nothing to worry about though.
Worms have converted a considerable amount of cardboard into worm castings. Lots of cocoons in the bin now – I’ve added crude arrows to show where they are in this image
DAY 113 – July 17, 2008
To say that I am overdue for an update would be the understatement of the year! I’m sure most have you have either forgotten about or given up on the “Worm Bin Journal”. I’m really sorry I didn’t share more updates – I guess in a sense, this was a pretty clear demonstration of the way I often treat worm bins. This should actually be an important lesson for all of you newcomers reading this. The moral of the story? Try as you might – it is VERY hard to starve a population of Red Worms, assuming you provide them with a decent amount of food and bedding before neglecting them.
Last image taken of the worm bin. Time to release the worms into my vermicomposting trench – *UPDATE* – not actually last image. I decided to show the worms being released (below)
I wasn’t TOO surprised to see that the worms have converted almost all the material in the bin into fibrous worm castings. You might assume that the worms themselves would be tiny and unhealthy – in fact, they are fat and juicy and seem to be very vigorous. The bin has lots of cocoons and tiny worms, and I suspect that the worm population has actually grown a fair bit.
Despite the apparent success of the bin, I still feel badly that I didn’t provide a better demonstration of an active worm bin. I’m afraid my new worm business has been taking up a lot of my time!
Anyway, I’ve decided to release the worms into one of my big ‘vermicomposting trenches’ out in the yard, where they will be extremely well fed and their composting contribution greatly appreciated!
Worms from WBJ bin released into one of my vermicomposting trench systems
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