[Editor’s Note: I couldn’t resist! Here is Mark practicing for his upcoming role as a compost eater! Haha!]
If you remember, my winter project is an OSCR flow through bin. I am trying to see how long it takes me to add and process 2000 pounds of trash/food to my bin. I only have a tarp covering it and I think there is 35 -45 pounds of worms in it, I have no idea.
Here is the latest update:
WINTER IS HERE! Well I don’t need that guy on the weather channel to tell me that.
It has been my experience that winter time is the hardest test for an outdoor Vermicomposter. My bin is again in my unheated, uninsulated garage. I do have a heater cable running through the bin that is supposed to keep the bin at 72 degrees F.
Uh Oh…what do I mean by supposed?
Turns out the heater cable heated the organic matter into this cement-looking crust that is sticking to the cable preventing the heat from transferring to the moist bin. Temperatures are dropping and it’s time for plan “B”. If you research the “Getting Started” and “BOM – 6000” section of this site you’ll see what I mean.
First of all I could not find my worms. They are “epigeic” (living close to surface). These topics point out that the worms will leave if conditions are not favorable to them. I am careful of what I put in the bin so, I am sure I did not kill them all; they were hiding in some warm spots. I did not dig around too much because in the summer I fluffed my bins to cool them down.
Next they are not as active as before. The guides say they are most efficient around 70 -80 degrees F. My bin got down to 58 degrees F.
With this in mind, they are not as hungry. I could tell because the bin started to smell sour. I did not feed for a week; I let the worms “be my guide”. The temp was staying at 60 degrees F and when the smell left, I added more food. More greens than browns with the hope of slowly kicking up the temp a little. The temperature went up to 70 degrees in the center of the bin which is fine – I’ll leave that area alone!
I went to the harvest chamber to see what the heck was going on down there!
Originally I was motivated by “Mike from Delaware” [Editor’s Note: Mark’s “brother from another mother??“] to not mess with the bin, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ll just rake this section over here …and here …and here …and here. I think all the original finished Vermicompost that I added is now out. I filled three 18 gallon bins. Once I started, VC fell down, that crusty cement fell, worms fell, unprocessed stuff fell.
I was reading about Bob Lauver’s blog about his first 24 hours with his worms and how it smelled. Bob, if you are reading this, take my word for it and don’t try this. I harvest my bin upside down and I have to lie on my back to do so. The finished Vermicompost… TASTES like it smells! Thank the Lord Almighty that a worm didn’t land in my mouth too. My days as a Vermicomposter could have ended right then and there. I’ll take one for the team but, that’s a little to far 🙁
Here are some pictures of the harvest and finished Vermicompost.
The stuff that fell through. I had three 18 gallon tubs of this stuff.
The moisture meter reading on the harvested stuff.
I let it dry for a few days, and after I screened it to 1/8 of an inch, I had this rabbit manure looking stuff. I tossed it back in.
Screened finished Vermicompost.
This is what the bin looks like today.
I got the temp up a little.
‘Mark from Kansas’ is an avid vermicomposter from…well…Kansas, and contributing author here at Red Worm Composting. When he is not tending to his OSCR worm bin, Mark also enjoys spending time with his wife Letty (who also doubles as his trusty vermicomposting assistant) and picking petunias (ok, Bentley just made that last bit up).