As a follow-up to the hugely popular post “Mark and his OSCR Worm Bin“, our roving Red Worm reporter, ‘Mark from Kansas’, has been kind enough to put together a three part video series featuring his OSCR worm bin. A couple of these videos are close to 20 minutes each so I’ve decided to bring them to you one at a time (Part II will be tomorrow, and Part III on Thursday).
This first video (which runs 18:26) features Mark talking about his OSCR system. He brings up some of the topics of discussion from the comments section of the post mentioned above, and also runs through his journal entries written since the post was published.
I have included these journal entries here so you can refer to them as well.
I notice a fair amount of moisture in the harvest chamber. I don’t think it is leach* because the water is clear, like condensation. A lot of worms have settled in the coffee layer and I found some cocoons on the top surface. I added 17 pounds of trash and covered the top with 1 lb. of leaves.
*[EDITORS NOTE]: What Mark refers to as ‘leach’ is what I refer to here on the site (and in newsletters) as ‘leachate’ – basically, the dark liquid that drains out of the bottom of a worm bin (some people refer to this as ‘worm tea’, but that is a bit of a misnomer).
I installed a 4” fan on the outside of the harvest chamber and closed the door to force air upwards. The condensation went away but the bin temp climbed to 90 degrees. I reopened the chamber door.
I turned off the harvest chamber fan.
Found 6 lost souls in the harvest chamber and the condensation was back. I turned the fan back on. The temp in the bin is and has been a constant 80 degrees. The temp in the garage is 59 degrees. I watered down the top with a ½ gallon of water.
The heater cable uses 42 watts of power and if used 24 hours a day for 30 days, it will cost me 10 cents a month based on the cost calculator:
I closed the harvest chamber door and turned on the fan. Now the harvest chamber is “pressurized” to force air upwards. Some worms are finding their way into the harvest chamber.
I layered the inside perimeter of the bin with all the coffee filters. I keep finding lost souls on the edges of the perimeter in the harvest chamber. Hopefully as the bin processes, the decomposing filters will push the bin contents and worms toward the middle. Added 12 pounds of food.
Added 5 pounds of food
The harvest chamber remains to be dry. Yesterday I added 2 gallons of water to the top. Today the HC is still dry. I poked around the top to look for worms. They are very active and react very quickly to light. The worms on top look FAT. I am hoping the bottom layer of newspaper above the HC will breach in 2 weeks. I also sprinkled 5 pulverized egg shells to the top.
I added some pumpkin guts to the bin. I decided I would only leave the pressure fan on during the day. The top 1 inch has been a little dry. Other than that, the worms look fat and alert. They dart back real fast when they get in the light. Added 13 pounds of food.
Added 8 lbs. of food topped with some leaves. I am risking overfeeding but I’ll watch carefully.
I added some more coffee filter paper around the perimeter. I put a plastic tarp over the top and left a small opening on the side a couple of days ago. I am leaving the fan on for only an hour, seems like all I do is water the thing, 2 gallons last night.
Forget about the overfeeding, the worms are over the new stuff. No bugs and the bin smells like wet leaves. Putting the tarp on created a warm and humid environment in the bin, condensation is running down the sides. The temp of the bin at a 4 inch depth has been 80 degrees F for at least a week. The worms still look fat and are very reactive to light.
So far I have added 385 lbs*. of trash to this bin. I was concerned about overfeeding.
Now, I just don’t know. I am still going to be on the conservative side when it comes to feeding. The bottom of the bin where the newspaper is has not breached yet. The very bottom layer is the finished compost and cocoons. My hope is that they hatch before the newspaper rots. The newspaper is showing signs of decay and won’t be able to hold the weight of the contents for much longer. Added 1 pound of food. When I say 385 pounds of food, I am also adding the weight of the worms and unfinished VC from the other bins. I really don’t know how many worms are in the OSCR. Stuff that I know is actually food weighs 230 pounds.
*[EDITORS NOTE]: I asked Mark for clarification on this “385 lb” number (since he had reported 249 lb of food waste added as of the time of this posting). Here is what he said: “The 385 pound includes the unfinished VC and worms. That is the total weight of the contents at that time. Remember I don’t want that newspaper to rupture too soon. So, the 385 pounds in the force downwards on the suspension cables.”
The newspaper is starting to breach. I put some containers under the ruptured spots to catch what has fallen. The stuff that had fallen had some worms in it that I tossed back in. I am hoping the bottom of the bin will be on the dry side so the worms will migrate up.
A major breach of the news paper. Finished VC and worms. I rescued 20 worms.
I also added 27 lbs. of pumpkin. I feel the bin is way overfed. I added 12 lbs of food yesterday. I turned on the fan and put tubs of water soaked manure in the harvest chamber. The tubs will catch the worms so they won’t dry out and die.
I was digging around the perimeter and found gobs of worms. I dug them out and put them on top. I then shoved cardboard down the sides to push the worms and food towards the middle.
I seem to have one spot 12 inches by 12 inches that is pushing 90 degrees F. I noticed this yesterday. I have trying the forced air to cool it off but, I want to go to bed so I just poured a quart of water on that spot. The newspaper has significant breaches in several spots, I am not rescuing as many worms as I have done before.
Just so you know, I will be creating a page on the site dedicated to Mark’s OSCR project where you will find links to his blog posts and other related information. Mark also suggested that I add some sort of running tally of the amount of food he has added – I thought this was a really cool idea, and will be adding something in the sidebar.
The next two videos feature tours of Mark’s system – first he shows us the view from the harvesting chamber, then he shows us the view from above, and takes us through a typical feeding session.
Stay tuned – very interesting stuff!