Wooden Stacking Bin-09-29-10

It’s been well over a month since my last stacking worm bin update (definitely doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!). My primary reason for not providing many updates is the fact that nothing has really been changing significantly in the system. I really wish I had decided to set this experiment up several months ago, since I’m pretty sure that one of the issues has been the cooler weather (especially at night).

Just to bring everyone up to speed here – the idea has been to see how composting worms do with a diet consisting primarily of coffee grounds (only other “food” material is the shredded cardboard bedding). Of course, I’ve also been interested in testing out the stacking system again (since it’s only been used once before) to see how it…uhhh…stacks up (yuk yuk) against some of my other systems.

The worms have done well down in the first tray. It looks as though they are processing grounds and shredded cardboard, and they just generally seem vigorous and healthy. There hasn’t been much in the way of upward migration, although, whenever I lift up the second tray there are usually some dangling down. Interestingly, I found a number of worms in the second tray this morning when I checked on the bin, but I’m pretty sure this has something to do with the fact that it poured rain for most of yesterday.

Red Worm

With temperatures only continuing to drop, it looks as though I’m not really going to have the chance to test out the bin itself – I really don’t have any interest in having it up and running indoors this year. I DO however want to keep going with this coffee grounds and shredded cardboard trial to see how things pan out over the long haul. My BOM-6000 bin is sitting empty in my basement at the moment, so I think that will be the perfect bin to move everything over to. What’s great about it (in comparison to the stacking bin) is that it can hold a LOT more material. One of issues I ran into with my stacking bin was a lack of space for adding new material (even with the second tray). I also think that the BOM will keep more moisture in, which should help to keep the grounds “worm friendly”.

Anyway – that’s basically in for now. I’ll likely write another update once I move everything over to the BOM bin.

Previous Stacking Bin Posts
Wooden Stacking Bin – The Return!
Wooden Stacking Bin-08-06-10
Wooden Stacking Bin-08-17-10

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    • larry duke
    • September 29, 2010

    Keep us updated on this one.Especially when you move it indoors.My worms just plain old don’t like coffee.When given the choice between coffee and newspaper,they move to the newspaper.
    It has been two months in one spot! Even putting worm chow on top,they won’t go into it.I think the coffee shop where i get it,with that exotic smell it has may be to blame.Spread this over a whole bin,and all your worms will be gone.The only thing in my bin that eats it are isopods.
    I think this stuff must have to totally quit being coffee to interest my worms.Surely they don’t get as spoiled as Bentley’s 🙂

    • Doug G
    • September 29, 2010

    cant say my worms like coffee much either,
    hard to tell the diff between dirt and grounds though.
    the cardboard alone keeps worms happy

    on a side note coffee has a odor worms dont much care for odors.

    keep us updated on this one sounds like a nice experiment

    • Bentley
    • September 30, 2010

    LARRY – Some good points. Important reminder of the fact that not all “coffee grounds” are the same (or even similar for that matter). As I mentioned recently in another comment (on an earlier post in this series), I have tried fine grind specialty dark roast stuff and it was awful – went sour really quickly and the worms really didn’t seem to care for it at all. I’ve found that the coarser “regular” grounds can work well as long as they stay moist. Will still be interesting to see how this works out over the long-run though.
    DOUG – Your “worms don’t care much for odors” caught my attention. Can you elaborate on that? I guess there might some sort of correlation between worm avoidance and powerful odors in waste materials, but my suspicion is that it’s more a matter of there being harmful compounds than due to the worms not liking the odor. I’ve certainly found lots of worms down in fairly anaerobic zones of plastic bins over the years.

    • Doug G
    • September 30, 2010

    ive read somewhere not to add fresh herbs, onions, garlic and other strong smelling stuff to a worm bed, ill find the source of it and list it here. “i think it was countryside magazine” http://www.countrysidemag.com/
    i have access to alot of speacialty roasted coffee grounds and i will say that worms will leave if i dont give them a safe zone away from them grounds, this may be due to something bad in them or from the odor.
    on another note my inside bin consist of cardboard, folgers classic coffee grounds, a few egg shells, and shredded office paper the worms are very active and healthy.

    ive often wondered about the onion statement i put onions in my worms beds and never noticed anything odd but then again theres not alot of onion waist normally.

    • Bentley
    • September 30, 2010

    Ahh ok, Doug. Thanks for explaining
    Yeah, I think the key here is that many strongly aromatic compounds are also fairly potent oils etc. The worms don’t smell per se, but they do have countless chemoreceptors in their skin, and are just generally quite sensitive to a wide range of chemicals.

    As for onions, and really MOST of the things that people caution – my recommendation is to simply treat them with a bit more caution than some other materials. It all depends on the size of your system (and type of system), the way they are handled (eg cooked onions are far less potent than raw), and the amount being added at once. Moderation is always the key (with ANY type of food really – well aside from bedding anyway)

    • Erika
    • October 22, 2010

    Has anyone tried to see if worms have a preference to regular or decaf coffee?

  1. i put coffee grounds from starbucks (from their esspresso which has specialty coffees too) in my bin all the time. i also add about 1 TBS baking soda to a five gal bucket, every other time i add coffee grounds. i go about once a week to starbucks for grounds. i also add onions, sometimes a whole bag will go bad, i add the whole bag. worms are always all threw every thing. my son’s neighbor throws pears away that fall off her tree, every one seems to be tired of eating them, i go over and fill my 5 gal bucket and dump them into my bin, maybe its what you add together. the pears may sweeten the onions, i never thought about it, i will try adding onions to one corner and pears to the opposite corner and see if there is a difference.

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