Worm Factory 360 | 1-10-12

I was actually hoping to have a new generic image for you guys today (i.e one to replace the image above) – showing my bin with a second tray – but alas, it seems I have too much material in the first tray still so I’m unable to get the next tray positioned nicely over top. My plan was to fill the second tray entirely with dry bedding – as recommended by a RWC reader – so as to (hopefully) discourage the development of another bad fruit fly infestation – but obviously, without the second tray nested snugly in the first, that’s not going to do me much good!

As mentioned in my most recent Worm Inn Journal post, last week I thawed out some frozen carrot peelings and added it to both of these systems – the WF-360 receiving just shy of 1 lb of the material.

I scraped a shallow depression in the middle then dumped in a moistened mix of shredded cardboard and the peelings, before covering back over with the material moved to create the depression, plus some additional dry shredded cardboard.

Although the number of fruit flies in my house has dropped substantially, I’ve been pretty paranoid that I’m going to end up with another bad infestation in the WF system now that I’ve added more food. I checked on things this afternoon, and it looked as though maybe one or two fruit flies (or gnats) flew out, but they certainly don’t seem to have established a strong foothold…yet!

I think it’s safe to say that waste preparation (or lack thereof) can have a HUGE impact on the success of an fruit fly invasion. Any bulkier materials, especially those that won’t be processed by the worms for a while (if at all), seem to be prime time fruit fly breeding grounds. When I checked on the WF bin last week I noticed part of an apple core that still had not broken down all that much (even after a good month or more of sitting in there), so I can only imagine the sort of fruit fly nursery it had been. Other common culprits can be resistant fruit peels and rinds, since the fruit flies absolutely go bananas for them (no pun intended – well ok, maybe a little bit! lol), yet the worms won’t really feed on them all that readily!

Moral of the story – do EVERYTHING you can to optimize materials for microbial break-down and worm feeding. Chopping, freezing, blending, grinding – you name it! If you’ve got a healthy population of worms and you’re presenting them with a material they can start processing right away, there’s a pretty good chance they are going to outcompete (maybe even consume, if they are small enough!) any fruit fly larvae that end up in the material.

I’d love to set up an experiment to test this out a bit but…yeah, I think I’ve had my fill of fruit flies for the next little while! lol
I still have some very small, enclosed (manageable) colonies going though, so perhaps this is something I can try in another month or two.
8)


IMPORTANT UPDATE: The deadline for this month’s Worm Factory 360 contest is rapidly approaching! I was shocked to learn from Kate that there had only been 70 some-odd entries thus far!!! We had more than 400 the first month! C’mon everyone – I know a lot of people are still in holiday mode here (lol), but we need a bare minimum of 100 entries to even have the draw!
Here is a link to the contest page:

http://www.naturesfootprint.com/redwormcomposting


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Comments

    • John Duffy
    • January 10, 2012

    I’ve been pretty lucky so far. Haven’t had any problems with fruit flies. The worse problem I’ve had has been a bunch of tiny white mites that quickly went away by adding some dry bedding materials… I really think that freezing the food scraps is the key.

    • Bentley
    • January 11, 2012

    Thanks for sharing that, John!
    How did you find the stacking process. Did your second tray sit nicely on top of the first one?

  1. Bentley,

    I have had my WF for 5 months, and am almost ready to add my 3rd tray. I added the 2nd tray after 3 months. A friend gave me almost a pound of worms to start me out. I have 2 1/2 – 3 inch little wood blocks (about 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch) in each corner of each bin to help keep the upper tray(s) from compressing the lower one(s). I feed about 2-3 pounds per week (weekly), and I actually feed in the lower bin instead of the upper. This helps keep the partially finished tray from getting too soggy. I haven’t had any infestations, except for millions of springtails when the bin gets too acidic. (which I fix by mixing a dozen ground eggshells with the weekly food) I try not too add waste from more than one mango at a time, since they’re so acidic. I also chop up and freeze all food before adding to help avoid introducing any live pests. Thanks for all you do. I read nearly every every page of your site before I started, and i think it’s helped me avoid some of the more common problems other beginners encounter.

    • Mark
    • January 13, 2012

    My WF is approx. 4 years old and the instructions that came with it state to take 1 or 2 inches off the top (worm living material) from the full tray and add to the new top tray. Next step would be to cover the worm living area with 1 – 2 inches shredded moist bedding material (egg cartons, cardboard, newspaper, etc). I always keep a dry layer of shredded material on top to help with the moisture (1 to 2 inches). Also I have found that covering the top with folded dry newspaper (fitted inside WF below lid) and maintaining the dry 1 to 2 inch shredded material area on the top of the moist shredded material helps with pests.
    The top trays should never fit snugly since you want air circulation in the system (moisture control and oxy for the worms).
    The WF is definately more efficient when the food is shredded or broken down (frozen or slightly composted).

  2. I am following your experience with the WF 360 with great interest. I have the unit in my laundry room and am awaiting receipt of my first shipment of worms! I’m excited, but also somewhat cautious and plan on starting very, very slowly and monitoring very closely. Since the worms actually feed off the bacteria on the green materials introduced, I understand that you can also speed up the decomposition process by microwaving the food before introducing it into the WF.

    • John
    • April 23, 2012

    I put an empty tray in between my working tray and top tray. I feel the top tray with a lot of shredded paper/cardboard. That way I can still have the fly different while not encouraging the worms to move up yet.
    Seems to work great for me.

    • Rosi
    • April 5, 2013

    Scott, You are the brilliant soul that wrote about the little wood blocks! Thank you! You saved my worm bin and many worms from soggy death. The upper bin was compressing the lower, and the lower bin was a stinking compacted mess. I added half to my garden, put in rolled cardboard posts (not having wood) to the corners, stirred it to give it some air, added lots of dry shredded cardboard. Thank you.

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