Worm Factory 360 | 11-10-11

Just a quick update for all those of you following my Worm Factory 360 series. As you may recall, I got the system up and running last week, and have been taking a pretty laid back approach with it. I didn’t add a huge amount of “food” (primarily just some semi-rotten pumpkin) – nor did I start with a huge quantity of worms. Since getting things rolling, I have not added any more food and – apart from a little digging around – have left the bin essentially undisturbed.

The other day when I opened up the bin I noticed some fluffy white fungal growth up on top. I was actually quite excited, and ran to grab the camera, since I knew it would provide me with the opportunity to touch on a very common concern with new vermicomposters. These sorts of growth are VERY common early on – especially if you do an “aging” period prior to adding the worms.

For the most part – assuming the growths are not accompanied by a foul stench (likely indicating you’ve added WAY too much food) – this is nothing to worry about. Really just a matter of one particular organism taking advantage of available resources! Once the worm population becomes established, these sorts of growths tend to be kept in check without any further help from us (if not, again this can indicate that you are adding too much food at once, or at least food that is not well-prepared for the worms).

When these growths do pop up, all you do is take your trusty garden hand fork (one of these actually comes with the WF-360 bin) and mix everything up a bit. This breaks up the fungal mycelium (what you see) and helps to avoid more growth and potential spore production (best to avoid this).

So far I have been quite impressed with this bin. Everything smells good (earthy) and looks good down below (active worms, wastes being consumed etc). The worms even seem to be getting bigger! I’ve sprayed the contents 2 or 3 times since last week – it hasn’t been drying out by any means, but I can tell that it will easily handle more moisture (some moisture down in reservoir, but no pooling). I haven’t yet found any organisms down in the reservoir either, so I think the newsprint false bottom is still holding out ok!

Oh – just remembered one other important thing. I decided to add the contents of one of my small nematode farms to this bin in an effort to (hopefully) keep the flying pest populations in check. While I’ve seen the odd fruit fly coming up when I open the lid, so far there really doesn’t seem to be any sort of remotely-serious infestation (quite surprising, given how careless I was with the pumpkin waste before adding it). Hard to say for sure if the nematodes are helping, but regardless, it’s nice to not have clouds of fruit flies flying up into my face when I open the bin!

Anyway – that’s all for now. I’ll be sure to post another update in a week or two.
8)

**IMPORTANT REMINDER** – If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to get registered for this month’s WF-360 draw that’s going to take place on November 15th. Just fill out the short survey on the RWC contest page (on Nature’s Footprint website) and you are good to go! Here is the link:
http://naturesfootprintinc.com/redwormcomposting


Previous Worm Factory 360 Posts

Worm Factory 360 – My New Toy
Worm Factory 360 Set-Up
Worm Factory 360 – Important Follow-Up

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Winter Vermicomposting 2011

Comments

    • jen
    • November 14, 2011

    Because I add a top on working tray on top of my working tray, I never get this growth. I fill it half with shreaded newspaper and then a top single folded sheet to keep it neat — it acts as a moisture meter and a barrier against pests. This trick really works.

    I haven’t had any drippings into the bottom tray either – but I don’t add additional moisture or spray.

    Im psyched that you are trying this system out – I have really found it easy to use and the stacking system produces fluffy vermicompost. I had my rubbermaid bin in the basement for a winter and could not get the fruitfly problem under control. I go this system because I didn;t want to give up – and after adding the dry top tray, had great luck!

  1. Hi Bentley,

    I used the old Worm Factory and sold it on Craigslist because I had issues with it. One issue was lack of ventilation. So maybe the new Worm Factory 360 addresses that issue. I look forward to hearing your conclusions about this.

    My second issue was the weight of the trays from 2 view points:

    1. Once you have a few trays going I felt that the weight on the bottom trays was too much for the worms. They seemed to live OK but they were really squished into their environment without a lot of oxygen. I always wondered if that was why so many went into the drainage tray. Every week I had to rescue them from the drainage tray. Which leads to my second issue.

    2. The trays were heavy and awkward to take apart. I like to check my worm bins once a week to see how they are doing and to make sure that the bin is not going anaerobic. The third issue with the Worm Factory was to get all the worms out of the drainage tray. And each week there were a lot of them. So I just found it to be a pain to take it apart to check the lower trays.

    What is your experience with these two concerns.

    Thanks,
    Sandie Anne

    • Adam
    • July 16, 2012

    @Sandie Anne. I have the worm factory 360 as well. I have 8 trays for it and this system is outstanding. I also notice that some worms like to go in the leachate collection tray, but I don’t worry about this. I leave them alone since most of them down there appear to be mating. The conditions are still fine for them and if they want to get back up there is a “worm ladder” that they can do so on their own with. Another concern you expressed is the weight of the trays on the worms. I never had the original worm factory so not sure what features it had. The 360 has pieces on the outside of each tray though that the tray actually rests on the lower one with. The weight isn’t directly on the lower bins’ compost, but on the actual outer edge plastic. I’ve never worried about anaerobic conditions in the 360 because it is so well ventilated and you would likely smell it if it went anaerobic. All I worry about is the top tray and I let the lower ones fend for themselves until harvesting. I would definitely recommend the 360 to experts and beginners alike.

    I hope this helps,

    Adam

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