Worm Factory 360 | 2-02-12

I decided to check on my WF-360 system today. It’s been a little over a week since my last feeding – which coincided with adding my second tray – and I’ve been eager to see what the worms have been up to.

I must admit to being rather taken aback by what I saw when I removed the lid and started pulling away the upper bedding cover layer. LOTS of worms have moved up into the second tray, and what’s more, the food has all but vanished – replaced by lots of fibrous castings!

When I pulled off the second tray I saw plenty more worms still down in the first level, along with quite a few “danglers” (lol). This is obviously to be expected so soon after adding the new tray. The material down below looks quite well processed, so I don’t imagine it will be too long before I can potentially do some harvesting!


Given the impressive effort my Worm Factory worms put in this past week, I decided to be a fair bit more generous with their food today. I added 1211g (~ 2.7 lb) of compostable kitchen scraps. The big difference this week is that I tossed these materials (including the stuff I’ll be adding to my Worm Inn) in my deep freezer and then let them sit and thaw out for a day and a half. I think this is going to be a pretty significant improvement!

[Aside – this actually has me feeling really inspired to set up a simple comparison experiment (somewhat similar idea to my now-defunct “particle size experiment”, but much easier to set up and monitor) with materials at various levels of “optimization”]

I chopped everything up a lot (same way as with recent feedings) – clearly, this alone is making a pretty big difference! Speaking of which – something really interesting I noticed today is the presence of some gnats in the bin – but only a very small number of them. My hunch is that when the worms are able to feed on the materials quite quickly, the gnat (and fruit fly) larvae don’t have nearly the same opportunity to establish themselves.


Once it was chopped up to my satisfaction, I simply dumped the food waste into the second tray and mixed it in with my hand fork.

I topped everything off with good layer of (new) shredded cardboard, before moistening everything (didn’t include an image of the final appearance, in case you are wondering).

Speaking of moistening, I was happy to see that the reservoir is still fairly dry and that there are currently no worms down there. I know some people tend to think they are doing something wrong when they’re not accumulating “tea” down there – but my preference is definitely to use some nice finished vermicompost for my tea making, while (hopefully) avoiding the creation of a prime worm hang-out!

That’s all for now – with the way these worms are munchin along, I’m sure I’ll have another update soon!
8)


IMPORTANT: As mentioned in a recent newsletter, Nature’s Footprint has started up another WF 360 contest for us. All you need to do (once again) is fill out the survey on the RWC Contest Page. One new development, though, is that this is actually going to be the LAST chance (for now) to win one of these bins. Kate doesn’t want to bore everyone to death with surveys every month, and it might be fun to explore some other contest ideas here at RWC. Just so you know, I will definitely continue to post these WF-360 progress reports, so no need to worry if you’ve been enjoying them!


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Comments

    • Colleen
    • February 2, 2012

    I’m getting millions of white mites in my 360. Is that a problem?

    • Bentley
    • February 3, 2012

    Hi Colleen,
    What this MAY indicate is that you are adding too much food and/or not getting enough air flow. These mites are very common in enclosed plastic worm bins – they seem to really thrive in moist, often-acidic conditions when lots of decomposing food waste is present. You…uhhh…MIGHT (yuk yuk) try: 1) leaving the lid off for periods of time during the day, 2) removing excess food materials, 3) adding more dry absorbent bedding.

    • Kate
    • February 3, 2012

    Colleen,

    Another thing you can do if your bin is too acidic (which is indicated by large populations of mites and pot worms – those tiny white worms) is add some garden lime – just a few tablespoons per tray as you’re adding food. This can help to balance the pH and get it back to a more worm-friendly 6.5-7.

    • Gardenwizard
    • February 5, 2012

    Bentley,
    I noticed in the posting you made on the worm bin 360 that you had orange peels in the food you were adding to the bin,I was always under the assumption that the worms did not care for citrus waste in there food supply. what is your experience with the addition of citrus peels ?

    • Sharon
    • February 5, 2012

    Bentley,
    I also saw pineapple in your pile of food stuffs. I once killed a bin of worms and thought it was due to the pineapple I had added b/c there is something in them that is not worm friendly (I found out after the bin went south). Have you added it before? If so I guess you had no problems so adding again would not be scary, but since that one time I have not added pineapple to my worms.

    • Wendy Johnson
    • February 6, 2012

    Sharon,
    I have put both “fresh” and canned pineapple in my beds before and haven’t noticed any problems. It has been some time ago and I can’t remember if the worms seemed to like it or not, but if it killed any of my worms it wasn’t many. The citrus fruit does need to be followed up or mixed with the garden lime though. I frequently put in oranges too, but add lime (not the Corona kind lol).

    • Bentley
    • February 6, 2012

    GardenWizard – I definitely don’t sweat it too much with most questionable materials. It really just comes down to moderation. Plus, it certainly helps if you can do anything to “optimize” the materials. I wouldn’t add heaps of citrus all at once to a small bin like this – that’s for sure – but a few peels chopped up won’t be an issue at all. I find that other critters like springtails tend to start of some of these materials, and the worms take over later on.
    ————–
    Sharon – same idea with pineapple as with citrus etc. I actually really should write a new post about that since one of my older posts makes
    it sound like pineapple is “bad” (I was actually sharing something someone else had sent – my own stance has always been fairly mellow). I’ve actually been adding quite a bit of pineapple waste as of late with no obvious repercussions. I guess I MIGHT encounter issues if it was a much smaller bin – not sure.
    In line with what Kate and Wendy have suggested, using some lime (or rock dust) would likely offset some of these really acidic materials – just don’t go too crazy in the opposite direction! Higher pH can result in ammonia release – definitely NOT what you want in a smaller enclosed bin!

    • red stroud
    • June 30, 2012

    just got composter can of worms. very confusing one person says put in carboard and paper for bedding next person says dont . use coco nut fiber. what do you use .

    • Adam
    • July 17, 2012

    Garden lime scares me. I much prefer crushed egg shells to balance the PH.

    • Adam
    • July 17, 2012

    @Red stroud…. I use all of the above. In my worm factory 360 I make a nice mixture of my own that the worms simply love. I start with 1 part coco coir and 1 part aged horse manure. I then add about 1 cup of a micronized glacial rock dust/corn meal/crushed egg shell mixture. After that I add fruit/veggie waste that went through my food processor. The final addition is dried shredded cardboard/newspaper. This helps absorb any extra moisture and I’ve noticed since adding this mix to my bins that they are congregating much more on the top of the bin. When I feel they’re ready for a”treat”, I give them some watermelon rinds and water the bin with watermelon juice. They really enjoy that. I have a lot of fruit/veggie/bokashi waste that friends donate to me and I wrap this waste up in newspaper to bury as well (store it in my deep freezer). If you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to help where I can because I know how busy Bentley probably is.

    I hope this helps,

    Adam

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