BOM-6000 Bin-04-13-11

Hey gang! I decided to check on the (neglected) BOM bin down in my basement this morning! Always fun to leave bins alone for awhile to see what happens (yeah OK, maybe it’s not always something I do on purpose! haha).

As some you may recall, this is the bin I put the contents of my coffee grounds experiment bin into. Unlike the wooden stacking (experimental) bin, the BOM actually seems to be a good choice for coffee grounds vermicomposting – and I’m sure the same can be said for most enclosed plastic bins. Moisture-retention seems to be very important in terms of making grounds more worm-friendly.

One fascinating discovery this morning was some sort of crazy fungus growing in the bin! Nothing like neglect combined with lots of carbon-rich bedding to get those fungal fruiting bodies growing!

As per usual, I found loads of springtails in the bin as well. They really seem to enjoy a moist (but not sopping wet) environment with good air flow – and I think this system fits the bill quite nicely!

I was actually quite surprised to find some sow bugs (isopods) as well! They never seem to thrive in my enclosed plastic worm bins, but I guess the same conditions that appeal to the springtails appeal to them as well.

I had a heck of a time trying to snap a good shot of one of these guys, but did manage to finally get a decent one! Its large size (by vermicomposting critter standards – it’s like a giant dinosaur in comparison to the small springtails nearby!!) and the macro setting on my point-and-shoot seemed to help!

As for worms – while I didn’t get any nice shots of them, I can assure you that they are doing very well! They are thriving in the bedding-rich environment and, as always, don’t seem to mind my neglect one bit!

Oh, and I should also mention that there is no evidence of coffee grounds in the bin – unless you consider the beautiful, black vermicompost found throughout!

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    • John Duffy
    • April 14, 2011

    What are the little tapioca looking things in the pic just before to sow bug pic? Springtail eggs?
    What other foodstuffs are in the bin?

  1. Hi John,
    Glad you asked (likely others wondering the same thing). Those are a very common variety of mites that appear in worm bins. I call them “White Mites”, but don’t actually know what exact species (or group of species) they are.
    People often confuse them with eggs since they are white, round and shiny – and they move VERY slowly.


    • Morgan
    • April 18, 2011

    Hi Bentley,
    Unfortunately, I’ve got a sad story to share. I have a regular plastic bin vermicomposting system that’s been working quite well since December. Never any real problems to speak of, in fact, my worms were reproducing like crazy and seemed to love a little neglect (like you, I’m really busy and can’t check on the bin every day as I’m out of town with work a lot.) Last week, I came home to find nearly every single worm dead or dying. No parasites, no weird fungus, moisture levels within the normal range… I’m pretty stumped. The only thing I can think of is that they possibly ran out of food? I had been feeding them just a little, to increase the amount of castings relative to bedding and other food bits in preparation for harvest. It had been a few days since they got fresh food and bedding, maybe a week… Do you hear of entire thriving populations just crashing like that? Could it be as simple as they ran out of food?? I want to start over but I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again! So sad.

    • Bentley
    • April 18, 2011

    Hi Morgan,
    Very sorry to hear that. One thing I can PROMISE you is that they did not starve to death – it would literally take months to do so. I have bins I typically leave for weeks on end without additional feeding and the worms are doing very very well.
    My questions would be: 1) what exactly was added to the bin most recently (closest to when they died) and 2) where has the bin been sitting (outdoors/indoors etc)?
    Based on what you’ve told me this does sound pretty bizarre. This sort of thing usually happens when too much waste (certain mixes of waste etc) starts rotting all at the same time. When people go away on holidays this can happen since they will often want to leave their worms with plenty to eat for their time away.


    • Morgan
    • April 18, 2011

    Hi Bentley,
    The worms didn’t receive anything out of the ordinary. Just some broccoli scraps and crushed egg shells and some shredded egg carton. I kept the bin in my garage, which is a pretty constant 60 or 65-ish degrees F (I’m in San Francisco, CA) and it’s never moved since I started it last year. It has been unusually noisy in there the last few weekends, though, as I’m building a big chicken coop. It’s a long shot, but maybe the noise from all the power tools got to them. Otherwise, a total mystery.

    • Castiopeia
    • April 19, 2011

    Are you sure your bin wasnt anaerobic? Mine went anaerobic and all worms died – i actually think this happened because the worm cast in the first level of my can-o-worm system became sticky and anaerobic and because of no airflow or something like that the rest of the bin was affected and became wet and stinky and anaerobic. I reacted to slow and couldnt prevent that almost all worms died. This was in december, but now since it getting warmer (i dont live in SF 🙁 ) millions of newborn worms are in the bin.

    • Michael
    • April 27, 2011

    I had a fungus similiar to that one just not as big. It didn’t last long, the worms started eating it through the center and today it was gone

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