Back at the beginning of December I wrote about my plans to keep a (compostable) cat litter worm bed active all winter (see “Winter Cat Litter Composting Bed“), along with my main “Winter Worm Composting Windrow“. Well, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d hoped they would (thanks to a big winter storm that blew in and caught me off-guard), and that component of my “Winter Composting Extravaganza” was abandoned.
Now that warmish weather has once again arrived I’ve been having a look at the bed to see how things are coming along. If you compare the above picture to this one (from the December post)…
…you’ll notice that the overall volume has certainly decreased! So clearly, even despite the fact that I wasn’t able to keep the bed “active” over the winter, something was still going on (of course, most of the activity likely occurred this spring).
Naturally, the big question on my mind has been: “how is the worm population doing?”. To find out, I’ve been digging around in the pile a bit every now and again this spring. Initially, the results weren’t exactly awe-inspiring! I found some worms down on the lower edge of the bed, but couldn’t find many further up.
The colonization of the pile still seems to be a work-in-progress (I wrote “worm in progress” on my first try – haha), but there are definitely a lot more worms to be found in the main bed! What’s interesting is that they seem to be mostly concentrated in the outer layers of the heap, and present in concentrated groups (i.e. they are by no means evenly distributed throughout the upper layers of the bed.
I think it’s just a matter of time before this bed is absolutely crawling with Red Worms. Now that consistently warm weather seems to have arrived, I don’t think it will take too long! I recently added some cocoon-rich material from another source as well (more about that in an upcoming post), so that should certainly help!
Anyway – I will definitely keep everyone posted!
**NOTE** – Cat litter composting warrants some caution, and should generally only be attempted by those with previous composting experience. Any dog or cat waste composting systems should dedicated to those waste materials alone (i.e. don’t toss them in your ‘regular’ compost bins), and should not be set up near any water sources. Cat litter shouldn’t be handled at all by pregnant women or young children.
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Bentley I have just got to ask. How many cats do you have, I take it that the compostable litter is the kind that you dump the whole pan kind of litter.
I have just one cat and was wondering how big of a pile i would end up with if i started kitty litter composting.
Hi Eve – I have two cats. It’s amazing how quickly this stuff piles up (I do let it stockpile in bags for quite some time before adding it). It is scoopable so I just dump the nuggets that get scooped out. Eventually I toss everything once the stuff in the trays is no longer useful (as cat litter).
You might be surprised by the heap you are able to build up over time even with just one cat!
Do you ever harvest the worm casting form your cat litter pile? If so, what do you use them for? I want to try hot composting dog and cat waste to break it down some, then giving it to the worms…would this be a good way of handling it?
I haven’t yet harvesting castings from my cat litter composting. The material in this particular bed will likely stay where it is or be moved a short distance to a bed of ornamental plants. A great way (in my opinion) to do this is to actually create the composting bed next to whatever plants you want to fertilize, so you don’t have to move it around at all.
I definitely don’t recommend using it for food plants.
Your approach would actually be the best way to deal with these wastes.
I have a question for you…
I was raising Red Worms for really only for Fishing for Bluegills. I did quite well over the summer and fall. But, when the Winter Snows started to come in, I didn’t want the worms to Freeze sitting out in the Garage. So, the tub I had had 2 back wheels for easy moving. So, I wheeled it into one of my 3 bathrooms in my house. Really in the Laundry Room where it IS a bathroom, I just don’t use it. Anyways….During the time I was feeding the worms, I noticed one day that the bottom of the Lid was Totally Covered in W H I T E. I looked closer, and my eyes popped out of my head…I saw something MOVE…WOW…baby Reds? I would guess, there were at least 5 Million worms there. Is that what they were? Babies? Please let me know.
Stan’s Predator and Varmint Control
Grand Rapids, Michigan.
We’ve already discussed this (between us), but for the benefit of others, those worms were “white worms” (aka “pot worms”). They can appear in great abundance when conditions in the bin become very acidic. I have found that any starchy food, such as bread, pasta etc can really stimulate a population explosion. As I told you, my first experience with large numbers of white worms occurred in my very first worm bin. I added half a pot of cooked white rice to my bin, and apart from creating a stinking fermenting mess, I ended up with an unbelievable population of white worms. They were coming out the holes and everything!!
I know I’m reopening an old subject, but here goes:
So it took a bit, but finally have the compost bins in the yard set up to try this endeavor and recently absconded with a few neighborhood leaf-filled trash bags to help offset the massive amount of pine in these bins. I have some compost starter (organic, microbial based) to give it all a boost. I plan on mixing the above together and letting it work its magic as the temps heat up and BEFORE adding any worms.
Now – I’ve read the Euros are more hardy in slightly questionable conditions. I’m already ordering some reds for my first inside bin (just a regular tray starter until I get the hang of things) and was planning on putting any population explosion out in the yard, but should I, given the nature of pine litter and pine straw, add some Euros to the mix?