Coffee Cup Challenge – Day 33

Once again I have let my coverage of the CC Challenge lapse, and in fact my work on the site in general (new blog posts etc) has come to a complete stand-still for the last couple weeks. Sorry about that – things have been quite crazy as of late. I’m hoping to get at least one or two new posts up this week aside from this one, so do stay tuned.

Ok – well as you can see from the above picture, a LOT has changed since the start of the experiment, and even quite a bit since our last update. The coffee cup has continued to break down, and in fact was half burried in vermicompost before I pulled it out for some pictures.

There is no longer any evidence of the watermelon in the bin, and even the tomato, sweet potato and fresh bedding I added after our last update (since not much food left) have almost completely disappeared.

Truth be told, this bin is just about ready to be started over. Tiny bins like this tend to have a relatively fast turn-over rate, and I’ve actually noticed quite a lot of water pooling in the bottom of the bin, so it’s time to release this herd into my outdoor bin. I will likely transfer what’s left of the coffee cup into my other indoor bin so as to monitor it’s degradation to the end. (I actually have a cup in the other bin, but have not bothered to provide updates since progress was slower due to lower worm population)

Here is a close-up of the cup after 33 days in the bin. You can see that there are many many springtails covering it. The dark clumps are of course ‘worm turds’ – essentially what makes up the vast majority of the bin’s contents at the moment!

Flipping the cup over, it was interesting to see that…

…the cardboard coating has been almost completely removed, leaving behind a plastic inner shell – eventually this will be all that’s left.

Here is a close-up of the remains of the tomato I put in. It was placed on fresh bedding, but as you can see this too has been largely processed as well.

As mentioned, I’m going to start this bin over. Rest assured I will devote a separate post to this task, and hope to get it up sometime this week!

Previous Posts in the Series:
Coffee Cup Challenge – Day 0
Coffee Cup Challenge – Day 6
Coffee Cup Challenge – Day 17

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Coffee Cup Challenge Day 17


    • Alison
    • June 13, 2007

    Hi Bentley, this is great ! The worms have done a marvelous job.This is what I am trying to get my worms to do and I am slowly getting there.I have two tiny set ups in the house going.They are in two two litre ice-cream containers with holes poked in the sides, lids and the bottoms.One has worms from my outside compost and the other has worms from my swag.The bedding is mostly very damp shredded cardboard and paper.I have seen new egg sacks in one but not the other yet.

    • Bentley
    • June 14, 2007

    Hiya Alison!
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Glad to hear you are ‘getting there’ (even if it is ‘slowly’)!
    Tiny indoor set-ups are actually a great way to learn – you can get up close and personal with your bin and see what’s going on.
    If your mini tubs are light coloured you might want to keep them in a dark spot in the house (maybe you already are). I know some of those ice cream tubs can be pretty translucent.

    Anyway, keep me posted!


    • Alison
    • June 24, 2007

    Hi Bentley, I stuck my head in an ice-cream container and cupped my hands around the edge of it and my head to block the light and I couldn’t see through the container so do you think it is all right? I never thought about the light so thanks for mentioning it.I am getting a container that looks like your rubbermaid ready ( moist shredded newspaper and cardboard and raw food scraps)It has been sitting for about 5 days and very soon now I will put my two little containers into it and start one little one again.I like the little ones and having them makes me leave my big ones alone.I look in the little ones at least once a day and they are growing in numbers so I guess they don’t mind me too much.It seems it will be so long before I get any real vermicasts and I really want some to make aerated tea.I would like to try your idea of a see through container that has a wrap around on it to keep out the light and then to use a red light to watch the worms in a darkened room, that would be great.You will be in your summer so how are your worm bins doing?Do you grow plants with your casts?
    Have a great day.

    • Bentley
    • June 26, 2007

    Hi Alison,
    Yeah it should be ok if you can’t see light coming through, especially if you are keeping the container in a fairly dark place as well.

    My worm bins are doing fairly well – I recently dumped one of my small bins into my large outdoor system and have started fresh.

    I am actually just starting an experiment with some castings, so I’ll definitely be writing about that on the blog soon.



    • keenan turner
    • September 2, 2007

    I live in a southern Ky town and have two 12-15 ft high deciduous shurbs in my back yard. I have my outside “natural” worm compost (5’X6′) in the ground between these shrubs. The sun never gets to the compost ground so it remains relative cool and if it doesn’t rain I add water. Have worked with it 3+ yrs and it is providing lots of red wigglers for the friends and me. I provide ripe tomatoes, coffee grinds/filters, all kind of fruit rinds, and occasionally some horse manure. The soil water ph is in the low 6’s. At first, I was worried the worms would escape but if they are they’re producing more than I need. Do you see any future problems with the situation I have described?

    • Bentley
    • September 3, 2007

    Hi Keenan,
    Your system sounds great! I would imagine that your location allows you to essentially compost year-round. Locating your bin in a sheltered location is a great way to prevent it from over-heating (and drying out) in the summer, while helping to block some of those cold winds in the winter.
    Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) actually require a habitat rich in organic matter, so they would definitely rather stay in your compost heap than venture out into your surrounding soil.

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