Sour Worm Bin Saga Continues

My Euro bin after the addition of shredded cardboard and well-aged horse manure

Just thought I would provide a bit of an update on my sour worm bin situation.
As I said in the other ‘sour bin’ post, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands to see if I can get this bin back in good shape.

The first thing I did (earlier in the week) was shred up a considerable amount of cardboard – the variety I refer to as “egg carton cardboard” – and added it to the upper layers of the bin. In this case it was actually shipping cardboard (keeps products stable inside shipping boxes), but it is essentially the same stuff. I really like it because it absorbs water very readily and also seems to break down much more quickly that corrugated or other types of cardboard.

The rationale for adding this material is that I want to absorb a lot of moisture in the upper region of the bin and also help to aerate this area as well, not to mention providing a more worm-friendly zone of material (once it is moist enough for the worms to move into).

Originally I was thinking about adding some brown leaves to the bin, but as it turns out, my leaves are very dry and likely wouldn’t help much at all. What I was hoping for were moist, partially decomposed leaves that could introduce lots of beneficial aerobic microbes and again contribute to the ‘worm friendly’ habitat I’m hoping to create.

I’ve opted instead to use some well-aged horse manure (that was originally bedded with straw and saw dust). My dad managed to secure a large quantity of this material, some of it absolutely jammed full of red worms I might add (something I’m going to talk about in another post). The particular bag of material I used (for my sour bin) is very well aged and doesn’t have any worms or cocoons (that I could see). I’m hoping I don’t end up instroducing Red Worms into my Euro bin, but it is a chance I’m willing to take – it certainly won’t be the end of the world.

It is interesting to see the difference between the material containing loads of worms and the stuff that contains none. Both are clearly well-aged, but the material with worms in it has lots of chunks of still semi-recognizable manure. The other material almost just looks like finished compost (although there is still a lot of straw/sawdust residue). Both materials have a nice earthy odour (not a manure smell), but the wormy batch is definitely somewhat stronger.

Both of these materials would make an excellent starter bedding for a new worm bin, since they are quite well stabilized, but still should have some food value as well (especially the stuff that is already full of worms, obviously).

Like rotting leaves, aged manure will help to introduce lots of beneficial aerobic microbes to my Euro bin and will offer a bit of a safe haven for the worms. Hopefully it will help to shift the balance towards a more worm-friendly environment.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how things turn out!

[tags]worm bin, anaerobic, manure, red worms, red wigglers, european nightcrawlers, worm composting, vermicomposting, compost[/tags]

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    • Eve
    • April 27, 2008

    Hi Bentley,

    I have a question about the horse manure, or perhaps its more of a concern. I have been told ‘never ever add horse manure to a vegetable garden even well aged horse manure’. Horses carry tetanus and it is present in the manure, though i may be wrong on the name of the illness. I’m dyslexic and get proper names mixed up.

    I have a neighbor down the road who has a huge garden and a lot of horses. He wont put it into his garden no matter how old it is and cant give it away, no one will take it so he burns the horse manure. Its real aromatic at burning time.

    My question is do you know if worm composting makes the horse manure ‘safe’. Or know here to get information on the subject.

    I am planning to use my worm compost on my vegetable garden and am interested in a new source of food for my worms.

    • Bentley
    • April 28, 2008

    That’s an excellent question, Eve. Truth be told, you have me stumped. I’ve never heard of that before, and know of people using horse manure in their gardens.
    I’ll see if I can dig up some more info about that.
    Thanks for the comment.

    • Patricia
    • April 29, 2008

    Hi Bentley, I only use horse manure in my worm composting. I recently hooked up with a worm farmer who uses manure from all over town and he processes 1.5 million pounds a year. He has done lots of tests and his nutritional levels in his compost are very high. The only type of horse manure NOT to use is that which the horse has been given worming medications. I let my manure age for a week or more and then apply on top of my current compost pile.

    • Bentley
    • April 29, 2008

    Thanks very much for the info Patricia!

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