Everything looked surprisingly (yet not surprisingly – haha) GOOD! There was still quite a lot of cardboard left in the bin, the worms actually looked quite healthy, and I even found some cocoons.
[Just to remind anyone not familiar with the experiment…this bin was set up back at the end of January, 2018 – in a pretty typical “new-bin” manner (with lots of bedding + food) – and then absolutely nothing was added to it. Ever. Again (lol…well, until more recently anyway – but we’ll get to that in a minute).]
Fast forward to the end of October, 2018…
After seeing some posts in the RWC Facebook group about worm bin neglect, I “remembered” that I should probably check on the bin! (I’m a horrible human, I know)
Wow – what a difference 3 months can make!!
The level of material was way down, there was hardly any sign of cardboard…the worms looked tiny and malnourished.
Initially, I thought I should just end the experiment, and feel pretty satisfied about the fact that I had proven you could keep worms going 9 months with ZERO input (other than what was added at beginning)…but I’m stubborn. Really stinkin’ stubborn. lol
The goal had been to go a full year (in my head, anyway) – and by golly I wanted to go a full year!
The premise all along has been that this is a completely LOW-MAINTENANCE system. So I knew continuing on with it meant steering clear of any actual “food” inputs altogether (but rest assured, you could keep one of these bins going for ages – and maintenance-free at that – with even very occasional food deposits).
All I did at the end of October was mix in a bunch of shredded, corrugated cardboard. Then, I basically just left it for another month.
More recently – thanks to the “Walking Windrow Project” – I’ve become really fascinated with wood chips as a vermicomposting medium. In the past I have basically written this material off – even pretty much warned people to stay away from it. This is because wood tends to be so resistant to decomposition, and offers virtually no water-absorption as a bedding material (unless really rotten).
I’m definitely coming around, though!
Working with (even mildly) aged chips out at the project site has made me realize they can become a really amazing “living material” a lot more quickly than I realized – especially if leaves (etc) end up mixed in.
I’ve been wanting to experiment more with this material here at home as well (will be some other posts about this I can assure you), so I figured why not try some moistened wood chips in the Insurance Bin?
When I checked on the system today, I wasn’t too surprised to see that plenty of the October-cardboard is still there. I am also happy to report that the worms actually seem to be doing better as well (I never cease to be amazed by their resilience)!
Another material I have been working with (in this case “again”) recently is stove pellets. Definitely no “living” benefits, but I love the fact that they soak up water like crazy, and offer an nice, resistant structural material.
I mixed some wood chips with water, then added the pellets to soak up the liquid pooling in the bottom, and it worked like a charm! The Insurance bin was then basically filled with this moistened mix.
I am very interested to see how the worms will respond in the weeks ahead!
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