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The Insurance Bin – 10 Months Later

Back at the end of July, I posted an update for my “Insurance Bin” project (see “The Insurance Bin – 6 Months Later“).

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.

Oh, snap!

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!

Stay tuned!

Written by Bentley on December 3rd, 2018 with 5 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting John W.
#1. December 3rd, 2018, at 10:01 PM.

Will be very interested to see how this one ends. Makes me think I need to make an insurance bin for when i get to busy to keep my main one alive

Get your own gravatar by visiting Priswell
#2. December 4th, 2018, at 9:46 AM.

Interesting to hear about this ongoing project. I know of many that use cardboard as their only bin filler.

I like stove pellets in my bin as a way to absorb extra water in case of overwatering. I’ve found that my worms like pellets as no more than about 1/3 of total bin filling when you are starting a new bin.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#3. December 4th, 2018, at 2:33 PM.

JOHN – yeah, it’s a super easy way to keep a worm culture going. And no need to even neglect the worms the way I have. Even a bit more bedding and food once a month would leave you with a thriving system (still with no hassles)
PRISWELL – That is really interesting re: the pellets! I am thinking about testing them out (along with the wood chips) as a main bedding for my Urban Worm Bag 2.0 (hoping to get started soon)

Get your own gravatar by visiting john
#4. December 5th, 2018, at 9:12 PM.

YOU ARE A TRIP skilled on the computer and a great writer i do worms and the way you present it is fun John Keenan

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#5. December 5th, 2018, at 9:44 PM.

John K – thanks for the kind words!

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