Worm Inn Journal – 02-10-09

Worm Inn

I am long overdue for a Worm Inn update!

I guess there really hasn’t been all that much in the way of exciting news to share with you. I still haven’t started harvesting vermicompost from my first system, and will likely wait for at least a little while longer before doing so. That being said, there are a couple things worth mentioning.

I’ve noticed something unusual in my Euro Inn – the worms have disappeared!

Believe it nor not, this is actually quite interesting – and may be an indication that Euros aren’t the ideal worm species for a system like this. Of course, they haven’t really “disappeared” – they are simply hanging out lower in the system than the Reds in my other Inn.

ENCs tend to like going down deep where there is more moisture. The problem is that it will likely be more difficult to harvest castings from the bottom (without getting a bunch of worms) because of this. I’m certainly not ready to throw in the towel just yet, however. I’ll give the system a few more months before I draw any official conclusions.

Thanks to a tip from Worm Inn creator, Robyn Crispe, I am testing out a new (for me) way to deal with a minor fungus gnat invasion in my Red Worm Inn – coffee grounds!
What’s interesting is that one of my readers suggested this a long time ago (I even wrote about it in this fungus gnat post), but I totally forgot to try it out.

For the past week or so I have been adding all our coffee grounds to this system, rather than adding them to my food scrap hold as I would normally do. Luckily we brew up a pot each morning so it won’t take long to get a decent accumulation of the grounds in the Inn. It is hard to say for sure if the approach has been effective or not – there definitely seems to be few adults flying out now, but I’ll have to give it a bit more time. The worms seem to be loving it anyway! There are lots of them up in the zone where the grounds have been added.

If anyone else has fungus gnats, and also happens to be a coffee drinker, please give this a shot. I’d love to hear how this works out for you.

One important thing to mention though – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUNGUS GNATS, NOT FRUIT FLIES!
In my experience, fruit flies actually thrive in bins with a lot of coffee grounds, so you’ll want to be careful with this if you aren’t 100% sure of the difference between these two pests.

Fruit flies (FFs) and fungus gnats (FGs) are about the same size, but fruit flies have a thicker (chubbier? haha) look about them. FFs also tend to be lighter in colour (more of a brownish, rather than black), with larger coloured eyes – essentially looking like a mini house fly. FGs look more like mini mosquitos.

Anyway – I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the coffee grounds technique (and of course any other Worm Inn developments worthy of mention).

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Winter Worm Composting – 02-09-09


  1. A quick source for coffee grounds is Starbucks,

    Starbucks corporate policy is for the stores to keep the grounds separated out from the rest of the trash and to give them away to any one who asks.

    I have about 15 pounds in my garage right now just waiting for the weather to improve and the compost pile to heat up.

    • John Augenstein
    • February 11, 2009

    This may be a little off subject, but you mentioned fruit flies and I may have stumbled onto a really effective control for those little pests. I have four tubs of worms in my unheated but attached garage. Back in the late summer and fall of last year I had a serious infestation of fruit flies from feeding spoiled cantalope and apple peels and cores as a large part of my worm food. When the night temperatues began dropping I stacked the bins two high and next to each other, threw a plastic tarp over them and stuck a 120 watt light bulb in a mechanics drop cord under the tarp, on the floor, between the the two stacks of bins to keep the bins from cooling down too much. The cord had a metal cage on it to protect the bulb. The teperature in the tubs stayed around 70 deg. F. When I went out to check the worms the next day I noticed a significant decrease in fruit fly population in the garage. When I pulled the tarp off the tubs, the floor around the light bulb was black with dead fruit flies. I swept up the flies and put everything back in place. By the time a week had passed, all the fruit flies were dead. They are apparently drawn to the light at night and the heat from the bulb takes them out.

    • Bentley
    • February 11, 2009

    Billy – thanks for sharing that info. Definitely good to know!

    John – That’s really interesting! I’ve used a similar approach with sticky fly paper (ie hanging the strips beside the lightbulb) with good success.
    Anyway – thanks for mentioning that!

    • froggsong
    • August 26, 2009

    Hi there, I just found your site and I love it. It has given me some great ideas for raising worms for my herps as well as some alternate methods for when I start my BSF operation.

    I know this is an older post and that it hasn’t received any comments in a few months, but I had an idea about harvesting compost from the Euro system. Perhaps you could devise a way to flip the system over for a period of time, wait until the nightcrawlers go to what is now the “bottom” of the system, remove the compost, then flip it back over. Perhaps Robyn could create a nightcrawler specific Worm Inn that can be easily flipped without the contents falling out of the top. Perhaps a zipper holding two units together? Or maybe a drawstring top as well as bottom?

    I’m going to have to remember to check out more of your site. I am tired of spending so much money feeding my pets, lol… Plus I like to stay as green as possible, so “recycling” my food waste sounds like a great idea. I’ve also begun growing my own greens for my bearded dragon, so compost would be great to have.

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