Worm Inn Journal-03-09-10

If you are new to my Worm Inn Overfeeding Challenge, you may want to check out these posts before reading further (and watching the video):
Worm Inn Journal-02-21-10
Worm Inn Journal-02-23-10
Worm Inn Journal-02-25-10

I gave my Worm Inn a bit of a break over the last 12 days or so. I was pretty busy with other things and just wanted to let the system mellow out for a bit. I did add water fairly regularly, and just generally kept my eye on things to make sure everything went smoothly.

Worms (and other critters) have continued to perform incredibly well, and today I decided to start feeding the system somewhat more…uhhh…effectively.

Notice, I didn’t say I’d be feeding it less? As you’ll see, I actually added 19.65 lb of waste (the most I’ve added at once) today.
What I’ve decided to start doing however, is freezing (in my deep freezer) and/or chopping up the material really well before adding it, rather than simply dumping it in as-is. As I mention in the video, the material is quite similar to the stuff I’ve referred to as “homemade manure” since there is a lot of bedding material mixed in nicely with the pulverized food waste. I think the worms are going to LOVE it!

Now, I should mention that I will once again be leaving the system alone for the better part of two weeks, since I’ll be going on a trip at the end of the week. I’m not too worried about the worms starving while I’m gone though!

Anyway, I will certainly provide another update once I am back!
Stay tuned!

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    • Iker
    • March 10, 2010

    Hey Bentley!

    I’ve been following the worm inn updates since september and it’s amazing how fast things have gone! I was wondering, how much worms do you estimate to be there? How much worms/cocoons you guess you started with back in september?

    Thanks and keep the updates coming!

    • Carolyn
    • March 11, 2010

    First some humor.

    We need a song with the lyrics β€œI’m vermicomposting in my socks.” Or a Dr. Seuss book titled β€œI can compost in my socks.”

    How about a 24/7 vermi-web-cam?

    The egg carton shreds looked great, but after tearing up my first 50 the fun wore off and my hands started to hurt. How do you think the Inn would do if before topping up with food you added in a layer of egg cartons dry, whole, bottom side up? Would the benefit of absorbing water and habitat for the worms still be there but with none of the in front of the TV work?

    In between feedings when you added water to the system did you do it right through the unzipped screen top?

    Not that fruit or fungus flies are a problem with the Inn but a Growing Power video briefly mentioned to cut down on tiny flies they take some of the finished vermicastings and coat the top of the newly added produce material with it. I have been doing that with vermicompost not quite yet castings and it works great.

    I have not seen you add a solid sheet of cardboard on top of the food. Have you ever and did it work? I was wondering if you had added less than the 19# of material but had covered it over with a 24 case cardboard tray and put vermicastings along all the edges if the flies would be totally gone? And then keep doing layers like that. The cardboard covers the material top and edge. The vermicastings let in air to the layers. Or would that impede the flow through air?

    I too have been a multi years long reader of Aquaponics Digest. The concept of worms not fish or worms in addition to fish is the coolest thing to happen to in Aquaponics.

    We want to see more of the harvest from the bottom of the bag. Even a little too much harvest so we can see how much of the Inn is perfect 100% to 90% vermicastings and when does it start to be not composted enough. What do you think the layers inside the Inn look like?

    Growing my tiny but multiplying, wild squirm in buckets but obviously I need a flow through to play with.

    ~ Carolyn

    • Bentley
    • March 11, 2010

    IKER – I think it was actually October, but yeah things have come together nicely since then, and really it’s only been in the last couple of months that I have given the system a lot of attention (and food – haha). When I started the Inn I only added a couple of bags of material I refer to as “compost ecosystem” (and poor quality stuff at that) so there would have been very few worms, along with some worm cocoons. Now, I have no clue how many worms there are, but I know there are a LOT more!
    CAROLYN – I love Dr. Seuss, so I’m definitely game!

    Would LOVE to have a 24/7 worm cam – and hopefully someday I’ll be able to get something like that set up!

    Layering the egg cartons would likely work ok since it is a lot more prone to breakdown than corrugated cardboard (ie once it gets wet the worms should be able to munch through it fairly quickly).

    Adding worm compost over top is a great idea and something I have been doing myself (although not this time). I have tubs of old “compost ecosystem” material sitting in my basement, and it’s a great material to use in that manner.

    I DID add water through the screen – one of the cool things about this system (especially when you have an annoying fungus gnat population itching to get out – haha).

    I’m not sure that a sheet of cardboard will really help all that much in terms of keeping the flies down even if combined with adding compost. These gnats are pretty persistent and will happily crawl up through whatever you put on top of them. It MIGHT work better for fruit flies though – not sure.

    As for harvesting – not to worry! That is definitely part of the gameplan. I am still not 100% convinced that I can keep up this pace and end up with nice stuff coming out the bottom, but we shall see! As the worm population continues to grow, it should become a more and more realistic expectation. We’ll see how things look in a few months.
    (I’ll certainly be doing some harvesting before then however).

    Not sure about the layers – I think a cool future upgrade to the system would be some sort of window that could be uncovered so you could see what’s going on inside!

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