I recorded a two-part (only because I accidentally stopped recording part way through – haha) “Worm Inn Overfeeding Challenge” update yesterday. Two more weeks have gone by, and once again I’ve been leaving the system unfed – this time primarily due to the fact that I wanted to start harvesting some worm compost. Letting a system sit (without feeding) for a period of time before harvesting is never a bad idea since the worms can then process more of the material for you. Plus, it can help to reduce the amount of moisture in the compost (assuming it’s an “open” system).
As I mention in the first video, the system was actually starting to head toward “sour” conditions a short time after the last feeding. I started noticing a familiar sharp, tangy smell (some of you may recall my experience with a sour Euro bin a while back – “From Bad to Worse – Sour Worm Bin Decline“), the appearance of more white mites and white worms, and a reduction in the number of worms in the upper zone (where the most recent food was). I’ve been adding a lot of acidic stuff, and I certainly haven’t been holding back on the amount of waste being added in general, so I can’t say I was overly surprised.
In an effort to restore some eco-balance, I decided to add some nice aged manure and some “compost ecosystem” material in the upper zone. Something like aged leaf litter would work very well also. Something I WOULDN’T recommend is adding a bunch of lime to try and increase the pH – you’ll likely just end up shocking the system and making matters worse. As expected, the materials I added really seemed to help restore some balance in the system, and I no longer noticed the strong “sour” odors when digging around.
Now, the BIG question of course, was whether or not the worm compost harvested from the bottom was going to be any good. I have been adding a LOT of waste to this system, and while it’s certainly looked as though the worms have been doing a great job with it – it’s been hard to say for sure. Well, the good news is that the material coming out the other end is beautiful, rich stuff – nothing like the stinky sludge I’ve grown accustomed to with some of my enclosed plastic bins. I was also really impressed with the absence of worms and cocoons in it. After I finished shooting the second video I continued to scrape more down into my container until I started seeing a few adult worms falling down (these were easily removed and put back to work). I’m pretty sure there is still a lot more good stuff that could be harvested (with a few more worms likely needing to be picked out) but I’ll leave it for the time being. In an upcoming video you will see how I put the material to good use right away.