Worm Inn Journal-06-01-12

I finally got around to harvesting material from my Worm Inn earlier this week. Even more important than wanting to see what sort of vermicompost/castings I’d be left with, I’ve been really eager to make more room in the system so I can get a bit more serious about my feeding schedule (it was completely full after my last feeding).

As such, I was a lot more aggressive with my “harvesting” than I normally would be. I got in there with a hand rake and really worked my way around the walls, loosening up as much material as I could. Initially there didn’t seem to be too many worms (unlike the last time I attempted a harvest), but not too surprisingly I did end up getting into some zones with quite a few worms as I continued to gouge away.

Once I started seeing unprocessed food waste materials coming out (along with even more worms) I knew it was time to put an end my harvesting rampage and tie up the bottom once again! lol

I was really pleased with how far down the level of material in the bag dropped – almost half the volume was once again available (the image below is definitely misleading).

Most people looking at the stuff that I harvested from the Inn wouldn’t be very impressed given the amount of unprocessed bedding etc – not exactly what you would call “black gold”. But I knew better than to judge it based on appearance alone.

The important thing to keep in mind about the Worm Inn is that it forms a shell of dry vermicompost and bedding all around the inner walls, with an inner core (what Jerry refers to as the “sweet spot”) that contains some of the nicest vermicompost you’ll ever see!

Due to the quantity of worms that ended up in the material I harvested from the Inn, I ended up doing a quick “turbo light harvest” before screening it. All the bulky stuff provided me with a nice batch of “living material” to put back in the system, and as you can see below, I was left with some really top notch vermicompost (likely some of the nicest stuff I’ve ever seen from a small home system in fact).

As for adding more food…
Strangely, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’ve found myself in the position of not having enough food waste. I normally have a surplus in my freezer, but I guess all my various bins and experiments are taking a toll on my supply!

Have no fear though – apart from producing more (we tend to product a lot of fruit/veggie scraps), I have some other (potentially “hair-brained”) ideas rattling around in the ol’ noggin! I may get a little “creative” on the feeding front. Should be fun. lol

Will definitely provide another update next week.
Stay tuned!

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    • Adam
    • June 3, 2012

    I started getting a little creative on the feeding front myself. I freeze then thaw all food waste that I use. Then I Put it in my food processor and get as small as possible. Then I spoon a large plastic ladel’s worth onto a newspaper (several pages until no more moisture seeps through and throw the little food packets into a 5 gallon bucket in my deep freezer. This makes for a great way for me to feed. By the time it oozes onto the outside newspaper, it’s ready to be eaten. This way if/when I go out of town, I can just have People feed those to the worms on a set schedule. And it helps control flies a bit.

    • Amy
    • June 3, 2012

    Love my Worm Inn so so very much. I’m wondering if you have any videos or articles on the process after harvesting that makes that gorgeous stuff in these two pictures. That stuff looks fine — and it looks dry (maybe they’re misleading pictures — I know it shouldn’t be totally dry). I get great crumbly stuff from the bottom of the Worm Inn, but it’s in chunks and definitely not as fine as the stuff in your pics. Any advice or places to point me?

    • thuan
    • June 4, 2012

    Hi Bentley,
    So far after 6 months of using two worm inns, I have harvested 3 times from each inn (total of 6 harvests). Each harvest from each inn fills about 2.5 gallon bucket very compacted material . The material is processed quite well with litle remnants of cardboards. There is quite a bit of worms in the casting (possibly because of hot weather and worms finding a cool area to hang out). So worm inns are working well. I’m handling the hot weather as best as I can with watering down and fan in late afternoon to cool down the inn. Any other suggestions how to keep the inn cool in 95 degree weather?

    • Marty
    • June 4, 2012

    Adam – I too freeze my scraps, helps keep the flies and bugs down quite a bit. I do like your creativity though I don’t food process, I usually cut into small cubes first and then freeze, don’t want to make it too easy for the ‘wigglys’! I do notice a huge difference in the amount of time for them to process verse fresh scraps. Both my bins are indoors so they have consistent temps, going to be building the VB24 this summer and see how the flow thru works verse WF 360, guess Bentley has got me going on some experimenting of my own. LOL Frozen food packs are great and easy though for my kids or friends to help me feed the wigglys when I’m on travel for work or vacation.

    Bentley – some great looking vericompost, approximately how much (weight/quantity) did you garner on your harvest? It looks so great, perfect composition of moisture, did you happen to check the moisture content of it? What do you recommend in regards to moisure level of the vericompost?

    • Bentley
    • June 6, 2012

    ADAM – sounds like an awesome strategy!
    AMY – I honestly haven’t harvested much from my Worm Inns (in the past I’ve tended to forget about them or dismantle them after awhile (lol), so I haven’t really written all that much about it.
    I think in this case some of my neglect came in handy since it caused the worms to process more of the bedding, and allowed everything to dry out more. All I did with the chunky stuff was put it into my handy dandy 1/4″ screener (will aim to write a post about that) and shake the nice stuff down into a plastic tub.
    MARTY – It might have been a few pounds of the really nicely screened stuff. I didn’t check the moisture level, but it’s definitely lower than most vermicomposts I’ve produced/used. I don’t really have any particular “ideal moisture content” for this material – I’ve seen great results with pretty moist stuff and pretty dry stuff, so I figure as long as it’s somewhere between sloppy muck and bone-dry powder you should be ok!
    Nothing wrong with material that has a higher moisture content than the stuff pictured above. If you DO want to screen it though, you may need to let it air out for awhile (make sure to break it up as it dries as well).
    THUAN – That’s really interesting that they hang out low in the hot weather. Makes sense too! Have you tried using frozen water bottles to keep the system cool? If you had a number of them you could rotate them between the freezer and the Inn.

    • thuan
    • June 7, 2012

    I gathered a few of those gel filled freezer bags and will rotate them freezer-worm inn to reduce the temps. I will also supplement with frozen water bottles if needed. Looking ahead to winter time and filling the idea in the memory bank, I saw an idea around that you can get a small 50W aquarium heater and place it in a gallon soda bottle with water, bury it in the middle and that will keep the temps above freezing. So two ways to manage extreme temperatures, hot and cold!

    • thuan
    • June 7, 2012

    Oh, one more note…
    I looked at the compost that was recently harvested and sifted. There are still some worms (as I stated before) but also pot worms (small white worms) and mites. Does this means that there are still some food remnants left or pot worms and mite takes a while to disappear?

    • Amy
    • June 8, 2012

    Ooooo, I would to hear about your handy dandy 1/4″ screener sometime!

    • Mark
    • June 8, 2012

    I’m new to raising worms. Above, someone mentioned an aquarium heater for winter time outdoor worm bins. I’ve used these heat tapes for pipes. They don’t have an adjustable temperature but if the sensor near the plug is left outside of the bin, the heater only kicks on when it is actually freezing outside. It’s an option worth looking into for outdoor worm bins. Just a thought….


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