Worm Inn Journal-2-08-12

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update. My last feeding was 1.039 kg (2.29 lb) of relatively fresh (but chopped-up) kitchen wastes. The worms have done very well with this food, so I certainly had no qualms about adding even more today – 1.91 kg (4.21 lb), to be exact.

The difference this time around was that I froze these wastes – twice in fact! I was originally planning to add more material late last week – the day after my last WF-360 update – but when that didn’t happen, I decided I should probably toss it back in the freezer so I didn’t end up with a foul mess by the time I did use them (they were just sitting in a plastic bag, with no bedding materials).

As it turns out, they were pretty funky by today anyway (after sitting out since Sunday)! So ripe in fact, that I decided to give them a good rinse with fresh water, in an effort to remove any foul liquids that might harm the worms.

Rather than trying to cut everything up in my plastic weigh boat (actually the worm tea collector for the WF-360), I dumped the material in a bucket and really went to town on it with a hand trowel (along with my heavy duty scissors).

Still feeling a little uneasy about dumping the slop directly onto the main worm zone in the system, I decided to lay down a folded piece of newsprint over top of the upper bedding materials. This should help to soak up excess moisture, and allow the wastes to break down further in an environment with lots of air flow – likely rendering them worm-friendly fairly quickly.

Once the waste had been added, I simply added a thick layer of new bedding before zipping the lid closed.

I will check on the situation in a few days and – if it seems like most of the bad odor is gone- will likely pull the newsprint off to the side (maybe use it as my uppermost bedding layer) so the worms can more easily access the scraps.

It will be interesting to see how quickly these wastes are processed in comparison to the fairly fresh material!

**For Even More Worm Fun, Sign Up for the RWC E-mail List!**
Previous Post

Euros vs Reds-2-09-12

Next Post

Northern Short-Tailed Shrew


    • Kevin
    • February 27, 2012

    Hi Bentley,
    I am pleased to see the WF360 journal on your site, as that is my system I’ve been using for the past year. However, in spite of me using it for a year, I’ve gone through three different new batches of worms. They last for a few months, increase in population, become really thick, then suddenly just disappear. It just happened again in the past few weeks, and I’m on the verge of giving up on vermicomposting.

    Then I searched for what you had to write about the 360, and the Worm Inn journal from Feb. 8 struck me: I used to always freeze my waste too, then let it thaw in my fridge, then feed it to my worms. But you mention in this journal entry that the foul stench and liquids are harmful to the worms… I’ve been dumping this stuff directly into my bin, figuring that it should be no problem. Perhaps this is the reason they keep dying?

    My moisture level is just fine and I use a lot of paper scraps on top. I could probably cut the wastes into slightly smaller pieces, but I’m definitely not over-feeding them. In my mind, nothing can explain my worm disappearance except this latest thought about the putrid-smelling and liquified rot I’ve been dumping into my bin.

    Any thoughts on this?

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2012

    Hi Kevin,
    Just to be clear, you have a Worm Factory 360 – NOT a Worm Inn, right?
    (making sure, since your comment is on a Worm Inn Journal post)

    To answer your question – yes, it is conceivable that you could kill worms with really foul waste materials. Generally speaking, you will however see that some are dying or at least stressed out before you end up with a total bin meltdown.

    Have you been adding a lot of this foul stuff then simply letting the bin sit for quite awhile without checking on it?

    Have you been keeping lots of bedding in each tray as habitat material as well (i.e. not just a covering over top)?

    Where have you been keeping this system? Outside? Inside? Any temperature fluctuations?

    What I would definitely recommend, moving forward, is to mix your wet food scraps with bedding materials, and make sure they are getting a decent amount of air flow before they get added to your bin. They really shouldn’t be foul smelling at all.

    I’ve figured out ways to “get away with” adding these sorts of wastes to my systems – but it not a practice I recommend for new vermicomposters.

    • Kevin
    • February 27, 2012

    Yeah, it’s the WF360 that I’ve been using. I only commented on the Worm Inn journal entry because that’s where you mentioned cleaning/rinsing your foul-smelling waste.

    My feeding usually went like this: open the bin, see if the worms are rummaging around in the last feeding, and if so, add a handful or so beside it so they can keep on moving around the bin. After adding the new stuff, I’d usually check in on it after a few days to see if I should feed again or wait until a full week had passed from that last feeding. Once it seems like a routine has developed with the frequency of how often they seem to be processing the waste, I go by that schedule and usually only check when I feed them, which has been around once every 5 days or once per week.

    I’ve never got my worm population to increase to the point where a second tray has been added. As far as bedding in the first and only tray is concerned, I don’t intentionally mix it up into their food, but when I scrounge around and check in on them, the bedding tends to mix in. I should be doing more mixing of the paper with the food scraps?

    The WF360 has been indoors in my kitchen with a fairly steady temperature of around 20*C, sometimes as warm as 26 when I’m baking, or when my radiators really kick in on those blustery winter days, but that’s not too often.

    That’s definitely a good tip that I’ve never heard before about airing out my scraps and adding bedding to them before putting them in my bin. I’m hoping to take a master composter course here in Winnipeg in the spring, so hopefully I’ll learn more and stop accidentally killing worms. I certainly feel bad each time it has happened, but I also seem to be learning more. To be perfectly honest, I’m very much looking forward to having my own yard in the not-too-distant future so I can just compost outside.

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2012

    Nothing overly obvious is standing out from what you’ve shared, Kevin. But I could see this potentially happening with not enough bedding and the stinky wastes being mixed in. If you have been using only the one tray, habitat conditions may have gradually declined over time as well.

    Anyway – try the aerated scrap/bedding aging approach, and keep a closer eye on the worms. You should do just fine.

    Strange that you haven’t see an increase in worm population – where were the worms purchased from? Hopefully you ended up with the right ones!
    (If not, it could certainly explain why they might disappear)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your Free Vermicomposting Guide!

* Join the Red Worm Composting E-Mail List Today *