Things have continued to hum along with my Worm Inn Mega system.
It’s been up and running for just over 3 months now, so I decided to crunch some numbers and see where we stand overall.
Total food* added – 104.2 lb
Total # of feedings – 14
Smallest feeding – 3.36 lb
Largest feeding – 10.09 lb
Average feeding – 7.44 lb
*There is usually some “bedding” material that is mixed in with the food. BUT – I didn’t consider the weight/volume of any of the bulk bedding OR “living material” (aged manure) that has been added – this is quite a significant proportion of the total material added!
All in all, I am happy with the progress, but I’d really like to start boosting the frequency of feeding and/or average weight of feeding. I may need to start bringing in outside inputs, however, since I’m easily keeping up with our own kitchen waste production (actually pretty impressive when I think about it, since we are pretty serious fruit/veggie consumers).
As touched on in my most recent updates (9-16-14 & 9-13-14), I’ve stopped adding bedding (other than small amount mixed in with food), in favor of a “living material” + food layering approach. This seems to be working REALLY well!
The level has continued to drop down between feedings, leaving plenty of room for more food and aged manure – and there are gobs of worms to be found in the upper zone. I likely could have continued on like this for another month or two before a harvest was required.
But where’s the fun in that?!
Today I decided it was time to see what’s going on down below. Apart from wanting to see how the vermicompost is looking these days, I’ve been very eager to see if the harvesting process is easier now that I’m using the wooden stand (had the PVC stand for my last set-up).
In two words…HECK YES!!!
Wow – what a difference. Harvesting was much easier due to the stability and extra height the stand offers. I think all the extra air flow down there (since higher off ground) is also making a big difference. Unlike last time, I’m really not seeing much in the way of fungal growth on the lower sides of the Mega. The false bottom was completely intact – the shredded cardboard looked brand new, and I literally had to cut through the layers of newsprint to get to the vermicompost!
I was a bit concerned that the vermicompost down at the bottom was going to be bone dry – but this was not the case at all. It was as close to a “perfect” level of moisture as I think I’ve ever encountered when harvesting a system.
I started scraping everything down into a plastic bin. It didn’t take long to fill it. At first glance, the material didn’t look very impressive. There was a lot of dry bedding, larger chunks of vermicompost, elastic bands, and other bulky, unprocessed ‘stuff’ (for lack of a better word).
I knew the real “magic” would happen when I put my “super simple vermicompost screener” to work. I positioned it inside a plastic garbage bag, and began the rather time-consuming task of screening all the material removed from the Inn.
I really like my simple screener – but I gotta say that I was definitely wishing I owned some sort of DIY rotating screener after 10 minutes of vigorous shaking…and the sight of most of the material still left to be screened!
The bulky material I screened out was dumped into a separate bag. This will end up going through the system again.
It will serve as a fantastic bedding/”living material” mix that can be combined with food waste for best results.
What was left in my screening bag, was beautiful “black gold”. Absolutely gorgeous stuff!
I was also very happy to only find perhaps 3 or 4 small worms in the material removed from the Mega. Fairly heavy/recent feedings up at the top of the system, combined with fairly dry conditions down at the bottom, likely helped a lot with this.
Thrilled with the results of my relatively-small harvest, I decided not to push my luck by continuing to scrape more material out (I likely removed about 1.5 bins worth all told). There is undoubtedly a LOT more finished material near the bottom, but I’m not in any rush to remove it (especially not at this time of year).
NOTE – In case you are curious about the total weight of material removed…it was about 15 lb of bulky leftovers, and nearly 20 lb of “black gold”.
In my next update I’ll let you know how far down the level drops in the system.