Wednesday, March 7, 2007

More ain't even necessarily better.

Note: I promised this would be about the harvest, but we ain't ready for that yet.

If a worm will thrive on paper...or cardboard...or horse manure...or [i]any[/i] organic materials, shouldn't we suppose that that worm will do better on even more organic materials....especially those we prefer or think they'll prefer?


We produce pretty elaborate menus for them, and fret about their diets, and the truth is they do just fine...with, or without us overdoing it all.

We tend to overdo most everything regarding composting worms that we've imprisoned in bins we perceived to be worm worthy, and although I firmly believe they adapt very well, we might ought not expect them to adapt as readily to what we humans assume to be what's best for them.

We've all seen them hanging out in the undesirable, murky, too-wet parts of the bin acting for all the world like they're having the time of their lives. I think they are.

Next: I ain't making any promises this time.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Vermicompost? Worm poop? Something inbetween?

Since everyone has gotten this far without any problems, I guess the lack of questions is understandable. So, we'll move on to other stuff.

Let's talk about vermicompost.

Well-processed vermicompost is mostly worm casting (poop). The less processed vermicompost is, the more it is worm food waiting to be turned into worm poop.

Using this reasoning, it's reasonable to believe that if the material your worms are residing in is not completely worm poop, then it's partly delicious worm food. That's why you don't have to feed them a nice fresh piece of lettuce or other stuff every few days.

Human nature being what it is though, people...being human...tend to feed them babies when the bin looks to be foodless in human terms.

Oh, worms will show preferences for some pumpkin, and bananas, and cantaloupe...but that's just the humanity coming out in them that you've installed in them.

Let 'em eat all the compost in the bin. That's what makes good vermicastings.

The cups in the pic below have well-finished vermicompost (left cup), and not-so-well finished VC (right cup).
next: harvest time?


Thursday, March 1, 2007

OK, your worm bin is developing rigor problem

In spite of all you read, and the amount of effort you've put into this effort, you...and it, the bin, are failing miserably. Well, now's the time to put things right.

Once again, as always, I'll assume you have a plastic tote bin, and I'll assume you've overfed and over-moisturized unless you've got some robins in there because that's about all, except heat, that'll kill 'em.

If your bin has the worst, most horrible odor you've ever smelled, that would be the stench of dead worms. It is unforgettable, awesome, and will make you discard the entire contents of that bin...which is good because that's what I was gonna tell you.

After you've dumped the contents into someone else's yard at least a block away, rinse out the bin and start over. Re-read all the preceding threads here and pay better attention to the parts about moisture and excess food.

But...,if the bin isn't as bad as all that, leave the lid off long enough for it to dry out. You'll probably need to remove all the upper bedding and uneaten foodstuff and likely stir it up a little to help dry it out.

When it's time, replace the newspaper(?) upper bedding with DRY stuff. Don't feed anything for one week.

It'll come back to life with a little patience. It'll stay happy with a little moderation, and diversity.


Moderation, Diversity, Patience

next: I'll answer your questions.

Monday, February 26, 2007

When, not if, a bin disaster presents its ugly self

Your bin is gonna revolt against you sooner or later.

It'll develop too much water, or too much odor, or too much illegal immigrant activity, fine day.....too much vermicompost and/or worms. At any of those points, you'll have to plunge into that goopy thing and take matters into your own hands.

This ain't as bad as it's bad, but not that bad. Latex exam gloves are a very good item to have handy, but many bin disasters can be remedied without the hands-in approach.

Once again, bin disaster can almost always be synonymed with "too much", as in too much water, or food. The best way to remedy a bin disaster is prevent it....not cause it to happen; not put "too much" of anything into it. But, if you did........

.....come back for the next installment. Right here....soon.


Feeding them babies

It's time to give your worms something to eat, ain't it? Well, it might not be...matter of fact, it probably isn't. Most everybody, especially brand new wormers, overdoes it on food (thus moisture) because they just can't help themselves.

Feed the bin at the same rate the bin eats the food. If you put food in on Monday and today's Thursday and food remains from Monday, don't feed until it's gone. I will say that over and over because it is crucial for avoiding problems in the bin.

Assuming your bin is a plastic tote with newpaper bedding, the best way to feed and adhere to what the previous paragraph says is to spot feed. Each time, pull back the newpaper from the previous feeding site to make sure all that food is gone. In another location, pull back the paper, dump about a cup of foodstock, and replace the paper.

Many people are not ashamed to mark the spot so they can remember where the damned spot is. My marker is a plastic coke top.

I'll give everyone a chance now to disobey these suggestions, develop a bin problem, and come back here a believer and ready to do the right thing.

Next: How to clean up that bin mess you've created.


NOTE: If you really, really need to ask a worm-saving question, do so in the comment thingie.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Now that you got 'em, whatch gonna do??

If more than a few worms tried to evacuate the bin the first night, you might have to leave a light on in the room they're in. They don't like it and will dive for cover and stay there mostly. Try NOT using a light, though, because it shouldn't be necessary if they're liking that bin you've prepared for them.

Understand that we're talking about lots of worms hauling ass...not just a few confused, or even ambitious ones.

Observation of the bin, and the worms' acceptance of it, will go a long way in assuring you that it is OK with them.

Food? Well, if you fed them when they first arrived, see if that food is gone. If so, feed just a little more than before. When that's almost gone, feed in another location in the bin.

Next: Your first likely problem

Friday, February 16, 2007

The worms are here!!!

The worms have come and now you've gotta put them into the right frame of mind. They've been banged up and thrown around during the "fragile, live animals" shipping process, and they need a little love.

In a 10 gallon bin, put the 1# of vermi, bedding and all, gently therein atop the composting horse manure or other bedding material. Spread the worms and shipping bedding gently and cover that whole layer with the newspaper bedding.

Add a little of those veggie scraps you've been hoarding since you began this adventure into a spot underneath the newpaper layer...maybe a cupful.

Now, the first critical decision of your worming career: how much moisture to add to the bin to make it "as damp as a wrung out sponge".

Just a little bit, that's how much. Sprinkle a little water on the bedding. Maybe half a small bottled water. Tomorrow, look under the bin for "leachate" (a fancy word for too much water). If there's none, you're doing good.

I don't mean to be redundant with this water thing, but it is the most important thing you'll every learn to do correctly with a plastic worm bin.

Next up: Keeping your worms from abandoning the new home you've provided for them.