Friday, January 11, 2008

Living with and getting to know... worms

This first picture is not of worms but a result of something I learned from Mary Appelhof's book
'Worms Eat My Garbage'. She said that egg shells can go into the bin. She pulverized them with a rolling pin. Hmmm, I can do that. It took just a couple of minutes to turn about 4 eggshells into this little mound of grit for the worms. Micro-organisms will decompose the shells and a bit of calcium carbonate in the finished product is the result.


Moisture if not properly handled can make for a yuck factor. But holes in the bottom of the bin for drainage was discouraged by the instructor during class. It tends to accumulate under the bin in whatever tray you have provided and become fouled, attracting flies. The moisture comes from condensation, softening food that have been added for the worms and the moistened bedding. One solution is a fresh layer of dry bedding on top to catch condensation. Twice,about once a month, I have added shredded newspaper which seems to work for now. Another solution is to add less food more often or if you have too much food waste for one bin to handle effectively,make an additional bin.
I found that pushing everything aside and adding fresh bedding in one corner all the way to the bottom when adding a new top layer,solved the minor moisture problem. I have not seen a single fruit fly and there has been no unpleasant odor.

All the literature says 3 to 6 months for the first harvest of worm castings. As you can see in the pictures everything seems to be in order. It has been about 10 weeks since first putting the worm bin to use.

When the top layer of bedding is lifted this is what you see. The original bedding and food added to this area has for the most part become unrecognizable. Another month maybe 6 weeks I should be able to decide how I want to go about that harvest from the options available.

Worms don't do the job alone. All the organisms present in compost are part of the process in a worm bin. But as Mary Applehof said, worm castings are a much richer product. I use small amounts on house plants with great result.

Make a worm bin

6 Comments:

Blogger jodi said...

Not as cute and endearing as bumble bees, maybe, but I'm also very fond of worms. It's interesting to see how your worm project is progressing--something I might try as a winter project too, though we have plenty of worms in the gardens.

11/1/08 8:24 PM  
Blogger Pcrucifer said...

In some states, including northern Illinois, worms are an invasive species. It is not a big deal in urban areas, but near natural areas, one must be careful to freeze castings for 2 weeks before spreading in the garden.

I know invasive worms sounds nuts. Check out http://www.greatlakeswormwatch.org/

Before getting a yard large enough for a compost pile, I did worm composting. Loved it. Never had so many pets. And so quiet! So cheap!

12/1/08 11:39 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Jodi, the worms are doing a fine job of reducing kitchen waste which is the goal. It is a fun project and quite the conversation piece.

pcrucifer,hello. I understand your concerns as I have read much about the worms we use. Had not heard about freezing the castings. I think winter weather is enough in these parts to handle that. It seems most of the very hardy worms already in our garden are themselves interlopers. We have become a vast global meshing and I don't think there is a chance we can turn back the clock.

15/1/08 9:33 AM  
Blogger firefly said...

Gloria, thank you for posting this update! Seeing what you've done so far is really helpful.

I was thinking about buying worm castings for the houseplants, but with 3 more months of winter to go, maybe I'll start a worm bin and use up those kitchen scraps I've been feeding to the disposal :(

15/1/08 11:43 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

firefly,the worms are easy.You can even leave for a couple of weeks without worry. Feed and check moisture before you go and they care for themselves. Of course if your heat goes off and the house gets cold you may find the worms trying to escape...lol.

20/1/08 11:01 PM  
Blogger katie said...

You worm bin is very inspiring! I'm definately going to set one up after I move next month... thanks!

4/2/08 2:39 PM  

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