What have I done …

I got home from work last night (Sep 27th) and checked the bin, things did not seem quite right. First off, the smell was pretty nasty (a little bit like alcohol but gross) and a lot of worms were roaming the top of the bin which has not happened very often in the almost month since I added the worms.

I quickly decided to pull the plug on the pear drop experiment. I took out as much of the pear mush and cardboard as I could (off the compost bin far from the house) and then I added a bunch of moistened egg cartons and covered everything back up. I left the top open and added a light for crowd control.

I took out a new bag of table scraps out of the freezer and I will be adding them tonight. I haven’t decided if I will use corner 3 again or skip to corner 4. I’ll post an update once the food is in the bin.

Bye, Phil

Table for 2000 …

After looking in the bin on the 25th I decided I needed to add some food to corner 3. I noticed a few worms up high on the side in the front (basically between corner 1 and 2).

This is the corner I added 5 pounds to on the 13th. As you can see there is very little recognizable food after 13 days.

I had chopped up and mixed with cardboard a bunch of pears that dropped from one of my trees and stuck in the freezer. I thawed this out and added a shredded egg carton and put the mess into corner 3.

The first picture is corner 3 empty and the second pic is corner 3 loaded with the pear mix. I am going to try and do a review of all 3 corners every couple days to see what is happening. I am expecting to see less in corner 1 as time goes on.

On another note, I found my first egg! It’s a happy day! Now I need to find tiny cigars.

Until next time …


Peeking in the bin …

I was poking around the bin today and I thought I’d add an update.

After adding the 5 pounds on Sept 13, it seemed like the fellas were hitting it pretty hard so I added another 6 pounds of frozen scraps (after thawing them and adding some newspaper) to the second corner of the bin on the 16th.

I checked for a few days and the gang was still in the first corner and I started to think I may have been too hasty adding food to the second corner so quick. I am happy to report that now the second corner food drop is looking really nasty and the kids have started eating there as well.

I am going to wait a little while to put some food in corner three, most likely around the 27th (2 weeks after the first big feeding). I may even wait until the population in the first corner drops. I will just let the worms be my guide. I am trying to keep the “overfeeding is worse than underfeeding” rule of thumb in my head and in my actions.

One other thing to note is that I think I need to try to shred my cardboard smaller.  I have tried using an old lawn mower, what a mess! The deck on the lawn mower is rotted and has many openings where they don’t belong and I had cardboard snow flying everywhere. I am hesitant to buy a cheap paper shredder and too cheap to buy an expensive one. I still need to work on a solution. I would definitely like to have smaller cardboard shreds in the bin.

Well, I think that is enough for today.

Take care, Phil

09-SEP-2012 update

I put the worms (2 lbs) in August 29th. They were little but active and lively. I added a few cups of water around them and put on my wait and see hat.

I left the lid open and put a light on the top and a light on the bottom to keep them from trying to escape the bin. I left the lights on for 24 hrs.

After the 24 hrs, I shut the lights off and basically left them alone with the exception of checking for runners and adding some water if things looked too dry. They seemed to settle in well.

I have been very cautious of overfeeding as everything I read seems to point to the fact that overfeeding is worse than underfeeding.

Last week I added a bunch of frozen scraps mixed with bedding (mostly corrugated cardboard from work). I realized that mixing it in like this made it difficult for me to tell if they are eating the food or not. I did add a slice of water melon last week and a few days later it was mostly gone.

Last night (Sept 13) I added 4 pounds of frozen water melon and about a pound of cooked green beans (that looked a little funky after I cooked them). I added this food to a corner of the bin in a rather tight concentration so I can keep a better eye on how long it is taking them to eat and if they are even eating.

That’s it for now. The experiment continues …

It’s Finally Built …

Life sure has a way of prioritizing things. The bin is finally complete after working on it here and there. I used as much as I could of items I had laying around.

I have loaded the bin with a bunch of frozen scraps (included egg shells and coffee grounds) and lots of cardboard and paper. I tried to stick to “clean” cardboard (no plastic tape or waxing) and paper (no colored inks or shiny pages). I am sure I will most likely get more lazy about this in the future. I also added some leaves from around the yard and a little of the lousy (not breaking down very fast) compost I am getting from my compost bin.

It was cooking up pretty good and it now seems a little settled. I have ordered 2 pounds of worms and I should be adding them today or tomorrow.

Well, we’ll see ….



Getting Started …

I have been doing a lot of research over the last few weeks and I am ready to get started.

The Bin …

I decided to go all in and bought the plans for this bin http://www.redwormcomposting.com/vermbin24-plans/. In for a penny, in for a pound (of worms that is). I have a lot of the items around already so I think it will not be too expensive in the long run. It seems like a smart design and the logic behind it is sound.

I am going to build it over the weekend and I plan to add the worms in about 2 weeks.

The Worms …

I have decided to go with the Red Wigglers. They seem to be the choice of most vermicomposters for reproduction, hardiness, and compost production. In an effort to make this as budget friendly as possible, I have placed an add on Craigslist to see if anyone local will give/sell some worms. If I do not hook up with anyone local in the next week or so I will order some on-line.

I am thinking I will buy either 1 pound or 1000 worms depending how they are sold.

The Place …

I am planning on putting the bin in the garage at least for the winter. I really haven’t decided where to start. I don’t want to burn them out. I will just have to experiment and make sure I watch temps and conditions of the bins.

Ponder Points …

I am considering a few things that may or may not be necessary in the future;

  1. Equipment to monitor PH levels
  2. Thermometer
  3. Heat for the winter

There is also a lot about carbon nitrogen ratios involved in composting in general and in the specifics of vermicomposting to keep the worms healthy and productive. I am still working on wrapping my head around this issue.

How it began …

I was fortunate to grow up with an avid gardener for a dad. I grew up on great fresh vegetables so I have a definite appreciation for how delicious they can be. Once I owned my own home and had a place for a garden, my wife became the primary gardener with my annual task mostly limited to turning over the garden in the spring and obtaining and adding cow manure when necessary/available.

 My role this year in the garden has grown. It included the usual turning of the garden but also included repairing the fence and adding a few new gates to make our lives easier (and to keep out the woodchucks). As I was doing these things, I decided to cleanup up our mostly neglected back garden which included our blackberry patch (which went crazy this year). Since I had this newly cleaned out area, I planted a few pumpkins, watermelons, and radishes, all things that weren’t in the main garden. I most likely planted the pumpkins and watermelons too late but we’ll see. During this phase of channeling my dad (as I have come to look at my newly discovered interest in gardening) I have also begun trying to utilize a compost bin we have had for a few years but we had not really put much energy into.

 I have a bunch of boys in the family that love to fish. Every year while turning the garden, I would find many worms. Then along comes a Saturday and the boys want to go fishing. Think we can find a worm anywhere on the property? Of course not, that would be way to easy.

 After one wormless Saturday (I had to buy worms), I decided to start my internet search regarding worm farming. One of the first things I came across was vermicomposting which is a method of using worms to transform organic waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. This easily fed into my new found interested in the compost bin and my ages old battle with finding worms for fishing when we need them. This could be the perfect solution.

I hope to use this blog as a way to journal my way through the process and hopefully learn something along the way. If you find your way to this blog, maybe something I post will help you or maybe you can offer me some help. Time will tell…

Thanks for stopping by. Phil