As The Worm Turns

April 26, 2007

I bought Worms Eat My Garbage a few days ago and have already finished reading it. There’s a lot of good information in there for people who are just starting out. I skipped the chapter on using a wooden worm bin. The two most important points that I got from the book is:

  • Use 1 pound of shredded newspaper to 3 pounds of water.
  • Excess moisture in the bin can be dealt with by adding dry shredded newspaper to the top. After the initial bedding preparation there’s no need to add any more water to the bin. Your bin will get all its “water” from the foodstuffs you will be adding and also from the process of breaking down the foodstuffs to worm poop.  Condensation on the bottom of the lid will drip down and wet the dry newspaper.

Last night I noticed there was condensation on the bottom of the lid of my worm bin. The bedding was looking really damp and the food that I had placed in the four corners was looking glossy, rotted and mouldy. Tentatively, I added a small handful of dry bedding, laid it out on top of the bin and then placed a banana peel (inside peel down), some rotted lettuce and eggshells on top around the edges of the bin.

I had a light on the bin while I was working and there was a pesky baby worm crawling towards it. I scooped him up and put him back. I checked the bottom bin and there were about 20 worm carcasses and three live ones painfully moving about. I sprayed them with water and scooped them out and put them in the top bin. At one point the entire bin shuddered which was a little spooky. I listened closely and I could hear soft mucking noises. It was a little creepy.

Here are the things I think I did wrong the first time:

  • I didn’t add enough water to the bedding to make it moist enough.
  • I didn’t prepare the bedding in a bathtub to ensure even moisture.
  • I didn’t add calcium carbonate to the water to reduce acidity and to promote reproduction.
  • I poked around too much and messed up their bedding by displacing food and dirt into their “escape zones”, the places they can go if one area in the bin is too unpleasant at the moment for them.
  • I put them on a cold basement floor which slowed their movements and probably killed some of them.
  • I poked around too much.
  • I added green onion which stank as it decomposed and also started this whole mess.

No wonder they hated living there.  I’ve had to force myself not to be too “hands on” with these worms because they really don’t like it when you disturb them.  Right now, I’m just trying to keep an eye on the moisture content and food.

One Response to “As The Worm Turns”

  1. Gardenista Says:

    I have been vermicomposting for 2 years since reading Worms eat my garbage. It has been going pretty well. I don’t know how you keep your container drained and aerated, but I have holes all over mine and the moisture level pretty much maintains itself. Anyways, I’ve posted my setup on my blog, if you are interested.

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