A Worm Bin Update
March 31, 2008
When I first started looking at different options for vermicomposting I decided to go with the one that had the easiest harvesting method: the OSCR Jr.
The OSCR Jr. has three bins: the base that catches the leachate, the middle bin that starts off as the working bin and the top bin that you use a few months later once the middle bin has filled up. After about six months of worm wrangling, your middle working bin should be getting pretty full. The next step is to stack a new bin on top of the full middle bin, place a layer of food and the worms migrate upwards. This way you can harvest the middle bin which will have pure castings and very few worms. Other methods involve hours and hours of separating worms from castings. No thanks.
I checked in on them and realized that they were starting to get to the top of their bin. Here they are in their cold, cramped location in the basement:
You can see that there is really only about 2 1/2″ of room left looking at the sides of the bin and the bottom of the lid of the worm bin was actually resting on top of the newspaper:
There were even worms cruising around underneath the lid:
There were loads of worms lolling about the top-side of the newspaper layer:
I peeled back the newspaper layer and found many, many worms on the bottom-side:
I started digging down to the food layer and there were loads there too:
Thinking that they were running out of room, I decided to add a new bin to expand their home. I found the extra Rubbermaid bin and started to drill holes. I used a 1/4″ drill bit and eyeballed the holes about 2″ apart, way less precise than when I had first drilled the bins. I used a kitchen knife to cut off the sharp, excess plastic created from drilling the holes and then placed the bin on top of the newspaper layer of the old bin:
I put the top back on and thought I was done. Here you can see the bottom bin (catchment bin for leachate), middle bin (full of worms and vermicompost sitting mostly inside the bottom bin) and the top bin (empty, on top of the middle bin and waiting for the worms to move in):
Well, just because I put a new bin on top of their house, it didn’t mean that the worms were going to relocate. After two or three days I hadn’t seen any worms crawl up through the holes. I had to give them some incentive. I moved them upstairs next to the recycling bins to get them warmed up and active.
Then I went out and bought the biggest, ripest cantaloupe and diced it up. My worms love cantaloupe, it’s like crack to them. I took the top bin off, scraped off the newspaper and food layers in the middle bin, put the food layer at the bottom of the top bin, spread my ripe cantaloupe and topped it off with the newspaper layer and put the lid back on the whole shebang.
It took a couple of days for them to find their way up through the holes that I had drilled in the bottom of the top bin. I was worried that they’d have trouble finding their way up and kept checking on them to see if they were okay. I checked on them this past weekend and was mildly squicked-out at the number of worms frolicking amongst the cantaloupe bits. Success!
It’s a brave, new world for my worms!