I really didn’t know that I could be so darn excited about bugs, worms and the other creatures living in my worm bin. The frozen food method really, really does seem to make things wayyyy better for the worms, and for the other creatures who share the external habitat.
Jeff over at Worms4Earth.com flattered me by asking if he could use some of my tips over on his site. We bought our batch of worms from Jeff and he’s just a real nice fella
I was ill for a few days this week and didn’t get out to feed the worms. Its not a great way to treat your worms, but the cool part is that with the worms, you are sort of pre-feeding them. The food you put in the worm bin today is not the food they eat today. They are busy working on something older, mushier and smellier that you put in to the bin days ago.
I have been feeding them pretty consistently in a rotated manner, they are never quite “done” with the food from the week before. It’s mostly done, but not all gone. Since I missed for a few days, it looks like the worms have caught up with me. This morning as I was feeding the worms, I notice a really LOW spot in the worm bin. REALLY LOW. It really hit me. The Worms are eating my garbage I know, I already knew they were, but here was visual proof. One end of the bin bedding was 3-4 inches lower than the rest of the bin.
It’s working, EUREKA! Even though I know that it wasn’t getting higher with each feeding, seeing it get lower really struck a chord this morning. If you are looking for tips and hints about setting up and maintaining your worm bin keep checking back. You can also get this worm book from Amazon Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up & Maintain a Worm Composting System one of the first published books on the subject.
Have fun turning your garbage into compost with worms.
If you’re like us, you have tried lots of different tricks to keep your worm bin healthy and happy. I am proud that we have not had a total loss, but in getting the bin established we sure had a few bumps along the way. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the Florida Heat. The worms are at risk when the container gets too high. Some websites say that is over 80 degrees and I have seen other where it said over 90. Either way, take it from me, hot worms stink.
It’s a challenge to keep an outdoor worm bin cool in Florida. First we tried ice bottles, but they had to be dug out every day and replaced. YUCK. One of the reasons the heat builds up is the bin is the actually composting itself. When the food breaks down it “heats up” and at times it can get down right hot.
We have a figured out a little system that seems to work pretty well. Each day as we collect the scraps, food leftovers (no cheese or meat) and coffee grinds we put them in a container in the freezer. We keep 2 or 3 “rotating” containers in the freezer at all times. Then at feeding time, I take a the frozen scraps and feed them in the bin. It seems to be a win-win situation. The frozen scraps actually break down more easily and they help keep the worm bin cooler.
I still feed them in a circular pattern around the bin, and the bin is doing well enough that we are adding scraps 4-5 days per week.
It works best when I remember to leave one rinsed container on the counter then everyone will contribute scraps, at the end each day I can put the full container in the freezer, and put a fresh container out.Then the oldest batch goes in the worm bin.
If you have tips for keeping your bins cooler, please feel free to comment below.
The new worm bin has been getting along swimmingly. If you read in my prior post about the worm bin problems
you know that it was getting too hot and the worms were fighting their way out of the bin. Here are some photos of the new bin.
We used two 112 quart plastic containers. In the very similar method that you see all over the web. The difference is two things. Since this bin is outside and we’re in Florida, I can’t keep a lid on the bin – it is just too hot here in August. So we have a plywood lid a little larger than the bins to keep the water out of the bin. The lid is sitting on 1″ strips to give room for air.
Inside the bin we have several layers of cardboard, brown paper bags and paper to keep the flies from getting into the bin. It’s not perfect, but it seems to help.
We have gotten the red worms up to a level that I am able to feed them every day, and they aren’t running away. YAH! I am following the circular method that you see on the web.
Now that I have spent all this time putting the worm bins together, and after two months, we’re still at it, I decided to buy an online book on raising worms on your own worm farm. I am just reading it now and I am sure I’ll have some new learns to share. It’s nice too because they have a blog where you can ask questions of the book author.
I hope your worm bin is doing well, too. If you have any comments you are always welcome to post them here. Happy Worm Farming!
Ok, so now I need some help. I was reading on a worm composting blog tonight that the “drippings” from the bin is NOT worm tea but actually a leachate simply from the bin being too wet. I get that it is “dripping” from the wet, but the post went on to say this is actually bad for the plants.
I don’t know from personal experience if it harms the plants, but I have been putting this “worm juice”
If you have any thoughts, I would sure appreciate your input.
So the idea of 3 smaller worm bins turned out to be a pretty yucky idea. While the bins were OK at first, they just got too hot outside, so each time I added food, even in smaller amounts the worms would head out. So I have consolidated the bins into one larger bin. I think it is a 30 gallon tote that gives me about 6 – 7 square feet of surface area. This should give me the ability to house about 6000 worms and feed them 1-2 pounds of food per day.
So far they seem to like the new bin, and to date have tried to make an escape only one. We do not have a solid lid over the bin, just a piece of plywood with a 1″ support beam to keep it covered, to keep the sun out and the air flow in.
It seems to be working, the bin height is “shrinking” in one end, and when I uncover it there is only castings and a little bit of cardboard.
Something I did discover in dumping the bins is that I sure put lots and lots of cardboard into the worm bin, so they are set for a way on carbon. I have been storing the food scraps in the freezer and then introducing about 1/2 pound of food to the bin every 3rd day. I am hoping this will get them in a happier and cooler consumption cycle.
I’ll get some photos of the new bin soon and get it posted.
I hope that I am not too impatient, but now that the worms are here and starting to their job so efficiently I am just cringing at the amount of food scraps we still have going in the trash. I have divided the worms into 3 bins and removing the lids and putting them in a more airy outdoor area has done wonders for the bins and composting. I think my next order of business is to figure out how to make a single, larger worm bin. I think the larger bin will make it easier to keep the temperatures regulated in the bin. The 10 gallon bins I have now are just too small to bury very much food at one time. I have drawn some plans for a larger bin that is a combination upward migration with flow through continuous composting. I have to visit the hardware store this weekend and see if it’s all in the budget. Cross your fingers.
Hooray, we finally got rain today so we could test the first rain barrel. WHOA more than 30 gallons flowed in in just minutes. YIKES! Already see the huge need for an overflow barrel, and I don’t think the standard hose connection I bought will do what we need it to. I slid a few buckets in to catch what I could, but we ran out of buckets quickly. It doesn’t always rain that hard that fast, but I captured nearly 120 gallons of rainwater in just a few minutes in all the different buckets I put out.