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Helping Your Worms Beat the Heat! Keeping Worm Bins Cool

Helping Your Worms Beat the Heat! Keeping Worm Bins Cool

Smart idea for the summer time!  If you store your food scraps in the fridge before you compost them, then this is a default no-brainer concept.

My basement stays cool or freezing cold all year long it seems, so I’ve never really thought about this so much.

Over at redwormcomposting.com, there’s several accounts of people’s worms surviving at extremely hot and cold temperatures, well above and below the suggested temps for their survival.  Worms are resilient little critters, aren’t they?

How-To Compost with Worms and Solve Common Problems

How-To Compost with Worms and Solve Common Problems

While this video might miss on a few good points, I absolutely love the kid answering all her mom’s questions about what to do next with the worm bin… super cool… but what’s up with the lack of air holes in the bin?

Worm Composting Feeding Tips (video)

Worm Composting Feeding Tips

I just found this web channel called Big Tex Worms, and she has some great videos to check out on the topic of vermicomposting.  You’ll see that my website gets really worm-centric in the colder months as the outdoor methods slow down to a crawl here in the northeast.

This video shows some pretty standard methods for preparing worm feed, but when it gets to Step 4, I was definitely surprised.  I’ve never seen anyone make worm food into balls first, and I wonder what the point is.  I guess they’re handy and represent a fixed amount of material for your worms to digest.

If they don’t start eating it within a few days, that means they might not like it and it’s acidic…so I guess it’s a good way to evaluate if your food source is appropriate for them.

What do you think of the tips?  It’s pretty simple- if you grind your materials up first and don’t overfeed the worms, you’ll be in good shape.

Worm Inn Season is Approaching!

I can’t believe it… over the last few months I’ve practically ignored my Worm Inn system entirely.  It even got to the point where I was afraid to open it up and find that my worms had disappeared (died).  Looks like dumping water on it once or twice a week was enough, and that they indeed ate all the bedding I put in there although I’m sure that was their last priority.

I opened up the Inn, and under the top layer of paper waste was nothing but beautiful castings and tons of tiny worms…so awesome.  Now it’s time to see what they’re made of as I get ready to start giving them heaps of stuff instead of throwing it in the tumbler outside.

Worms surviving and thriving, leaves falling for me to shred and harvest, lower temperatures for cozy sleeping…this is by far my favorite time of the year! 🙂

Why Compost Is Essential to Container Gardens (article)

Recently I was trying to learn more about how to turn my balcony into a healthy, useful garden…and that’s when I found balconycontainergardening.com .  Since I’m a complete newbie when it comes to gardening, I ended up spending hours reading articles on the site, which prompted me to write a letter of kudos to the owner, Cassandra Radcliff.  I also asked her if she’d like to host some articles for my readers. 🙂

I was extremely pleased when she wrote back with a yes, and now she will be periodically contributing guest articles.  I often receive questions from readers pertaining to gardening, so now I hope to address some of those questions while at the same time learning from her in the process.  Below is her first contribution to the site entitled, “Why Compost Is Essential to Container Gardens”.  I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Why Compost Is Essential to Container Gardens
by Cassandra Radcliff

The best thing that ever happened to my container garden was my worm bin. The red worms that reside on my balcony help me cut down on my kitchen waste (they absolutely love spinach and coffee grounds just like me!). Every week I toss in a bit of food, some water and torn up newspaper, and the red worms reward me with black gold, which contains the castings that they create after breaking down the kitchen waste.

Worm bins aren’t the most attractive things to keep in small-space, but they can help make your container plants healthier and look better. Potting soil is very rich when it comes straight out of the bag, but plants deplete the nutrients quickly in small containers. If you keep finicky plants like roses or certain rare species, you may want to buy special fertilizers, but most plants just need a good dose of worm castings, and they will flourish. With worm castings, plant foliage will be more lush, and flower blooms will be more abundant and showy.

Worms don’t just help plants get more nutrients, they also can help aid in soil health. Consider adding a couple of your red worms to your plant containers. Actually, if you’ve ever added worm castings to your container plants, you probably already have some worms in your plant pots. When you separate the worms from the castings and give their black gold to your container plants, there were probably some eggs in the castings. This is actually a good thing. The worms will burrow in the soil, helping combat soil compaction, aid in aeration (great for plant root health) and they will make the soil slightly more acidic, which is beneficial for most plants.

So if you keep a container garden, cut down on your waste and aid your garden by setting up a worm bin (see “Steps to Vermicomposting” on BalconyContainerGardening.com for more information). It’s cheap, easy and rewarding. And if worms give you the willies, just remember that you’re doing your part to help the environment. And just imagine how much more beautiful your plants will be at their peak during the next growing season!

The Advanced Vermicomposting Facility VERMIC3.2 HD

The advanced vermi composting facility VERMIC 3.2 HD

In Austria, it looks like vermicomposting is picking up momentum!  It’s strange to me though, because they use earthworms instead of red wigglers.

The thermophilic compost is created from alfalfa, manure and straw before being fed to the earthworms to turn into a super fine casting.

Alfred Grand appears to be a pretty stoic dude, doesn’t he?

Worm Cocoons in Vermicompost?

Worm castings are tricky, aren’t they?  They can be soggy and have lots of unprocessed material encased in castings, used in containers to grow stuff, dry out and show what they’re really like.  I’ve noticed that my worm castings that I recently removed from the Worm Inn system dried out in the sun quite fast and revealed a bunch of little purple eggs.

What are these things?  After doing a little reading and talking to the dude Bentley over at redwormcomposting.com, I learned that they were worm cocoons.  So is this a good thing or a bad thing?  I don’t really know.  Reproduction is obviously a good thing.  However, I’m learning that the cocoons may be worms laying more eggs in response to a dry or unhealthy worm system.  They also seem to lurk around the cardboard…but wouldn’t the best place for eggs be inside those corrugated tubes?

My castings seem to harden up in big chunks, and it has to be from the cardboard…I think I’m going to try chilling out on the cardboard for a bit to see if I can make a better end product…I think the worms must be getting bored of eating my cardboard scraps!

Can Worms Compost Latex Condoms?

You may remember back in March/early April I decided to take my condom experiment from the compost tumbler to the worm bin.  Why?  …why not?

Worms are so quick to gobble through whatever waste is thrown at them…maybe they’ll eat latex?  Let’s take a look:

Can Worms Compost Latex Condoms?

The worms don’t seem too interested, do they?  And no, the experiment isn’t over yet.  I’m leaving the condoms in there.  It took my compost tumbler a good 9+ months to really get the condoms broken down in the slightest…I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s still plenty of pieces in there.  A small-scale backyard composting project isn’t going to produce crazy hot composting temperatures for a sustained period of time (which is definitely why my Sun Chips bag is still intact a good 10 months after putting it in).

I’m going to make a phone call to the local commercial composting facility and see how they react to the idea of composting latex…this should be fun.

Condoms in the Worm Bin: Update 2

It’s been about 6 weeks since I started the condoms-in-the-worm-bin experiment.

There’s not really much to report other than that the condoms are still in the bin.  They’re covered in springtails and what looks like mites.  I’ve caught worms sitting in them, but it’s a rarity and it’s definitely leading towards my initial guess.

It looks like the condoms will be there until the microbes eat them up.  Worms don’t appear to be all that attracted to natural latex…I don’t see any real munching marks on them.

Although it doesn’t seem like much, I’m still wagering that they’ll be degraded within a 6 month time frame.  What do you think?

All in all, who cares?  The fact that they didn’t drive my worms out of the bin is a small victory, I think.  At the end of all this, I’ll have a Youtube video showing the project from start to finish…what a fun project!