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I'm still "recovering" from my Worm bin sludge situation I took all the sludge and put it in a bucket on its own and skimmed off any excess water every couple days until it wasn't flooded. After several weeks what was in the bucket started to dry out to the point that it looked like normal VC. Plus I could see lots of worm trails / turned VC where the worms that were still in there were working their magic. So, I decided to reintegrate the VC/worms from the bucked back into my worm bin so I didn't have to keep that yucky looking bucket of VC around.

I decided this might be a good time to try to line the bottom most tray of my continuous flow system with a thin plastic shelf liner to see if I could prevent this situation from happening again... i.e. prevent sludge from seeping into the collection tray and also to see if I could keep the worms from wandering down into the collection tray.

I'm a little worried that this particular material may off-gas and irritate the worms, but my desire to try to keep my collection tray clean sorta compelled me to try this experiment. I figure there is plenty of room in the bin for them to "get away" from the lining.. besides might not be a bad thing if they don't want to go near it since that too would keep them away from it and from dropping into the collection tray. Although I was a little hesitant after seeing what can happen when there is something in the bin that the worms don't like.

I just used some scissors to cut it and didn't worry about it being too exact. I made it a little bigger than the bottom of the collection tray though because I wanted a fairly good "seal" to try to keep my VC contained. Ideally I'm hoping this will prevent any sludge from making it down to the collection tray. In addition to creating the sludge mess from my last post the sludge affected how well the tap on my collection tray worked and also came out in the "worm tea"-like liquid that I drained from that tap. Hopefully this way only liquid will make it into the collection tray and that will make it easier for me to maintain my bin by using the tap to drain it.

I took this close up of the liner so you can see its thickness. I choose one that was a little thicker so it would be durable and I could keep re using it each time I rotate the trays.

Since I cut the liner a bit larger than the bottom of the tray so that it would press up against the side I wanted to make sure that it didn't end up collecting a puddle of water at the bottom of the tray, so I cut some slits at all four corners to make sure that any liquid that accumulated would drain into the collection tray. I'm hoping that with just 4 sets of cuts that not many worms / sludge will venture down into the collection tray.

Well.. we'll see how this works out. I'm hoping this is going to make things easier... and it feels great to have the bin back together again.. and I'm finally onto my second tray now :).


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Comment by Sue on December 22, 2008 at 8:45pm
Hello Steven,

How is your liner experiment doing? Have you checked it since?
Please let us know. Thanks.
Comment by Gaia Steward on December 29, 2008 at 8:29pm
I'd be interested to hear how your liner is working, too. In the event this arrangement doesn't work out, Typar landscaping fabric might be an alternative to consider. It would allow liquid to drip through the liner, and I suspect would improve air flow through the bottom to help dry out the sludge so that you might be able to actually use it. I'll look forward to hearing more about this.
Comment by Steven Chow on December 30, 2008 at 3:43pm
My worms have been doing great since the liner was added so I've gotten past my fears of vinyl off gassing hurting them. After reading these comments I decided to take a peak at the collection tray to see if the liner was keeping the worms and VC out... and looks like it is working great. I only found one or two worms in the collection tray-- I used to see hundreds when I peaked in there-- and no VC sludge that I could see. Looked like just liquid leachate / worm tea. Thanks for reminding me to check in on that.
Comment by Gaia Steward on December 31, 2008 at 7:36am
Since Marylou seemed to think the landscaping fabric was a good idea, too, let me know if you're interested in trying this out and I'd be happy to send you some. I bought a 75 ft. roll not too long ago, so I've got more than enough.

BTW, I looked closer at your bin -- it's really neat! Is that a grid liner you put into the bottom? Did it come with the tray? What brand of tray is that? How big is it? Does it have a cover? I didn't see this elsewhere in your blog, and inquiring minds want to know!
Comment by Steven Chow on January 5, 2009 at 10:36am
@Gaia my worm bin was caled the "Wriggly Wranch" worm bin although it also says "Worm Factory" on the lid. Here is a better photo of the worm bin with the lid on.. although in that photo it only has one layer so far.


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