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Six weeks ago I finished re-building my FT. Some things I have learned since then.
1) Worms like crushed leaves - but not if they are too dry.
2) Drawers without slider mechanisms will absorb moisture and swell shut and be almost impossible to open
3) My worms can handle more food than I originally thought
4) A worm bin can act as a work area for sifting leaves, drying out VC etc...
1) I was placing food then dry crushed leaves to keep bugs down. It turns out that dry crushed leaves will act like a water barrier for areas below them. For 2 weeks the worms basically stopped coming up for food because of the dried layers of leaves. Now - all crushed leaves are soaked for at least a day – BTW - does anyone else think that these smell slightly reminiscent of chewing tobacco?
2) A week or so ago I tried to open the drawer (I am not a wood worker) that had some wood bracing under it. When I built it I wanted to ensure that mice couldn't just climb in I made the clearances tight. It was way too tight. When the moisture fell through all the wood swelled and I had to use a large hammer from behind to open the drawer. Wood was re-cut and sliders went on the next day. My wife told me to use them from the beginning but I felt guilty for spending more money on the rebuild as it was - so I held off. Got a real nice "told ya so" for my troubles when I finally broke down and bought it :-). I should have listened the first time.
3) I have been adding progressively larger amounts of food with each passing month. I am guessing that I have almost 10 lbs of worms now and I was probably only adding 3 - 4 lbs a week. I bumped that up to about 5 - 6 and have had no temp increases. I guess I was a little paranoid.
4) I have been taking a piece of foam that fits tightly inside of the bin and pushing it down about 8" below the top. I then place the 1/4 screening on top of the open bin and place leaves on that and work them through. I then soak the crushed leaves in a bucket for a few days before placing that mix on top of the food I place on top of the bin. When I harvest the bin I take the drawer out, place a plastic lid on the floor below and use a three-pronged garden claw to scrape out castings. I then take those and place them on top of the ¼ screening that is on the top of the open bin and 2 good things happen:
That’s all for now – If I learn any other lessons from stupid mistakes I will be sure to post them J