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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:

  • The castings dry out faster
  • Any escaping worms fall back into the bin.


That’s all for now – If I learn any other lessons from stupid mistakes I will be sure to post them J

Views: 42

Comment by Andrew from California on June 1, 2011 at 12:16am

G. Larry, thanks for sharing lessons learned. I think you pasted the same post twice. You can edit by clicking on the "Options" tab near the upper right hand corner.

I've been using dry (gently crushed) leaves as top bedding. What happens is they slowly soak up moisture from the material & food below. I think each situation is a bit different depending on climate, types of leaves, etc. I'm currently using camphor leaves and they have a very sweet scent. Leaves from sweet gum trees don't have much a scent at all.

I also spread wet VC on 1/4" screen inside my bins to dry it out and let the worms burrow down back into the bin. I was also going to try simply spreading out VC on a cardboard sheet. If there's any overhead light, the worms should scatter off the cardboard and burrow back into the bin. The cardboard theoretically would soak up excess moisture and dry out the VC a bit.

Comment by Gardener Larry on June 1, 2011 at 4:57am

Andrew, thanks for the tip - must have been a ctrl-v slip up.

It's nice to compare notes on little things we do to make our harvesting a little easier. 

Comment by brenda b on June 2, 2011 at 8:16pm
Always say "yes dear" you cant go wrong


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