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7th Harvest yields 7 gallons of Castings.

Last week I feed the worms 14 lbs of organic waste spread out between three bins. Like always, I topped off the food with a layer of leaves and torn up newspaper on top. Then I leave it to be. Maybe I’ll check it once a day for moisture content, recycle the lechate on top, or just poke around and look at the worms.

So there I was,
Poking and a proding.
Mixing up the castings with the worms
seeing them all scattered about digging down.
And next thing you know and I’m harvesting the castings again.

There I was,
Pondering and speculating
On how to do all this more quickly efficient
So the baby worms could live out their golden years
in such a way that they didn’t have to worry about me disturbing them.

Not a chance for that.
But I did take into consideration many things you all have suggested.
I have been a saving up my castings for the past four months and
I estimate that I must have about 7 lbs of worms throughout all my bins.
Including all the five gallon buckets half full of drying castings with worm eggs a hatching in it.
I did look up at the fingernail of a moon before harvesting this time.

But anyways,

So here is the predicament laid out.

Maybe you ‘all can help me find a solution.

Of the three bins operating now I find that the WF360 is the least efficient, yielding only about a quarter bucket of finished castings over a four month period. My main complaint is how dried out it gets. Worms don’t like it dry. Worms like it wet. (check the observations I made on my last Worm Stand UP blog post) so anyways, the worms are migrating out of and the rest of them just like to hang out in the lechate pool. The WF360 is a finicky bin. I think I’ll call it that from now on. Worm Finicky 360. Too much effort to produce minimal castings.

Then I have the the “COW” (Can of Worms.) Great bin three trays.

The only thing I think I would change is drill bigger holes between the trays. And the only drawback is you have to check the casting level on the subsequent trays to allow the worms to move up and down as they please. I’m really satisfied with the fact that it maintains moisture well. Because, as you know, I observed that “Worms like it wet.” The Cow fills a five gallon bucket three quarters up. And the castings are premium, moist, and filled with hordes of worms of all ages.

Now I come to my big bin.

It’s called Barnicle Bin because I made from a 55 gallon drum I found washed up on the beach.

It dumps a little bit of castings every day, Miraculously. Or shall I say “its pretty regular”. Sometimes it dumps bucketfulls. There has got to be a bunch of worms in there digesting all those leaves, newspaper, and rotten food from the fridge. It is a super wet bin and I should add that the worms love it. I have actually seen worms crawling into it moving the whole family over from my finicky bin. I don’t know how they communicate but the word got out that Barnicle Bin has a killer “Wet and Wild” pool. The only drawback is that they all hang out in the pool and so when I harvest the castings it comes heavily laden with several generations of worms having a family reunion down there.

Okay, So the way ahead…

Any suggestions?

Plan A
– One Bin Policy –
Feed Barnicle Bin worms only
Scoop dumpings into Cow to drip dry
and then use Finicky as finishing Bin to hatch worm eggs and finish the castings.
All worms including hatchlings are moved back into Barnicle Bin.

Plan B
-Two Bin Policy-
Take Worm Finicky 360 offline until further notice and continue to feed the other two bins as it was.
Potential for Finicky to be utilized as a finishing bin. But WF360 would be unable to process the capacity alone from the other two bins monthly yields of six to seven gallons.

Plan C
-Three Bin Policy –
Continue to maintain the “As it Was” Status Quo three bins in a constant competitive state. And finish the castings in five gallon buckets.

What do you’all think?

Views: 143

Comment by Peter Barnard on July 7, 2011 at 7:59pm
Maybe get another barrel, and forget about the WF and the COW  :)
Comment by Sue on July 7, 2011 at 8:24pm
I second that, Peter.
I got rid of my WF. The worms there got thinner & thinner. That system is very finicky indeed.
Some people on this site are doing very well with their WF, though. Wonder what we're doing wrong.
Comment by Sharon Hollars on July 8, 2011 at 12:44pm
Does COW dry out quickly or is it just easier to drain leachate?  Is that why you proposed Plan A?  If WF dries faster, I would do COW and WF reversed from Plan A.  Use WF to dry, then COW to finish.  Sounds like BB has shown itself superior in every way, lol!
Comment by Sue on July 8, 2011 at 3:08pm
I think the reason why WF is finicky is due to the limited dimensions of the trays. But then again even at that "limited" size I had difficulty to get proper airation in there.

I'm much happier with my DIY RMs and FT in regards to VC performance and population increase. It's just that I cannot put these in a corner in my kitchen and as a result I cannot play with my worms whenever I passed by, LOL. Maybe this is the reason of the bad performance, that's a possibility, hehe.
Comment by Philip Vanderhoofven on July 8, 2011 at 4:44pm

I'm going to keep my eyes out for another barrel, Peter - thats a great idea that I hadnt considered -
Sue, I hear you, unfortuanantly my wife (also named Sue) wont let me put the bins anywhere near or in the house - Thats why I have them outside the garage by the trash cans, under the eaves on the North side of our dwelling but still gets some rain which keeps BB and COW nice and moist and now that summer is here even some partial sunlight which drys out the WF "finicky" which sheads rain water.
Sharon the COW doesnt dry out at all but maintains a perfect moisture content thanks to the light rains and the capacity to hold three times the castings as "finicky". The BB yeilds sopping wet slurry which I think would be able to drain out slowly in the COW instead of dumping BB casting slurry into the "finicky" bin which I think would bake it into a mud brick. Thanks for all the comments.

Comment by Sue on July 8, 2011 at 10:34pm

Philip, just curious; ""The BB yeilds sopping wet slurry."" How did this happen? Because rain got into it or because of the "moisture rich" wormfood you have been feeding. I didn't think FT to be like that because the grating will not hold slurry. I checked your BB picture and you have the grating rather far apart.

""recycle the lechate on top"" How much leachete do you get in your BB? Maybe don't put it back into your BB, this should make it less slurry.

Comment by Philip Vanderhoofven on July 9, 2011 at 1:37pm

Sue, I think the soupy castings that I have been harvesting from my flow through bin are a combination of recycling the lechate, feeding moisture rich food, and rain water. Rain water accounts for very little of the moisture because I have the lid covered very well. And the recycled lechate doesn't account for much either maybe 16 ounces on top every few days. I think the reason its so wet is because I soak all the bedding in several gallons of water and sometimes I have poured the excess right on the top. Slowly not to cause a flood but I can hear the whole bin percolating for a few hours. I probably have a foot and a half of prevermicast mixture from the weedwacker grating up to the surface area. The prevermicast is not a slurry. Its a moisture rich environment of hand ripped news paper & card board, reconstituted dried leaves, and rotting food. But What I have found is that the worms love it. Maybe its just me but from my observations over the last year I think the worms like it much wetter then most worm compositors are comfortable with. Worms like it super wet.
Recently, I put the wet slurry in a rubber made container just to dry out. So I moved all the vermicast to one end and tilted the container on end so that the moisture could drain out of it which worked well. I came back later and found that all the worms were lining the moist edge of the container with their bodies half in and half out of the lechate which had drained out. So this is when I thought a bunch about how our community takes care of the worms and it struck me that we have been keeping them much too dry. 

Comment by Sharon Hollars on July 12, 2011 at 12:48pm
Philip, when I soak my shredded cardboard/leaf mixture, I always have water left in the bucket after squeezing out the excess from the bedding.  I just start soaking the next batch with that slimy, bacteria-filled water.  If it gets too smelly, I rinse the bucket out into my regular compost bin, but I don't scrub that bucket, just start the new batch with clean water.  Any bacteria remaining on the bucket wall will repopulate the bedding material of the next batch.  Maybe you could just use the soak water over again instead of dumping it into the BB?  This might control your moisture a bit better?  I'm still figuring out the best for my FT myself, so I'll be interested to hear what you decide to do.
Comment by Philip Vanderhoofven on July 12, 2011 at 2:04pm

Sharon, Thank you. I have thought about that before. Another problem that I have encountered is mosquito larvae and pupae. When I see them swimming in my bucket, I have to dump it out on the sidewalk so they dry up in the sunlight. Which is also why I must harvest my flow through catchment soup weekly. The mosquitos can easily fly through the sceen that I have to keep the rats out and the lay thier eggs in there. Other wise I probably would recycle the water and let the bacteria continue to stew in the bucket. If I put a lid on the bucket that might work. Thank you though.


Comment by Sharon Hollars on July 13, 2011 at 7:57pm

I haven't had mosquito problems because my bucket (and the bins that use the shredded leaf/cardboard mix) are inside.  I also don't keep that much liquid in the bucket while the bedding is aging.  It only has enough water to moisten everything, then has a little extra water in the bottom inch or so to wick up into the cardboard as it gets slimy.


Another alternative is dumping the soak water onto your conventional compost bins.  Those worms and other organisms would also appreciate the bacteria laden water with no risk of mosquito problems.  Do you get so much rain that you don't need an more water on your regular compost bins?  I can only dream of having that problem, mine always end up way too dry.


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