The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Worm bin failures

Homemade worm binThe invertebrate side of our farm did very badly in 2010.  First of all, we never got to our project of creating a black soldier fly bin because we just didn't have enough excess food scraps to make it worthwhile.  And, yes, I actually managed to kill our worms.

In 2009, we had a simple, under-the-sink worm bin that worked quite well, but at certain times of the year it was overloaded by the scraps our chickens wouldn't eat.  We could tell because we ended up with a fruit fly infestation, and we figured the clear solution was to build a bigger bin.  A bigger bin would not only allow us to compost additional waste, it would be less sensitive to environmental extremes, so we could keep it outside year round.

Mark turned our heavy hauler into a worm bin, but due to my bad advice, the faucet to drain off the worm tea clogged up and the bottom of the bin became waterlogged.  Since Medium-sized worm binthe bin was in the sun, the top of the bin got too hot, and the poor worms were stuck with the choice of being baked or drowned.  Meanwhile, I had added a lot of horse manure from the neighbor to get the bin going quickly, but before the worms had time to really work on it I ran out of compost and had to take the manure back off to put on the garden.  The result was total eradication of worms from the bin --- drat!

Our potted plants have especially missed the nutrient-rich worm tea, so we definitely plan to remedy our worm situation in 2011.  We may make something as simple as Binet Payne's medium-scale bins, but adding in an ability to drain off the tea for our plants, and we may try out worm towers as well.  This time, I plan to go ahead and buy a paper shredder so that we'll have a more optimal bedding too.  And if we can talk a local school into giving us their scraps, we'll also have enough nutrient-rich waste to experiment with black soldier flies.

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This post is part of our 2010 experiments lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Paper shredder, and a blender! Someone taught me to puree the food to increase the surface area, and get the microbial action underway sooner -- this has worked for me; never had fruit flies and it helps keep the bedding moist, too.
Comment by J Fri Dec 31 00:30:23 2010
Blender --- interesting! I hadn't run into that idea, and it's a great one!
Comment by anna Fri Dec 31 09:36:22 2010

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