Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Worm bin update...after I'd added lime and bedding when I thought the bin was too wet, I was concerned that I harmed my little friends with the "hydrated pickling lime". So I went to http://wormdigest.org and cruised the forums for info...one guy said that "mixing the limestone in dry can cause the worms to burn..." yea, I observed them writhing in pain...bummer! then another guy said (in reference to lime)"...be careful about which one you get, hydrated lime will kill all your worms." Yikes! So I had to try a "body count" tonight...first when I opened the bin, I saw 2 survivors crawling around the sides of the bin-good sign, I figured. Then, upon digging around, I found some concentrated areas of the lime which were somewhat moist (but devoid of worms), and other areas of worms that looked fine! Yay-they aren't all dead! Some worms did have lumpy-looking bodies as though they had some kind of injury (chemical burns from their "slumlord"!)...but no mass casualties. So I dug around a bit, moistening the lime pockets so they would cause no further injury, sprinkled moistened coir over the top to add a little more "safe zone" which would be lime-free, and sprayed a little water over the top. Overall, the bin didn't seem too wet, the smell was a normal, "earthy" odor, and the recent feeding didn't look yucky or eaten up, so I didn't add any food. The other tidbit I picked up from the forums was to check the bottom "moisture-collecting" bin about once weekly. When I opened it up, I saw only a tiny bit of moisture with about a dozen dead, smelly worms in it. So I rinsed and flushed them, and re-assembled the bin, putting them "to bed" for the night. So here are a couple things I've learned so far: not all info is valid, so check forums to get tips from people who actually have bins...any adjustments you try to make for pH or moisture balance should be done in moderation, using the least extreme method possible (for instance, I could have simply added bedding for the moisture and smell balance)...check the bin about once a week so that any problems can be rectified in time to prevent a crisis....if lots (more than a dozen) of worms are trying to escape either into the bottom or onto the floor outside the bin-something's wrong....and probably the best advice-this is just an experiment, so mistakes will be made, and worst case: I'll be out $25 in worms and will need to compost them all and start over. And since they're not all dead yet...then onward ho!


Anonymous said...

I am going to keep all this info handy for next year when we do this. Thank you

C.C. said...

Forums are good. And people who own worm bins are also good information sources. And I volunteer to help if you like. I have 4 worm bins going. I love the little guys. Getting them started is a challenge, but once they're started, they're a breeze. I almost feel like an evangelist, as I will make a worm bin and volunteer "starter stock" to just about anyone who asks (locally especially - I don't know the "rules" about shipping them). In fact, I've even written a limerick about them:

Those who know me will quickly confirm
My unending love of the worm
They eat your tossed scraps
and make plant growing "cast".
I know not why they make people squirm.

Have a good day!

lisa said...

Thanks C.C.! I love your limerick! I will absolutely "bend your ear" if something else comes up...thanks!

UKBob said...

Hi Lisa, I'm pleased to hear that most of your worms are still in tact. Its all part of learning isn't it. Its still the best way to learn because a lot of so called experts have never practised what they preach, you will be a true expert in time I'm sure.

lisa said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement, ukbob....I just hope to become competent...and not a "murderer" again!

Anonymous said...

I hope the worms will do well. You are a good "mommy."

I too started to compost with red-wigglers
and then decided to just put them outside in the compost area there.
They are thriving!

lisa said...

Thanks Becky-but I still feel bad about the lime fiasco! I enjoy keeping my worms in the house so far...it's almost like having pets without all the work!