The worm farm is celebrating its first anniversary. A year ago the grandsons helped set up the worm bin, drilling air and drainage holes, and putting in rotting leaves, compost and a little soil. All of that was really unnecessary; red wigglers are not the earthworms that live in our gardens. Red wigglers are happy with damp shredded newspaper.
We started with one pound or about 1000 baby worms. The worm bin lived outside into the fall on the north side of the house. When evening temperatures started to fall in September we moved the bin into the basement. During the winter temperatures there were stable at 50 degrees, the coldest that red wigglers can tolerate. In fact, a couple of times temperatures dipped just below 50.
This spring, when I was planting the vegetable garden, I dumped out the worm bin to harvest those valuable castings and check on the worms. I doubt that there were 1000 worms any more, but some survived and I did have good worm compost to use when planting.
I cleaned the worm bin and this time I set up the bin with damp shredded newspaper and a little bit of finished compost. I put back the worms and hoped for warm weather, but this summer nighttime temperatures have dipped into the 50s almost every night. Great for sleeping, but the worms don’t appreciate it.
Before grandson Rory left last week we checked the worm farm. We learned that we need to keep a close eye on the bedding. Shredded newspaper can dry out. We also decided to add some new bedding. This is a very large bin. We do still have active worms and they are eating our kitchen waste. They love bananna peels and I give them the eggshells they need to reproduce every week. More worm compost in the making, but it is a slow business.
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I am following your worm stories avidly. My girls are doing research (some on your blog) toward establishing our own colony this year. We are so thankful for your help.
And your roses are an inspiration to me. I love your blog.
June – I wish you and your girls luck with your worm farm. Worms are fascinating – and harder to maintain than I thought. Thank you for the kind words.
Some nice tips in your worm reports, but what’s coming off that plate in the last shot??? Probably we’re rather crude, but our worms are sitting right between our two computers, on a support frame with casters under it, and a small CFL underneath to keep the temperature up to the mid 80’s over a snappy Bay Area winter night. They get strip-torn damp newspaper and peelings, etc.–I need to give them more eggshells, probably. A couple layers of cardboard lie over the top of bedding/food, and they get well sprayed with a squirt-bottle every 3-4 days. Exploring anywhere in the box (except deep down in the old layers) reveals them reproducing up a storm, and a full range of sizes–have not looked for or seen egg capsules yet.
I am building some redwood-strip bins after seeing several reports of folks doing better with wooden bins BUT am going to replicate the design of this commercial one which has 2 air-supply tubes through it. Some thinking is due concerning how this will mesh with multi-layer buildup.
Peter – You sound like a happy worm farmer! I like the idea of a light underneath the bin. Those are sweet potato skins my grandson is adding to the bin.