Saturday, October 18, 2008

Winter Prep Activities for the Worm Bin

Removing finished material to make room for fresh bedding is imperative when you are preparing your bins for winter.

If your bins are out doors, and there is a concern for your worms freezing then it is even more important to get fresh bedding in to the bin.

The idea is to time your addition of fresh bedding and food stock for the change in temperature. Once the weather changes and the temperature starts dropping then it is safe to start encouraging some composting in the bin. But be careful! It is so easy to get a spike in temperature, and if that is combined with a warming trend you could be in trouble.

This is something I have to be very careful of here in my part of the world. I worked one of the bins recently and added food waste and fresh bedding with a thin layer of grass clippings. The bin before I started working it was running about 68 degrees. The food waste when I put it in the bin was about 56 degrees. By the next day when I check the temperature the bin was reading 87 and by the time I got out there today to feed and water, the bin was reading 97 degrees.

Now it's important to remember that I always put the temperature probe in the center of the bin right where the food waste is, and if you remember from my videos I put the food waste down the center of the bin so that if the material does heat up the outsides of the bin remain cool for the worms. This is indeed the case as I put temperature probes along side of the bin and the temperatures reads 76 and 79. So you see that if the winter temperatures had continued to drop the composting action would be very beneficial.

Stay tuned and happy worming,


Monday, October 06, 2008

Anatomy of a Worm Composting Bin

Minimal size for a conventional composting bin is 3' x 3' x 3'. This is a size that is managable for handling by hand and for building up composting heat. It 's important for you to understand that the bacterial action going on in the pile is what is causing the heat.

When you combine Carbon + Nitrogen + Water + Air you provide the perfect environment for massive bacteria growth which is consuming (composting) the material in your bin. Once your conventional compost pile heats up and then cools, you turn the material in the bin to move fresh material to the center of the bin mixing air back into the mix, and composting begins again and the heat in the bin builds again.

When worm bin composting you want to be very careful that you do not get the heat you produce in a conventional composting bin.

1. When you mix materials for a new bin always allow the material to sit before you add your worms to make sure you have not created a haven for massive bacteria action. HEAT!

2. Once you know the material is not going to heat up, separate out some of the bedding into another container and add only a small portion of your worms to make sure the bedding is safe and the worms will like it.

3. As soon as you suspect a problem, if you can feel heat, it smells bad, and or your worms are trying to escape IN MASS, get them out. If you are not sure of your bedding, use wet, shredded newspaper. Keep a supply handy at all times.

4. If you have a bin that has been active for a while and you develope a problem, there is a possibility that you have cocoons in the bedding and you loose your worms, don't throw away your bedding. Leave it and you may have worms hatch once the bedding becomes habitable again.

Just remember, heat kills worms.

Good Luck,

Until next time.

Vermiculture Northwest

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Videos Awesome Quality

I just went back and watched my video that I have hosted on my server and I can't believe the quality. It just can't compare to YouTube. So I am happy and ready to get part 2 finished of The Various Stages of Vermicomposting. I forgot I had split the video into two parts because I had originally planned on putting it up on YouTube and then I couldn't.

So anyway, keep an eye out for notification that part 2 has been uploaded. It will be soon.

Until then,

Happy Worming.

VermiCulture Northwest

Friday, September 19, 2008

No More YouTube

New software allows me to host my own videos.

This is great for a couple of reasons.

  1. I'm sick and tired of waiting all night for my videos to upload only to find it didn't work and I have to do it all again and again and again. I just don't have that kind of time!
  2. The videos can be longer if need be. I will still try to keep them 10 min. or shorter but sometimes I had to cut out some good stuff just because the video ended up being a little too long.
  3. Better picture quality. By creating my own flash videos I am able to encode the video as a .avi file which is bigger and ends up better quality. The file ends up too big for YouTube or Podcast.

So to view my latest video which is entitled - "The Various Stages Of Vermicomposting" please click and go watch it on my website.

I apologize for not being here much this summer. I have plans that I will be posting here so I invite you to follow me so you don't miss any of the updates.

I also invite you to sign up for notification of new videos by using the form provided to the right.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Trying To Determine an Anaerobic Smell

Decomposing food smells sour and stinky. Anaerobic smells past that. It smells like death, food death.

If something just smells like rotting bad food your okay. Anaerobic is a smell you probably haven't smelled until you have a bin that's gone anaerobic. Usually that smell will be at the bottom of the bin where there is no air and it's too wet. When you get a whiff of it you will know, it will send a panic into your worming being.

I wish I could send a smell electronically. But if the food just smells like it's rotting you're okay, especially if it is in the top layers where it can get air.

Food that is smelly and molding is starting to decompose. That's when the worms will really go after it. Just make sure and bury it with a layer of bedding.

Most importantly, as I always say, take your cues from your worms. If they appear to be thriving and happy you're okay. But you need to get your hands and nose into the bin. Don't just go by what you see on the top layer. Get to the bottom of things as they say, at least once a week, especially until you really feel comfortable with what you're doing. Don't worry; the worms will do fine with that. The will appreciate the air you are incorporating into the worm bin, especially if you have an anaerobic situation developing. Air is the best fix for anaerobic.
Happy worming,

Friday, April 04, 2008

Worms in the Food Waste in the Worm Bin

I can't tell you the feeling of getting your hands in the worm bin and having them crawling with worms. It is so exciting to see the worms happy, fat and glistening.

The video below is one I just posted to my new podcast, As The Worms Turn. The footage is cool and thought I would share it with you here.

Hope you're having fun in your worm bin. This is the best time of year to spend a lot of time working your bin. You don't have to worry so much about the worm bin overheating as you add new material. With the freedom of being able to add fresh food stock you can witness how happy this makes the worms and watch the population grow daily.

Happy worming,

VermiCulture Northwest

Friday, March 28, 2008

Recent Comment On My New Podcast

Here is a recent comment on my new podcast. Indeed these videos will be of great value to anyone who is interested in learning all the fine points of how to worm bin compost.

"Christy, Its great! I can’t wait to watch the rest. It is very helpful. Susan Rickett"

This video: Controling Spidermites in the Worm Bin

I have a series of videos planned that will take you start to finish on how to set up, run and harvest a worm bin. If you want to know about these videos when they are ready please go to my web site and opt in for this information.

Find the "Journey in Video" headline in the right border.

If you have struggled with worm bin composting, or shyed away from trying it because you think it's too complicated, or maybe you had a bad experience before and don't want to risk it again: then these videos will be for you. Go now and sign up and receive notice of when I post to my podcast. There you will see a growing number of samples of the content you will find in these videos.

Until then, happy worming

My Podcast

Sunday, March 16, 2008


This time of year it's hard for the weather to make up it's mind. You just get to where you're thinking spring and winter hits again. It's not really winter cause the snow is more slush and the temp in the air is definitely warmer. But even so, Ol' Man Winter is still saying, "Not yet."

That's right, we got snow last night. Just a dusting really and it was gone by end of day. Still enough of a reminder to not get too anxious yet.
So I went out to check on the worms tonight, probably only the second time this week. The bins are showing more and more signs of worm population. Can't wait to get my hands in there this week.
Just a reminder, Episode 3 of "As The Worms Turn" will be coming up early this week. Be sure and tune in. We're going to talk about watering the bin, why and how much. And we'll probably talk a bit about food waste and where a majority of our waste ends up.
Organic waste is something that worms can take care of so efficiently. And while the waste is kept from the bowels of the earth, the end product actually feeds the soil and finishes the cycle.
See you next time on "As The Worms Turn"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Podcast; As The Worms Turn

Hello everybody,

My blogging and website work is getting spread so thin there is not time to do it all like I'd like to.

I have a new podcast. You see I have been playing around with my camcorder and learning how to put together movies. I have a couple out on the web, like youtube, etc. But I'm really happy with my podcast. It's really like a video blog. I'm putting an embedded player over in the side bar. Check it out.

The winter here was tough. The bins froze and I have been working on bringing them out of it.

The podcast is really brand new with only one video, but so many people ask about worming in the colder regions that I though this would be a good place to start.

So go there now and take a look. The first one is a little rough around the edges as I work my way through the learning curve. But they promise to get better. Much better. I will probably expand the podcast beyond worm bin composting to include subjects such as Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT), organic gardening, recycling, and environmental issues. I won't get too far off topic.

Eventually, I will be making those videos I have been promising, and those will go out to members only. Remember, if you are interested in hearing about those you will want to get on the notification list.

That's it for now. I'll try to get back more often. Or if you like you can subscribe to my podcast. I'm going to be posting there on a very regular basis. How much easier it is to keep everyone informed when they can just subscribe. I'm going to be having fun whether you're there or not.

Handling my waste the way mother nature intended.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Frozen bedding still has worms...

Winter still has me in its' grip. Knee high snow and freezing at night. Daytime nice but is it enough?

Took a walk out there yesterday, gingerly walking on the surface of the snow. The bedding is frosty, no worms to be seen. But what's it like down in the bin? No way to know till I can get my hands in there and dig around. The compost thermometer reads 28 degrees. It inserts and removes easily.

I decided to turn off the heat to my bins because I have one bin that has been without heat for two winters now and that bin has been the happiest of them all come spring. Yet this winter is like one we haven't seen since 1968. Go figure. I'll just have to wait and see.

Wait and see.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Winter Composting With Worms

<---This is pretty much how my world looks right now. The temps have been plunging into the single digits and sub-zero, and it's time for a wormn update.

The bins outside in the "worm shed" --->
have been without heat. Today when I went out to check on the temps of the bins and the compost therms. read 28 degrees.
I haven't touched the bins since before Thanksgiving.
Inside my bins are in a back room where there is no heat and those bins are cool as well and the worms are not eating much. Keeping the bedding moist for some reason has been a challenge.
I was just in turning them and I noticed that two of the three mini-bins were on the dry side and the third one was considerably more moist. The moist bin has the best population of worms, other than the bigger stacking worm bin.
So even in the cooler temps the worms prefer to be more on the moist side. I have been told that worms will die faster being hot and dry than being cold and too wet.
FYI, I am planning a series of worm composting videos that will show you how to set up a worm bin and maintain it from start to harvest. If you're interested there is a form available to sign up for notification of when those are released.
Until then,
Happy worming,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mini Worm Bins

How small is too small?

First let me say, the bigger the worm bin the more forgiving it is when something goes wrong. But still, there is much to be desired with a smaller bin.

Obviously they are going to take less time to care for, but I think my most favorite aspect of a smaller bin is how close you can get to the worms.

I have mentioned before that I have been using smaller bins to hold my worms while they wait for shipment. This has worked out pretty good. I am enjoying being up close with my worms and getting a good, daily look at what they are doing. I have to admit that often time my bigger bins are really neglected. But as I said, the bigger bins are more forgiving.

I missed getting into my smaller bins one night and the next day the bedding had gotten all soggy and stinky. Amazing, overnight the environment in the bin had turned and all the worms were all around the edge of the bin. They were easy to harvest out but the material in the bin was trash.

Anyway, I have a little video I put together. I'm just starting with the videos and will be producing a series to show how to set up a worm bin and manage it. It will be like a worm bin video blog. Sounds like fun. There is a form available for you if you want to be notified when I upload a new video, I can do that for you. Provide your address and birthdate (no year) and I will be able to send you a little surprise.

So, here's the video for now:


Hope you're having a great holiday season.
Happy New Year!