The Compost Bin

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Wormery Update – Saturday 6th

The last feed the worms had was on the 2nd January and l had been feeding them once every two weeks or so, however l decided to lengthen the feeding window to a month. Today [6th] was the next bokashi feed. I hadn’t disturbed the wormery in well over a month.

I had found that in November and December 2020 that l had some escaping worms and discovered that the oversheet to their breeding box had a sizeable rend in the fabric and so l bought them a new one and fitted that to the box which made for a big difference instantly as the amount of water that had been entering through that rend although not large was l should imagine suifficient to cause some discomfort for the residents. Their living soils were not soaked but l prefer to have their soil only marginally damp, likened to that of a squeezed out sponge – l have found that is the best environment for the worms.

Other things l noticed that helped to keep the worms happy was in fact providing them with a much, much deeper level of shredded paper on top of their soil [7″ new depth compared to 4″ old depth] as well as adding more cardboard eggboxes which provided air pockets above the soils with the shredded paper acting as a form of insulation. I got the idea of deepening the shredded paper strangely enough after watching ‘scavenging crows whilst out walking’ in the mornings.

These aren’t the crows that awarded me the idea to a greater depth of paper, but these two crows were in fact displaying behaviour slightly different to seagulls. Seagulls tap their feet on mostly wet grassed ground which encourages worms to the surface because they [worms] think it is raining and head to the surface where upon the crafty gulls feast upon their snacked treat!

Now crows hunt for worms in a slightly different fashion l have noticed and have seen the behaviour displayed more here than anywhere else. They pick up wet leaves in search of worms and then grab a snack and move on to other wet leaves. That’s what the two crows are doing above as l watched them earlier this week when l took the photo. But l have also seen crows perform this in much deeper layers of wet leaves.

Worms live in the soil but also they can be found living under leaf litter or digested and organic wastes and quite often there are huge populations literally found just under vast layers of leaves and leaf mulch – it is an earthworms paradise. The crows l have observed also know there are rich pickings to be found within the leaf litters and it matters not the depth of the leaves – they will dig and toss and overturn whatever is required to reach their quarry!

However, my worms are not under any direct attack nor seige from crows or any birds thankfully – but there were a few that were not content to stay put in the cube and decided to escape. The solution was to increase their ‘leaf litter top mulch’ which is what l did with the deeper shredded paper and since doing that as well as ensuring their soil remained damp and not too wet, l no longer have any escapes what so ever.

What did l learn from the crows? That the depth wasn’t deep enough and that the more leaf mulch l placed on top of the soil, the happier the worms would be. It has also made me think about collecting leaves for next winter which would be a more natural top cover for them. The shredded paper still works well but, l can place that directly into the actual compost cube and turn that every week.

Additionally, with the new depth l have noticed incredible breeding results – they were heavy breeders before but now they are massively breeding .. the paper will also add a layer of warmth to the soil and the top layers of cardboard will ensure none of that new warmth is lost.

So, my worms are l believe much happier now …

What makes for a happy worm you ask??

A warm and dark environment – 55 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit
A nice moist environment – not too wet nor too dry – like a wrung out sponge.
Worms like to be fed – they can eat the bedding l provide, but also love fruit and vegetables
Worms love moving and wiggling and wriggling and enjoy hunting for their feed. I pick three locations when feeding, left, right and middle with different amounts each time to further encourage their movement within the wormery.
Worms need to breathe and their soils need to be comfortable as in not too densely packed.

Todays feeding …

Above displays the middle and the left of the bin being turned over, checked and fed. Last time l fed it was on the left and right side of the cube – below – which was clear and healthy whilst the left side only had a small fist size portion of feed left..

Every feeding time is different – however – l uncover the worms and check the remains of the last feed – which after a month is greatly reduced. I shred all my food wastes down and place them into bokashi bins which l then add bran to which starts the fermentation process.

What is Bokashi?

Bokashi is principally a fermenting of food stuffs process similar to pickling. For me l use the drained off leechate which is produced as a bokashi juice as a liquid fertiliser and whilst you can either choose to add the bokashi mixture into your compost or dig it directly into your soil – l choose to feed it to the wormery residents.

Once l have loosened the feeding areas up l then check to make sure everything is ok and that there is no evil smells which would mean that the wormery is not in a good position and could kill the occupants or make them ‘unhappy with their environment’. They don’t cry in the corner – but for instance if the soils are too wet they either escape or … stop breeding and if conditions are really bad, they die.

I have no idea what the worm populations are, and l’ll not really have a firm grasp of that until the spring is here and the warmer climate where upon l can dig over and up the entire breeding bin … but as far as breeding numbers go l would say there are thousands upon thousands of residents. I am however looking forward to the time l do empty this bin out as only then, will l be able to see how well it has done over the winter.

However, you’ll also see that in time.

Thanks for reading – see you next month.

6 thoughts on “The Compost Bin

  1. That’s a whole lotta worms! Sven COULDN’T miss if he was dining at your wormery😉
    I’ve been feeding 3 worms this winter while Sven was brumating. It’s funny to see s blueberry with a hole in the middle of it. Like a mini donut😂

    🌊🦄💫🧸💌

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