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I sang to my worms

07 Jan 2010
Cloudy -2°C / 28°F

So this morning, as I was putting stuff in my worm bin — I sang to my worms. I couldn’t help myself. See, today is their birthday. I got the bin and the worms exactly 1 year ago (thanks Folia for tracking that for me!). After serenading them with the “Happy Birthday” song, I added a few scraps and topped off their bedding.

Here’s what I’ve learned about the bin in the past year. Remember that these are just my experiences. Every worm bin is different.

  • Young bins require more care than old bins. When I first started my system, it would get wonky if I added a lot of a new food, like cooked rice. But these days, I can add most things with little care or thought as long as I maintain the right moisture level.
  • There are many feeding methods, and everyone thinks their method is right — but the only right method is the one that works for you. Freeze, pocket feed, surface feed, blend, don’t blend, pre-compost, whatever. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it works for you.
  • My bin has an odor, but it’s not a bad odor. It smells like dirt. Sometimes (once every 6-8 weeks) it smells like garbage, but I can easily fix that by adding more coir and/or paper. The smell goes away within a day. With experience, I’m getting better at planning ahead — when I add something i know will get stinky, I go ahead and add more coir and paper right away. If I were more careful about feeding too many brassicas, even that occasional smell would not be a problem.
  • Even if you try hard to avoid them, you might still get a fruit fly infestation. Smothering the surface of your bin (with bedding or cotton fabric or something) works to control them. So do vinegar traps.
  • Other creatures will live in your bin with the worms. These are mostly harmless.
  • The bin is fascinating, but low maintenance. I like seeing how stuff decomposes, but there’s little actual work involved. Sometimes this disappoints me — I’d like to be able to do more with my bin.
  • If you press your ear up to the side of the bin, you can listen to the worms smooshing around in it.
  • My personal mantra (borrowed from a message board) is “Make worm heaven, not worm prison.” If you create good conditions in your bin, the worms will stay in it. There’s no need to fence them in.
  • In the past year, I have not had one serious problem with the bin. None of the horror stories that you read about (or imagine) have happened to mine. I think this is due to a couple of factors: I read about vermicomposting widely before starting this bin, I took an extremely conservative approach to feeding the bin initially, I had a few good mentors (including Cmagnus here on folia), and I observed the bin carefully. Also, I used coir. I think coir is like magic fairy pixie dust for the worm bin — it fixes anything that’s wrong.

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Comments

Maybe you could install a view window to your bin and set up a wormcam.

Posted on 07 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

Seriously, thanks for the insight. This is something I’ve considered doing in my small apartment. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it yet — need other things more organized.

Posted on 07 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

Katxena – how cute are you singing to your little worms!! I always enjoy reading your worm bin updates!! You make it very interesting and informative – letting us Folians decide if this is something we’d like to try,

Posted on 07 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
SneIrish

SneIrish

Folia Helper

United States6b

Happy Birthday, little worms! You’ve done a great job, Katxena. It really shows how much you care about the bin and how dedicated you are to making it work for you, and for your worms.

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

Awesome, happy birthday wormies! :) Great info and insights – I’m putting coir on my garden shopping list to try with our worm bin.

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
Katxena

Katxena

Folia Helper

United States7

The worms appreciate the birthday wishes! :)

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
graibeard

graibeard

Folia Helper

Australia9b

Igor and Cress send their belated Happy Birthdays to the wrigglers – they were distracted and forgot. :)

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
Katxena

Katxena

Folia Helper

United States7

They have all those chicks to look after! :)

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

Happy Birthday worms! When I worked for a botanical center we gave our veggie lunch scraps to the worms and each Christmas there was a little baggie of worm postings in our mailboxes with a gift tag ‘from the worms’. So I know they are generous folks even if they don’t have feet. I can’t wait to get my own so I can listen to their swooshings!

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

I bet the chooks would like to meet the worms! Maybe have them over for breakfast….

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
ceae

ceae

Folia Helper

Canada6a

Too funny! Happy Birthday Worms! Here’s to another successful year with the little fellas.

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
Katxena

Katxena

Folia Helper

United States7

Thanks! @Ceae — when are you going to get your worm bin? ;)

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

So how long do worms live? Are you singing to the ones that actually arrived one year ago or to their grandchild-worms? Just wondering…

I love reading about your adventures with them.

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
Katxena

Katxena

Folia Helper

United States7

They don’t live that long — just a couple of months. So I’m singing to their descendants. I tried to tell my husband that I was singing to the bin and not the worms, but he felt that singing to an inanimate object was stranger than singing to worms and suggested that I not tell people that. ;)

Posted on 08 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
ceae

ceae

Folia Helper

Canada6a

@ Kat … When my husband realizes that keeping worms is neither crazy, weird, unsanitary or smelly … or I get fed up with his erroneous misconceptions and just go ahead and get one anyway to prove him wrong ;p
Actually, I’ve been monitoring the temperature in our garage and seriously reading that link you gave me about keeping worms in cooler conditions. DH’s given consent to a worm bin as long as it’s not in the house, but I want to be sure that the garage is an acceptable home before I jump in.

I didn’t realize that worms had such a short life span … so what happens to the dead ones? They just decompose with the rest bin contents?

Posted on 09 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)
Katxena

Katxena

Folia Helper

United States7

It’s been a while since I read about their life spans, but I recall that it was in months, not years. And I’m only talking about compost worms — earth worms might be different.

I think with insulation and the right kind of food, a bin in a cool garage would be fine. Just add some grains every so often and things will heat up. :) I had to do a lot of work to get my spouse on board too. I ended up promising him that if the bin ever bothered him, I’d fix whatever the problem was with no argument about whether it really was a problem — because I was convinced that there’d never be a problem!

Posted on 09 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

Worm cam. Must. Have. Worm. Cam.

Posted on 09 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

I think some worms (red worms are the usual worm bin ones) live for years. They do reproduce pretty quickly, too. I think our worms are about 5 years old right now (or at least the bin is). We even left it with my parents for 8 months while we traveled around in our VW van… they live in Idaho & kept the bin in their garage and learned to love them. Yay worms! :)

Posted on 10 Jan 10 (almost 8 years ago)

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Gardener

Katxena

Germantown, Maryland

United States



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