"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Worm Composting (4)- Troubleshooting

So have you all been trying worm composting? For those of you who have, I thought I'd include some quick fixes for when things go wrong.

-If you have any pets (especially cats), it's important to make sure that your bin has a well ventilated lid that can't be moved by little paws. Before we started using these, our new little kitty really enjoyed using our bins as giant litter boxes. The big problem (besides the yuck factor) is the fact that cat waste can harbor some pretty nasty diseases that would be really bad to put anywhere near food crops.

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-If your bin smells bad, double check that all food scraps are buried at least two inches below the surface of the bedding. If you're OK on that front, dig down into the bedding to see if it is too wet. You can do one of two things… Dig in handfuls of dry but loose coconut fiber (or shredded paper). Or just leave the lid (or plastic) off for a couple of days.

-If you don’t see very many worms at all, or if the food scraps don’t seem to be disappearing quickly enough, double check that the bedding isn’t too dry. You’ll want to dig down to the bottom when determining the dryness. It may be drier on top, but really wet at the bottom. If it does seem too dry, sprinkle extra water over the top, a little at a time, until the bedding seems to be wet enough. You probably won’t have this problem if using a plastic bin because there is very little evaporation in this set up.

-I recently read a note on a website that says to be wary about adding banana peels because they tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides (which will kill everything in the bin). I haven’t had this problem myself, but then again, we don’t eat an enormous amount of bananas and most of the ones we do are organically grown. This caution also applies to grass clippings that have been sprayed with pesticides as well as most horse manure (because most horses have been treated with a dewormer, which will kill your worms).

-The book Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof is a great reference. There is also a lot of information out there on the internet.

Finally, if you have any problems that I haven’t addressed here, or you’re just not sure if your bed looks like it ought to, email me with questions. I really am happy to help. Once you get used to it, worm composting is so easy and worthwhile that we can all be doing it.

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Related Posts-
Worm Composting (1)- Setting Up the Bed
Worm Composting (2)- Some Other Thoughts
Worm Composting (3)- Harvesting The Castings
Using Eggshells
Why You Need Worm Poo

9 comments:

mighty jo said...

thanks for the post--we're getting ready to move from our house in the country & away from my compost heap--so ive been worrying about what im going to do if we move somewhere where i can't easily have a compost heap. awesome. & finian LOVES worms...that may bring about another chapter in my book: KIDPROOFING WITH DUCT TAPE

Wendy said...

Mighty Jo, good luck with the move and good luck with the worms!

dulcie said...

I'm new to the scene of bloggers. Well, actually I'm just a reader. I am a mother of two boys in Hamilton, Montana, a preschool teacher, yoga instructor and clay artist. I've been enjoying your blog. We had a worm compost at my oldest sons preschool and I have been thinking about bringing one to my present preschool. Thank you for the re-inspiration.
Dulcie
dulciebelanger@montana.com

Breanna said...

Your worm composting posts have me thinking... I would really like to try this, but I don't really have a lot of food left to compost anymore, because my chickens eat almost all of our scraps. I am thinking about giving it a go anyways, and maybe trying to convince a teacher at our school to use it. Thanks for all of your detailed info!

Defne said...

Wendy, is this inside your house? or outside?

Wendy said...

Breanna, this is an absolutely fantastic project for kids and schools.

Defne, it's inside the house (in the basement, under the stairs).

Tamara said...

Can you feed paper tissues and napkins to the little guys?

Wendy said...

Tamara, Sure. They eat all kinds of paper. I maybe wouldn’t use anything that has large amounts of mucous, but otherwise I’m sure it’s fine.

Tamara said...

Too cool! Thanks Wendy! I receive my l'il guys tomorrow and I can't wait!!!