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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:23 pm 
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i found 2 centipedes in my bin, and promptly removed them and relocated them across the street in the shrubby layer in the park.

also, i definitely have millet-looking mites now. i put little pieces of tomato in there 2 days ago, and now they're covering them. (i'm wondering if i should just remove those pieces of tomato to reduce the mite population.)

also, i took the active section (the only one right now since my bin is so new) off of the bottom part to investigate the leachate, and i saw maybe 10 worms hanging out in there. do you think i should redo that section by taking a fresh "basket thing" and layering it with new newspaper and dumping the contents of the existing basket into that section? or do you think having the worms being able to fall into the leachate is no big deal? it's the type of bin that has a ramp so they can crawl back into the active layer.

also, i'm not completely sure when i should add a second basket thing. should i wait until it's very full? i'm afraid of squishing them. (is it the pressure that encourages them to crawl up into the new layer? what if it's not full enough? would they be able to crawl up the fluffy newspaper layer to the new section? i don't want to kill my babies!)

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:24 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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I wouldn't worry too much about the mites. As long as your worms are happy and healthy, they won't be harmed and the mites will just help you compost that tomato and their population will reduce again (or not, if there are other tasty things they can help you compost). Maybe try to feed your worms a little less though, cause they may have trouble eating everything, and that's why thee mites have come to help them along. Removing the centipedes was a good idea, cause they can be real predators. The mites are scavengers and eat (nearly) dead stuff.

When I just had my bin, the worms liked to hang out in the leachate section too and nothing I tried could keep them away. I found that they can drown in the leachate, but only if there is a lot of it (2 cm deep). I just check and drain it regularly to keep the levels down and put cardboard scraps in the leachate tray to absorb some of the moisture and help give the worms traction if they want to climb out. My bin also has a 'ramp' just like yours.

For adding the new layer, just use common sense. Unless the old tray is really full and the new tray is really heavy, you are unlikely to squish them. The level in the old bin will also reduce a lot as the worms finish the composting process and eat the last scraps. The worms are excellent climbers, so don't worry about them not reaching the new tray. They can crawl up the walls of the bin if they can't reach the new tray any other way. If you're still worried, you could also put the new tray underneath the old tray rather than on top of it.

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Last edited by Cornelie on Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:25 am 
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Oops, double post.

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:52 am 
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thanks! :-)

the cardboard in the leachate section is a good idea. thanks! i'll do that. (and i think i'll put some vermiculite in it too) and i think i'll wait a little until the tomato bit is broken down a little more and then i'll add a new layer. (i'll also keep an eye out for more centipedes. i hope there aren't a lot. gaah! i found 3 more today. one was too fast for me, i'll try to catch him tomorrow.) there isn't enough leachate to drain via the tap. i assume there's a reason they didn't make the tap any lower? anyway, i hope the vermiculite is enough to help them gain a "foot"hold. i also added an unrolled toilet paper tube in there on the ramp. there are a bunch of castings at the top of the ramp, so i guess the worms know how to engineer their environment.

i noticed there were a bunch of worms in the corner of the active layer that had fewer coffee grounds, and not really many in the section that had a lot. i wonder if i need to ask a bakery to collect eggshells for me. :-) (but i suppose they use cartons of pre-cracked eggs. hmm. maybe i should ask a diner instead.)

i also have these teeeeeny barely visible long grain rice shaped things crawling all over the paper. they prefer the less moist paper. (they're seriously smaller than a normal hair. more along the lines of a very fine hair, like the one on a lady's forearm, and looks like a scaled down grain of rice. there's tons of them.) are these the nematodes? i seem to have less of them today than yesterday. (but the drier paper has absorbed more of the moisture, so that might be why.)

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:31 pm 
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Bathes in Braggs
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My leachate tap is also quite high up in the tray, and it got blocked with gunk, so I just scoop out the liquid with a cup or plastic container every few weeks or so.

I don't know about the teeny white critters. Maybe springtail larvae or something?

I've just used mineral calcium in my bin and the worms are fine, but you could do handed down eggshells if you want. The worms can are fine with quite acidic environments though. Maybe they just really like what you put in the less-coffee corner or they are waiting for the coffee to break down more before they move in.

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:56 am 
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My worms have babies!

I've had my bin for a year and a half now and the worms have gotten really big during that time. I was worried that they weren't procreating and that something was wrong, so I put some extra calcium in the bin. Maybe they were just waiting for spring. When I went to feed them this morning I saw the tinyest little worm baby in the bin. It was only one, but they're very good at hiding, so if I saw one there are probably a bunch more. So excited!

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:34 am 
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yeah, calcium is definitely key. i'm bad at remembering to add it. if only it was as easy as adding eggshells. :-p i never did ask a bakery for shells. i ended up buying dolomite powder (i do feel uncomfortable using eggshells though.)

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:52 am 
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holy macaroni! mine finally multiplied! woweee! they really liked that dolomite powder. i also finally got some eggshells. a neighbor was having an easter brunch at her church, and she saved them all for me. i started trying to crush them in a mortar and pestle, but that was really slow going, so i dragged out my dry blade container for the vitamix. at first i was doing small batches at high speed (because if there were too many whole eggs in there, they wouldn't sink to the bottom to get crushed), but it got really powdery and gross (i was at least doing it outside. i think i probably should have dunked them in a bleach solution before grinding them, but maybe not? maybe the bleach might harm the wormies? at least the neighbor rinsed them before she gave them to me.) so next time i will just do the small batches on low speed, and then when i break them down a little, then i'll dump it all back in and run it on high. with the sheer mass of broken down shells, it keeps it from getting too powdery and there isn't a cloud of escaping powder when you open the lid. (still smells slightly eggy when i open the container to sprinkle some into the bin. i got appx a full 1 lb butter container's worth. that should last a while.)

i think it might be finally time to add my 3rd tray. this is exciting! i think we may build a rolling platform for the bin though. we have some extra wheels from buying a shelving system that we're not going to put on wheels.

oh. i forgot. i thought my wormies wouldn't bounce back from all the attacking from the centipedes. for a while there, it seemed pretty desolate.

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:31 pm 
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I lifted a tray and saw baby wormies!!! Yay!! I read they like to lay eggs in corn cobs so I threw some in there yesterday.

The bin I bought for vermicomposting came with rock dust but I think it was for digestion, not calcium. How do you know if they need calcium?

I also have a major fruit fly problem. My booklet said if you have flies you're overfeeding them, but I've had this problem from the start. Any idea how to get rid of them? They fly in my face whenever I lift the lid :(

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 Post subject: Re: I've got worms
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:02 pm 
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oh. i think i remember reading somewhere that the solution to that is to put more flat paper layers on top. (also, put a vinegar trap nearby. i use a spice jar with a small holed shaker cap. easy peasy.) also, more shredded paper will help absorb the excess moisture from the overfeeding.

as for calcium, they need it for procreating, so i suppose if they're not, then you need to add some (more) :-) sounds like you're in good shape.

if the rock dust is made from limestone, then that would have provided some calcium. (also, other rock sources provide calcium too. just not as much. but they have more other types of minerals.) i would suppose the dolomite and eggshells also provide grit for digestion too.

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