Worm Bin, year 2

Lisa_H OK(7)July 26, 2013

I survived a whole year with my worm bin. It worked, but I think I kept it too dry. I didn't have drainage holes in that bin because I didn't want to have to deal with drainage in the house.

I babysat the "mommy" bin again this summer. Her bin was TEEMING with worms. So much so, that one of the first things I did was split the bin into two. That's when I realized I wasn't doing as good a job as I could have!

This summer has been cool enough, that I have left them on the front porch most of the time. Just before I left on vacation I noticed my bin was teeming with black soldier fly larvae. I had stepped up my feeding :) Apparently too much. I didn't know what to do, but I knew it was supposed to get really hot, so I dragged two of the bins inside the house. The third one went to my caterpillar raising family to give them another project.

When I came home from vacation I found strange, dried slime trails and dead BSFL on the floor. Ewww. Cleaned those up and banished the worms bins back outside. It's been cool enough since then, that I have left them out there. Apparently some of the larvae must have lived. I've been finding dead adult BS flies every evening when I get home from work. Yuck.

Tomorrow that bin is going to be dumped out, save a few worms, and send the rest to the compost pile.

I may just satisfy myself with babysitting worms and leave the full time worm bins to my friend :)

This post was edited by lisa_h on Sun, Jul 28, 13 at 22:43

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Well you gave it a whole year, which is about a year longer than I would have lasted. I have nothing against worm bins, but I'd rather have the worms doing their work in the garden where they improve the soil as they tunnel through it or in the compost pile.

I already have to worry about the care and feeding of humans, dogs, cats, poultry and various wild critters, so to me, a worm bin would be just one more responsibility that I'd have to worry about. I always try to make sure to plant lots of plants for the butterflies and moths, hummingbirds, bees and other beneficial insects and I put out food for them (as appropriate) in winter, but putting a worm bin in the house is one step beyond what I'm willing to do.

A bat is trying to move into our sun porch to live, and I am trying to keep it out. Our sun porch functions as a back door entry and we use it kind of like a mudroom in the sense that you can strip off your muddy or wet boots or shoes there and leave them on the sun porch before you come into the house itself. We always have left the sun porch door open all day so that the cats can come sit on the porch and stare at the people inside the house in order to get someone to open the French door and let them come inside. Well, if we don't remember to close the sunporch's exterior door before twilight, that bat gets on the porch and starts flying around, occasionally crashing into the French door or the sunporch windows. Then it goes up to the interior roof and tries to find a spot it can cling to. I am trying to show it that the back porch is not a bat cave, and it is trying fairly tenaciously to insist the back porch could indeed be a bat cave if we would just go away and leave it alone. I like wild critters, but at our house, the bats and the worms both belong outside, not inside.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 12:19PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

:) Dawn, the worms really weren't too bad until the soldier fly larvae came in. However, I have a compost pile, I really don't have any need for a worm bin. It was a fun project though. However....when the time came Sat a.m....I couldn't make myself dump them out :) So, they are still residing on my front porch. They'd be fine for the summer, I think, but I knew they wouldn't survive the winter. I could hear them crying "don't kill meeeeeee".

EWWWW on the bat!! I hope you can persuade him to go elsewhere. If you leave a light on, maybe a bright light?, would that persuade him to stay away?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Lisa, can I have some of your worms? Yeah, I don't like the soldier fly larvae either... but know, it can be sorted out.

Call me. I am back home from riding RAGBRAI in Iowa. I can send you my number if you lost it. :)

Moni... who has to be at work early in the morning and should be in bed....

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:41PM
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I have a couple of bins in the house. Had them for a little over a year now or maybe its two heck i cant remember. Sort the dang things every few months to see how the worms are doing. Just went through one again today very carefully because I know anything left in there will die when I put it in the garden and it gets cold. I love my worm bins. Would do more if I had more time. Just love putting it in the holes when I plant and thinking how good that stuff is. They have been very wet this time. Wet enough to smell soured. Never had that problem before. I haven't added any water so not sure what the deal is. leaving the lid off to see if that helps. They are in the spare bedroom closet so no one knows they are there but my family. My son thinks im strange but thats ok. I figure when youre strange to an 18 year old your probably mostly normal

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 12:10AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Moni...can you send me your number? I am sure it is in my email somewhere... :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:15AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lisa, Well, I have tried the light on, the light off, etc. and the only difference I see is if the light is on and the sun porch door is open, bugs are attracted to the light and the bat is attracted to the bugs. I wouldn't even care about the bat if it wasn't for the fact that they carry rabies. You know, it would be just my luck to have the bat become rabid and the cats find the bat, etc. The cats have had rabies shots but who wants to deal with a potentially rabid bat? We've had bats flying around our property in the evenings ever since we moved here and I love having them since they eat tons of insects, but this is the first time I know of that one has tried to take up residence in our house.

We have every kind of fly outside that you can imagine, so I guess soldier flies wouldn't gross me out, though their larvae would. When Chris was younger and in school and they had to do an insect collection for Biology, he and a bunch of his friends could get all the insects they needed by visiting my garden and our back porch, which was just a screened-in porch back then. I remember they'd catch a bunch of stuff and put the insects in ziplock bags (one bug per bag) and put them in the freezer to kill them. We also occasionally caught and "saved" bugs for the children of Tim's coworkers who lived in beautiful, "tidy" city neighborhoods where everyone sprayed for bugs and kids had a hard time finding enough insects to do their insect collection. The kids were amazed at how many different kinds of flies they caught. Sometimes they'd call me and say "hey, this is a rare and endangered species of fly....am I going to be in trouble for having it in my collection?" I was shocked that any fly species was rare or endangered since we have about a billion of them per acre here. Okay, that's an exaggeration....maybe a million per acre. I always told them to ask their teacher and, as far as I know, none of them got in trouble since you cannot possibly know before you catch a fly that it is going to be one considered rare or endangered. Their favorite ones were the gigantic horse flies that are larger than the big black-and-yellow bumblebees.

During the years all those insect collecting kids were working on insect collections, I almost hated to open my freezer door because inevitably there were zip-lock bags of frozen insects in there. I remember thinking "If we die suddenly and someone has to clean out that freezer, they sure will wonder about the bags of insects, won't they?"

Moni, Hope the bike ride was fun and welcome home!

Sheila, I agree that if 18 year-olds think you are strange, there you are just perfectly normal. For me, the fun thing is that by the time they are 22 or 24 or 26 years old, they finally realize that you were a cool and wonderful person all along and they cannot even remember why they thought you were strange! It is funny how we old fogies became cool and appreciated more and more as our son and his friends got older.

I had to laugh this summer. Our son always has appreciated having a garden for fresh produce and enjoys most of the stuff I can, though I cannot get him to appreciate home-canned catsup. He is a professional firefighter and he works 24-hour shifts, so they cook a lot of their meals at the fire station, and he sometimes takes in home-grown produce or home-canned food to go with their meals. Still, I've always thought that he sort of thought his gardening- and canning-obsessed mother was a relic from the dark ages. So, anyhow, this summer he mentioned that some of his friends have taken up gardening and canning and were having a ball, and had given him some of their home-canned food to take to work. Suddenly, I was even more "cool" and in-sync with his adult friends than ever before. I just grinned. It is fun when you get to make the transition from weird to cool. lol


    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:15AM
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I don't understand the mechanism, but it seems that sometimes the worms actually produce moisture from their composting. I do always try to have some drain hole in my bin. Also, if they start smelling sour, sprinkle with baking soda.

I had coach flies (same as soldier fly?) get into my bins one summer. I sure didn't like it as it did seem really gross. Then, this year, I found that someone actually sell soldier fly "farms." Apparently they are considered an excellent source of protein for reptiles and birds, being high in calcium as well.

To get rid of them, I'd simply dump and rinse my bin, add new medium and then hand pick some worms, rinsing them under a stream of cool water, before adding. This should eliminate any unwanted eggs from getting in the new bin. Keep the bin covered so the flies can't get in and start again. The dumped worms and medium can be worked right into your garden soil.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

George, the black soldier fly larvae do an incredibly fast job of eating up whatever food is in there. Very efficient things! :) They would be a great set up for anyone who created a lot of food scraps...and could keep the bin outside. I am notsure where the adults were hanging out in my house, the only evidence of them is when I find their dead bodies on my kitchen floor.

Dawn...you were obviously a cool mom. Who else would give up freezer space to dead bugs? :) I would be concerned about the rabies aspect too.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:32AM
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borderokie if your bin is to moist, add dry matter. I use the stuff I shred, like checks, important documents... best safety factor!!! and it will get the bin drier.

Lisa, I am mailing now.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 1:19PM
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here is my first bought composter.

When I moved, I put all my stuff from my outside worm compost bin in here. Then put it under a big bush, and sorry to say, forgot all about it.

Next spring, Oh My Gosh, I found it, and felt bad. I dumped a bit at the time on a big blue tarp, and sorted out worms, yes, worms, eggs, and vermicompost.

They survived the winter of 2004/05 outside, in Tulsa Oklahoma.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

That's amazing Moni!! Thanks for saving my worms for me! I feel better knowing they are going to a good mommy :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lisa, It was a terrible thing to have bugs in the deep freeze! I don't especially like bugs, although I long ago got over my fear of touching them. Opening the freezer to remove some meat to thaw, for example, could be slightly un-nerving if you found yourself looking at a katydid or tobacco hornworm lying there in a sandwich-sized zip-lock, but I survived it. That was way back in our early years here, and I hadn't even figured out what all the insects were because we had about a billion more kinds here than I'd ever seen in Fort Worth, or even at my relatives' places in the country. (I was a lot younger then, and I doubt I even really noticed what kinds of pests my grandparents or aunts/uncles had in their garden. In my childhood garden we usually had spider mites, hornworms and stink bugs....and not much else that I can rememberm though I remember having praying mantids, grasshoppers and katydids in the yard, and box elder bugs on a tree.) So, letting the kids collect insects from our garden and screen porch helped me because the kids would get online and identify their "catch" and tell me what they were. I learned a lot about the insects and arachnids right along with the kids in those high school years of theirs. Between Chris and his classmates and the children of some of Tim's coworkers, we had quite an insect 'harvest' type event every year for several years in the early through mid-2000s. I'm proud to report that all "our" kids always had more than the minimum number of insects required for an A on the project.

Once you get a reputation for tolerating "wild things", word gets around. One of our neighbor's had a son who really liked snakes and after he moved here, he asked me if I would "save" snakes for him. He said if I would trap them or catch them, he would come right over and get them. I'm usually an agreeable person, but I smiled and told him I wasn't catching a snake for anyone and he'd have to catch them himself.

George, That brown liquid is a leachate that usually comes partially from the worm castings but also from the natural decomposition process that also occurs in the worm bins. I've never seen an actual name given for it other than leachate. I've seen some bins with spigots so you can drain off the leachate.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 10:59AM
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I don't know what is different but I have them in the same bin and am feeding them about the same but man the bed is wet. Soured wet. There are 2 bins and both of them are like that. You wouldn't think inside in the air-conditioning humidity would be a factor but maybe it is. And Dawn I'm not at the cool stage yet but he brags about his mommas cooking. Says its always good because I care. Doesn't yet realize the worms the garden the cooking all connect to good food and care. Its Ok as long as he wants to come home!! He's leaving for tishimingo to go to gun smithing school. Not gonna be a great august around here but its better than lots of other options!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 2:46PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

borderokie, The older your kids get, the cooler you become, even though you are the same person you've always been. Nothing makes your kids appreciate you more than getting out there in the big wide world and figuring out how much their parents did for them all their lives. It always is such a rude awakening for them when they see how much their living expenses eat up their paycheck.

It is hard when they leave home the first time, but they come back. Home is where the heart is, after all, and it doesn't hurt that there's always a meal waiting there at home and a place for them to do their laundry that does not require feeding quarters to a machine.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 3:12PM
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