More kitchen scraps than bins can keep up with

mr_yanFebruary 3, 2012

I am finding that my one worm inn can only process about a third of the kitchen scraps we're producing. I expect the worms to be able to process more as they become more established, this bin is only 3 months old, but we will also be producing more kitchen scraps.

I won't be able to make another worm inn for a few weeks because of time and other projects.

We don't have room in the freezer for scraps. I had been just tossing bags of them in a snow bank but things have thawed out a month and a half early.

I see two realistic options.

1 - throw the scraps in my failed traditional compost bin. I had just kept adding stuff to it and turning it and it became a mixed mess of compost and garden waste. This is also cold now and will just languish until summer.

2 - start to mix the scraps into my raised bed. I am hoping to do a planted worm bed this year and this is my only bed without anything planted in it now. This bed is nearly equal parts by volume of peat, shredded fall leafs, and compost so seems close to an outdoor bin designed for worms. I plan on planting it with melons, beans, and maybe a squash or two.

Does my second option sound all that out of wack? Even if the worms fail to take it will still end up as composting in place like a disorganized lasagna garden.


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Sounds good to me.

Save the most delicious scraps for the worms.
The brocolli stems, cabbage, corn cobs, etc. put in the outdoors until your worm system is up to your kitchen waste speed.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:41AM
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If I intended the scraps for my worm bins (the "better" quality of scraps), I keep that in a 6 gal. bucket rather than throwing it onto the compost pile. The compost pile has too many critters that I prefer not to introduce to the worm bins. They already have enough of that as it is. Cover the scraps w. a few layers of (whole, not shredded) newspaper. IMO that somehow prevent the bucket from getting anaerobic too fast. It doesn't matter if it does get anaerobic because I just keep the lid off for the day I'm going to feed the worms. My observation: it speeds up things in the bin if I only feed pre-rotted stuff.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:46PM
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I think he's thinking of a worm trench type of system as opposed to bringing it back in later. As in put waste directly besides the plants and have the worms work on it there outside. So #2 would be stashing food there now and tossing worms into it when it warms up. ???

Sounds fine to me if that's the case. No matter what decomposition stage that stuff outside is, worms will deal with it when you put them out..

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 8:27PM
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I'd also address your traditional compost pile. Figure out why it's not working properly.

The most common reasons are:
1. Moisture level (too wet, or too dry)
2. Carbon:Nitrogen ratios are out of balance

One more thing. Some folks make compost in batches rather than continuously adding to the same pile. This allows the first pile to finish. Others pile the new material on top and remove finished compost from the bottom.

I've had the best success with creating batches. The downside to batches is that you need a few spots to hold new material. I have two bins made from pallets & often have to keep bags of leaves in waiting (Once I get my first batch going, I add my kitchen scraps to the bags).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 7:53AM
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Here are the main reasons my traditional pile died:

With out thinking I would constantly add to the top and would turn the pile at least every two weeks. With this I would have nearly finished compost mixed with new waste.

I also would end up with way too much water in it. The only location I have for the pile is next to my garage under a side with no gutter. The rain from the roof would land directly on the pile. This both got the pile really wet and cooled it right down.

I had the ratios fine and would often have plumes of steam when turning the pile. My traditional bin is 3'x3'x3' and made of staggered 2x4s with 4x4 corner posts. I can slide the 2x4's out of one side to turn or empty the bin.

--- worm bin status below ---

My worm inn is now processing a lot of kitchen waste, about 75% of my typical week. About two weeks ago I took the whole thing outside and emptied it. I mixed the whole thing up and let the wind blow away several hundred fruit flies. I started with about a pound of worms in early November and there were worms everywhere in the 2 cubic feet of media. Right now the inn is full and just processing away.

I need compost for when I mix my container soils in May. My thinking is I will feed the bin until about the 1st of April. I'll then just let the worms and microbes work on everything for a month and a half without adding more food.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 5:03PM
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