Staring into the Abyss: into the Muck and Mire

equinoxequinoxMay 8, 2010

A poster, I could not find who, commented air can not get into six inches of mud. Another weighed how much air can get into a bin through an open spigot. I wonder if the virtues of airy cloth bins are true. Although I never drilled a hole in my bins I feel vermicomposting would work well in a nearly wall-less milk crate, bread tray or wire bin. I think we all agree more air is good. Yet our worms seem to love the airless muck. Why when the goodies are up above? As vermicomposters we spend our time figuring out how to either avoid muck all together or to get air into that six inches of muck. Does air get in? Does it get in just 1/4 of an inch? How much hole does a 1/4 inch hole in the side of a bin help? Does the water carry oxygen into the center of the muck and carbon dixiode out? Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

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I know that worms breath throught their skin and can live in oxygenated water. But do they "exhale" carbon dioxide the way we do?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 12:47AM
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I am still wondering about the storm last week. A day before the storm, as the barometer dropped, hundreds of the worms in my only plastic-tub bin crawled up the side of the bin. They grouped and hung out near the air vents. They stayed for 3 days untill the storm passed, and then went down and back to work. I checked my open-bottom in-ground bin and cages, and everything appeared normal. The plastic tub has no drain holes. How did the worms know that they would drown in plastic??? Air! It must come up through the vermicompost.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 12:49AM
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Nope, they sensed the change in barometric pressure.

Drop in pressure = rain = drowning. Solution = head for the hills!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:15AM
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Probably the same way animals survive tsunamis and hurricanes. We (humans) must tune in to nature; they (the critters) are nature.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:10AM
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But the worms in open-bottom bins did NOT come to he surface (head for the hills) in larger numbers.... hence the observation that worms know there is no air/drainage in my plastic tub, and know they won't drown in open bottom bins. Another mystery of nature!
I made my first batch of aerated VC tea a few weeks back. I brewed it about 60 hours, and found a live and very hardy worm in the strained muck the next day. I was amazed!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:05AM
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I know a person who doesn't want to be bothered with the rules of composting and throws all her kitchen scraps, grass, flowers and other qarden cuttings into her earth machine. Not sure about the name but it is that big round black platic garden composter.
She said there are tons of worms there and I'm welcome to get them and that's what I did last fall.
Well, there was no shred of paper in there, and it was a slimy and smelly muck (she's vegetarian >> lots and lots of veggie & fruit scraps)and yet the worms are fatt and thriving and seem VERY happy. Couldn't see any dead ones. Every handful I grabbed was full of worms with firm, shiny bodies which to me indicated that they were healthy.

Until this instant, I am still wondering how they could thrive in that kind of environment.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I just finished moving some planters on a cement slab. When I moved the wooden boards they had been set on, there were dozens of red worms in the collection of sludge under the planters. As Otis described "firm,shiny bodies" as if it were a worm version of the Golden Door Spa [movie stars and elites only]. When I emptied the planters, there were lots of red worms down in the bottom of the planters. Amazing how they can live in these harsh situations.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:40PM
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