jennywren62July 13, 2008

Hi there,

In about three weeks, I'm going on vacation for a month. My worm box which is indoors, and a Rubbermaid Tote, has been very moist. Recently, I increased the size of the air holes to 1/4" and drilled a hole in one corner for the 'tea' to drain. I think the 'tea' is down to a dull roar, about 1/2 cup a day, but I don't want to come back from vacation to find a pool of 'tea' on my kitchen floor. Should I stop feeding the little critters? Any suggestions?

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squeeze(z8 BC)

mix in some fresh drier bedding and slow down the feeding, there souldn't be so much leachate if you're not overfeeding, get it under control now - it won't be happening when you're not adding more every day [veg waste is 85% water] ... watch the moisture level the week before you leave to see if it's pretty stable without much food - they can do fine without food as long as they don't get too dry


    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:47AM
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In my experience with those rubbermaid totes, and based on how much leachate you're getting, one hole in the bottom isn't enough. I never had that much coming out, and I still had trouble keeping the moisture level under control.

Before moving to a flow-through bin, I took some chicken wire and small pieces of wood to create an artificial floor on the bottom of the tote. I then drilled a few holes on one end of the bin, and propped up the other end. That helped tremendously.

As far as vacation, I would mix together one batch of food that breaks down in different lengths of time. Onion peels would take longer than some lettuce, for example.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Another solution to the too wet bin is leave the lid off for a couple of days. I 'fluff' the contents to get the wet stuff towards the top every few days. You can easily get down to 0 leachate in 3 weeks with a combination of the suggestions here.

Since worms can survive on just cardboard, Bill's suggestion might be the best. You won't have to worry about them running out of vege waste while you're gone. I found that shredding the cardboard in a paper shredder made a huge difference. I now have air pockets at the bottom and am not worried about anaerobic problems. (You only need to do that once to really work at preventing it!)

When you do leave, you'll probably want to leave the lid on so they don't get too dry. That's more deadly than too much leachate.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 3:12PM
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Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I've got a great carton, so I think I'll load it up with shredded cardboard and watch for the decrease. I've stopped feeding for about a week, and there's still a fair amount of undigested stuff in there. I'll keep a really close eye on everything and see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 12:50PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

Jenny - I just dumped out a Rubbermaid tote about 2/3 full of very old compost with the worms I'd sorted out of my hot compost bins in the spring when I harvested it for the greenhouse - that tub had sat next to the compost bins for a couple months, totally ignored, and the worms were doing fine ... and very happy to be chucked into the worm bin with their distant relatives .... the material wasn't at all dry, and all it had was a couple layers of newspaper on it with my garbage bag of shredded paper sitting on top of that - most of the paper had 'dissolved' and there was a bunch of worms communing on the surface ... don't worry, they'll do fine


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:39PM
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Hi Jenny,

I add dry bedding (dry leaves and dry shredded newpaper) regularly with food scraps to try and cope with the moisture they produce. It seems to work well for me (little of no leechate)

I can't remember the last time I added moistened material. After a week, the dry material is starting to get lightly damp, and the littl'uns are happy. This turns into "slow release" food nicely.

Two birds with one stone.

Just a thought. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:22AM
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I honestly think my worms are happier when neglected. Ther first year of my bin, I didn't know much about the process and sort of forgot them for long periods. They would go 2-3 months without being "fed", then I'd think about them and toss in some veggie scraps. I hadn't gotten over the ick factor yet, and didn't do much to disturb them. When I finally got interested and became more attentive, I noticed they had been thriving without me. I have air holes at the top, but no drain holes and I've never had moisture issues. However, now that I'm feeding more regularly I keep a close eye on things. I still like to take a break every few weeks and stop feeding for a while.

Enjoy your vacation, the little ones will be fine. If you're worried about the leachate, maybe you could stack your bin on another of similar size, so you don't return to a mess. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 4:21PM
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