watering/rinsing out your bin?

susanfromhawaiiAugust 16, 2008

The local worm promoter in my city recommends that you flush out your worm bin every so often. Based on info I read here, I was feeling really good about having almost no leachate. Does anyone have an opinion on whether an occasional drenching is a good idea?

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Hi Susan,
You're not the first person who is given wrong information. I can't for the life of me understand why people are recommended to add water or flush out their bins regularly.

I'm assuming that the people recommending this action thinks that the resulting water flushing out of the bins is Worm Tea. It isn't. It's leachate, which is excess liquid in the bins. I'm assuming you have one of the set-ups with a tap, hence the flushing out of the bin.

Castings should be light and fluffy and crumbly. By dousing with water they won't be. Worms like a moist environment, but they can't swim, why would anyone want to drown them?

Food is 80% water, which is ALL the water that should be added to a bin. Too much liquid makes the bin stink, and encourages gnats and other pests.

A fellow I know from another forum stopped adding water to his bin as I suggested and he has noticed a huge difference in his worms and compost. He too, can't understand why people are being misled in this way.

Sorry for the lengthy answer, PLEASE don't flush or add any extra water to your bins.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 7:22AM
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Susan, what was supposed to be accomplished by this flushing out of the bin?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:21PM
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Sherry, thanks for the input. There's a LOT of misinformation out there!

mbetts, Supposedly it rinses out any toxins that may have accumulated. I'm thinking it will flush out the good stuff too - nutrients and bacteria. That's why I asked. Susan.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:59PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

there are NO "toxins" accumulating, just good ol worm poo  :)


    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:10AM
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A local worm farmer near me recommends flushing the bin, too. I have a Can O Worms, with a tap on the bottom. I've done the rinsing a few times, and it doesn't have a negative impact on my bin. The worms don't seem to mind, and the leachate/tea that I get does wonders for my birds of paradise. They recently all decided to bloom at the same time, and I don't think it is a coincidence.

I am in Central Florida, and when I do the flushing I use fresh rainwater. I like to think it is cooling my bins off a bit, as they get too hot in my garage. Another benefit is that the rinsing carries out a lot of the castings. It saves me the trouble of harvesting as often, and I use the liquid right away. I do run it through a sieve, and toss any swimmers back in the bin.



    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 4:17PM
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Thanks Bill and everyone else. Jake, I have good drainage. To get very little leachate, I have been adding bedding with wet food and leaving the top off when it's really wet. I also let the food sit for a while before adding it to the bin and either dump excess liquid or slowly dribble it around the top of the bin and then leave the top off for a day.

Jake and Jennifer, I just wanted to point out that leachate and worm tea are not the same thing. Worm tea comes from steeping vermicast in water for a few days with air running through it (like an aquarium) to promote growth of microbes. I haven't done this but there's lots of recipes and testimonials on this forum and elsewhere. It seems to be a really good idea for really large areas like lawns. You can use the same type of sprayer attached to a hose that is used for liquid fertilizer to distribute it.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:10PM
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Well that's cool..

I love the way I get educated on this forum. There's a matter of semantics and definitions here but that's not the main point.

The folks that taught me about using worms to compost called the stuff draining out the bottom 'worm tea', so that's what I've called it. Leachate sounds like what it is, so that a good name too.

The bubbling air through a mixture of casings and water is a new one on me. curious about it. I always dilute out my worm tea/leachate before I spread it on plants since I think I killed a few houseplants putting it on full strength a while back.

There seems to be some overlap with standard composting. In that arena, the liquid that results after soaking compost in water is called 'compost tea'. That seems equivalent to soaking worm casings in water, so they're both a type of 'tea'

Anyway, the fluid that drains out of the bottom of most worm bins is vibrant and nutrient rich. Call it what you will, dilute it and feed it to your plants.

That being true, I'm still wondering if I should get an aquarium set up. air bubbler and all, and start producing the type of tea Susan is talking about.

Anybody doing that?

Here is a link that might be useful: adirondack chairs central

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 11:11PM
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Hi jtr,
The aerated tea you're wondering about is called AVCT....Aerated Vermicompost Tea. Do a search and you'll find all kinds of recipes. Molasses is also needed to produce the proper foaming liquid.

Castings can be put in a cloth and steeped in a watering jug for a day, but it has to be stirred manually. I did it once, and didn't stir it and it was foul-smelling.

I agree the leachate can be used but be sure to dilute it. I personally view this liquid as garbage and use it very little, when I have leachate which has only happened once many many months ago. I don't have drainage holes, and don't have liquid at the bottom of my bin.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 7:19AM
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Was the flushing something to do after harvesting? I've only rinsed off the tops of my bins (rubbermaid totes) because of those brown dots that I think were mites. . . don't have them now but I shouldn't jinx my bins.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:08AM
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The folks at Waikiki Worm still rinse their bins on a daily basis! (Basically, I think they turn on the hose and just put a lot of water in.) I don't think it has anything to do with harvesting. This wasn't spraying the excess stuff that gets stuck on the sides. It was soaking the whole bin. When I asked about that they said that yes, there were two schools of thought about that.

I haven't put large amounts of water in my bin since shortly after I got my worms a year and a half ago. I decided to trust the folks here rather than Mindy. Besides, with my indoor bins in my studio apt, it would be a real hassle to do that even once, not to mention daily. It also seems like you're just washing a way a large portion of your good stuff!

Now I just put enough water in to make sure the bottoms of my flow throughs don't dry up completely. If I see more than one drip, I stop.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 3:23PM
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susan, I remember speaking with Bing(?) on vermicomposters dot com website. I know you're on that site as well.
He was having problems with his bin and stated he was pouring a cup of water in his bin every day as advised from the people he got his worms from. He had a stinky mess.

I suggested he stop watering immediately....not necessary to add water to indoor bins as the food provides all the moisture they need. He set up a new bin, stopped watering and wrote back saying that his bin was doing great.

You, living in Hawaii might need to add water periodically, but for the majority it's not needed, and just creates problems.
Same as the companies that sells the tap to drain liquid. A properly run bin shouldn't have leachate/liquid in the bin to drain.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 1:35PM
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Wouldn't the worms be stressed out by the clorine from the tap water? On a daily basis?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 2:10PM
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Hey I think the worms would be stressed from being washed on a daily basis, period. And you would be right about the chlorine.

I washed my harvested worms to rid them completely of mites. I used tap water for the first ones, and they squirmed like crazy the poor things. After that, I used filtered water that I keep stored in jugs to water my plants with. They were fine.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Yeah, the consensus on the web is definitely no extra water. That's what I've been doing since I started reading the web sites and heard that the instructions I got weren't widely shared. I'm much happier not adding more water and I think the worms are too. I still do need to add some water, but it's usually a good spritzing to the top to keep it moist and once every few months a cup or two when I notice the bottom of the flow through is bone dry.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 5:10PM
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I'm in Hawaii too but I rarely add water - I may spritz the paper I add or if it dries out but the liquid in the veggie waste is MORE than enough.

Really want to dry it out a bit because I'm going to harvest soon.

wow! you add a cup or two of water?? You have your bins indoors so how does it dry out so much? You run a/c? My tribe is outside.

Tonite is watch TV and rip up that crumbly, wrinkly cardboard stuff that is stuffed with shipments. That makes really nice VC.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 10:10PM
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A cup or two every few months, and that's only in my flow throughs, that have a lot more air flow and therefore a lot more evaporation. Also only when the bottom is really really dry. It does get bone dry there.

For the rubbermaid bins, I occ. spritz the top. They're indoors. I have a 20th floor corner unit and keep the windows open all the time. LOTS of air flow.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 11:19PM
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