New vermicompost turned wet

esolbergSeptember 7, 2013

I have a fairly new "Worm Factory 360" that I'm running in my kitchen. I have 2 issues:

1) It recently turned pretty wet
2) My family creates too much waste!

I got it at the beginning of August, set it up according to instructions and added about a pound of red wigglers. I was going on vacation for 2 weeks right after that, so I added a couple pounds of watermelon rind and some eggshells and coffee grounds.

I came back in 2 weeks to find the watermelon rind completely processed and the worms very actively moving around. My family eats lots of watermelon, so I keep having a lot of it to feed the worms. I also read that its one of their favorite foods. So feeling I may have underfed them a bit (and having lots of watermelon rind around) I proceeded to feed them about an inch layer of watermelon rind across the top of the bin. I also added some torn up paper towels, more coffee grounds and some various other scraps. After about a week I could see they were making progress on the watermelon - but now the bottom of the bin has gotten pretty wet. The worm factory has a drain - it started draining about 1/3 to 1/2 cup a day of dark brown liquid.

The worms don't seem to mind it though. If you dig up the bedding it does feel a bit too wet but they are still down there in large numbers.

So I read up and over the last few days I added a lot of shredded newspaper. I think I've got it under control though haven't reversed it yet, and the amount draining is going down.

Just today I fed again, this time adding (again) lots of watermelon rind, some limp lettuce, a few overripe nectarines, some corn cob peels, egshells and a bunch of coffee grounds. I feel I have overfed again, but we just create too much food. In fact I've got a big bag of corn peels that I didn't use, and more watermelon in the fridge waiting to be eaten! Freezing the scraps won't help because it will just accumulate quicker than I can use it!

Would it help to add more worms? Or should I get another bin? Or both? If the wetness didn't seem to be bothering the worms, do you think I caught this in time? I've also been told to use coffee grounds in moderation, but I'm not sure what is moderation. I go through about a pound a week of dark roast coffee beans, which I ground fine for espresso. Is that too much to feed one worm factory?

Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated!

Oh ps: we have definitely had a big increase in fruit flies due to the bins, and overfeeding probably makes that worse. But that isn't a big deal. I haven't notice any other pest problems yet.

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You might be adding too much "food" for them. I found when I started with worms, they tended to eat less than the seller said they would. In those words, less is more. Lots of brown stuff, paper, dried leaves, cardboard, so on. Less of the green stuff, fruits and veggies with lots of moisture.

Is there a funky smell? How many trays are you using in the 360?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 9:21PM
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gvozdika(8 OR)

Too much food is too much food. You need to decide how to process the excess food. There are several options: start another worm bin, use bokashi/traditional composting, etc.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 1:08AM
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For me, too wet means too much food and not enough bedding. More bedding especially. A thick layer of bedding on top will also help deal with fruit fly issues. Best solution is to add a second bin if you have space.
As for coffee grounds, my own view is that even a pound a week (assuming no filters) could just be sprinkled in any yard. Composting is nice but coffee grounds if spread out won't cause any issues and they'll compost fine on the ground anyway, and won't really smell or cause other issues. From my own experience espresso coffee grounds are not even noticeable after a short while, certainly after the first rain - they just become part of the soil. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Depends on why you're doing composting: if you're doing it to reduce waste, prioritize composting the waste that is bulky, smelly and causes an issue. Some people look for coffee grounds to feed the worms or for even more compost or whatever. If you have too much food for them, do the opposite - there are lots of ways to dispose of part of the food, some might just dig a hole or trench and bury any excess, or compost outside, or one of many other options.

This post was edited by armoured on Sun, Sep 8, 13 at 6:47

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 6:41AM
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There's no doubt, worms LOVE melon, especially watermelon. However watermelon drenches my bins if I feed it back-to-back, which I started to do this summer but stopped once I noticed the same problem you're encountering.

Just back off the watermelon and feed something less moist until the moisture level returns to normal.

Adding another bin would be a good idea. However, I don't know if you're willing to buy another 360. Maybe use this opportunity to start a new, cheaper, homemade, different kind of bin and start experimenting with different bedding, feedings, etc.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 7:25AM
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I read (and I don't know how much truth it holds) that worms will eat their weight daily. So, 1 pound of worms = 1 pound of waste per day. It's WAY easier than you think to get 1 pound of watermelon rinds!

That being said, the worms reproduce over time, 1 pound turns into more, etc. and I'm not sure what the reproduction rate is to factor that in. I'm having some pretty substantial worm bin issues myself right now so I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination! Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 8:03PM
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It is said that worms eat their own weight per day under "ideal" conditions. I believe that they may eat half their weight daily in an established and well managed home bin. They seem to eat really slow the first month or so in a new bin.

I would suggest starting another bin. Maybe try a simple DIY plastic tote bin. Also, add a layer of bedding over the food after each feeding. I prefer cardboard, and so do my worms!

Good luck, Pete

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 10:21AM
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If you give a worm a watermellon...

I find it hard to believe the 360 worm bin is the most well engineered bin around if the instructions that come with it appear to be written by somebody who has never even seen a worm, never mind ever vermicomposted. At least it appears that way.

I do not have one nor do I understand how they work. However let us not let that stop me from providing the instructions this product should have included with every $ale. If it were not for other posters letting 360 worm bin owners know how to use the product there would surely be so many negative writeups about the product all over the web nobody would purchase them.

This websites readers and answerers eyes nodoubt glaze over when yet another worm bin 360 owner writes a nearly identical wet drainage post.

The bottom tier and possibly the bottom of the bin should contain dry bedding. This will serve many purposes. First it will collect and make good use of any drainage. Second it will prewet and preinnoculate the bedding with weebeaties. Third it will stop worms from the help I am drowning and can't get up situation. I do not think that actually is what happens but it seems that way. 4th it gives damp material for worms to hang out in for the worms that like that sort of thing. 5th as the bedding gets wet put it into your working bin. 6th the new empty bottom tier and lower area are now free for addition of new bedding. This process encourages vermicomposters to add bedding and not skip this step thus encouraging bad things to happen.

The trays can be set a bit off from each other to get some air into the bin. How does air get into the bin? The cover can be left off and the drain left open.

For some reason owners of worm bin 360s instructuions seem to not provide the information that bedding is not just a one time thing. Or just a tiny bit thing. Bedding should be the framework upon which the work of vermicompost happens. It is the surface area the bacteria which feed the worms live on. It provides structure which in turn provides tunnels for air to get into the center of the working surfaces.

The guy who invented the worm bin 360 should get a tattoo that says as much.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Sat, Sep 14, 13 at 19:21

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 7:15PM
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