*Rant* on someone who was careless with composting

homeinametronomeSeptember 22, 2013

So I decided to start a vermicompost network in my town as my way of volunteering. I make bins for free for people.

A lady who lives in a neighbourhood of snooty rich people called for a bin. I gladly made her one and emailed her a pdf with all the instructions, and outlined very clearly step by step how to care for them in person. I even emailed her every now and then to follow up and see how she was doing. Later on, she kept on complaining about the smell. I told her to add bedding, newspapers, to put the food in small pieces.

6 months later, she got fed up and dropped off the bin at my house. IT was so heavy, my back hurts from carrying it up all the stairs still.

The bin smelled so bad, so diabolical. I had to put on a face mask. And it was leaking. She didn't seem to care.

I immediately started sorting out the problem. I separated many of the worms into a new bin with new bedding.

I felt like I was working at an animal shelter on a rescue mission.

Her bin was so muddy, so I added as much bedding as I could. But that solved maybe 5% of the smell. I bought incense candles, and febreeze. Still no change. I opened my windows as wide as possible. Its fall now, and I'm freezing as I'm typing this.

So now its freezing here, and it smells. This is terrible. I'm so upset I'm going through this when I am trying to volunteer for a good cause.

What's worse is that I live in a studio apartment, so the bin is in the same room with me. Argh.

Everyone tells me to throw it out, but that would be bad because the contents are anaerobic.

I should also add that when I opened the bin, the food was laying just there. She never covered it with any bedding. It seemed like she never added bedding at all. She treated the bin as if it was a trash can. And she put onions and lots of orange peels. What an imbecile.

I hope she has no pets. I hope she has no children. Or a partner.

Its been two days, and the smell isn't getting much better. I added as much bedding as I could, I mixed a bunch in, and I put a very thick layer on top. I am refraining from adding more until a few more days so I don't disturb the worms.

I am going to work tomorrow where there is a shredder machine, and I am going to shred like 50 newspapers and put them all in 3 big tote bags. Then I will go to my local hardware store and buy a few more bins.

If anyone can tell me what they did with a big smelly, leaky, muddy bin, I'd like to know! I'd like to see the end of this tunnel by tomorrow.

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I've heard of people moveing a stinky bin from the house to outdoors,but your are the first I know of that took one from outdoors into the house. Me thinks you might become a poster child for "No good deed goes unpunished"

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:39AM
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My suggestion: similar to what I suggested to ArvinB in
Did you buy your "few more bins"? Line and layer them (or use the rolled up CB "chimneys") with corrugated cardboard. Using cardboard, you can replace them with dry ones once these ones are wet and they don't break down the way newspaper does.
I am very picky about the corrugated CB I get.
Get the ones that are made in China or other Asian country, these absorb moisture much better than north American made.
Try to get the multi corrugated layers if possible.

There's only so much bedding you can add until the bin is full.
Unfortunately I cannot help you with the smell issue. Do you have a balcony to put the wet cardboard out when replacing with dry ones?
""I hope she has no ......... partner."" Maybe she does now, that's why she got rid of the bin, LOL.

Good luck and let us know how you're doing.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:53AM
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Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. Only small suggestion I could make is add small amounts of regular soil or "done" vermicompost to re-introduce any good bacteria etc that may be missing. I think it will take a bit of time and more bedding. For the smell, the best solution would be to put it outdoors for a bit. Perhaps you could also move some of the stuff to existing bins that are already balanced?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 7:09AM
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Dead worms stink to high heaven. Happened only once for me (that was enough) and I took the time to pick out the live worms and put them in another clean fresh bin.

Black strap molasses has a way of thwarting bad microbes and keeping smells at bay. No idea if application would help, but it's a thought. The live worms will love it. Just a touch!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 7:34AM
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Thank you everyone for these replies, and support. I will try adding cardboard today. My dearest friend brought a drill so I can make a few new fresh bins. Its gonna be quite an evening.

1) shred newspapers.
2) buy two or three new bins
3) drill holes and wash them.
4) start making new bins

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:52PM
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I have been quite successful in starting and maintaining non-drilled bins, 9 gal(?) and 17 gal(?) RM bins. Since you are an experienced worm farmer, do you really want to drill holes in your bins? The only thing I modified are the lids. Cut out most of it and replaced it with weed cloth and careful feeding management. I find this method a lot less messy. And again with the help of a lot of corr. cb lining along the walls, several layers thick that eventually breaks down into nice crumbly VC. For the bottom I cut ca. 1" long strips of corr. cb, rolled them up and line the bottom with that. Provides some extra air in the beginning. Cover that with 2 or 3 layers of newspaper so stuff doesn't fill the air pockets right away. The RM bins sit tilted a bit on the floor and I have a 2 lt. pop bottle in one of the corners, just the "body" of the bottle. "If" the bottom ever get swampy which never did so far, I could stuff an old t-shirt into it to wick out moisture.At harvest time, the bottom VC is wetter but not muddy. It still breaks when you scoop a handful, doesn't "flow". I do dig down to fluff up stuff (not stir) at every 3rd feeding or so because i feed the bins real heavy but with minimal water content worm food. It's easier to add water later when needed, lol.

PS. I keep adding dry corr CB to the sides of the bins once these got wet.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:38PM
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I did some work shops and my handle is vermicmpstr on Freecycle. I would get calls to get the bins when they couldn't handle it anymore, due to ineptness or boredom, or when the novelty wore off.

I remember one bin was a swamp, black wet muck, but the worms were huge. For some reason they thrived in that environment.

I picked out the worms and any eggs and sorry, but I just dumped the mess outside in the flowerbed. I wasn't keeping that mess in the apartment.

Another time I was given a bin back. Not many worms, but there was a carrot in the bin. A full-size carrot, and some green beans. Full size, fresh green beans. WHAT pray tell do they think the worms were going to do with those?? Chew their way through it? Sigh.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:54PM
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All of you are to be comended for volinteering and hopfuly the ones that go astray are not enough to dampen your inthusasium. Weekly demonstations and workshops that start with novices building thier bin and progressing right on with bedding,feeding,spotting trouble and other aspects are suited to getting new wormers up and running. From the volinteer side I have found that having enough volinteers so that they can alternate sessions and not get bunrt out is a good plan. Hang tough,you are doing a good thing.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 10:35PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Get the ones that are made in China or other Asian country, these absorb moisture much better than north American made.

I'm guessing these are probably full of mercury or other toxic stuff! They don't seem to care! Nancy

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 9:33PM
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