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When do I stop feeding in one tray and start another?

Posted by tomatonut 9a FL (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 7, 08 at 10:16

Since I am new to vermicomposting I have a lot of questions and have found most answers right here, but I am looking for some advice regarding one nagging question I still have...

I have one of those flow through bins that all you to add several trays on top of one another. My question is:

When do I stop placing food in the working tray and start a new tray on top? I mean, do I simply fill the working tray up, feed occasionally, and wait for the guys to process everything and then start the second tray for them to migrate into? Then, when I am ready to start a new tray will they stay on the bottom until all the food is consumed before moving upwards? If the idea is to ensure my little workers leave their castings behind and nothing else before moving upwards I don't want to tempt them with a new tray too early. How do I tell when it is time to start the second tray?

Thanks for the help


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: When do I stop feeding in one tray and start another?

I also have one of those flow-thru bins and I haven't quite figured out how to lure them to go up to the next tray. I was kinda thinking the other day that I might put the working tray on top and let them migrate down to the new tray. They seem to want to go that way anyway, even when the food is up above them, and there's not much left of the bedding in the tray that they're in.

Maybe I've tried to rush them too much. I emptied my bottom tray this past weekend and picked out all the biggest guys and put them back in my next tray. The food and shredded cardboard had been consumed and all that was still recognizable in the tray was some scraps of newspaper. I went ahead and used the compost though because I had a good 4" of it on top of the newspaper.

I didn't put the emptied tray back on yet, but as soon as I can get some more cardboard shredded it'll go on the bottom and I'll see how long it takes them all to migrate into it.

Cheryl


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RE: When do I stop feeding in one tray and start another?

I am reading through the old stuff to get more knowledge. I found this question and I had the same questions when I first started too. So maybe I can help. Here's what I do.

When tray 1 is full of VC - then you add tray 2 and likewise for tray 3 etc. When tray one was virtually full of VC I stopped feeding for a week (I am a once a week feeder so they went 2 weeks without food. I added tray 2 - with bedding only (week 1 of waiting). Then I fed only into tray 2 as there is food left in tray 1 - and they will live there for some time. So they don't all move up right away - but most will in about a month or two. Some will move down into the moisture collection tray - so look there when you add trays - you can dump them into the new tray with the VC they have made in that tray (there shouldn't be too much) and this starts the action going in the new tray. When I added tray 3 - I moved tray 1 to the top so I could use the VC easier - and keep the lid off occasionally - so the worms move down.

So I have an "old tray" on the bottom - mostly VC some food (still being processed) and virtually no bedding. The middle tray is the feeding/working tray where I add new food and bedding once a week-ish. The top tray is my VC tray - and I pull VC from there for my garden.

This saves me from dumping - and doing too much sorting. I put the VC in a pie-tin and pick trough that (and store it in the VC bin so it is picked through and ready to use) - I find I have a few cocoons - rarely any worms and a few shreds of envelope windows that didn't get composted (I toss those out and return the cocoons to the bin).

This works for me (so far) as I have a small system and it is for home use only. Your results may vary.


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RE: When do I stop feeding in one tray and start another?

I have a COW bin and my worms are on a monthly cycle. Each month I take the bottom bin and move it up to the top. The bin I have been feeding for the month is now under this bin. I leave the lid off for about 1 day and stir up the vc throughout the day, leaving a light on above it. By the next day all of the worms have moved down to the second bin, the food bin. The vc is then moved into a storage bucket and this now empty top bin is filled with shredded newspaper and the month starts all over again. This has worked for me for the past 10 years.


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