Worm News

I've learned some new facts about the worm bin; decomposing food creates liquid matter and worms can drown it.

Saturday morning I found some of my worms belly up in the bin. And the box was eerily quiet. My ear was an inch from the dirt before I detected the worm effervescence I've come to expect.

I started draining water into a water bottle I had in the car so I wouldn't have to go upstairs. Filled it. Grabbed the second water bottle in the car. Filled it too. (I put the water bottles in the dish washer later but let's not mention any of this to the cute guy). In the end there was so much water I finally did have to get the bucket.

The good news from the beginning however, was all the new threadlike worms that were on every carrot green, avocado peel and little green apple on the top layers of the bin. They'd lived through the rising water.

And because I'm a new worm farmer that hasn't read more than a quick list of worm bin facts it took me a few hours to come up with the idea, actually it felt more like divine intervention with a wormy voice, of adding dry dirt to the bin to help absorb the moisture.

I lifted layers of produce scraps in various stages of decomposition with a hand held garden fork. I dug into the muddy parts too and introduced the new dirt. And there I found worms. Mature pinkish red worms, worming around. I wanted to kiss them.

I'm keeping a closer ear on them for awhile but they're doing fine. Thank goodness.


Joyce said...

I had the same problem with one of my bins. I read somewhere that it helps to tear up cardboard egg cartons, or brown corrugated cardboard, and include that pretty regularly with the food scraps you are adding. It absorbs moisture and the worms actually need the carbon in the cardboard. This did work for me. Hope that helps!

Unknown said...

I put a layer of river rocks in the very bottom of my worm bin and then a layer of newspaper before adding a small amount of soil and all my food scraps. Any liquid drains to the bottom and keeps the worms from drowning and the worms don't like going down into the rocks.

How did I learn this trick? Experimentation after I too drowned some worms. I guess you really do learn from experience!

Green Bean said...

I love reading your stories of worm survival! So glad they are still worming away.

Kale for Sale said...

joyce - I have a friend that keeps telling me to put newspaper in the bin. Between the two of you I finally did it tonight. Thank you.

bobbi - The bin does have rocks and a screen, which made all the liquid that much more surprising. They were noisy tonight though so they're on the mend. I'm happy to meet other worm farmers!

Thanks, green bean. This was the biggest scare. I was surprised at how attached I am to them. Not really attached but fond of them. I should probably get a real pet.

Melissa said...

I'm not sure if you mentioned this, but are there some holes drilled in the bottom of the bin? The layer of newspaper over the holes will stop them from escaping, but will let the water drain out...just put some sort of tray underneath to catch the water (and then feed to the plants!) I also read just today that worms sense when conditions are not good for them and reproduce like crazy when that happens to help to try to ensure their survival. Clever little guys huh?

Anonymous said...

What a relief to hear that many of the worms are OK. I drilled holes in the bottom of my bin for drainage and haven't found that worm escape is a problem. They seem quite content to stay where the food is. I use shredded paper to absorb moisture too. Good luck!

Sam said...

I put newspaper on top of the compost as well, which acts as a gauge to judge how moist my bin is. It works really well, because if its soaking wet you know the worms aren't happy.

However I bought a bin that has a spigot at the bottom so I drain the water that collects at the bottom every weekend. The amount of water in waste is unbelievable. I am still curious about the worms making a noise though...I don't think I've heard it.

Kale for Sale said...

melissa - That's crazy that they start to reproduce more if things get dicey. Beautifully, perfectly crazy. I love them even more now.

audrey - I'm glad there's agreement about the newspaper. I actually think of you when I open the lid on the bin and see the various bugs, spiders and yesterday a catepillar that have taken up residency. A miniature ecosystem, I think you said. I have no idea where these guys come from but the bin has become it's own little happy world. Well, except for that week when the waters got too high.

beany - My bin has a spigot at the bottom too but I naively didn't know I should drain off water unless I was actually adding water to make worm poop tea for the garden. I seriously had no idea that the waste would make so much liquid. It's embarrassing. Turning that spigot on once week is now part of the program.

Put your ear to the worms beany. They're talking to you!