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Is lots of mycelium in the vermicompost bin ok?

 
Posts: 96
Location: Upstate New York
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I recently posted about my flush worm composting toilet (which is working beautifully although somewhat puzzlingly). But since I haven't done vermicomposting before, I now have questions about how my system is functioning.

Essentially, I have a big blue poly barrel that I filled about 1/3 full of aged wood chips and partially composted leaves and about 500 red earthworms I cultivated on my property. Our toilet flushes into this barrel and the liquids go out into a leach field while the solids stay behind to be worm-composted. It's been in operation for about a month and I took off the lid today to see how things were going. Anna Edey (the designer of the system) said I may need to add wood chips/leaves occasionally so I was checking to see if anything was needed.

The good news is that it doesn't smell like sewer at all, it smells earthy. No solid matter can be detected visually. I didn't see any worms, which is normal since they would be beneath the surface, so I decided to dig a little to see if I had a healthily large population. Here's where the puzzling part comes in.

Maybe this is normal. I don't know because I've never done vermicomposting, as I said. But I couldn't dig into the barrel with the wooden stake I had grabbed for the purpose, because the entire top of the bin is "felted" with mycelium. I poked down into it about 3 inches and it's pretty solidly networked. I was unable to get through to looser material (if there is any!) without getting a shovel and cutting in half countless innocent worms--assuming there are any. I didn't see a single one.

So, is this normal? Is it good? The composting is definitely happening since there is no smell nor visible evidence of poo.
Thanks for any wisdom y'all can offer.
 
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Location: Eugene, OR
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Hey M,

 I'm curious if the design for your vermicomposting toilet is effective. It definitely raises an eyebrow, and I wonder whether or not the solids are processed enough to remove human pathogens. If you test your finished "compost" please share the results!
 I don't see any issues with having a mycelium mat on the surface. Try digging deeper with a shovel and sterilize it afterward. As secondary consumers, worms love eating the fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes that break down our poo. As long as conditions are favorable for the worms, they will stay and eat through that mat.

Can you post pictures?
 
M Wilcox
Posts: 96
Location: Upstate New York
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Mike Peters wrote:Hey M,

 I'm curious if the design for your vermicomposting toilet is effective. It definitely raises an eyebrow, and I wonder whether or not the solids are processed enough to remove human pathogens. If you test your finished "compost" please share the results!
 I don't see any issues with having a mycelium mat on the surface. Try digging deeper with a shovel and sterilize it afterward. As secondary consumers, worms love eating the fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes that break down our poo. As long as conditions are favorable for the worms, they will stay and eat through that mat.

Can you post pictures?



Hi Mike,
Thanks for your response. I feel better now.

Here's a link to my post that goes into more depth about my toilet system (which is working beautifully): https://permies.com/forums/t/123361#986966 I'll be posting pics or a video soon.

The compost in the worm bin never gets removed--at least by humans--so the pathogen question is sort of moot. What happens is that the worms and other soil life eat through the the poo/paper and the wood chip/leaf mold "Brownfilter," as Anna Edey calls it, and turns it all into castings and component nutrients. Then the nutrient components get dissolved in the water that passes thru the system (in our case, pee and grey water), and carried out into the leach field. Contrary to having to remove anything from the worm bin, we have to periodically ADD wood chips and leaf mold to replenish that which leaves the system in the form of its broken-down components.

It's been in operation for about a month and when I took the lid off a few days ago, it was no more full than when I first filled it about 1/3 full of wood chips and leaf mulch. Kind of amazing--I always looked forward to the day when I would finally be done "dealing with my s**t." It looks like that day has arrived! And no thanks to the mental health industry!
 
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