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New to indoor worm composting -- is my bin healthy?  RSS feed

 
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Hello!
I am new to apartment worm composting. I was gifted a bin that had already been in use for years, all I needed was to add more red wrigglers, which I did. The bin seemed really healthy for a long time and the food scraps I was adding were disappearing. Then, two things happened:
1) I ran out of peat moss and an environmental type friend of mine said it is actually endangered so I switched to dried coffee ground on top and
2) I "harvested" half of the compost in the bin to give to a friend for their garden.
So, I'm not sure if the peat moss was hiding this or if it's the coffee grounds or if I stressed out the environment, but now when I go to add scraps there is ALWAYS a gross white film on top. Today, I looked and it was almost yellow. The food still appears to be disappearing, so is this just normal?
I will attach my photo. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Erin
IMG_6231.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_6231.jpg]
 
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Location: ALASKA
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Coffee grounds will do this. Stir them up a bit.  Bigger question is how are the worms?  Still active, still multiplying?  If you do not wish to use peat moss I would suggest coconut coir as a replacement.
 
Erin Smith
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Walt,
This may be a dumb question, but how do I tell if they are still multiplying? I never really see them!
Erin
 
Walt Chase
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Dig down into the bin.  You should find lots of worms in an active bin.  They don't like light so you seldom see them on top.  Also you can check for worm eggs.  They look like small gelatin "bb's" that are a clear to yellowish tint.
 
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I have raised compost worms for years. I just shred newspaper. Don't feed until the food is almost completely gone alternate where you place food so they always have a way to move away for example instead of trying to leave box. Make sure you have damp shredded newspaper on top. I also in addition wet down corrugated cardboard as my lid.
 
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That is a slime mold in  your photo, it is harmless to the worms but you need other carbonaceous materials to go with the coffee grounds.
As has been mentioned by Brandi, shredded news paper (and any paper that uses soy or other vegetable ink (black only) will not harm the system), coconut coir is also good as are dead leaves.
The other biggie is moisture levels need to be fairly stable (I use a spray bottle to add moisture when needed) and over feeding is problematic so as has been mentioned, only add food when what is there is gone or nearly gone.

Redhawk
 
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I have kept worms for a few years now and can confidently say that your worm bin is just fine. The biggest indicator that you have an issue is worms packing up and getting out of dodge. They will literally climb out of the container and you'll find them half way across the room all died up and shriveled. If things are good, they will stay put.

Furthermore I wouldn't bother spending money on peat, coconut coir or anything else like that. I used to use shredded paper as bedding but I don't even bother with that anymore.

I also used to stress about not having enough moisture in there (my worm bin has a sump that drains excess moisture) but I've found that they get all the moisture they need from the food scraps and I need to drain the sump maybe once every 6 months or so.

I feed them tea leaves mostly(I empty the tea bags because they are made of plastic and are a pain in the A to remove later), and add banana peels, potato peels, vege scraps (not onions or garlic), spoiled fruit and cores (but not citrus), and squash / melons.

Every so often I'll get a fungal bloom but I think it's just a normal part of the decomposing cycle. The worms don't seem to mind it. Similarly every so often I get a cycle of seed germination. Apples, pears, cucumbers, squash... Again, the worms don't mind it.

They really are great workers.
 
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I've been using aged horse manure lately for bedding in my worm bin.  It works great.  I've used leaves, newspaper/paper, cardboard torn to small pieces, peat, coir, horse manure, dried grass/straw/hay, it all works pretty good.  I do like the aged horse manure though, the manure breaks down into small fine pieces of digested hay, which is similar to coir and peat in how well it covers food scraps and creates a fluffy bedding.
 
Erin Smith
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:That is a slime mold in  your photo, it is harmless to the worms but you need other carbonaceous materials to go with the coffee grounds.
As has been mentioned by Brandi, shredded news paper (and any paper that uses soy or other vegetable ink (black only) will not harm the system), coconut coir is also good as are dead leaves.
The other biggie is moisture levels need to be fairly stable (I use a spray bottle to add moisture when needed) and over feeding is problematic so as has been mentioned, only add food when what is there is gone or nearly gone.

Redhawk



Thank you! I will have to look up if the local paper uses soy or vegetable ink. I think I saw I could also just use cardboard cut up? thank you for your response!
 
Erin Smith
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Nick Kitchener wrote:I have kept worms for a few years now and can confidently say that your worm bin is just fine. The biggest indicator that you have an issue is worms packing up and getting out of dodge. They will literally climb out of the container and you'll find them half way across the room all died up and shriveled. If things are good, they will stay put.

Furthermore I wouldn't bother spending money on peat, coconut coir or anything else like that. I used to use shredded paper as bedding but I don't even bother with that anymore.



No, I have not had a migration! So I think I'm good! So to be clear, you don't use anything on top? Thank you for your response!
 
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i put a plastic chiocken feed bag on top of my bin to keep it moist . the worms love it and the newspaper i add regularly under the feed bag helps feed them besides the food scraps i add. keeps out the flies also. i also collect/ crush toilet paper rolls and add to the bins.
 
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