The worms I added to the institute’s worm bin (instructions here) are doing well, as far as I can tell. They are rather tight-lipped neighbors, though, so I have interpret the tea leaves, in this case, literally.
As this is a prototype of a wooden bin design, I’ve got a little feedback for myself. First, I think the bin is attractive and fits in next to our standard trash and recycling containers. I am still happy that I used wood, however, it has warped a little because of the moisture in the bin. If one is looking at the square bin from the top, the midpoint of each wall has deflected in a little bit, about 1/4–1/2 in. This makes the lid not fit as tightly as I would like, so I’ll have to trim the lid to fit a little looser. This bowing might have been avoided by using thicker wood; this was only 3/4 in thick.
Otherwise the bin is working splendidly. The screen material keeps the worms up in the bin and the 1/4-in hardware cloth supports the pile.
Moisture and Olfactory Observations
As a wooden bin, the compost dries out a bit faster than in plastic bins. Each Friday I uses spoons to turn the pile and pour in about 1-2 c water. In the first few weeks, this gave off a smell as the pile became established. First a white fungus established itself. Tendrils overwhelmed the surface of the pile, but this seems to be no problem. After a week (and the perusal a few verimiculture websites), this seems to have died back. In fact, the fungus is digesting some materials to make better worm food. The only downside was a mustiness given off when I turned the pile. This has reduced each week as the pile looks more like soil and less like rotting vegetables over shredded paper.
The red wrigglers seem to be doing well. When I turn the pile, they are active and quick to move away from the light. They seem bigger and more numerous each time, which is to be expected; this is just anecdotal, however, as I am not measuring them in a quantifiable way.
The worms get a daily serving of used tea leaves and an apple core from lunch. In addition, they’ve gotten vegetable peelings, egg shells, and a pile of acorn hulls. The butternut squash seeds that I tossed in have sprouted, sending up shoots that are sickly yellow due to light deprivation (visible in the picture). I figure this just lets the seeds break themselves down more quickly, so I let it go. I have accumulated a whole container of onion, garlic, and citrus peels, which do not go into the worm bin, and I am not quite sure what to do with them.