I had totally forgotten that some time ago I started a few test bins. I wanted to see a worm actually in the process of eating. So I set up two bins with just a worm and a bit of food. It turned out the worms dried out and died before they could make it to the food. Sad but true.
So then I was also curious about how earthworms (in this case red wigglers) liked coffee. I know you can add some to your bin over time and it works out great. But how would some worms respond to a bin with nothing but coffee in it? So I set up a small bin with about a weeks worth of left over used coffee grinds and put in a few red wigglers to see what happened.
I had actually totally forgotten about this little experiment. I mean I checked in on it daily at first to see how the worms in coffee was going. Its been a while now but I feel like I kind up gave up on looking in on it because the worms had dies. But maybe I got it confused and I was thinking of the worms from the first experiment I mentioned and shouldn’t have stopped looking at the coffee bin.
Well for some reason I checked the small bin that had just been sitting there unattended to for months. I actually was thinking about pouring the coffee that was in there into my main bin. When I opened the small coffee bin though I was surprised to see a worm sitting there in plain view.
I really was very shocked by this. Who knew the worms were living in there all this time?! As you can likely tell by looking at the picture I have an obvious issue with this bin. I never put any drain holes in the bottom. I actually never thought it would be going long enough to have to worry about the build up of the worm tea. I’m glad I didn’t drill holes actually because I just had it sitting my my dehumidified and it would have leaked all over it.
So the question is what am I going to do with this little bin. Now I know the worms apparently do like coffee that much. Or at the very least they can easily tolerate it over long periods of time. I’m debating either just putting the whole thing into my main bin, or keeping this bin going just to see what it does over time. I mean in a year or two from now would there be a 100 worms in there from the original 10? Or more? I think I just talked myself into keeping this bin going and we’ll see what happens.
Since I am going to keep it going I am going to need to drill some holes in the bottom of this little bin so the tea will drain out. Drilling the holes is easy. Setting up something to catch the tea so it doesn’t spill all over the basement floor will take a little more thought. Maybe I could just set it on top of my big red wiggler bin which had air holes in the top of it. The tea could drain down into the big bin and eventually drain its way down and out the bottom of the big bin which has a catch basin (an extra Rubbermaid bin lid turned upside down under it).
A few weeks ago I wrote here about my new great idea about saving food that is good for the worms in a bowl by the sink. Then instead of just throwing it away because we’re too lazy to walk down stairs to the earthworm bin for a small bit of food we get it all because the bowl is so convenient.
It really has worked out quite well. Dinner left overs, coffee grinds, and even coffee K cups (the filter and grinds not the plastic cup), are all making their way into our bin now. The thing is I might be doing TO good a job these days given the amount of worms in my bin.
The good news is there is no smell coming from the bin which can happen if you are over feeding your worms. If you are feeding them the right about of food the worms will eat the bacteria that would cause the smell so it’s not really and issue.
The bad news is that I’ve getting a good amount of mold. At least two different varieties as it appears. Some nice white furry stuff and some more blue green mold as well.
So I guess the question is, does it really matter? Like I say there isn’t a foul smell coming from the bin or anything. But I guess it really does mean that there is food that the worms haven’t gotten to in time, and has had a chance to mold over. I’m wondering now though if eventually the worms will eat it anyway, or if once there is mold the worms won’t want it. I guess the state this bin is in is going to be a really good test to find out.
I did put a few items in the bin from the left over bowl tonight but it wasn’t much. Mostly some coffee and two pits from plums. I guess for a while I’ll hold off on feeding them and we can see what happens in the bin. Eventually they are going to have to eat something, so will they eat up all the food and the mold will go away, or will they rather starve then touch what has mold on it?
One other interesting note that I remembered tonight when I was checking in the bin is the pea seed that Connor and I had planted in there. A few weeks ago my son and I popped a left over pea seed in the worm compost in the bin. I knew it wouldn’t do well once it sprouted above the soil line because of the lack of light. But I assumed it was going to germinate and at least try. Whenever I look in the bin I always give a look in the corner where we planted the pea seed, and nothing! I’m really not sure what any of that means. Was the seed bad? Could it now grow in the dark? Did the worm eat it? Not really sure on any of that, but I find it interesting at the very least.
I guess it’s been a few weeks and I’m at the point where I’ve totally given up on it germinating. So the next time I’m in the bin I’ll dig around in that corner to see if I can find the seed or see if maybe it was eaten.
Well it’s been a little better then two full weeks but I think I finally have some actual growth in all three pots for the soil test now. The first was the store bought soil, and a few days ago we finally got some in the worm compost. Shortly after I planted the seeds I thought we had growth in the backyard soil but it turned out to be a weed. This new growth that I can just start to see in the backyard soil appears to be an actual basil plant though. Assuming it is, we are officially off to the races now, as all three soil types have some growth.
No I’m not totally sure what that white bit is at the top of the picture, but it showed up in the backyard soil pot today. I do have a pretty good guess though. It looks like a piece of weather stripping from the window that these pots are sitting in front of. I haven’t been opening this window that much since I started this soil test because it’s been cooling of with the change of season. To me that seems like two youngsters under the age of 8 in my house (Connor and Carter) had a little something to do with it 🙂
So let the best soil win. For the moment the store bought soil is in the lead. There are three small plants in that pot which emerged first. Second is the worm compost pot which emerged second and have slightly smaller plants. And pulling up the rear is the backyard soil which has just a spec of green which showed up today.
Up until today I was starting to doubt all that I’ve said about the great properties of worm compost when it come to growing plants. I recently set up a test to really see what is the best soil for growing seeds. I planted basil seeds in three pots, worm compost, back yard soil, and store bought potting soil.
The first pot to show any growth was the store bought soil actually. I was a bit disappointed because I was really expecting the worm compost to be the run away winner. In fairness it is possible that the couple of sprouts that showed in the store soil first just happened to be a bit closer to the surface. Or maybe the store soil is just a better soil. Too soon to know.
But the news for the day is that there is finally a second pot showing some growth, and it’s the worm compost!
I had gotten to where I was trying to speculate why the other pots hadn’t been growing at all. At least I don’t have to think as much about that anymore, although I am curious why there still isn’t anything growing in the backyard soil pot. Hopefully those will start to sprout in the next day or so. It really took quite a while, I think that was about 2 weeks just to poke above the soil. But now that they are here we can really see what the growth rates are like. Not just how quickly they grow but how full the plants are, and how they may even taste different.
So it’s off to the races with this little soil test. I have to admit that I’ve got my fingers crossed for the worm compost to win, but I’ll be honest and report here whatever it is that I observe.
There is just no denying it at this point. As much as it surprises me and pains me to say it, the store bought soil is really out strongly to the early lead. I can see at least three sprouts growing that at definitely the basil seed coming through.
They are really starting to sprout now. That part doesn’t really surprise me. I mean it’s been almost 2 weeks now. I was expecting growth by this point. The issue I have is that this growth is only happening in the store bought soil pot. There is nothing in the other two.
And the original growth that I saw in the backyard soil as it turns out was just a weed. At first I thought it was the first basil sprout. Then it dawned on me that it was more likely a weed. But I left it for a while because I really wanted to be sure. Now that I see a few of what I’m confident is basil seeds growing, I can tell it was definitely a weed 🙁
So for now the test continues. I’m really hoping to see some more growth in all of the pots. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I over watered all of them. I did put in quite a bit of water into all of the pots when we first planted them and then shortly after (a few days) again. These pots don’t have drainage in the bottom. So it’s possible that I just put in too much water for them to germinate or they rotted. And maybe it would have happened in all three pots, but the store bought soil is better about holding water and allowed the seed to grow in spite of all the water. This is just a theory at the moment, but I am definitely going to hold off on watering for a bit to see if it makes a difference.
In the past I’ve had issues with my worms getting out of the bin through the drain holes in the bottom. Luckily at the moment I’m not having that issue. When I checked in to take a look at the worm composting bin tonight though, I did notice that there were quite a few worms on the wall and lid of the bin. Other then one or two stragglers now and again, it’s been quite some time since I’ve noticed and real activity very far above the soil line.
Like I say there aren’t any that I’ve noticed getting actually out of the bin so for the moment I’m assuming that they are happy and just exploring a little. But I haven’t been putting in more food recently. Essentially because I’ve put a bowl next to the sink to put leftovers in that normally would have gotten thrown out. It’s so easy to just put them in the left over bowl I’m collecting more food then in the past because I’m not being lazy and throwing it away rather then walking downstairs to the bin.
So in the back of my head I’m wondering if I put in too much food or it’s causing some other kind of issue? Maybe the Ph level is off. I’ve not really done much about tracking or worrying about the Ph level in my bin, but I have read that it can be an issue. It can get to high or to low, I assume based on the food that you put in the worm bin, and I’ve read about different remedies to combat the issue.
Like I say, for the moment I’m assuming all is well and these worms are just busy doing their regular earthworm recycling. But I’m going to make sure to check the bin at least daily for the next few days. If I see some works escaping the bin or if they really seem to be trying to avoid the soil then I’m going to start to worry a bit. I guess I’ll also hold off on adding food to the bin for a while and see what happens there as well.
If the issue still exists then I’m going to look into testing the Ph levels and see if I need to address something there as well.
So for a couple days now I’ve been speculating that the first growth in my soil test (worm compost vs. backyard soil vs. store bought soil) was in the back yard soil. However, I’m about 99% positive that that first growth that was seen was actually a weed which was all ready established in the soil of my backyard.
I was starting to get a little depressed though as it’s been more then a week now since my son and I planted the basil seeds in the test pots and I hadn’t seen anything else grow. Well today I came home from work and I finally see something…
I’m a little depressed to say that the first signs of actual basil seed growth was in the store bought soil. It’s still early in this test and being the first to poke above soil doesn’t mean everything, but at the moment I have to admit that the store bought soil is in the lead. In fairness, it is possible that that specific seed was planted slightly less deep in the soil. Maybe there are quite a few seeds that are working on sprouting up and are just barely below the soil because me or Carter happened to push them down slightly more when we planted them.
The real test will be once we can see them above the soil how quickly do they grow where we can observe them. Also how full do the plants get and how healthy do they look. And hopefully we can do some taste testing as well and notice a difference. That to me is the real tests, and most interesting. But for now the store bought soil is out to an early lead.
Let’s hope in the morning or at least by tomorrow after I get home from work that there are a bunch of sprouting coming up in all of the pots in all the places where we planted them.
About a week ago I started a test to see what soil really does grow the best plants (backyard soil, store bought soil, or worm compost). That night me and my sons were getting everything together and we happened to come across a pea seed that was on the floor of our porch. Apparently it had been there all summer (we had planted some pea seed late spring early summer).
Anyway, when my son Conner saw it he picked it up and and said, let’s plant it in the worm bin! My first reaction was to say, no way, let’s get this other test set up and stop being silly. But then mid-sentence I thought, well actually that is a pretty cool idea actually. Why not plant something in the worm bin and see what happens? I mean there is no light so once it did sprout up above the soil it isn’t going to do so well. But this was a forgotten seed and it was just going to go to waste anyway, so why not just see what happens?
So we did indeed go right downstairs to the red wiggler wormery and popped the pea seed into the compost. This was about a week ago right at the time that we set up the other soil test. Well today I was putting some leftovers in the bin for the red wigglers to eat and took a look in the front corner of the bin where we put that seed.
I really thought the pea seed would have germinated by now. Like I say I don’t think it’s going to do too well in a dark bin once it gets above the soil, but until it gets above the soil it doesn’t need any light anyway. So possibly the seed was kind of a dud and that’s why it hadn’t tried to grow on my front porch anyway? It’s a screened porch so sometime rain can get in there a little. So I would have thought it would have had enough water to have grown over the summer at some point. Either that, or it just hasn’t grown enough to get above the soil yet. I’ll keep looking over the next week or so to see what I can see…
Since I am always bragging about how great worm compost is for the growth of seeds I recently started doing some testing. About a week ago my sons and I set up three pots with worm compost, back yard soil, and store bought soil so see what really grows the best plant. We planted all three pots with basil seeds (hoping that we can actually use the plant once the testing is done). We also chose an edible plant (rather then some kind of flower) because I’m hoping maybe I can report on the difference in taste between the three soils.
So after a few days I posted the first results about the first growth which popped up out of the backyard soil. You’ll notice in the picture that the pot on the right has a tiny bit of growth. It was there a couple of days ago as well. I was speculating about what a coincidence it was that it happened to grow right near where that dead weed had been. See that pot is full of back yard soil. Once I put it in the pot and we planted the basil seeds I noticed that bit of left over green from something I must have dug up. I was going to pull it out which would have been better so as not to confuse things. However I had just planted the seeds and I didn’t want to risk disturbing them.
So what a coincidence that the first growth came right from the exact site of that weed right? Well maybe, but now I’m feeling kind of silly that it didn’t even occur to me that maybe, just maybe, that is the weed growing back. And as a few more days have gone by now and none of the other seeds have sprouted yet, in any of the soils, it’ll becoming more and more likely that that growth is not basil and really is just that weed fighting it’s way back to life.
So again I’m debating whether or not I should just pull it out. I mean even if it is basil it’s so far ahead of all the other seeds that maybe it’s just skewing the results. Or if it is the week I want to get it out of there so it’s not taking nutrients out of the soil that isn’t happening in the other pots.
I guess for now I’m going to leave it and see what happens. It’s been a week and I’m not really sure how long it takes basil to germinate but I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen more green yet. I guess time will tell. If in a few days I see a bunch of growth in the general areas where I planted the basil seeds then I’ll pull this weed.
In many towns and cities around the country there is a third type of garbage that is collected each week. Your “regular” trash, your recyclables, and now your food leftovers. This is one more green step towards not having “trash” that we throw out each week that just gets dumped in a landfill.
Where this food leftover collection ends up depends on the locality or company that is picking it up. For the most part it is all ending being composted in some fashion. Who has access to this compost is also going to vary depending on what part of the country you are in.
In my town they have not yet started to offer this option to collect and compost my food leftovers. So for me for now home earthworm recycling remains the best option. It’s easy, clean, and really there is no reason most people shouldn’t all ready be doing it.
So I fully admit that the garbage truck is going to swing past my house every week anyway. At least for the foreseeable future. So you might argue that there isn’t any savings in gas whether or not I put my food leftovers in the trash or not. This is partially true. Yes the bulk of gas that is going to be used for that truck to make it’s route is going to remain the same. But the food that I don’t put in my trash does indeed weigh something. And not having the weight on the truck for the rest of the run after my house is going to save a little bit of gas. Not much, but at this point, every little bit helps. Just like any other efforts to be green and save the planet, it’s when everyone pitches in that the effects really start to add up. So if everyone on the whole route for that truck started earthworm recycling and weren’t putting any food waste in their trash, the weight of that every week would really add up. That would be a sizable percentage of the overall trash and therefore save quite a bit of gas. Not to mention that overtime homeowners might find that each week their trash can isn’t really full. Maybe less then half full all the time. Once that is the case then the truck can start coming every other week! That is saving 2 whole routes worth of gas every month!!!
Plus think of the nutrients that you are just throwing away after every meal. Those are all nutrients that your worms could turn into compost for you. Which you could then turn around and use to garden and grow more food right there at your house. So why are you throwing away the fertilizer for your garden? Especially when it costs you money to throw it away? Why not keep it right there on your property for free and make more food with it?