Saturday, March 7, 2009

A worm with a view

It’s March, not officially spring yet, not even past our last average frost-date (!), but the new wormery has already come near to overheating more than once. This time around, I’m more aware of that possibility, and have taken to checking on Verne now and then just to be sure I don’t need to take steps. Or to take them. The waterbottle I stuck in the freezer to use as an in-bucket temperture controller has already been used twice, which doesn’t bode well for summer, but at least Verne’s still with us.

Along with the ice-bottle trick learned from one of the vermicompost fora I lurk on, I’ve also taken to adding some of the wormfood still frozen. (Between layers of newspaper. Any worm stupid enough to commit suicide by freezing has a bit of work ahead of it.) I’m doing my best to keep the bucket cool!

But I forgot some basic science recently, and nearly cooked Verne anyway. Added a bit of dirt by way of grit, as I decided there might not have been enough initially, especially considering the number of younger worms appearing. Good dirt, seeing as I have some these days -VBG-. Dirt rife with microbes, no doubt. Plus some crushed eggshells to balance all the coffee grounds that end up in any bucket of mine. Plus some additional produce. And then there was that carbon-rich moisture-holding newspaper...

Yeah, I started a hot compost pile in the wormery. Too little volume to sustain that heat, fortunately, but it was a near thing. And I’ve got to say, it makes me nervous about my upcoming tests feeding worms on bokashi. Bokashi added to a compost pile heats up very quickly!

Judging from the outdoor experiments [not sure what happened to that post, as it seems not to be here!], worms do eat bokashi once it’s cooled. The problem’s going to be in getting past (or around) the heating stage.

Right now, I’m re-thinking my test containers; my mini-buckets don’t offer anyplace to retreat to in case of heating. Looks like my sprout tower will be temporarily repurposed as a miniature flow-through, so the worms have someplace to escape to should the cured bokashi suddenly become hot as a Texas summer day. A worm penthouse?

And a new experiment, I think: to find the easiest way(s) to jumpstart those thermophilic bacteria, so that I can get the bokashi past the heating stage before adding it to the wormery. A sprinkling of soil, a touch of carbon, and a bit of water might well be all I need...

Hmm. Adding just a sprinkling of dirt to a bucket won’t convert the whole to compost--I did test that!--but perhaps with a bit of mature compost as well as soil, and dried leaves. Not sure it would be feasible indoors, or in plastic buckets, but I should be able to manage something.

If only so I can have my sprout tower back!


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