Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worms eat my bokashi!

Trey’s still doing well. This outdoor planter-topped flowthrough wormery is the first of my experiments in feeding worms cured bokashi, though others (including Bentley, naturally) have done it successfully. I knew from reading about those other folks that material heating would be a concern--and it’s one I haven’t yet solved for indoor use! But outside, so far, allowing the heating process to take place in a shelf below the soil layer and above the one where worms are currently eating seems to be working.

In fact, Trey’s going through the bokashi faster than I’d expected. This is a very good thing, as I’m always looking for more finished material, and particularly for some way to convert cured bokashi into matter I can use for top-dressing container plants. Unfortunately, Trey is too small a unit to handle additions of more than about a gallon of well-cured bokashi at a time (plus dried leaves); no finished calculations yet on bucket-to-worm bin volumes, but...I’ve got to get that second tower wormery assembled this week.

The new tower will be taller; I need more layers than Trey has, and a taller tower will get more sun on top--the urban-gardener thing again, I’m trying to use spaces that get only such sun as can angle between buildings. Shaded lower layers should help with the heat issue, too. The weather-folk say it may hit 90 degrees today, thus beginning our ramp-up to summer; heat is a concern even without thermophilic reactions.

After our recent and much-needed rain, Trey developed an outbreak of gnats, but they’re already fading with the heat; the Spanish moss I’m using for mulch and wadding is more discouragement than prevention, and not even that when wet. Which is fine for an outdoor wormery, but not at all acceptable inside! So an indoor tower will have to be constructed with no least gaps at all between layers. That’s fine; I’d prefer a unit that didn’t allow the worms too many chances to go wandering.

(Just now, there’s a lightweight drawstring bag over Verne, to allow airflow through the ventilation holes while, hopefully, containing any kamikaze worm. Not that I’ve got any of those--Verne seems willing enough to remain beneath the newspaper cover layer--but in case. I really don’t like having to trust worms’ free will to keep the worms inside the bin. Not in my kitchen!)

Next on the agenda for Verne et familae? A few different “recipes.” I know how much food a wormery can be expected to handle at optimum: half the worm-weight per day. But Trey’s food is made up of cured bokashi and dried leaves, which means that the food is composting to some degree even without the aid of the worms. What’s the ideal ratio of leaves to bokashi for happy worms? Will shredded household paper get bokashi past the heating stage as successfully, break down as quickly, sustain the worms? Would old bills and fast-food wrappers plus bokashi heat and cool without producing the dreaded off odors? And what about those worm-verboten items?

Yes, it has come to this: I’m a personal chef for worms. Not too surprising, I suppose, after months of feeding buckets, and somehow, I can’t bring myself to be upset by it; all the gorgeous produce I’ve been harvesting must be mellowing my mood. And the promise of more...


Trey is topped with a little-cultivated plant called Shepherd’s Purse, as in the photo above

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