November 30, 2022

To Super or Nadir

The Worm Bin at 30 days

A quick update on the worm bin in my kitchen.

Neem Bliss is neem seed meal. Also known as "neem cake," it is reported to stimulate earthworm activity as well as kill fungus gnats. Preemptively, I inoculated the worm bin with it.

How much to feed?

I've been feeding the worms sparingly and it is disappearing, being processed by the worms. But the contents of the worm bin don't look any different – it doesn't look like compost. If anything, it looks the same but there's less of it. The bedding level has dropped, significantly, by a good 25% because the worms are processing the bedding as food. This is normal, bedding as food. Until I learn how much kitchen waste to give them, they'll keep eating the bedding. Not long from now, they'll be able to process as much as 1/2 lb per day!

How often to feed?

There are definitely more worms. They're thick where the food is. They're exploring where there's just bedding. They're moving through the holes in the bottom of the tray. I think they're searching for food so it's time to start feeding more than small handfuls of kitchen waste every few days. At a month old, there should be a decent microbiome established so I'm going to increase feeding to every other day. I'm even putting carrot peels (chopped up) back on the menu.

Where to feed?

I'm working clockwise. Food should be covered with bedding, so as I layer feed over the worms, I borrow bedding from an adjacent area. You can simply use the empty space for the next feeding and keep backfilling, but I've borrowed enough to leave an entire quadrant void. The population isn't quite ready for that much food so I filled it with crumbled leaves. Autumn is pretty amazing here, with an absolute abundance of oak trees.

Fallen autumn leaves are an excellent food for worms. When fully composted, it's called leaf mold. It is a terrific soil conditioner, but I don't want to wait a year for it. The worm bin will reduce the wait time to mere months. 

Should I super or nadir?

When the tray is filled with finished compost, what then? Borrowing two beekeeping terms, the options are to super (new tray on top) or nadir (new tray underneath). If I super, I'll need to provide a ladder. (Laddering is a technique that beekeepers use to get bees to move into another hive body.) If I nadir, the worms will just drop down. Which way would they prefer to move, up or down? Occasionally, one or two worms will climb up the walls of the tray, but I consistently find them underneath it. So I am inclined to nadir. At the rate the worm bin is establishing itself, I should have an answer for you in another 30 days.


Anonymous said...

I think nadiring would be the way to go. Let them just drop - too much work to climb a ladder! Fun to follow your progress!

backyardbee said...

Then it's settled@Don. We'll be nadiring.🪱🪱🪱

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