Drying Out My Wet Compost Bin

Posted on Nov 20 2009 - 6:08am by Mike Lieberman

It’s been about a week since I started a worm compost bin in my kitchen.

When I checked in on it, the newspaper was very damp and there weren’t many worms in sight. I dug some more and finally found some worms, but they weren’t very lively at all.

Not to point fingers (but I will), my roommate threw in some coffee grinds in there without adding additional newspaper to dry it out.

The result seems to be a worm bin that is too wet. It’s not leaking or runny and there is no smell though, which is a plus.

All didn’t seem lost. The worms seemed like they could be revived. I even saw some baby worms poking around.

I think the bin could definitely be saved by adding additional dry newspaper to dry it out. I dug down to the bottom of the bin and added a layer of newspaper, then scattered more dry bedding throughout.

After I shot the video, I also separated out the piles into two bins to allow more room for air circulation.

I’m going to be away for two weeks, doing some urban gardening workshops in LA, and hope that I return to a dry and healthy bin. If not, I’ll have to start another when I return.

Do you think the bin has a chance at being revived?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg_Gv603y2o

  • rlephoto

    Oh my, this bin is in your kitchen? Did you know how bad a compost bin can stink? Ours is twenty foot from the back door and at ten foot it stinks pretty bad. Meg composts everything, there is even a feather pillow in there!

  • mary b

    Your worm bin should be just fine while you are away as long as your roommate behaves! My worm bin is in the kitchen all winter, and I have never (knock on plastic)had any odors, it sits quietly under my work table and no one even notices it unless I point it out to them. Love reading about your escapades in urban gardening!

  • Janie

    Yes, but don't dry it out too much. The worms like it very damp.

  • Janie

    I am careful about what I put in the worm bin. No meat, grease, bones, or anything like that. Just paper, coffee and tea, and vegetable peelings. Also, crushed eggshells, that have been washed.

    Never have had a smell. It is under my worktable in my stained glass shop. Nobody knows it is even there.

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  • http://lifeonthebalcony.com Fern @ Life on the Balcony

    Where/when are your LA workshops? I live in Long Beach, about 30 min south of LA. Maybe we could arrange a meetup of urban gardener bloggers/tweeters?

  • Jo-Ann

    Congratulations on your worm compost bin. I'm a quiet follower from Perth, Australia and I've miraculously had my worm bin for almost a year now without killing anything, and that's a plus. I cannot tell, but it appears you may have the red fireworm kind, which sorts of suggests, they are adverse to light. That means that you might want to consider covering it with a cloth or something so they can come towards the light and feed. It takes awhile to get started – but generally if you start with 1,000 worms for the 2 of you, it's supposed to be fine. I've also found that if at any time it became anaerobic, put some garden lime (dolomite) to balance it out and they'll be happy campers … good luck! (It should smell like rainforest dirt, I have found)

  • Mike Lieberman

    Yes my other compost bin smelled horribly, but got that resolved. This one doesn't smell.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I hope so Mary. If not, I'll have to start again. It's been a day and I'm now seeing no worms. Leaving for my trip today. We'll see…

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. It's def still a bit damp in there.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I don't eat meat or anything like that. Mostly fresh fruits and veggies for me, so that's not a concern.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Most def. I sent you an email.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Jo-Ann. Rub it in that you haven't killed anything. It's only been a week for me and I think I've done mine in.

    Appreciate your advice. I guess I'll see what happens when I get back.

  • http://obsessivegardener.blogspot.com/ Sylvana

    If the bin doesn't smell bad, there is a good chance that your worms will be fine and they just need to recover from all the moisture.

  • Mike Lieberman

    There was def no smell, so I gots my fingers crossed.

  • http://obsessivegardener.blogspot.com/ Sylvana

    Have you tried drilling small drain holes in the bottom of the worm bin and placing an identical bin under it to catch the drainage (as these look like they nest)? Maybe put a couple of thin bricks or something in the bottom one to separate the two bins a little to give room for drainage and keep the bins from sticking together. Then you would have compost tea too!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the advise. I have hole drilled out on the bottom and it's resting on old plastic containers. The compost is damp, but not soaked. It'll be interesting what the condition is when I get back in town.

  • http://obsessivegardener.blogspot.com/ Sylvana

    Have you tried drilling small drain holes in the bottom of the worm bin and placing an identical bin under it to catch the drainage (as these look like they nest)? Maybe put a couple of thin bricks or something in the bottom one to separate the two bins a little to give room for drainage and keep the bins from sticking together. Then you would have compost tea too!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the advise. I have hole drilled out on the bottom and it's resting on old plastic containers. The compost is damp, but not soaked. It'll be interesting what the condition is when I get back in town.

  • essexpostie

    Yeah it can be saved but you might have to try mouth to mouth on your little helpers.

  • essexpostie

    Oh just seen it was 2 years ago…

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    hahaha. good one.