Making a Composting Mistake

Posted on Dec 14 2009 - 8:15am by Mike Lieberman

The composting mistake that I made is pretty simple – I killed my worms.

Shortly after starting my worm compost bin, I had to dry it out because it was too wet from all the coffee grinds.

That didn’t work and the worms were all dead. So I properly buried their remains along with the newspaper bedding at the local community compost.

That didn’t stop me from starting a new worm bin. Why would I let it? I made a mistake, learned from it and now I’m one step closer to success.

I cleaned out the old bin, put a fresh bedding of newspaper and another pound of worms. This time I put the bedding in, dropped in the worms and let them get situated for about 10-15 minutes, sprinkled some food scraps on the top and closed the lid.

I’ll leave them alone for a week or so and periodically check in.

Any tips or advice for my second go around?

  • nissa

    I've been working up courage (and saving up scraps) to get a worm bin started myself. I've been following the following blog for resource tips on worm bins. It's helpful to read what she has learned (failures included) http://www.mamaswormcomposting.com

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nice. Thanks for the link Nissa. You don't really need a lot of food scraps to start your bin. Mostly newspaper and browns. Get it started. Lemme know how it turns out.

  • RawDamon

    I'm envious….I'd love to get a worm bin going myself. We generate about a half gallon of compost a day though. Do you think I need a bigger bin or more worms to eat that much scrap…if so which one? (I'm looking for worms where I am now….) Great work!

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  • Mike Lieberman

    This is my first go around with worms (actually my second go around since I killed my first batch). Now I bought a pound of worms, put in little food and lots of newspaper to start. Going to let them do their thing and hopefully multiply even more, then really pile on the food because I generate a lot of scraps as well. You know I'll keep you in the know.

  • RawDamon

    I'm envious….I'd love to get a worm bin going myself. We generate about a half gallon of compost a day though. Do you think I need a bigger bin or more worms to eat that much scrap…if so which one? (I'm looking for worms where I am now….) Great work!

  • Mike Lieberman

    This is my first go around with worms (actually my second go around since I killed my first batch). Now I bought a pound of worms, put in little food and lots of newspaper to start. Going to let them do their thing and hopefully multiply even more, then really pile on the food because I generate a lot of scraps as well. You know I'll keep you in the know.

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  • jimmy

    Thanks, that's useful.

  • http://twitter.com/HomeGrownFun Cindy Rajhel

    Here’s
    what works awesome for us:

    BIN: Many holes: sides, underneath and top. Opaque
    container that keeps light out. Cover lower 50% holes with recycled screen. Soddering
    iron (5 bucks) melts holes easily.  

    LOCATION: Dark place that gets airflow. We
    keep our in our garage. We rarely close the container completely. Leave the top
    shifted open. They won’t escape if they’re comfortable. We raise the container
    up off the floor with a crate or bricks to promote air flow.

    BEDDING: Bottom
    50% is bedding. Ripped up cardboard (small pieces) and shredded paper work
    great. The cardboard ensures air circulates. Then we add a handful of garden
    dirt that contains no chemicals. Worms need grit but not the dirt to live in.
    Add the worms on top of the bedding with grit. Top the worms with more bedding
    so the container is almost full. Yep, we use a lot of bedding. Keep everything
    as wet as a wrung out sponge by misting occasionally if needed. If it’s
    dripping, it’s off.

    FEEDING: We don’t overfeed. A handful is good to start, wait
    a few days and check to see if they like it. Overfeeding can make them unhappy
    and too much citrus or fruit in general calls the flies. The food should be in
    the middle of the two layers of bedding. the more chopped up the better.

    Well, too
    much info in one comment but that’s how we do it. We’re no experts but having
    success and learning – hope some of this helps a bit. We’re in the process of updating our video and plan to
    add more pics of our most successful worm bins soon. In the meantime, here’s a
    link to the video that we made: http://www.homegrownfun.com/category/worms-composting/

    There’s a
    few corrections we’re going to make such as clarifying that the extra cover under
    the bin catches liquid and this is not technically compost tea. There’s a
    debate out there that if your food is not converted into
    compost, the liquid that leaches from the bin is probably not really tea but leachate
    – like gross landfill dew.  We don’t get any moisture dripping from the bottom but imagine some folks do.

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

    Dope. Thanks for the info.

  • Jatanaka

    In my worm composting class, I was given a turkey baster. I wondered what it was for. Well, I don’t have holes in the bottom of my bin. My worms seem to love cantaloupe rinds but they hold a lot of water. I use the baster to suck out excess water from the bottom of the bin so they don’t drown in there.

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

    Good tip!