Hello Sunshine! Sorry for being so late on this blog post. March whizzed past me. I hope this Spring find you all well. I'm feeling re-energized by the balmy weather. This is when having an outdoor job becomes a joy (remind me again, when I'm freezing next January). Each sign of spring, from the violets dotting my yard, to my peas stretching their way up their trellis, to the blossoms on my peach tree gives me a little jolt of giddiness :)
This month we composted 1544 lbs--and with that I have to say a big thanks to all my compost members, who give me their food waste. Not only do you keep the worms fed, but you provide us with an essential ingredient for our in-progress compost recipe.
March continued to be a month of experimentation, as I learn how to adapt what I learned inside to an outdoor system.
I've realized my worm beds are far too wet and may need a better roof. When I tried to harvest worm castings, almost nothing went through the harvester...aargh! Overall Takeaway: In ground worm bins work in our Ohio climate. They are a pain to harvest though *at least on a large scale* and seem better suited for in the garden systems where the worm castings are leached into the surrounding soil/dispersed by the worms.
The fruit flies also persist, despite the temperature fluctuation and burying the food deeper. My initial solution of bokashi-ing...can that be a verb?...the food waste may have killed fly larvae in the bokashi bucket, but the flies seemed to love it, as much as the worms, when it was dumped into the bed. That said, it is great for odor. Lactobacillius for the deodorizing win!
I realized I may need to go the hot composting route as a pre-treatment method. I've avoided this until now because of the amount of physical labor (or machinery) required in hot composting. The beauty of worms is that they turn your compost for you as they eat, burrow, poop, and repeat. No machinery and no pitchfork required. Unfortunately, it seems fruit flies really do love raw food and temperate conditions as much as the worms. Worms will eat compost produced by hot composting (really, they will eat about anything) and its a common method to produce castings. So, hello hot composting, it's nice to make your acquaintance ;) Maybe by the end of this journey, I'll have tried every compost method out there.
My other big project of the month was building a worm bed à la Amsterdam Worm Hotels. I learned of these while researching vermicompost abroad. Check them out dutchreview.com/culture/worm-hotels/. I would love to see a decentralized, city wide model like this in Cincinnati. Inspired, I thought I would pilot one for a drop off. Pam of 12 Sisters Farm in Anderson, graciously agreed to host it. Unlike our other drop offs, members will feed their food directly to the worms. Hopefully, this will allow us to make our process more affordable and sustainable. Plus, I love the idea of food plants, food waste, and compost cycling through the same space. If the drop off interests you, let me know. I'm planning to have it up and running in the next few weeks.
Until Next Time,
Katie & The Worms
Fun Fact: Worms love good weather too! Worms prefer bedding temperatures between 60-80 °F.