Well, it’s getting cold outside, which means that it’s time to think about preparing my wormbin for winter. Let me write about what happened (and what didn’t) in my bin since my last report.

The worms got many

I should count weigh them one day and see exactly how many there are. I far as I can judge after the last [partial] vermicompost harvesting, they are more than the half-kilo that I bought two years ago, and MUCH more than what I managed to “resurrect” last spring. Must be around a kilogram of wigglers there.

The BSFL are still there

Not that I like them more than before (actually, I still find them quite repelling), but I was wrong about them. I used to think they don’t get along with worms. BSFL are pretty large and very active, so I thought worms would be stressed to have them crawling around. BSFL eat very quickly and leave a very wet mess after them, so I thought the bin would quickly turn anaerobic, something that worms don’t like. I thought BSFL might prey on worms, or eat worm cocoons. Judging by the number of worms, I was wrong.

Somehow they manage to cohabit. After I covered the whole surface of the bin with a piece of cardboard, I noticed that they have a distinct pattern of behavior. Worms and BSFL tend to occupy different parts of the bin, but usually stay close to each other. When there is food, BSFL stays in the top layer of the bin and eats, while worms stay close to bin walls, also in the top layer (not sure how they are distributed deeper on). When there is nothing for BSFL to eat, they stay close to the bottom, while worms take over the whole surface, right under the cardboard.

Indeed, when there’s new food, it’s BSFL who come first. After they are done, there’s usually nothing but a very wet and somewhat smelly substance left. Worms to not mind hanging around in it (usually, by that time there are no BSFL in the area), so I think they convert it into castings, just like everything else.

As for the potential vermicide threat, I am pretty sure BSFL don’t touch worms. On the other hand, I can’t be 100% sure that BSFL do not feed on cocoons, because somehow I didn’t see many cocoons lately. Let’s hope for the better.

There’s vermicompost to harvest

A couple of weeks ago I decided to refresh my bin by harvesting castings and adding new bedding. As harvesting ALL castings would have been too stressful for the worms and too time-consuming for me, I decided to to do it in parts. An important observation for me was that worms are more active in the upper layer of the bin. They don’t just feed there — they also lay the castings there, which is against the “theory”. Although it’s quite moist in the bottom part of the bin, I found more unprocessed paper and cardboard than in the top part. Who knows, maybe the lower layers are too packed for them, or insufficiently aerated.

I stopped just short of clearing half of the bin. The reason was very prosaic — no cardboard. What I regarded as a good source of bedding turned out to be “Good, new boxes. Don’t touch them!” :-) So instead of mixing cardboard with shredded paper I had to do with shredded paper only. I don’t like paper much, because it tends to get too packed, and worms are usually slow to colonize it. At this point I can’t move on with harvesting, because my worms would be left with no “home” to live. And I can’t move on with adding paper, because I’m afraid I’ll end up with a lot of packed cellulose pulp. That’s OK, I can wait.

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