It's freezing cold out.
The dual-barrel compost tumber is both completely full, and completely frozen.
And down in the basement? The can-o-worms vermicomposter is also maxxed out - the bottom tray could probably have all the worms removed and I could add the worm castings to a tub, then take that emptied tray and put it on top of the other two, which are loaded with food scraps, damp shredded paper, and my work crew of worms....but they just don't work fast enough compared to the food scraps we've generated.
Buying another expensive worm composter is outta the question.
I haven't yet seen plans for a homemade worm composter that perfectly deals with all the issues I know you can run into - making sure the worms don't think of escaping, and draining excess moisture (aka worm pee) that's so great for the growies.
Soooo I tried rigging up something new a couple weeks ago:
I know, you're wondering what the hell I'm up to now, right?
Well, what you see is two separate plastic shelving units - a three drawer unit on top, and a single drawer unit on the bottom. The two come from the same line of products and are designed to stack together.
Why the smaller drawer on the bottom? Because I wanted a convenient place to collect any worm pee that needed to drain out, and didn't feel like dedicating a BIG drawer for it - just not necessary.
The 3-drawer system doesn't have anything separating the drawers vertically - the bottom of one drawer just hangs over the open space of the drawer beneath it - PERFECT!
And the bottom single drawer unit? Well it has a white plastic top that's pretty sturdy.
So I drilled a BUNCH of holes in the bottom of the two big drawers that are maybe 1/8" around (think "worm sized"), and then in the white plastic top of the single-drawer unit I drilled SOME holes of the same size, plus a whole bunch of smaller holes. I don't want to encourage the worms to crawl down into the bottom unit, especially if it's collected a lot of worm pee, and then drown. Trust me - this has happened in the name brand can-o-worms I've had for a few years.
Stack it all together, and start loadin' it up! I started with the bottom large drawer, filling it with food scraps, and layering in some wet cardboard and a lot of damp, shredded newspaper. Once that was full, I started putting more of the food and damp newspaper in the next drawer up. Oh, and I also moved a bunch of worms over from the can-o-worms to the new worm bin.
Pretty cool! In fact, what I found really interesting was just after a few days, if you put your hand on the outside of the clear plastic drawers with all the scraps, you can feel warmth radiating out! I'm guessing that's a sign of the worms doing their job (plus perhaps just some flat out composting breaking-down goodness?).
So far no worms have gone down into the bottom drawer - why would they with all that good food.
And I really haven't had much liquid drip down into the bottom drawer, aside from a partial picture of water I poured in when first getting it started, just to make sure the cardboard wasn't TOO dry.
So now we wait and see how long it takes them to do their business and chew up all that stuff and leave lovely worm castings in it's place.
Oh, and I met a nice master gardener guy at a symposium Mary and I went to this past weekend who builds his own worm composter system...so I've got an email out to him to share our plans and see how his contraption works.
I might be buying some more worms soon!
And if you're wondering what I'm doing with the castings, well....you can see here one thing I'm trying out with them right now!