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Vermicomposting

I tried my luck with vermicomposting this summer. I purchased an upward migrating worm bin and bought a pound of red wrigglers. I found a nice shady spot for it in my backyard, next to my regular compost. At the beginning everything worked fine, although I noticed that some of the worms fell in the holding tray and couldn't get up anymore, although they were supposed too. Then my bin got overrun with maggots (it was hot and I had it a bit too wet). YUCK! I dumped half of the mixture in my regular compost. Saved the other half and made it a drier environment and was diligent in covering with newspaper, so that not too many flies could get in. But after a few weeks it seems I'm not vermicomposting, but soldier fly composting. Tons of larvae and soldiers flies. Also some other critters. Can't find anymore worms. The compost in the lowest tray actually looks quite decent, but idk, I really wanted to compost with worms, not with maggots and larvae! The outcome, however, is the same. I'm not sure what to do at this point. I'm merely observing what's happening and am curious whether anybody else can give their input?

On the positive side, a small frog found refuge from the heat in my vermicomposter (and it probably loves all the critters in there too...) I'm hoping to add pictures later if I can get myself to take close ups of the larvae...😉

Comments

  • Ah, thanks for sharing your experience! That makes me feel less inept and I will try worm farming again in October! (In the meantime, I let the maggots and soldier flies do their work...)

    I already saw the webinar with another organization - it was really good. Loved the guy. It really helped me answer some questions about transition my lawn! I would watch it again, but the skies over the Bay Area have finally cleared and we are celebrating a friend's birthday outside during that time...

  • Sabine, you are not alone in experiencing this. The same maggot infestation happened to us one hot summer. Even though vermicomposting is nice, the worms themselves want to be at an almost ideal temp. They can go as low as 20F but when it gets to 90sF then if there are maggot larvae in the tub, the maggots take over. The maggots die again when temps go down. So yes, unfortunately, if left outside, there are unfortunately yucky things like that, that happen. That being said, you can count on that soil as being top notch fertilizer, no matter what. You are absolutely right, the outcome is the same.

    What to do next:

    You can either clear out your worm bin (into the garden) and start again (sigh) This is what we have done several times before. And this time, see what variables you can play around with. If you see it getting wet, add paper/carbon. These worms can live off of paper alone. I basically stop feeding them scraps for a bit until they dry out. Coconut coir, saw dust, try carbon sources are great too.

    You can re-introduce a new worm population into the existing one as the weather hopefully cools in CA and see if they overrun the maggot population.

    And that is too funny and amazing that you found a frog. I love frogs and always think it's a good sign that the ecosystem is balancing itself out as they are the first animals to go when the environment collapses.


    PS. There's a lawns to meadows webinar tonight. Please come if you are able! No replay for this one, as per author's request.

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