This week was definitely full of obstacles, from maintaining the control and balance of microorganisms that go hand in hand with worm composting to a sudden disaster!
First off in regards to the worm bin: you will always find other tiny creatures joining in to help with decomposing your food waste, but the key is to maintain the balance of the population.This week I noticed the balance shift a bit in favour of mites; very common microorganism that come in many varieties and some even reside on our bodies (those are microscopic ones). When this happens its best to take swift action to correct the balance!
As a new member into the vermicomposting world I needed to do my research, and I came across some very interesting suggestions. For the most part different methods seem to work for different people and the best results were seen with a combination of more than one technique.
Here were a few suggested solutions:
– Baiting the mites with different food sources (such as slices of cantaloupe or honey dew melon) and removing it then dunking it in water.
– Taking off the lid of the bin and exposing it to the sun every few days to reduce the moisture level in the bin and to not feed your worms for a few days (The worms will burrow deeper into the bin to avoid light).
– Applying a dusting of diatomaceous earth only on the surface and repeating this every few days (natural and organic pesticide).
– Adding a source of calcium carbonate (pulverized eggshell or limestone) to shift the PH level as mites like it slightly more acidic.
I alternated between the methods listed above and applied a barrier of sticky traps around the top of my bin as a precaution to prevent any wandering individuals.
* For best results these methods need to be used for roughly a month. But don’t completely deprive your little guys of food, simply bury smaller amounts deeper into the bin where they are residing.
So far I have seen good results with these methods, in particular the dusting of diatomaceous earth (only on the surface) and distributing pulverized eggshells throughout the bin. I believe the shift in my bin occurred due to adding too many used coffee grounds which increased the moisture level and acidity level slightly in favour of the mites.
So here is the disaster: Daniel C and Nicole E’s sunflower seedling were accidentally knocked over by another teacher! Luckily they sprouted quite a few seeds with the kids so they are still in the competition as two little plants survived.
Reference: The friendly sunflower competition
Great sites to help with Vermicomposting issues:
RedWormComposting.com (A great site to read articles and comments)
Natures footprint (Referencing possible pests)