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The Challenges Of Dealing With A Plastic Worm Bin.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

If I could have a dollar for every time I hear this complaint, I would retire tomorrow…

Hello –
I am writing to seek your assistance with Wriggly Wranch. We purchased it last year (May) so it has been operating for almost a year. In that year, we have been very careful what to feed the worms (no citrus, no hard foods, etc.), kept it moist, and started carefully so as not to overfeed initially. The worms eat the food well but one problem: the very bottom (collector) tray keeps growing higher with a wet mud like consistency while the top working tray (the only tray we’ve ever used) continues to dwindle as the food is eaten. They successfully ate the bedding, they consistently eat the food they are given, and they eat the paper products we use to cover the food yet we never see the area grow. Can you make some recommendations? What are we doing wrong?

Oh and I should mention that we’ve kept it inside because we felt the temperatures outside were too inconsistent and we had too few places that don’t get some hours of sunshine throughout the day. So they’re kept at normal inside home temperatures, about 68 to 75 degrees.
Many thanks,
Pamela & Cesar

Hi Pamela and Cesar,

Good News, Bad News. The good news is that you’ve done nothing wrong. The bad news is that plastic bins suck.

A plastic bin is essentially a bucket. If you’ve ever maintained a bucket for your food scraps under your sink, you’re familiar with the smell that I call, the “OH GROSS” smell. Plastic is non porous material. Regardless of how many holes you poke in the bin, it does not breathe well. Your bin will always be too wet, too muddy, too stinky, and produce castings that are never fluffy as you would like them to be. Plastic is very inexpensive to manufacture though, so plastic bins will never completely go away.

Now that you know what you are up against, there are some work arounds.

1. Never put more food than you have worm mass in a plastic bin. One pound of worms…can be safely fed one pound of food.

2. Put a piece of “Weed Stop”(Google it) to line the bottom tray that makes contact with the base (Cut it a little bigger so the weed stop goes up the sides a bit).  This is a permanent strainer, and will reduce the worms and mud that end up accumulating in the base.

3. You’ll rarely (Maybe never) need to water a plastic bin.  Food scraps are constantly releasing water, and that condensation bounces off the walls and the roof, keeping your bin very wet.

When you get tired of dealing with these work arounds, go to www.TheWormInn.com for a MUCH better worm composting solution.

This is why I LOVE Biochar!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

I was reading a gardening book, and I came across this quote from Jerry Baker:

Soil Secrets
No matter how good your plants look when you buy them, or how fresh your seeds may be, their (and your) success depends on how well you prepare the soil in the beds you are making for them. As all good gardening professionals know, the best soil you can give your plants is one that will hold moisture while letting the extra water run off.

This describes Biochar perfectly. Biochar acts like a Biological sponge, holding in water and nutrients and releasing these liquids to feed your plants as it begins to dry out. It does not get “Boggy” like many commercial potting mixes, so the roots of your plants never smother.

If you’ve never tried Biochar before, I recommend giving it a test. It’s great stuff.

STUPID Easy Gardening

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Here is something you may not know about me.  I’m a hard worker, but I would rather be LAZY!   What do I mean by that?  I spend a lot of time and passion on learning all I can about vermicomposting and gardening, but because I have so many things going on at once, I try to keep things as simple as I can.  Cause I’d rather be spending more time relaxing, and less time doing physical work.

Often times my passion for learning and my love of relaxing come together.  This is one of those times.

What you are looking at are pistachio tree seedlings.  Because of the time involved, I would say that these are definitely not considered easy to grow.  However, by putting the nuts in a bag of compost all I need to do is keep the compost from drying out…and the seeds do their thing.  Easy Peasy!


This Should Not Be Possible

Monday, March 10th, 2014


You are looking at several pineapple plants that overwintered in San Jose, Ca. The weather is warm now, but we had some really cold days this winter that were down into the teens.  How could these plants have survived?  The plants are sitting next to my house.  My house is constantly radiating heat….apparently enough heat for the pineapple plants to not only survive, but to thrive!

Keep this in mind next year when have some plants that you want to protect.  Now, those of you in the Midwest and East that have had EXTREMELY cold spells will definitely not benefit from this, but those in moderate climates may just be able to capture enough heat to save some of your favorite plants next winter.


Are You Enjoying These Tips?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Do you enjoy reading these tips? I hope you are finding them useful.

Depending on the response, I’m considering sending out these tips weekly. I’m having some work done on my site, so I don’t want to add an opt in page on my current site until that is all done.

If I get enough response, and if you would like to be on the Tip list, simply go to the contact us page and send me an email saying, “Add me to the list”.

HOT TIPS – How to get organic fertilizer on the cheap

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Organic fertilizer can be expensive.  Want an inexpensive alternative?

Horse/Cattle feed pellets from your local farm supply are a great source of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potasium)….the feed even contains molasses, which is the perfect treat for the microbes in your soil!   Just sprinkle the mixture around your plants and water it in.

The combination of these pellets, along with some vermicompost (For beneficial bacteria) cannot be beat!


I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.

HOT TIPS – Grow Your Own Wheat Grass Quickly And Easily

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Do you love wheat grass?  Want to grow your own like a pro?  When your worms have turned their bedding into nice rich vermicompost, simply harvest the worms and add some wheat grass seed to the top of the bedding.  Remove the lid from your bin so the wheat grass seeds are exposed to light.  Mist gently.  Within a few days you will have a carpet of wheat grass to enjoy.

EVERYTHING sprouts in a worm bin!

DO NOT  add  the seeds to the top of your worm bin when the worms are still inside.  You’ll create a green mat on top of your worms.  Getting to your worms again would be much like pulling out a lawn!  Don’t ask me how I know..LOL


I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.


HOT TIPS – Two COMPLETELY different ways to raise red wigglers

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

I recently watched a video of my friend Bentley from RedWormComposting.com showing how he had GOBS of worms in his Worm Inn MEGA system,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv8s6EW6NkI

Bentley used what I call the “Active” method for composting:

  • Starts with a small amount of worms.
  • Chops up or processes food waste prior to adding to the system.
  • Starts relatively small (Relative to the size of the MEGA, he started out only about 25% full.
  • Primary goal is creating worm mass.
  • The worms can be found in the target area with broken down food.


The method I usually use would be considered, “Passive” composting:

  • Starts out with a larger amount of worms (5-10 pounds for a Worm Inn MEGA).
  • No chopping of food waste at all.  Just throw fruit and veggie waste in as if filling a garbage can.  (Whole apples with spots…no problem).
  • Start larger (I’ll fill the unit up with damp, fluffed bedding and all the fruit and veggie scraps that will fit).
  • Primary goal is composting all my fruit and veggie waste with as little effort as possible.
  • The worms will be found in pockets around the system depending on what fruits/veggies break down first.

Please note:  Because plastic systems do not breathe well (Regardless of how they are marketed), passive composting can lead to problems.   If you were to put several gallons of produce scraps in a plastic bin, you’re likely to create a sewer.  First, the material will heat up, then it will off gas, and finally it will stink like anaerobic sewage sludge leading to a total worm die off. 

If you have a plastic system, be very careful how many produce scraps you add at once so you do not kill your worms.

I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational.  Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors.  I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.


HOT TIPS – Excite your children with a huge cluster of worms

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Want to learn a cool trick your kids will love? Add a handful of unsweetened dry oatmeal to the top of your worm bedding. Cover lightly with a single sheet of newspaper. The next day, bring your child out to watch the worms all dive down at once when you lift up the paper blanket. Don’t blink…the little suckers are very quick.

Caveat: Too much oatmeal can sour your bedding. Never add more than a handful, and avoid mixing it into the bedding. This is definitely one of those situations where “Less is more”.

I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.

HOT TIPS – Stop your Worms From Drowning!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Did you recently purchase a plastic stackable worm composter? Want to learn the best way to set it up? The directions will tell you to add newspaper or cardboard (To the inside bottom of the tray that sits on the base), as a way of preventing worms from ending up in the base. The problem with this is……Think about it for a sec…The worms will eat through that newspaper/cardboard very quickly!

A MUCH better solution to prevent worms from ending up in the base (And dying/stinking in the stagnant water) is to use Weed Stop (The fabric barrier that goes under rocks to prevent weeds) as a permanent strainer for your system, in lieu of a layer of paper/cardboard on the bottom. Cut the weed stop so that it goes up the sides a bit to make it more difficult for your worms to go around it.

PS. The Weed Stop should ONLY be placed on the inside of the bottom tray that makes contact with the base. If you try using it between trays, your worms will never be able to migrate between trays.

I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.