Phil’s New Digs

About a year ago I set up a worm composting system using the Worm Factory. I was pretty excited about it at the time, and I decided to name it Phil (each individual worm is also named Phil). Because I’ve read that vermicomposting can take a while to really get going, I was careful not to overfeed Phil during the first few months. I don’t think I even added a second tray until two or three months had passed.

When July rolled around, the creator of the Worm Factory offered to let me try their new model, and I happily agreed to trial it.

The new Worm Factory is designed to allow better air to flow through the system. The bottom tray now sits on a booster that creates an air gap all the way around the bottom of the tray, and the lid now sits above the top tray rather than inside of it. I was told I could simply take the old trays and stack them in the new system, but I wanted the tray colors to match.

Transferring Phil into his new digs was also a good opportunity to check on the composting process. Aside from a few paper scraps and minor food chunks like eggshells, the bottom tray was ready to harvest (note to self: do a better job of crushing eggshells before feeding them to Phil). I kept the tray going, though, mostly because I was too lazy to empty it out right then.

Fast forward to January 2010, when I finally got around to harvesting some worm castings (I’m skipping a few months where Phil developed a fruit fly problem, and I left him alone for a while – I now make sure to microwave the scraps I feed him to kill any fruit fly eggs).

I moved the bottom tray to the top of the system and left the lid off. I also stirred the castings and kept the light on to encourage the worms to migrate down to the tray below. I left it like that for about a day or so, hoping that the castings might dry out a bit before I took them out to store them. They were still quite moist when I transferred them to a big bowl, though.

We’ll probably mix the castings with potting soil and use the mix for our indoor potted plants, most of which are in dire need of transplanting at the moment.

Phil’s fly problem has cleared up, and he seems to be chugging along just fine for the time being. I think this year I’ll make it a goal to ramp up production and really put Phil to work.

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