Monday, May 5, 2008

Worm Bin Update: Castings & Red Spider Mites

I've been vermicomposting for about 3 weeks now. The worms are doing well and are producing many castings which is exciting. I am feeding them about twice a week and am feeding more organic matter than when I first got them, working them up to their full composting potential.
I have been adding more layers of hay after feeding to help cover it up, and to make sure there is enough "brown" matter to balance all of the fresh "green" matter I add to the bin. I also make sure to keep the bin moist. So far no liquid has drained out of the bottom of the bin, so I hope the bin is moist enough and that the drainage holes are not blocked. Sometime soon I am thinking of giving the bin a good mix to help aerate and to check the drainage holes to make sure they're not blocked up. The bin is not smelly at all, as all food matter added is buried under the layers of newspaper, hay, and soil. It has a pleasant earthy smell. There's some beauty to the bin:

Rich worm castings are being produced!

I have noticed some tiny red spiders crawling all over my worm bin, both inside and out, walking all over the lid. They appeared about 1-2 weeks after I started the bin. My initial thoughts were that they must be involved in the decomposition process in some way, just like the worms are. Even when I had to have my worm bin indoors due to cool weather, these mites did not leave vicinity of the bin indicating to me they were attracted to the contents of it.

This is a photo of one of the Tetranychus urticae inhabiting my wormery.


Heather said...

Hey--whatever happened with your spider mites? We had an 'outbreak' about 1-2 weeks into vermicomosting but chalked it up to some material we added from a floral arrangement. We were feeling like we had to chuck the hole thing and start over. i'd be interested to hear how you handled the spider mites?

bonnie scott said...

The Spider Mites are still around my bin, though not in as heavy numbers as they were when the bin was outside on my balcony during spring and summer. Since the spider mites are really just part of the whole decomposition process I never worried too much about them and just let them do their thing.
I wouldn't throw out your bin because of them, as they are really just helpers in the whole process and will likely keep to your bin as its contents are why they are there in the first place.

dan said...

everything i have read says they are fine, just try to dry out the bin a bit to manage population

jaytea said...

Most mites are harmless to worms, but look out for the red mites. They can really hurt the worms. I have seen the damage that they can do to the cocoons and it isn't pretty. Apparently, they suck the juices from the worms bodies and the cocoons. After red mites have attacked the cocoons the cocoon looks like a deflated football. I have never seen the cocoons look like that except when red mites are present. Hope this helps!

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