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13.01.2014 admin
You can start the hungry bin with compost worms dug out of existing worm farms, compost heaps or harvested from the natural environment. Unlike earthworms, compost worms do not make burrows in the soil, but live in the surface layer (the top 30cm or 12in). Tiger worms (Eisenia foetida), Red worms (Lumbricus rubellus) and Indian blue worms (Perionyx excavatus) are the most common worms used for composting.
If your hungry bin is starting to smell, or the food is rotting before the worms can eat it, add a fine layer of fibrous brown material each time you feed the worms to help balance the bin. The food in the hungry bin needs to have the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen for the bin to be most effective.
Fibrous materials are carbon rich, which also help balance the higher level of nitrogen in food scraps.
The bin will produce about half a litre (one pint) of liquid a day when it has a full worm population and is fed regularly.
The liquid fertiliser should be mixed 1 part with 10 parts water before being sprinkled onto the soil around plants. If you are not getting much liquid it may be evaporating before you get a chance to use it.
If you have started you hungry bin with commercial compost mix or potting mix, it can take a while for the compost to become fully saturated, and the liquid to start running from the hungry bin.
Sometimes worms will cluster at the top of the bin, and on the underside of the lid, if it is about to rain. Adding water to a good layer of dead lawn clippings, leaves and shredded paper before going on holiday. If you haven't added animal proteins, and don't have any foul odours in the bin, then it is likely the maggots you are seeing will be black soldier fly larvae. These little arthropods feed on composting material but are also known to feed on small insects including the odd worm. The food scraps you have placed in to your hungry bin are very attractive to a host of other critters, not just worms.
The best way to reduce the fruit flies present in your hungry bin is to ensure that you are adding enough fibre to balance the acidity, and to cover the food with a layer of newspaper or leaves each time you feed your hungry bin.
We like how this infographic in particular, by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post, includes benefits that you may reap from yoga right after class, after a few months and throughout a lifetime of practice. Wild compost worms can live in lawns, fields and under trees and you may be able to harvest some to start your bin. Sprinkle a small amount of dolomite lime or rock dust on the top layer to help reduce the acidity of the bin.

You can help the process along by sprinkling a little water from a watering can slowly over a couple of days until there is juice draining from the hungry bin. This is a natural response to prevent them from drowning in the wild, or to migrate to fresh food when the ground is wet. Adding shredded paper, dead leaves or dry lawn clippings to the food for a week or two before you go away helps the food last longer. All you need to do is alternate layers of leaves, dried grass clippings, shredded paper with alternate layers of food scraps. However, it is a living ecosystem and some small beneficial insects can exist in the bin quite happily. Fruit flies will normally be present in the bin, but if you have large numbers it can be unpleasant and indicate that the balance in the hungry bin has changed. They generally indicate a slightly acidic environment, which can be remedied easily by adding a handful of garden lime.
Sprinkling some dolomite lime on the top of the food will also help reduce the acidity that is attracting the fruit flies.
Although the worms have a shelf life of up to two weeks, we recommend installing them into your bin immediately. A good way to attract compost worms is to make a thin layer of food scraps on the ground in a suitable location and cover it with sackcloth. A diet of food scraps can be too rich for the worms unless the scraps already contain plenty of fibre (lots of vegetable stalks for example), in which case you won’t have to add as much to keep your worms healthy and your bin smelling sweet. To balance the ratio of carbon to nitrogen, some extra material high in carbon may need to be added to the bin. It includes paper or cardboard, dead leaves, sawdust or wood shavings, vegetable stalks, old grass clippings (brown). Adding fibre to the food when you are putting it in the bin may also help reduce problems with acidity. The design lets excess water drain from the bin, but ensures enough moisture is retained to maintain optimal conditions. However, if you keep the lid on as recommended, it is almost impossible for them to escape. Water any dry material you add to your hungry bin to ensure the bin doesn't dry out while you are away. Ants can be discouraged from enetering the bin by ensuring the bin is not touching a surface the ants can enter the bin from, and then smearing a layer of petroleum jelly on the legs just under the sockets on the lower body. Each of these helps to keep adult fruit flies from accessing the buried food, where they lay their eggs.

The type you may see in your bin will depend on what you are feeding your worms, where you live and the time of year. It may be best to simply allow them to grow out of the larval stage (which they do quickly) and fly off.
If you wish to remove them, you could lay damp newspaper on top of the food scraps overnight, in the morning remove the paper with the slaters attached. They also like dark tight crevices so you could uncover the bin for periods of time, which will make the worms work at lower levels and discourage the cockroaches from taking up residence. This is especially true if you are eating a lot of fruit like kiwi fruit or bananas which have high sugar levels. While we know the effects of yoga can’t really be whittled down to a few words and pretty pictures, these things sure do come in handy when inevitably people ask, what’s so great about yoga?
The worms do need to be moist though, so if the bin has dried out, sprinkle a little water on the top of the bin. The filter tray may also have become blocked with paper or plastic if this has been placed in the bin.
Occasionally a worm may fall from the bin into the drip tray, especially if castings have recently been removed.
If you are away for longer, you may need to ask a freind to feed your farm while you are away. Covering the food with a hessian sack, old carpet or damp newspaper will also discourage unwelcome visitors. If you have large numbers present, harvest the worms and get rid of all your affected castings (put them in an outdoor compost pile, or bury them in the garden). You can remove them by putting in food overnight that the mites are attracted to (like watermelon rind) then remove the next morning with the mites attached and wash them off. After a few weeks you will notice worms beginning to appear – these can be harvested and placed in your hungry bin.
In fact, they are good decomposers and, like the compost worms, will produce a high-quality casting.
Slaters can also be an indication that the bin is dry so add some water to reduce their population. To get rid of cockroaches without using baits you could try a 1:1 mixture of baking soda and sugar.

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