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#125 - Adding Worms to the Hungry Bin

Ok, after letting the Hungry Bin sit overnight to settle in (which is not required per the instructions but I am erring on the side of caution) I retested the pH level and moisture level.


Using a moisture meter is basically useless as it will only show that the compost is "WET" but that doesn't really give us any information. For instance is it just right or is it too wet. According to the meter it is pegged all the way to the wet side of the indicator, but by performing a manual test of the compost just as we do on the hot compost pile, it appears to be just right. I am not able to squeeze any water out of the compost, yet it does hold together in a clump when squeezed and breaks apart easily afterward.


The pH yesterday was just a tad high at just over 7, but it has settled down to right on 7 today which is right where it needs to be. When raising worms be careful when purchasing a soil pH and moisture meter as most soil pH meters sold today only have a range of 3 to 8 and we need a wider range than that. Luckily I have a pH meter that I purchased a few years ago that goes all the way from 1 to 14.


The reason you do not want a pH meter that tops out at 8 is it will not be very accurate near the top. Any meter is most accurate closer to the center of its scale, so when it gets closer to the top end of the meter it can be off and you would not know it. Since a neutral pH is already at 7, having a scale top out at 8 is pretty useless. If the soil starts to become alkaline, you would not know it until it was too late and you started trying to figure out why your worms were either dying or were trying to all escape out of the bin.


I noticed an issue with the location where I wanted to have the bin set up at the back of the house so I decided to move it to a new location at the front of the house so that it would be in shade longer dirung the day. Unfortunately this location does get sunlight in the later afternoon and evening before the sun goes down so it is not ideal, but overall it will get less sunlight than the original location.


A word of caution here, be very careful as you move the Hungry Bin from one location to another, especially if you are moving it over hard surfaces like concrete. Remember that the whole system works on compression of the castings as they are pushed down through the wedge shape of the Hungry Bin body. Everything is being held up my the collection tray on the bottom of the bin that is held in place by the to snap clips on the sides. If the Hungry Bin encounters a sudden sharp blow, for instance going over a large extension cord and the hard plastic wheels slamming back down hard on the concrete surface, that may unlatch the clips and allow the material inside to drop farther down than it is supposed to be, further compacting everything.


This is exactly what happened to me, not once, but TWICE as I moved it from one location to another. The first time on the extra heavy duty extension cable, and the second time it happened I had to take it down a set of concrete steps and it landed just a bit too hard on the bottom one, again unclipping the side clips allowing everything to drop lower in the chamber and compress once again.


If this happens, there is only one way to fix it. I had to shovel all of the compost back out of the Hungry Bin into a storage tub, remove the bottom collection tray and clean the screen back out, then lock it back into place and refill the Hungry Bin with the compost once again.


My suggestion, set up the Hungry Bin where you are going to operate it, especially if you will not be moving it across a softer ground like your yard where you will be rolling it around on grass.


Ok, the Hungry Bin is reloaded, again, and since everything looks good with the moisture level and the pH level is within normal range I am going to add the worms to the system today so they can become acquainted to their new home and get settled in.