Update on 6/30/12: I am sad to report that we have released our composting worms into a compost pile in the wilds of my backyard. I hope they make out OK!
The reason is that we were not careful enough about freezing or microwaving our food scraps, and we may have over-fed our worms. As a result, our kitchen was overrun with vinegar flies. We tried burying the kitchen scraps with a deeper layer of brown organic matter, but it didn't help enough.
So, sadly, we collected the vermicompost and spread it in my gardens, and then we released the worms to fend for themselves. NOT in soil, mind you! They would be sure to die there. We have a compost bin full of hay, wood shavings, guinea-pig and rabbit manure, as well as food scraps. We released them there in the hope that they'll have some chance of surviving there.
|My worms' new home|
We washed out the bins really well. When the vinegar flies are gone from our kitchen, we are going to set up the compost bins again and order more worms. But we'll be careful not to overfeed them, and to freeze or (more likely) microwave our kitchen scraps before feeding, both to help it break down faster for the worms, and to kill off any fly larvae or eggs before they have a chance to become a nuisance.
Live and learn.
Update on 10/25/12: Don and I have been missing our composting worms, so we decided to start the kitchen worm bin back up this fall. Don dug through the outdoor compost bin to look for red wrigglers, but they were gone! Either they've dispersed or something evil befell them. There were a lot of ants in the pile, and Don read somewhere recently that worms and ants don't get along.
So I went online to findworms.com and found a source of red wrigglers. They were shipped to our home in great condition and with good instructions. Since we've had worms before, we had their home all set up and ready for them. They've settled in quickly and are already making short work of the kitchen scraps they're getting. We've been microwaving the food and cooling it off before giving it to the worms.
I've also been reminded since then to try DE if we have trouble with flies or other insects in our worm bin. DE does the worms no harm, is perfectly natural, but kills most insects without any poisons. I wish I'd remembered that last time round!
Update for January, 2013: Our re-established red wrigglers are doing great. Don is chopping up their food, using a small food processor dedicated for the purpose. He either freezes their food for a few days, or microwaves it, or both. He makes sure the food returns to room temperature before he puts it in their bin, of course. The worms are thriving, they eat a good part of our daily kitchen scraps, and the flies are gone. Success!