Hello!

I know, I know. Again, it’s been three months since we’ve posted anything new. Well, Joseph and I tied the knot in early June (YES!), in which we only had 6 short months to prepare. We decided to get married only in December last year – not exactly the best choice if you prefer to go slow and easy, but definitely an exciting one! 😉

After that, we went for our honeymoon, which turned out to be exceptionally adventurous! I can still remember how it felt like to be sitting precariously in a small speedboat in the midst of a terrible storm, where waves crashed about, bringing us to heights and depths of 5 meters each.

Miraculously, our hearts never pounded and we just felt so privileged to truly experience how it feels like to know for real that we’re well protected by our heavenly Father, whilst other passengers on board were either gripped with fear or seasickness. I even took a short video of us smiling in our saltwater-stained sunglasses and drenched clothes, our hair stuck to our faces like wet glue. Ohh, it was amazing.

When we got back, we rested a bit more, and started to ramp up our engines for work. This brought us back to business once more, where things began chugging along at a comfortable pace.

Other than that, we’ve been mindfully planning for a family, but realised we’re severely unprepared, just like how any aspiring parent would feel. So I’m currently babysitting part-time to enjoy some first hand experience with lovely adorable children. Ironically, this fuels the desire to have one of our own rather impatiently. Hehe.

It’s amazing how married life changes our worldview once again. We thought being university graduates, and then doing a job we love, would be the ‘be all and end all’. We’re glad to be proven wrong.

As Joseph and I proceed to various stages of our life together, we can’t help but to thank God for His wisdom and favour upon us. We’re happy to say that we’ve been blessed every single step of the way! 🙂

Here’s a wedding photo which is being featured on our photographers’ Facebook page:

And now for composting updates many people have been eagerly asking for:

As some of you may know, my dad started vermicomposting (worm composting) as a hobby since January this year. So it’s been about 6 months since we bought our first small batch of worms.

It is general knowledge for several vermicomposters that composting worms double in population every three months. That did not happen for us, as our worms started dying out overtime. Being first timers in this, we unknowingly made the worms feel either too warm, or too dry. More will be explained below.

The first morning, my mom woke up and walked into the kitchen. She was shocked, silenced and stunned by a “scary” sight, she said. The worms were all over the kitchen – on the walls, on the ground, in the corners, several had even reached the living room. They were just everywhere. They were also stretched out very thinly because the surfaces beyond the box were (naturally) dry, and worms only live in moist conditions. Now this is very scary for a lady – in fact, possibly any lady – living in the city.

So my dad was quickly woken up by her, walked out into the kitchen, and hurriedly picked up the worms one by one to place back into the worm bin. Unfortunately, quite a good number of them had dehydrated and died. This probably halved the entire worm population altogether.

The above happened during the same night when the worms arrived at our place. This was possibly due to a change in surrounding conditions that could have made the worms uncomfortable.

Another reason I could think of was probably the lack of oxygen and a less than ideal room temperature; I noted that the worm bin had been covered with a loose and non-drilled lid almost entirely through the night, along with a fresh batch of shredded newspaper to be composted. These probably raised the temperature in the bin, while depleting the oxygen level – both very dismal factors for composting worms.

Next, my dad transported the compost from our DIY composting bins and dumped them into the worm bin. This would seem logical and ideal, since both uncomposted and composted material (from the DIY composting bins) could be further refined by the worms into higher-grade fertiliser. However, we forgot that the DIY composting bins (that were left partially outdoors) would have organisms such as ants, caterpillars etc living in them.

These organisms then formed a disturbing and stressful environment for the worms. Note that composting worms are quite peaceable, and only eat rotting stuff. Organisms such as centipedes can be a huge bane to composting worms, and can play a big part in reducing their population by attacking them. We found at least one in the worm bin. Stressed worms equate to dying worms.

Last but not least, an overly dry condition. This was, in essence, my fault: I bought a new paper shredder for work, shredded up lots and lots of office paper and newspapers, and dumped them all into the worm bin. Spritzing on aged water from a spray bottle, I thought the worms would be thankful for this huge mound of material to feed on.

However, this resulted in an overly dry condition, even though we sprayed water several times. But because the bin was left open most of the time (after learning from our first horrific overnight experience), the spritzed water evaporated very quickly. The worms found themselves trying very hard to weave in and out of dry newspapers, and eventually became incredibly thin and sickly-looking.

These worms then died, contributing to the bin as material to be composted.

Another lesson? Soak your shredded newspapers in aged water first. Water evaporates quickly in a warm climate like Singapore.

So… now we are left with only one healthy adult-sized composting worm, and a couple of small (but thinly) sized composting worms. We believe the latter could be due to the original batch of worms reproducing without our knowledge.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for this new generation of worms.

It helps to always remember that composting worms are like pets! Don’t take their growth and survival for granted. They need a considerable amount of care and maintenance if you want them to work well for you.

We hope our learning lessons prove useful to you! Feel free to comment, and let us know if we might be mistaken on any part.

Finally, we’d like to thank viewers who have come forth with very helpful comments and inquiries over the past months. We’re sorry to be taking so long to reply them! (Reasons stated at the start of this entry.) Please continue to be patient with us, we promise to get back to you as soon as possible. 🙂

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6 responses »

  1. Wong Hin Wai says:

    It seemed that you did a few things wrong. You cannot put the shredded papers on top of the worm layer. That will trap the heat escaping and cause the bin to heat up.

    Also you must not put cooked meat, oils and heavy starch foods as worm feed. That will cause your bin to smell like a garbage bin.

    Also the IKEA bins are not dark enough to create a 100% light-free interior. Try putting a black garbage bag over it. But make sure the bin is in a very shaded place or the sun will heat up the bin too much. In Singapore, there is no problem of the bin getting too cold. In fact our temperature is too hot for composting worms!

    These are my own experience raising worms for several years.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Wong,

      Thank you for dropping us your insights! They have been very helpful. Seems like the worms have been doing alright despite our newbie experiences – those horrible days of escaping worms are long gone. Thank God (:

      And yes, we have kept the bin out of direct light as much as possible. However, we do try to keep some light going in at night, so as to prevent the worms from coming out of the box (since they prefer dark places). We hope that this method will encourage them to stay inside the worm box as much as possible – and it has worked! *whew*

      Another way would be to ensure that their wormy habitat is comfortable enough so they won’t try to look for better pastures. We do this by ensuring there’s sufficient moisture in the bin (i.e. newspaper shreds already pre-soaked in aged water).

      Also, most parts of the bin contains vermicompost. This is because my dad hasn’t had the time to use the vermicompost, so the bin contents remain cool. For any new material that he puts in (i.e. raw kitchen scraps, newspaper shreds etc), he usually puts them near the top. So hopefully the bin won’t heat up, and any warmth can easily escape.)

      The bin has not smelled till this day, that’s because we also try to refrain from adding too much raw kitchen scraps. Most of our feed simply consists of newspaper shreds from unwanted newspapers at home, so that has helped in keeping any odours at bay.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! We’ve related them to my dad, and he is very appreciative as well 🙂

      Have a great Vesak day!

      Blessings,
      Sarah

  2. eagleeye says:

    I have a huge flower pot which I have composting worms inside.
    The mix is 25% perlite 25% vermicuite and 20% feed/coffee powder
    30% soil. Under hot sun, the mix stays very moist and very
    easy to push apart with your fingers. This is key to have a self vermicasting flower pot . I have a mango tree that grows from this pot. I also spray lactobacteria which I harvest from the air and grown with molasses and rice powder as the worms love to eat lacto bacteria. The perlite allows air to get in between the gaps and
    the vermiculite retains water. I can find worms up to 8 inches deep.
    The coffee powder is buried by scraping 3 inch of mix away and then covering it back. This will stop mold and mushrooms from growing.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi eagleeye!

      These are AMAZING tips, thank you so much! You know what, Joe and I have been going back and forth about your ideas which we really can’t wait to try out. But we figure we need our own apartment first (I am currently living with his parents in a very small apartment). So this exciting plan would be on hold for now.

      What we plan to do is to get one of those huge heavy pots (huge enough to stand about 2 grown men inside), and fill it up with all your said materials. However, how do you harvest “lactobacteria”? This is very new but exciting to us!

      If you don’t mind, we’d also like to post your comment on our FB page. We believe this would help other composters out there like us. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences and ideas 🙂

  3. Sidd CK says:

    You really dont need a light above your bin as if u dont bury your food scraps the wroms hardly get to come up to the surface for a top feed… what i would suggesg if u insist the lights to remain is that u lay a big sheet of newspaper untorn or shredded to lay on the top surface…. and to help populate your worms faster u can feed them corn kobs… my experience is that corn kobs dont really heat up and the worms get really fat feedkng on it hence a btter population would occur ♥♥ happy composting

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Sidd,

      Thank you for getting in touch!

      You’ve shared wonderful tips, and we’d love to try them out soon—especially the corn cobs! Over the year, we’ve also noticed that the worms truly did not escape even without the light on. So you’re definitely right!

      On the other hand, we’ve found that the light was necessary when the worms were newly added to the bin (when we first started vermicomposting). We guess it takes a bit of time for the worms to get accustomed to their new surroundings, and the light helped deter them from trying to find “greener pastures”.

      Thank you once again for taking time to share on how to better compost. We’re sure other readers who drop by will appreciate the tips too! 🙂

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