It is now two weeks later and it’s time for the initial sort and observe. I made a purpose built sorting surface for the floor of the Mancave consisting of two plastic shopping bags taped together. Inventive, but not ground breaking here, folks.
Then I had a cursory inspection of the current bin. I have been keeping the surface moist by spraying it with a water bottle as needed. I noticed at this point that the worm bed was smelling exactly the way that peaches don’t. When people use words like dank and musty, this is the smell coming off the bin. Not bad, just … unpleasant.
After sorting the bin, I found the worms. Of the twenty five that went in, twenty three came out. There were two missing, but I may have miscounted when I added them originally.
The worms seemed healthy enough, if a little sluggish. I was sorting them in the bright lights of the Mancave in the early evening. As per a comment elsewhere, the bedding didn’t seem especially warm (anaerobic) nor have turned too acidic without sufficient bedding. The dirt was definitely clumping together and still made for horrible bedding for the worms.
All in all, they seem to be about the same size as two weeks ago.
Post check, I repacked the bedding and put the worms back into their bedding. For want of a better word. True to form, they scarpered from the light back into the bedding. Possibly cursing me out all the while. Assuming that worms can do that, of course.
Just to be safe, I kept the bedding under a light to help encourage them to burrow and I am glad that I did! I was examining the surface to see what was going on and my attention was drawn to … COCOONS!!
Actual, proper, honest to goodness cocoons! There were easily a half dozen on the surface of the bedding. I was so excited I sat and just looked for ten or fifteen minutes seeing how many there were.
At the two week check, I have live worms who look a little haggard and a heap of cocoons. The presence of the cocoons may have been the result of natural breeding processes given the relatively confined space, access to food and “toxic” bedding circumstances. However, while I was observing the cocoons, I also noticed a little white worm poking around one of the cocoons in the bedding. Based off the original document, these are very likely to be very small, red composting worms.
So I have proof of concept!
And now the great news. I am going to dump the contents of the experiment back into my general population bin. I don’t have the heart to keep this up! I feel genuinely terrible about doing this experiment and the victims deserve a it of a break amidst comfortable bedding and healthy food.
So, dear reader, let me save you the time and bad karma. My conclusion is that this would be a great way to raise a massive stock in a confined space, but I think it is cruel and unnecessary in most cases to do it.
The Gentleman Vermiculturist can be found on Facebook and Instagram as well as other social media. He talks incessantly about worms.