Organics - Worm farm mainteinance

The Two Golden Rules Of a Worm Farmer

1. Know Your Limits

A worm farmer must know how much of feed and what kind of foods and wastes a worm bin can process. Overfeeding is basically the only thing that can kill off the worms (too high protein levels -> composting or 'sour bin disease'). Salt, pesticides and drugs can also kill off worms. So know the limits for food intake and experiment carefully.


2. Leave it alone

Leave them alone - they like it like that. If you really must work on worm farming, just start a NEW bin. Or how about another spliff of the sweet flavoured worm casting grown..


Do you need to mist a worm bin from time to time to keep it moist? 

Not really, as the vegetable waste seems to contain enough moisture to keep things moist and juicy. Sometimes one has to add a little water.

But a worm bin should contain a lot of moisture. A 50% to 85% saturation (of the full saturation) favours the worms growth, digestion and breeding. If a bin gets too dry, one can add water by spraying or sprinkling (or however).


What if it gets too soggy in there?

Often a worm bin gets too moist. But if you add the a newspaper on top, in two, three days it will soak up the excess moisture and can be removed. Repeat until desired moisture content has been achieved.


Do you cover a worm bin or does it need some light?

Yes, all my bins have covers or lids. A worm bin doesnt need any light, in fact worms are afraid of light and will avoid it. Most worm species are very adventurous and will roam around for no particular reason, and if my bins didn\'t have lids they might leave for excursions.


Do you move your bin around from time to time or just leave it alone? Do you turn the bedding?

Its best to leave it alone. Worms move the bedding and castings about. Turning or moving isn't needed, and might bother the worms... but Im a nervous little chimp so I 'dig in' at times to see whats going on.


What are the conditions that will cause them to die off?

Worms will produce castings in a very wide window of environmental conditions.

Freezing or human fever temperatures will cause worm deaths. They also need oxygen to breathe, and they do not like poisons or pesticides, although they can eat many things like motor oil.

Most often a worm bin will die off because of inadequate ventilation or because the organic waste starts to 'heat up' from the bacterial action, cooking the worms.


There are mites in there! Do I need to DDT the house to protect my plants?!

No. The mites in a worm bin are either decomposers or predators and do not eat plants (if they were after plants they would not survive in the bin).

Worm farm/bin mites can be controlled by lowering the moisture levels, and are often a sign that the farm/bin is too moist. Red and brown mites are usually predators, some even attack the worms and suck their blood. Usually mite populations in the bins are not a problem, and will die off the farm/bin is no longer being fed.


What are those strange insects in the bin?

It is common to come across fruitflies, Mites (Acarina), threadlike white worms (Enchytraeidae), springtails (Collembola) and sow bugs (Isopoda). Outdoors an unprotected bin will attract worm-eating pests like land planarians, rodents and birds, so suitable measures should be taken.


How often do they reproduce?

Worms will start reproducing as soon as they are mature. The reproductive cycle for composting worms is about 100 days.

A worm population can grow exponentially in size given enough room and nutrients. I find its quite easy to double population size very 4 months.

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