Questions About Worms
How many worms do I need for my worm bin?
It really depends on the size of the worm bin. For most average sized domestic worm bins, we would suggest you start with 1 lb. (approximately 800 - 1000) mixed sized worms. If the worm bin is larger, or you are composting food scraps for four or more adult persons, we would recommend 2 lbs. of worms.
What king of bedding should I use for my worms?
A 50-50 mixture of peat moss and shredded paper make a healthy bedding for your worms.
A 50-50 mixture of peat moss and black cow manure (found in a bag at Lowes).
How do I feed the worms?
Feed them 1-2 times a week when you first get your worms. As the worms multiply or you see that the food is being rapidly consumed, increase the feeding times and the amount of food. Bury your food scraps into the bedding. Make certain to bury the food in a different place each time you contribute to the bin. Cover the food scraps thoroughly with the bedding to discourage fruit flies and other pests.
What do worms eat?
Worms eat organic, decomposed material. Additionally, worms actually feed on the bugs, bacteria, and fungus that grow on your organic waste as it decomposes. Some of their favorite foods are melons and avocados. They are also quite fond of coffee grinds. But do give them an assortment of different foods. If the baby will eat it, worms will love it.
Why are worms important?
Worms are an important indicator of good soil. If you have lots of worms in your soil, your soil is in better condition than soil with no worms. Worms move around in the soil, keeping it loose and helping to get oxygen to the roots of plants which help them grow. Also, the worms eat the organic matter in the soil and leave worm castings behind which are then readily available to the plants for nutrition.
How do worms breed or reproduce?
Worms are hermaphrodites or intersexes, in that they are both male and female. The fertilized eggs are collected by a ring of mucous on the outside of the body called the clitellum. As the mucous slides off the tail end, it closes, forming a cocoon around the eggs. The eggs then go on to develop into baby worms. Each cocoon can contain up to 20 baby worms. However, the average is usually 5 or 6.
Why are my worms crawling away from the worm bin?
Worms crawl for many reasons. One of the main ones is a lack of air (oxygen) in the bin. This is particularly a problem with deep, plastic bins, and are even worse when the bins have a "clamp-on” lid designed to stop the worms from getting out!
Other conditions would include such items as weather, particularly when it is wet and when the pressure is low. Vibration, even when you don’t feel it, can cause worms to crawl. Adding too many worms when starting the bin, unhealthy conditions developing in the bin, unpleasant food items being added to the bin such as a lot of raw onions, citrus fruit skin, fermenting fruit, alcohol, etc., can all cause worms to crawl and try to escape from the bin.
My worms have died - why?
There are several reasons why they may have died. The most common reason is because the conditions have become intolerable to the worms – the bedding material is too dry or too wet; there is no food available; the material has been allowed to heat up, usually thru the addition of too much uncomposted green material such as grass.
My bin has small white worms in it, are they harmful?
These are pot worms which are not harmful to red worms. They are all part of the eco-system of your bin. Pot worms usually like the bin conditions which are wetter, so keeping the bedding material a little dryer will sometimes discourage these pot worms.
To "dry out” a worm bin that has become too wet - leave the cover open and mix in something to absorb the extra moisture such as shredded paper (not colored or with color ink), shredded brown paper towels (the kind you used at school), or dry peat moss. We find that what works best for us is dry, shredded coconut coir.
How do worms smell?
Worms have specialized chemo receptors or sense organs ("taste receptors”) which react to chemical stimuli. These sense organs are located on the anterior part of the worm.
What are the white maggot looking things in my bin?
These are probably pot worms. Pot worms are part of the eco-system of your bin, and are not harmful to red worms.
How do I get rid of the fruit flies?
Fruit flies are a common nuisance, usually caused by food not being properly buried in the bedding material. You can try putting dry peat moss in the tray about ½ in thick and leave it dry for about three days. Then get it damp. This should help. Completely burying your food in the bedding material will additionally help to discourage fruit flies. Keeping a sheet of newspaper on the top of the top tray helps also because the fruit flies cannot get down to the food. Whatever you do, don't spray them with fly spray. This will not only kill the fruit flies, but it will kill your worms as well.
Should I give my worms water?
A properly maintained worm bin should have sufficient liquid being generated from the food scraps to supply sufficient water for the worms. If you feel the bin is too dry, you can try using a spray bottle to spray small amounts of water in the worm bin. Do not pour water directly into the bin. Additionally, take care that you do not use water from a chlorinated water source, or water which has had potassium added to soften it. Salt is harmful to worms.