Killing more worms!!!
  • Okay, I thought I was doing good, but I'm apparently doing something wrong. I have worms that I see on the top of the bedding in my bed and they are listless. Some of the worms are actually dead on top. At the begginning I had worms trying to escape, but I took everyone's advice and kept a light on them and they stopped escaping. Now, I have one or two escaping now and then, but it doesn't appear that all the worms are trying to get out of the bin. I would think if I had problems with the bedding that a HUGE amount of worms would be escaping, but I don't have that.

    If I dig down in the 'dirt' there are more worms, but they are not quite as active as I would expect them to be; however, I'm new to this, so I'm not sure how active they should be!! Is it possible I have too many worms in my small bin and they are overcrowded?

    I only feed the worms twice a week...and only feed them if the food is completely gone from the last feeding. I don't want to overfeed, but maybe I'm not feeding enough?!

    I have a tray type system. I'm only using the bottom tray right now. the inside of the tray is about 17.25 inches square and about 3 inches deep. I bought 1 pound of red wigglers. The tray is only about 2 inches full of bedding...plus the worms. Should I add more bedding so the tray is more full?

    Lastly, on the bottom of the tray I drilled 8 holes that are about 3/4 inch wide. They are spaced around the bottom of the tray evenly. I did this for air circulation as well as drainage. However, I have a tray on the bottom of the bin and I NEVER get any liquid in the tray. I even poured a bunch of water in the bin the other day and still none really leaked out. Does this mean my bin is too dry? Should I have drainage every day?

    THANKS!! I know this is a really long post loaded with a ton of questions. I appreciate all the help I can get to make my worms happy. ;)
  • Sounds like you may have mixed the food into the bedding? This can cause problems try feeding them on top only. Please let us know if this has been the case. I will assure you that this is not caused by underfeeding.
  • I have fed them 3 times in a 14 day period. I give them about 1 cup of chopped up food. It is like chunky salsa consistency. I have place the food in a different corner of the bin each time. I lifted up the bedding until I saw the bottom of the bin and then placed the food in and covered it over with the bedding in the corner. Just a small part of the corner...not spread out over the entire bin. I've been feeding them vegetables, apples, cantaloupe rinds. I also crushed up egg shells and put about 2 tablespoons 'sprinkled' over the top of the bin about a week ago.
  • I noticed quite a few worms today that are kinda strange looking. They have complete white sections on their bodies and they also have lumps or swollen areas in a few spots. Some look normal except for small sections on their bodies are 'stringy' and smaller than the rest of them. Some look normal and healthy, but when I pick them up they don't move at all. They just lay in my hand completely still. Then there are some where they are quite active and healthy and move away from light and when I touch them they move with lightening speed. Then there are some that are on top of the bin and completely dried out and stuck to dried out cardboard sections. I water the bin daily in the morning, but by evening the top layer is almost bone dry. However, the bottom section is really, really wet...not dripping wet, but definitely can make 'mud pies' if wanted to. It is 'sticky'.

    I have not fed them any meat or greasy stuff. Only fruits and veggies, a bit of crumbled bread and some egg shells. WHAT IS GOING ON IN MY BIN?!!! HELP!!
  • I think I may have figured out a potential problem. I didn't even think about this, but in Yuma, AZ the tap water is salty. We DO NOT drink the water, although a lot of people do. It just tastes too funny to me. There are tons of water stations around town where you can fill up jugs with fresh water for a small price. We do use the tap water for cooking and cleaning and so forth. I had been filling up a squirt bottle with water from the tap and letting it sit overnight to dechlorinate the water and then spraying the worm bins each morning. Would the salt in the water be causing all my problems? I added some lime yesterday and some fresh newspaper print bedding. Hopefully that helps.

    Any other suggestions?
  • Shawn, I live in NM. I also am trying a worm farm in a 5 bin container. I purchased one pound of worms and some of Matthews starter dirt. The bin container was given to me and I did not have intructions. I started out with one bin. Put a piece of cardboard in the bottom added the started dirt and wet shredded paper. The worms seemed to want to leave. So I added another bin. Split the worms up and added more shredded paper. The second bin does not have cardboard. I feed about 1 cup or food in each bin in the corner like you do once a week. I rotate the bins once a week and I add shredded paper once a week. They seem happy.
    I think you should target your bedding as a problem. It should be constistantly moist in the bin. This is my second try at worms and my most sucessful. I am not an expert but the starter dirt that I got from Matthew is making a difference. Ps. I keep my worms in the garage and they do have the lid on top of the two bins. I did not modify the bins. However I started leaving the drain open to reduce the moisture. I never have to spray them. By the way we also have very bad water.

    Lark
  • "I noticed quite a few worms today that are kinda strange looking. They have complete white sections on their bodies and they also have lumps or swollen areas in a few spots." This is definitely what is commonly called "protein poisoning".

    I don't think protein poisoning is caused by an actually poisoning, but instead an imbalance of worm bin conditions. I had this problem several times when I first got started worm farming.

    I would get a container and fill it with paper, cardboard and other bedding of choice. Do not add any food, but get the bedding moist. Get it to the point where a drop or two of water comes out when squeezed. Transfer all the live worms into this new bin. Don't feed them for 2 weeks. They will be fine with out the food.

    Clean out the other bin well and you can transfer them back into it after the 2 weeks. Only feed them a little after the 2 weeks, then wait and slowly you will be able to feed them more. Worms can consume a lot of food, but only after they are established.
  • Thanks for the help Matthew and Lark.

    I transfered my worms to a new bin today. Sadly I lost quite a few. I did salvage about 200, so that is pretty good. The drainage holes I created had bits of cardboard matted down on them and so there wasn't any drainage. That is probably the biggest problem. There were sections of the bin that had dead worms and it was disgusting...like something you'd see on CSI. ;) I did have some really tiny worms, so I'm assuming those are babies. Hopefully now that I started a new bed they will be able to perk back up and start reproducing.

    I put them in newspaper and cardboard is all. Should I add anything else?
  • Um, the worms aren't really moving into the bedding. They are just laying on the top. They'll squirm a little now and then, but for the most part they just lay there. Will they eventually perk up or are they gonners? Even when I point a flashlight at them they just sit there. They'll wiggle a bit, but not much. What should I do?
  • Shawn, any luck with the worms?
  • Worms are doing great Matthew!!! I actually went on vacation and I was scared that if I didn't keep a close eye on them they wouldn't continue thriving. So I took 'em with me to Utah. My family thought it was pretty cool to see my little worm farm. ;) When I moved them from the one bin to the other, I counted about 200 worms, but when I dig down and find them, I don't think there is anywhere near 200. I must have lost more? I don't see any dead worms anywhere though...weird. They are moving quickly and seem to be pretty happy. I'm going to start feeding them food again...in very small amounts. ;) Thanks for the encouragement. Hopefully I get it right this time around.
  • Sounds like you got it correct now. It takes a little to get the hang of it. Overfeeding is provably the number one problem for sure. Extra paper like material in the worm bin also helps solve many problems.
  • Bye the way, yours worms have it great it sounds like. They get to go on vacation! That's cool.
  • Matthew just a thought but seems like problems with food mixing in with the bedding could have also been worked out if  new worm farmers start with a mix of both red wigglers and euros   as the euros will go down into the bedding to feed on the food   (I think you mentioned this in your section discussing the differences between reds and euros)  

    I have a bin with just euros in it   just a few as most escaped on me   but the ones who remained seem to be doing ok    well I mixed food in that bin accidently   I like to view the worms and see what they are up to   and then I realize as I am looking for them  I am mixing the food I put on top  with the bedding   do euros do better with the mixing?  Its a large bin for a few worms  so I'm sure that helps as well and I never put much food in   I don't see any issues in that bin yet  but I will keep an eye for the health of the euros   I also put deer manure in the bin recently to try and speed up the good bacteria growth  as I think thats why most left the bin because I really didn't have the bin established long enough 
  • Matthew,   I read that you can use wood ash from hardwoods such as maple and ash   instead of lime to balance ph in wormbin    also using ground eggshells once in awhile helps   and using high carbon non acidic bedding such as cardboard and newspaper  instead of peat moss    whats your view on this?      
  • I agree with all of the above. Be carefull with the wood ash as it dosn't take much. Wood ash is quite concentrated.
  • I have a tub for a worm bin Outside in a shaded area of my yard
    Its been at least 2 years that I`ve last change the bedding in it 
    I went to remove a few worms because i raise them for fishing and noticed the dirt was a little sticky
    The worms seem fine. I`m just concerned about the dirt.

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