Worm Bin Problems

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Here you will find answers to common worm bin problems. By popular request here is an index that will help you find answers to any worm bin problems you are having.

 

Worm Bin Problems

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

By popular request here is an index that will help you find answers to any worm bin problems you are having.

Worm bin pH, testing and adjusting.

Sunday, September 12th, 2010
pH testing

Testing pH with litmus paper.

Ok so how do you use the pH and crushed limestone anyhow?

It is best to try to keep the pH around 6.5-7 in the worm bin. They are several different ways to test, but a good one is to add a few pinches of worm bedding to a few tablespoons of distilled water. Then you simply dip the test strip into the water and note the color change to the litmus paper. The paper will only stay the proper color for a short time, so note it quickly. Compare the color to the chart to determine the pH. The exact number is not extremely important so don’t be to concerned about getting precisely right. You just want to know if it is real acidic. If this is the case then time to start adjusting it with some crushed limestone. Acidic is any number below 6. Application of the limestone will raise the pH. This will not be an instant change and will take a number of applications over a few weeks to change.

The limestone is used by sprinkling a small amount (dusting) over the surface every other day or so. I like to do this just after watering. Once the pH is mostly balanced you can keep it in check by adding some limestone to the feed source before adding.

Keeping the pH in check helps to keep mites and a whole host of other problems in line. It is not so important I think if you have mild and cooler weather, but if it is real hot any added stress from pH seems to make the red wiggler worms suspect to other problems.

Red Wiggler Worm farming in the heat.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

“How hot can my worm composting bin get without killing the red wigglers?”

That is a question I have been getting lately. Worms can actually survive quite high temperatures, but the conditions have to be right. Continue reading “Red Wiggler Worm farming in the heat.” »

Common questions people ask about worms and worm farming

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Here are a list of emails that I have received and answered that I thought contained valuable information.

Question: Does the same rules apply to your night crawlers [as to red wigglers]?  And can they co-exist with the wigglers I would really like to start my own small worm farm for fishing. So I will need to get everything I need from you to get started. There is no were around us to get the small wigglers (for my grandkids to catch sunfish) and even night crawlers are hard to come buy. I will have to do a little studying and order some nice worms from you ASAP.

Answer: Continue reading “Common questions people ask about worms and worm farming” »

More worm bin critters

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Well I am sure there are to many critters that could possibly find a home in a worm bin to ever list, but I am going to start a list. There are many places with list already, but I will try and produce the most extensive list with common and scientific names and pictures. I will include a reference HERE. This post will be updated regularly as it will be an ongoing work. Please help by adding new creatures, your experiences with them, if a particular creature has been a problem or help to you, what you have done to get rid of a creature or manage it, corrections to scientific names (they are always changing), any good pictures you have of a bin creature or anything else that may be helpful. And so it begins…

There are plenty of authors who have wrote of there experiences with worm bin creatures but two excellent sources , although not writing specifically on this subject, having practical information on many creatures are worth mentioning. Mary Appelhof’s Worms Eat My Garbage covers many of the more common creatures, and Ruth Myer’s A-Worming We Did Go! goes into great detail about a couple of common problem creatures and how she finally overcome the great troubles she had with them.

This is going to take some time so I think I will do it like this. I will make a list here on this post and then go back and make a more detailed post on each creature in this list with a link to it from here.

Scientific names may be given as a family where many varieties exist.

potworm whitewormWhite Worms, Pot Worms
Scientific family: Enchytraeids
Small white segmented worms. 10-25mm long
Effect on worm bin: Consume and help break down bin components. Not a problem where composting is the main objective. Undesirable where worm production is the objective. These are not nematodes which are unsegmented.

Springtails

colorful-springtail-with-water-drop

Thanks to lord v on flickr for another amazing photo!

Scientific order: Collembola
Over 1200 different know species with habitats from the Arctic to the equator.
Small white flea like creature. May cover surface of bin so thickly that they look like a white powder.
Can jump the equivalent of human jumping the Eiffel Tower!
One of the most important creatures for creating the worlds soil humus.
Effect on worm bin: Consume and help break down bin components. Not a problem where composting is the main objective. Undesirable where worm production is the main objective.

Woodlice Rolly-Polly SowbugSowbugs, Pillbugs, Woodlice, Rolly-Pollies, Isopods
Scientific name: Armadillidium vulgare
Look like tiny armadillos. Can roll into small balls. Need a moist environment to transpire O2.
Effect on worm bin: Consume and help break down bin components. Not a problem where composting is the main objective. Relatively non-invasive and should not ever present a problem to most worm bins.

Centipedes
Picture
Scientific Class: Chilopoda
Ok these are one thing that we need to keep out of the bin. They are not likely to multiply rapidly but if you see them kill em, at least this is my opinion. Be careful as they have a poisonous bite and they may eat the occasional worm. They often find there way in on yard trimmings and I often see them in mulch. You can easily tell them apart from harmless millipedes by the number of legs per body segment. Centipedes have two legs per segment, while millipedes have four. Also centipedes can move much quicker than millipedes.

millipede

Millipede

Millipedes

more info to come

mites-and-a-springtail

Thanks to lord v on flickr for the use of this amazing photo! He has more click on the photo to look.

Mites

more info to come

Spirit of a Worm Farmer

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Being a worm farmer requires a unique type of person. Some one who is resourceful and not afraid to try something new. Also one must not be afraid to be different because well being a worm farmer is a little different.

Flow Through Worm Bin Worms Etc

Worms Etc Flow Through Worm Bin

I have been a metal fabricator with my own shop for the past few years. It pays the bills and is quite an enjoyable way to make a living. I have no intent of quitting that anytime soon either, but since I enjoy keeping my own “mini-farm” and think that worms are fascinating, I decided to start a worm farm. Also I can now add a line of worm farming tools to my product line coming from my fabrication shop. I always love inventing new tools and machinery and since there is not all that much available in the worm farming trade I thought it an excellent opportunity.

What I did not realize going into worm farming is how challenging it would be. I am so glad that it is though because that is what I find so great about it. Every day there is something new to do, a new problem to solve, questions that need answering, a machine or tool that needs improving etc.

If I ever stop learning new things or if there are no new problems to solve then I will provably get bored and start looking for something new to do. Thankfully though I don’t see that day coming anytime soon.

Hmm, I am really wondering what causes this “protein poisoning” in worms. I think I am going to buy a good microscope on Ebay and see if I can figure this thing out. Should be interesting.

Matthew Wilson

We live and learn part two

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Continued…

So now I have this worm bed with hundreds of dollars worth of worms and countless poor souls on the line, what to do? Well, following the advise of others I added lots of peat moss and mixed it in with the bedding in order to dilute the food waste. This was a lot of work and I am not sure how much it helped.

Red Wiggler Worms and Apple Food Scraps

Food Scraps and Red Worms

The worms that were still alive are now definitely more dispersed and harder to find. This may be due to them dying because as soon as they die they decompose thus also becoming part of the problem by adding more protein to the system. Seeing that this did not solve the problem I spread lots of lime to the top of the bedding and then liberally watered the bed to wash the lime in. This did really seem to help. The worms left were definitely more lively the day after adding lime. The thing is that it seems to have a temporary affect, so now I add lime often, as the worms seem to act favorably towards it. This also increases the agricultural value of the casting by making it a better buffer. Despite my efforts it still seems as I am loosing more worms every day in this bed. I think I am going to add lots of pulverized paper fiber tomorrow and see what effect this has. On the bright side my experimental heating and insulation scheme seems to be working nicely. I will blog on that soon.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew Wilson
Worms Etc

Well, we live and we learn.

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

A few weeks ago I noticed that a few worms in my large flow through bin were acting odd. They were on the surface on the bed and upon inspection I noticed the swelled body sections. Well I knew right away what that meant, “protein poisoning.” For some reason I thought that I could get by with doing what everyone said would lead to this problem. I had succumbed to the feeling of invincibility and now me and my worms were suffering.

“Protein poisoning” is the common title of the malady that result when to much “rich” foods are added to the worm’s habitat. It is easily avoided by not going crazy adding tons of “rich” foods to the worm system. Even if to much food is added the worms should still be OK if they have some food free bedding material on bottom to flee to.

The thing is that I had been getting lots of free food lately and did not want it to go to waste. Also seeing how much the worms mass had been increasing since adding this food stock I thought, like the Indian chief, “Little do little good, lot will do lot of good.” So I added food by the buckets.

Well this led to a fruit fly bloom, so I figured I would toss the bed and cover the food with bedding and them pesky flies will go away. Hey it worked too. I got by with doing this for a while but then one day it bit me and my worm suffered. Sorry guys from now on I will be more careful. To see how the problem got fixed read part 2

Matthew Wilson