Clearing out a wormery

If you are having problems with an existing wormery, or just need some advice - then ask it here
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leowoodscott
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Clearing out a wormery

Post by leowoodscott » Thu May 12, 2022 2:53 pm

Hi Willy,

Hope you are well and thanks as always in advance for answering my questions. It is so much appreciated.

So firstly, the tap seems to get easily blocked. How often should I expect to clear out the sump tray at the bottom? This is what is causing the block.

I have a few trays at the bottom that are in good shape to be taken out of the wormery. Can I apply these castings to my garden at any time of year or should I use it sparingly and only at a certain time of the year? And am I right in thinking that I should "dilute" these castings with normal compost to make it less rich?

With any worms left in the lower trays should I just move them out by hand into a higher up tray?

Many thanks

Leo

WillyWorm
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Posts: 650
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Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Fri May 13, 2022 2:07 pm

Hi Leo, good to hear from you. Sounds like things in general regarding your worms are going well.
The tap in the sump getting blocked is a regular event. The solids you find in the sump are pure castings left there by visiting worms when they poo. The stuff in the tray always contains some composting material (uneaten food and or bedding) but it is rare for this stuff to fall into the sump, so it’s top quality stuff but will need drying before you can use it. Another way to deal with it is to cut or tear corrugated cardboard into three inch wide strip and fill the sump with them, this will allow your worms to return to the trays and avoid drowning. The worms will eat the cardboard over time and turn into good quality casting but not pure castings.
Yes you can apply finished casting at any time of the year just do it sooner rather than later, they won’t do your flowers, fruit or veg any good sitting in your worm bin.
There is no point in diluting the casting for normal garden use, just use a little less of it. Casting will not harm your plant so can always be used without any dilution. If you are looking to get greater coverage of your plot with a limited amount of casting then consider vermicompost tea (soak) just place a handful of casting into a bucket of water and stir this mix can be kept for 24 hours then watered on the root or folia sprayed on the plants. This is the easiest tea/soak if you go to Youtube you will find many more some using air stones and feeding the compost.
I do take out and return to the bin any worms I see but I don’t go looking for them.

Willy

leowoodscott
Junior Member
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by leowoodscott » Fri May 13, 2022 4:43 pm

Thank you so much Willy. As always super helpful.

When you say "The stuff in the tray always contains some composting material (uneaten food and or bedding) but it is rare for this stuff to fall into the sump, so it’s top quality stuff but will need drying before you can use it." I wasnt sure exactly what you meant, could you very kindly clarify?

I think I will start to put cardboard in the sump as you suggest, and will also expect to clear the tap more regularly (though hopefully the cardboard will help a bit with blockages?!)

With best wishes

Leo

WillyWorm
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Posts: 650
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Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Fri May 13, 2022 7:10 pm

Hi Leo, the stuff in the sump will be top quality because, it is pure casting not mixed with bedding not feed stuff. But the castings from the sump area are always very wet and will need to be dried out. You need to take care when drying these castings because if dried to much they can go like balls of concrete and are difficult to reset. Best to do it on a warm, breezy day turning regularly until the right level of dryness is reached.

If I still have not answered the question let me know and I’ll try again.

leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by leowoodscott » Sat May 14, 2022 11:14 am

Thank you Willy.

Could you just mix those pure castings in with the less pure castings from the tray above to 'dilute' them? Keen to simplify the process as much as possible!

Also I had a look in the sump today and there are lots of tiny tiny white wriggly things. Should I be worried about this? And in the 2 trays above that are nearly ready to clear also lots of slightly larger white tapeworms.

Is there ever an instance of the castings appearing good but not being fit for purpose?

Many thanks again

Leo

WillyWorm
Senior Member
Posts: 650
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Sat May 14, 2022 6:15 pm

Yea you can mix pure worm casting with other worm castings even shop bought compost.

The little white things sound like “pot worms”
they will help with the composting and are part of the composting process. However to many of them could indicate the ph of the bin is a little acidic and may also be a little wet. Best action is to add powdered egg shell to the bin a little at a time, maybe a teaspoon each feed, and fluff up the bin to help dry it a little.’there is no panic the main thing is to keep an eye on it.

Willy

leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by leowoodscott » Sun May 15, 2022 9:51 am

Again thank you so much Willy

Would it be worth also spreading the ground up eggshells on the lower trays of the wormery and the sump (where these maggoty things and worms are)? I think it's the lower trays that need it as the top tray seems a bit more 'normal' and Im already putting the ground eggshells here.

Would it be worth putting scraps of eggshell or card on those lower trays too at the same time to help dry it up and improve the acidity.

And you've already mentioned putting cardboard strips in the sump which I will do. Its the sump that has the very tiny maggoty things and then the white tapeworm creatures are more in the two trays above (the ones that seem nearly ready to go).

Many thanks.

Leo

WillyWorm
Senior Member
Posts: 650
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by WillyWorm » Sun May 15, 2022 11:04 pm

Pot worms look like white worms between 15mm and 25mm (1/2inch and 1 inch) in length. Maggots tend to be shorter/smaller and “dumpier” in shape.
If you have pot worms the the reason there are few at the top is because there is more fresh bedding and few castings there. As food and bedding breakdown they become acidic and the ph in the bin will drop to around 5.5, ideal for pot worms, the lime content of the egg shell will raise the ph back to 6.5 or so. At a ph of 6.5 our composting worms will be much happier and the pot worms less so.
I think I have said use eggshell little and often until you see very few pot worms. I tend to only use shell and grit in the top tray leaving the worms and gravity to take it down to other levels.

Good luck
Willy

leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: Clearing out a wormery

Post by leowoodscott » Mon May 16, 2022 4:31 pm

thank you willy - ill have a go and keep fingers crossed!

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