Losing the will to worm

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NPJJ
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Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:22 pm

Losing the will to worm

Post by NPJJ » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:31 pm

Hi, new on here and looking for a few pointers to reignite some enthusiasm for my wormery as I'm rather losing the will. I bought it about a year ago and set it up as instructed. The first tray which was half made up of the coir which arrived with the wormery, has done ok and is still sitting on the bottom of the wormery with a decent number of worms in it. I'm probably going to use it to mulch in the next couple of weeks.
Since then however, I have thrown tray after tray away after it has become a stinky, gunky mess inhabited only by tiny white worms and abandoned by the big worms. I've only had success with one tray since the first one which they seem to have taken to and started to break down. I've read all the advice but no amount of shredded paper, dried eggshells or torn up egg cartons seem to rectify the problem. I really thought this wormery was going to be an excellent solution to having a small garden with no room for a classic compost heap but no kerbside food waste collection but it is so much more effort than I expected.
It seems if I leave it a few days unattended then I return to find that the food has become anaerobic and the worms have left. It's really hard to keep on top of it, particularly through winter when I'm not at home during daylight hours through the week. I'm on the verge of abandoning the whole thing but if anybody has any pointers then please do shout up and I'll give them a go.

Lilwriggler
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by Lilwriggler » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:11 pm

How much food are you adding in a typical week? Using the four corner method I would add perhaps a banana skin, 2 small cups full of waste hamster droppings/food and maybe an apple core/skin every 2 weeks, and i am probably overfeeding for this time of year. my initial expectations of my wormery were that i would process a lot more food than that, but have accepted that they are just part of my wider composting arrangement with my tumbling composter(which i have a lot more problems with). The worms just get the best stuff and i just enjoy there slow but steady processing!

NPJJ
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by NPJJ » Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:14 am

Thanks for the reply. That suggests that I'm giving them too much food. Approx 1 kg of food waste from the kitchen caddy per week plus shredded newspaper (I don't have a hamster). As you say, it looks like I'm expecting too much from them! I'll reduce the amount as suggested and see how I get on. The FAQ on the website says they will consume 500g per day so I didn't think I was giving them too much!

WillyWorm
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:19 am

Hi, sorry to hear you are have problems with your worm bin. It can be difficult in winter to maintain a good worm environment.
A smelly, slimy, anaerobic bin is down to one or two reasons or a combination of the two. The bin is far too wet or too much food is being added too often.
Is you bin inside or out?? There is a gap around each of the trays to allow air flow to the individual trays, this is important and vital to your worms. If your bin is outside it can easily flood in the rain, you can solve this by placing a plastic sheet over the top. If your bin is inside or out you should never need to add water there is enough in the food stuff.
In good conditions your worms will eat approximately half their own weight in food. 1000 worms weigh approximately 1 lb/ 500g. But in the winter this is very much reduced. In the summer I feed every day, in the winter once per week. The “four corner feeding system” is intended to monitor the feeding and consumption of food thereby allowing you to adjust the amount you are putting into the bin. In the winter I only use two corners.

To get things back on track I would remove any food I could find, “fluff-up” all the bedding to get some air in to it, add new dry bedding to top of the top tray then leave without food for one or two weeks. When the worms move from the bottom tray or you have time to move them, remove and use the castings.

It is important to understand a worm bin is not a compost heap and needs some management, but should take little time and return lovely castings. If you are generating more food than you can use then you may like to look at an APP call “Share Waste” which links composters with waste generators who can’t compost their own, it is also a good APP if you would like more compostable marital.

Hope that helps, please keep us updated
Willy

WillyWorm
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:33 am

Hi, the consumption of 500g of food per day is rarely achieved in small worm bins like ours. To get anywhere close to this you need almost perfect that’s moisture, temperature, population level of the bin, maturity of the worms plus the right sort of food. This amount of food conversion may happen a few days in the summer but is mainly in the realm of the big worm farmers. Most figure about speed, amount, time are based on perfect conditions.
Please do not get to hung up on it.

Willy

NPJJ
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by NPJJ » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:12 pm

Thanks very much Willy, it's clear I have been feeding them too much. I'll do as you suggest and give them some fresh bedding and some time off and then feed them less than I have been. The bin is outside but I leave the tap open so water seems to flow through and drain pretty well.

Thanks for the feedback.

WillyWorm
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:25 pm

Leaving the tap open will allow water to escape but not before it’s made your castings very very wet, far to wet for the worms to enjoy.

Willy

WillyWorm
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:45 pm

I think water getting into your bin may be your major problem. You said the first tray had worked but since putting the second tray in place it had gone wrong. If you look when only one tray is in place the air vent around the tray goes direct to the sump and can escape via the tap with little wetting of the bedding due to the over lap of the roof section. The a second tray is put in place the air vent leads direct into the first tray and makes it extremely wet before leaching to the sump. A lot of the water will now be wicked up to the top tray making that too wet for the worms.
The old saying is if you take a handful of bedding or castings in your hand and squeeze if two or more DRIPS of water come out it is too wet, if one drip comes out it may be too wet!

Willy

NPJJ
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by NPJJ » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:06 pm

Hi Willy,

Thanks, I'll try putting the bin under cover so it doesn't get wet. It's been a very wet winter here so this may well be a big part of the problem. Will report back on progress!

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wormcity
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Re: Losing the will to worm

Post by wormcity » Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:34 pm

It's been a wet winter everywhere!!!

When will it stop?

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