my worms aren't hungry!

starphiApril 14, 2013

Hey Fellow Wormies,

I am new to worms, my Can O'Worms and 1000 worms have been going for about 6 weeks now. I started with just 1/3 of the moist coconut block as bedding, along with shredded paper and cardboard. I read not to over-feed due to "transfer shock," so I've been taking it slowly.

My worms look great, I try not to disturb too much but they are busy every time I open the bin. However, I have only fed them 3 times, from a kitchen compost bin (10"x6") with chopped veggie scraps. I also add some paper/cardboard (moist) bedding each time. My first bin is almost full from just the three times and on the instructions it says it should take 3-6 months. My worms don't seem to be picking up the pace with their eating and I'm wondering if I should feed again or wait. The last time I fed was almost 3 weeks ago, and I can still see lots of this food and bedding. The bin has some mites, not too many, and does have that "pleasant rainforest smell."

I'm anxious to really start composting but don't want to overfeed. I thought they ate half their weight per day? Any thoughts for me? Appreciate it!!

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sbryce_gw

It takes a while for a new bin to get established. It sounds like yours isn't there yet. If you can still see undecomposed food, don't feed yet. Over time things will speed up. Your description of the bin sounds like you are doing everything right.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 12:45AM
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worm_composting_help

Hello,

I think you are doing a great job with your worm farm but remember that the worms only eat your scraps as they start to decompose. So it can take a while before there will be notable changes inside your worm bin. Your worm herd should under ideal conditions double every 3 month during the warmer summer month but their action will significantly slow down during the colder times of the year.

Just be patient and your worms will speed up the action.

Happy worming!

kind regards

Stephan

Here is a link that might be useful: worm-composting-help

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 2:43AM
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sbryce_gw

Hey, WCH, I think Equinox already tried to tell you this, but you should know that posting a link to your own web site is a violation of the terms of service of this forum. It can get you tossed off the forum. It looks like you have real information and experience to share here. I'd hate to see you banned from the forum for lack of knowledge of the TOS.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:05PM
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chuckiebtoo

One really good way to get the foodstock suitably "decomposed" is to freeze it all first.

When ready to feed, take out a plastic sandwich bag from the freezer, thaw it, place it into the bin in ONE spot, and check back in a day.

They'll be all under it. If not, they got a lot of other food to eat.

Sometimes the best thing to do is be patient and observe. Don't pay all that much attention to what you read.....watch what you see.

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:00PM
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starphi

I really appreciate all of the advice. I think I'll learn a lot with worms. I didn't realize the food had to be decomposting for them to eat it. Thanks for the reassurance, I'll just work on being more patient :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:22PM
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sbryce_gw

Worms don't have teeth. They can't take bites out of solid food. What they are really after is the microbes that decompose the food. So when the food is decomposing, they scoop it into their mouths with the worm equivalent of lips. The food needs to be decomposed enough to be mushy enough for the worms to basically suck it into their mouths.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 4:16PM
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chuckiebtoo

Food doesn't really have to be decomposing to be edible, and desirable, for these toothless wonders.....just soft. Pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc will be swarming with wigglers way before it begins to rot.

Off-message, I'm starting a new thread soon about how to make that most onerous dreaded chore....separating worms and cocoons from finished VC....one of your most enjoyable parts of worming.

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:59PM
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starphi

I am preparing my next batch of worm food right now and there are lots of strawberry tops and soft spots, coffee grounds, and yucky lettuce pieces along with harder materials so I hope they will have something to start on and then they can move on to the harder stuff as it softens with time.

I've enjoyed reading the contributions on this site, and I will read the worm separating post BUT the can o worms is supposed to be self-separating because the worms crawl up to the higher trays or "levels" once they have finished eating it, leaving just the VC behind. In theory anyway. My first tray is almost full so I will let you know how that works... I'd be interested to know results for others with the can o' worms.

Cheers, Starphi

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:26PM
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chuckiebtoo

Starphi,

Keep in mind that food should be entered into the bins at the rate the herd eats it so as to keep away that old garbage can smell of rotting food. Also, when the previous little pile of food is almost completely unrecognizable as food....there's still lots of food particles there. Worms are really sloppy eaters.

Also keep in mind that contraptions like can o worms, while good at what they do somewhat, will leave a lot of critters in that "finished" tray of compost. LOTS. Cocoons, itty-bitty babies, some adults that are less aggressive than others.....

Chuckiebtoo

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 5:53PM
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equinoxequinox

I think I have got it figured out, despite Chuckiebtoo's suggestion that it is the more aggressive worms that flow up and the less aggressive worms that stay in the finished bin. I propose it is the worms that can read the instructions that flow up and the ones that can not that stay in the bottom tray.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:26PM
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thedogsLL(6B)

trapped by illiteracy...

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:54AM
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sbryce_gw

As with any theory, there will be those who question the theory, whether it be those who think the moon landings were filmed on a Hollywood sound stage, global warming deniers, people who think GWB staged the 911 attacks or worms who choose not to migrate into the upper trays.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:53PM
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equinoxequinox

If I was a worm... I would be in the lower tray wearing a teeny tiny tin foil hat.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 2:18AM
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sbslider

Hi Starphi, I have had a can of worms container for a really long time. Up until recently, I have not utilized it well, as I pretty much have just put wet kitchen waste in it. Regardless, I have noticed that the worms do not all migrate up also. I suspect that with 1000+ worms in the bin, the probability is that some will just keep moving around into areas where the food density is low or non-existant, just because. Same reason that even when it is not raining, they crawl onto the lid.

My guess is unless you really are an expert, there is not a way to know when the lower bin is perfectly done, and that it does not matter. When it seems appropriate, harvest the material with the few worms that are in there. Else use the light method to separate the stragglers.

Here is a link that might be useful: good reference for vermicomposting, with info about separating worms out

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:25AM
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starphi

Thanks for the heads up, maybe I will purchase an extra tray then so any stragglers can take their time to migrate up. We are at 7500 feet in CO so perhaps the altitude helps worm intelligence like it does for humans ;)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 3:45PM
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