worms are lethargic

dwightheJune 8, 2013

I started a home made five gallon bucket worm farm about 5 weeks ago with a 1000 worms. The first two weeks the worms did well and ate a couple of pounds of vegetable scraps. About three weeks ago they started to get lethargic( slow moving and limp). I added some peat moss and some store bought top soil thinking that the bucket had gotten too wet. The next two weeks were hot here every day 90 deg and above, Worms stayed lethargic but were climbing the wall at night.

So thinking that the worms were crowded in the bucket. I made a new worm container with a 30 gal bin. I drilled about 20 holes in the bottom of the bin and put two 1-1/2 square inch(free air) vents at the top of the bin. I've put the bin in a store room with a max daytiime temp of 85 degrees. I've had the worms in the bin for a week now and they are still lethargic and don't seem to be interested in the food pulp I gave them earlier today.

I have not had any leachate drainage but the sides of the bin have condensation on them. The soil does not seem to either too wet or too dry but for some reason I seem to have less worms than I started with and they don't seem to be active. Can anyone give me suggestions? Should I change bedding all together or am I bothering the worms too much? Do un-composed potato peels cause a problem?

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Are you chopping everything into match head or smaller size? Watermelon and strawberry waste always start a feeding frenzy within 48 hours in my bins.
Worms on the walls after dark seem to indicate atempted escape from inhospitiable enviorment. Warm air tempatures you are having combined with heat generated by decompsition could be driving bed tempature up. I pre-compost most food before adding to bin during summer to avoid added heating.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 1:59AM
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Thanks Klem1. I checked the soil temperature at 11:30 this morning in several places. At no place was it higher than 85 deg F. The room was about 75 deg. and it's about 90 degrees outside. There was quite a bit of condensation on the walls of the bin and I noticed a lot of very small white bugs on the walls. I dug in to bottom where I had placed a layer of shredded newspaper. The paper was damp sponge wet.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 12:42PM
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10 degree differential says you have some composting heat. Not a lot until you consider the whole bin is raised 10 deg by a very small % of contents. And where is the hot spot? Smack dab middle of dinning table. Try A. Chopping and freezing(quickly breaks down plant cells) food then let it set covered outdoors until decomposition is well underway. Time reuired differs for different fruits and vegs. B. Keep a spritz bottle handy to "SPARINGLY"mist sredded paper ,leaves or whatever fluffy layer rests on top to incourage evaporative cooling.
Now let's talk a little about getting you more ingaged where you not only learn but aquire knowledge to share with others. Hopfully you take this in the same spirit as offered. The answers to your questions can be found by reading past threads as well as composting internet search. Having said that,I realize that until we have been around somthing new for a while,it's difficult interpiting what people are saying due to many words and terms we have never heard previously. Read then read some more. I assure it's more expedient for you to find answers than asking about everything that comes to mind. Here is an example using you situation. There are so many reasons for waht you are experiencing that it's a best guess at best. How long might it take to reveal somthing like you had unwitingly dumped a bunch of lemon rinds in the bin or that your source supplied the wrong worms to you.
Ok here is a new venture (which is 90% why people on GW do what they do) for you. 30 gal is a large bin for the number of worms you have so lets use that to advantage. Purpously alow half the bin remain a little dryer than you believe is optimimal. At the imaginary line where damp and damper meet,lay a piece of cardboard,burlap or such that is 1/4th to 1/3rd size of bin surface on the bedding. Assuming your bin is a 30 gallon tote with lid,fashion a cover comprsed of 10 to 20% screen. Bury a frozen batch of feed at center of moisture line. Make certain no worms are within 2 or 3 inches of frozen food. An easy way is line the hole with peat or shreded paper. With as little desturbance as practical,observe over next few days wherther worms congergate,increase feeding activity or other things.
Keep posting on your progress because organic devotees are a curious bunch.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Klem1 Thanks. I've been concerned about the small area of the vents but decided that they were no smaller than a bunch of 1/4" holes drilled in the top and most of the youtube and online instructions just say to drill a bunch of holes. What mesh screen would you suggest for the cover? Also, I plan on cutting a 8" X 8" hole in the cover and hot gluing a piece of screen in it. I'll post when I have some results to your suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 6:02PM
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