Worm behavior normal?

jeniansmomAugust 1, 2010

Hi everyone. My bin has been set up for a couple of weeks. I have had my worms for less than a week.

I have air holes in the bottom of the bin, around the top of the sides and in the lid.

I have a layer of moistened shredded newspapers and egg cartons, some coffee grounds, some crushed egg shells, some old broccoli and bananas, more moistened newspapers, the worms in their packing material, and almost dry shredded newspapers on top.

The bin does not smell like sewerage but does have a rotten fruit/veggie smell and lots of gnats/fruit flies.

So. When I open my bin there are a LOT of worms at the top, on the sides, acting like they are trying to escape - none have managed it yet, and I brush them back into the bin.

It's not all the worms though, when I push the dryer top newspaper layer aside there are lots of worms wriggling through the moist decomposing layer.

Is it normal for so many worms to be up at the top? Do they need more air? More bedding? More compost?

Any help is much appreciated, I want the worms to be healthy and have what they need.

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Hello Jen;

I have been vermicomposting for some time now but am no expert. The rotten fruit/veggie smell you mention probably means that you have simply put in to much food. Stop feeding for awhile. It sounds as though you are already doing the right thing by maintaining a coverage of dry or slightly moist newspaper.

I use the factory Can O Worms(COW)and am reasonably satisfied with them. I frequently find concentrations of worms on the inside of the lid. This includes every size from mature adults with clitellums to newborns. Why they do this is a mystery to me.

Just keep doing what you are doing, avoid overfeeding, have patience, and I'm sure in a few weeks you will be pleased with the results.

Dave Nelson

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:12AM
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I agree with Dave -- it sounds like you just have too much food for such a new bin. Otherwise everything sounds like a great worm environment. The small is probably the broccoli; that stuff is not fragrant while rotting!

Recently moved worms end to wander a bit. If yours are staying inside the bin and not ending up on the floor, that's a victory. My experience is a little different than Dave's about worms on the sides and lid. A few worms, no big deal. Lots of worms? I probably have something slightly less than ideal in the bin, usually it isn't moist enough.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:56AM
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Over the years my worms have made it very clear that they do not enjoy veggies from the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage) so I have avoided feeding them such things! I would advise you to increase your bedding significantly to include some dampened and ripped up egg cartons, lay off the feeding for awhile and see what happens. Smelling beds usually equal not enough bedding.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 1:24AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I agree with whoever said it's probably the broccoli that stinks. Whenever I put a fair amount of broccoli in the bins, I can smell the stench without even taking off the lids. They eat it just fine and the smell goes away in a few days.

It's normal for the worms to wander around, especially if you have ENC's. In the evenings, I'll have lots of ENC's on the walls and lid of the bins. I don't know why they do that.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:24AM
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Indeed- broccoli and anything in the cabbage family smells terrible in a bin. I also wonder how much the worms are into them. I avoid putting those veggies in my bin altogether.

Worms on the inside of the lid is fine- they are wandering around b/c it's dark in there and they're comfortable in that environment. (I guarantee if you left the lid off or slightly askew, letting light in, you wouldn't see any on the lid.) If they're not escaping- no worries. If they are escaping, check for too much moisture, overcrowding (too many worms will self-regulate and try to move on elsewhere), acidic conditions (my first clue to that is usually a visually apparent mite population). A few escapees is ok, but more start escaping, you have some sort of problem.

Your bin mixture sounds much like mine, and otherwise sounds healthy. (Watch out for fungus gnats tho- they reproduce like crazy- if your bin is indoors, can be a big problem.) Other than eliminating the broccoli, my only suggestion would be to add some dirt for grit (necessary for worm digestion); the eggshells, especially if you grind them, can serve the same purpose, as long as there's enough.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:33AM
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