Three Big Mistakes
Although I have been vermiculturing for a number of years and have been considered something of an expert (you know the drip under pressure) by some folks, I have made LOTS of mistakes, and from those I have learned a great deal. The main reason I joined this form is to learn from people like you who enjoy sharing their experiences. I truly believe you can learn as much in these types of forums as you can from reading books on the subject, which in my opinion, have not changed much on this subject over the years. So let's get on with it.
Mistake #1: When I first got started with raising red wigglers acquired from a neighbor's leaf compost pile I read a few books on the subject and visited some commercial worm growers in the area. I chose peat moss as my medium and made a couple of wooden worm boxes with corrugated metal bottoms which had lots of quarter inch holes in the bottom. After few months in to the project I had a sneak visit from my land lady who went upstairs where I had been keeping my two worm boxes, and when I got back from classes I found a nasty note attached to my front door. Unbeknown to me I had ruined a hard wood floor and yes I ended up replacing a good portion of that floor. I immediately switched to a fiberglass tub (plastic tubs were not available in those days) and to this day, I DO NOT drill holes in my indoor worm bins...ever!
Mistake #2: Several winters ago I left town to visit family in Colorado and forgot to turn off the heat pad under the four indoor worm bins. I came back to a large baked brick in each bin with temperatures exceeding 100 F. Figuring I had killed my 40 plus year old collection of worms I decided to start over using the same baked media which I completely saturated with water. I let these bins sit to soak for several days before going back and attempt to break up the large chunk of baked peat moss in each bin. I wasn't in any hurry to restart the process realizing it would be a couple of months before I could collect a new start of worms from my frozen over outdoor compost bins. After a month or so I went back to one of the bins to loosen up the media some more and noticed the bin was loaded with tiny worms. Same true for the other three bins. Apparently a large number of the egg capsules had survived baking experiment, and after further inspection I found larger worms as well. I have no idea how or where the larger worms had survived, but they did.
Mistake #3: After purchasing five pounds of European night crawlers I decided to eliminate two of my indoor red wiggler bins in favor of two Euro bins. One red wiggler bin was dumped into the outdoor bin under my deck and the second bin was intended to be used in an experiment which never took place. I got side tracked and forgot about the second bin which I had left under my deck next to the outdoor bin. It was several weeks later when I discovered my mistake. It had rained previously and the second bin of red wigglers was not covered. The bin was completely covered in two inches of water and had been sitting there for nearly two weeks with most of the worms still inside. I'm sure a number of the worms jumped ship, because I found evidence of worm activity all over the area, but the majority of the worms were still happily swimming about in their completely drenched media.
I think the lesson to be passed along to any 'newbie' is that making mistakes in raising red wigglers has some draw backs, but these little critters are pretty forgiving, so don't fret over making a few mistakes along the way, because we all do.
Now I need to confess to a new mistake to add to my list of mistakes. For a long time I have had my head in a dark place on this subject for which I should have known better. Just the other day a self proclaimed newbie pointed out something to me which was so illuminating I felt like banging my head against the wall. For years I have been an opponent of the belief that worms did not actually gain any nutritional benefit from coffee grounds. Well if that was true then, I concluded they probably gained nothing from spent tea either. When I made that statement here I was challenged that tea leaves are nothing more than ground leaves! Hello, light in tunnel...worms are not people! There digestive systems are completely different. Then I recalled a movie, The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I won't ruin the movie for any who have not seen it, but Jack plays a rich guy who drinks a very expensive, special blend of coffee which is processed in a unique way. And now I see the light. Thank you friend newbie.
I too am a newbie as well, at least to this site, and I have come on a bit strong here in the last couple of days. I don't mean to establish myself as some kind of know it all, because I am not. Apologies to any I have offended or may offend in the future. I will be browsing lots of old threads and possibly commenting on some old issues. I hope you will understand that I am here to learn and maybe even pass along a little wisdom from my past mistakes, and believe me when I tell you...I have made many.