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new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

Posted by lpa405 NY (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 7, 09 at 19:41

I started a worm bin out of a plastic container about a week ago and after reading a number of posts realized that I may have already made a number of mistakes....

1) I made my own bin, the instructions I had received did not mention drilling holes for drainage or keeping a pan under the bin. I but a few cups of water on on top of the just after I put the worms in. Is it possible that I drowns my worms? Would it be bad to take the worms out and put them into a new bin so soon after starting it? If I restart it, how long should I wait/do I have to restart it?

2) I had mixed some potting soil with food scraps which I had been saving up for about a week on the bottom of the bin. I dumped the worms in and placed moistened strips of newspaper on top of them. Is this an effective way to start the bin?

3) Among the original foods in the bin was rice and bread. Can the worms eat this, I saw a post that suggested they can't?

4) I used newspaper that was a mix of colored and b/w, non of it was glossy, is this ok?

5) My initial problem which made me look deeper into FAQs was that after a few days in the bin a few of the worms were crawling up the sides. At that point my roommate had place blankets on top of the bin. Did they crawl up in search of air or was there another reason?

Thanks, I'd appreciate any help you can give


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

One Last Question: I dont think I understand where I should be putting my scraps. I have been told to put them under the newspaper but above the soil that is already in there. Is seems on other sites there is no or little mention of newspaper on top. Any advice?


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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

Hello and welcome to worm world!!

I THINK YOU NEED MORE BEDDING RIGHT AWAY. Dry shredded newspaper, torn cardboard, dry crumpled leaves. Perhaps some coconut coir, which I guess you can buy on line--I never buy anything to feed worms--but some people do.

And no more blankets! They may have been trying to get air.

And please drill some holes all over the bin. Or poke some holes with a sharp knife or something. I did that until I charmed a driller to drill for me. Maybe you should leave the lid off until you get more air holes in there.
It is my understanding that the worms don't eat the food, they eat the bacteria that is eating the food. So I think the rice and bread would be too much for them at first. I haven't tried those foods yet inside, and when I have given my outside bins those things I have given very little. About 1/2 cup of food a week is what I have read is good for starting a bin. I put the food where you do, under the dry torn up newspaper and above the heavier matter.

Hopefully more experienced inside worm farmers will chime in...I have had outside bins for about 3 years. No problems. Inside is a little harder. Roommates are there for one thing! And we have to live with what ever mistakes we have made--smells, escaping worms, all that! I have one inside bin and it is going well, but I have only had it about two months.
It seems that the most common mistake people make is too much wet food not enough dry bedding.

To help you out others might need to know how many worms you have, how big the bin is, and where it is in your house.
Good Luck! Always nice to see a fellow NYer!


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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

1) Trying to manage moisture in a plastic bin with no drainage holes can be difficult. I am 6 months into this, and I still have water draining from my bins much of the time. I doubt you drowned your worms. Drowning won't be the problem. Lack of oxygen in the bottom of the bin will be the problem. You will want to do something to provide drainage soon. The worms won't be happy about all the fussing, but they will get over it.

2) The way you started your bin could work, but it isn't optimum. If you have real composting worms, you don't need the potting soil. If the potting soil has chemical fertilizers in it, it will be harmful to the worms. What will work better is to fill your bin about 6 inches deep with damp, shredded paper or cardboard, and bury the food in that. Maybe you can dump your bin on a sheet of plastic, drill holes in the bottom, fill it with damp shredded cardboard and paper, then dump what you have on top of that.

3) Worms can eat rice and bread, but you want to go easy on them. Before the worms can eat them, they will go moldy, the mold will die off, then they will go mushy. During the moldy phase, the mold spreads and turns the area around it into a solid mass. It will take some time for the mold to do its thing and die off. After that happens, the worms will have a feast. Rice by itself will also heat up, which can kill your worms. Either feed it in small amounts mixed in with other kitchen scraps, or only in a small corner of the bin.

4) As long as you don't include the glossy paper, colored inks should be fine.

5) Worms crawl up the sides for various reasons that we will never understand. If your whole herd is crawling up the sides, something is wrong in our bin.

6) There are different ways to put scraps in your bin. There is no really wrong way. In general it is best not to cover your entire bin with fresh food all at once. if you do something the worms don't like, they will need a place to escape to. Many foods will have some smell as they first break down. Covering the food with damp paper helps keep the smells down. It also helps avoid fruit fly problems.


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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

I'm a newbie at this, but my worms seem happy, and here are the instructions that I followed: Worms need ventilation, so you need to have holes in the bottom of your bin, and no blankets, etc. on top. Worms don't like light, so keeping a table light on should discourage them from climbing. Setup: I used shredded newspaper, and mixed it with 3 or 4 cups of damp (not wet!) coir fiber, but peat moss should be OK. The worms were placed on this damp mixture, covered with 3-4 sheets of slightly damp newspaper, and a loose opaque cover on this, which does not stop air flow. Every couple of days, add a small handful of vegetable scraps under the damp newspaper. If the worms are not actively involved in the older piles of food, add less or none at all for a few days. I started with 1 pound of worms, and they are easily consuming 3-4 ounces of food every other day.

What kind of worms did you start with, and where did you get them?

Hope this helps...

--Rick in CT


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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

Thanks!!! That all helped a lot.

I drilled holes on the bottom of the bin and a few on the sides.

Since the worms were already through the potting soil I put food on one side of the bin and the soil on the other. I'm going to continue to put food on the same side in hopes that all the worms move to that side so I can remove the soil. How long might I have to wait before the worms are near the food source instead of in the soil?

I have 1000 red wriggler worms which I bought online from uncle jim's worm farm. I keep the bin in my back stairwell, which is the hallway that connects the two apartments in the house.


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RE: new bin, bedding, drowning worms...

If all you put on the one side is food, it will get pretty stinky. If you want to draw the worms away from the soil, fill the other side with shredded cardboard, then feed only on that side.

I don't know how much potting soil you have in the bin. If it isn't a lot, and the worms seem to be happy in it, I would not bother to try to draw the worms out of it. As the bedding decomposes, it will take up less space in the bin. You will need to top off the bedding every week or so. Eventually the potting soil will be an insignificant ingredient in your bin.


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