How To Be A Worm Farm Failure


December 5, 2014

There’s no doubt that worm compost is awesome for the garden, and it is very simple to make your own worm compost. It makes composting kitchen scraps and paper waste less labor intensive too, but if you go about it wrong you aren’t going to have much worm castings to enrich your soil. So, let’s take a look at what a lot of people are doing wrong that leads to becoming failed worm farmers.

First of all, in order to have worm compost, you need worms. Live worms. Happy worms. Healthy worms. While worms seem to live just about anywhere, it’s pretty easy for some to arrive at the assumptions that create failure instead of success.

Worms need the proper environment. If you don’t provide it, they will run away or die. Do you stay in an inhospitable place for long? Worms won’t either. The only way to keep unhappy worms in your bin is to not have any air holes, which gives you dead worms. If you haven’t created the right environment in their habitat, even the smallest drilled holes will not contain them, so when you hear someone in a video tell you that you have to use 1/8″ drill bits to stop your worms from escaping, you know they don’t understand worms very well. These are invertebrate creatures capable of squeezing through cracks that are very narrow. They make their own lubrication too, which allows them to slip through rough spots easily.

There are a few people who have devised a trap lid around the top of their worm bins to maintain total control over their unhappy inmates. How this is any different than keeping chickens in cages is beyond me, but the problem isn’t stopping them from escaping so much as it is giving the right habitat conditions, and a proper food supply. You can just toss some dirt and leaves or newspaper into a clear storage bin that cost $5 bucks and call yourself a successful vermicomposter – this habitat is totally wrong. Worms like the dark, and a clear bin from the dollar store is full of light. Yes, they eat newspaper and leaves, but the pH is all wrong for their habitat… do you live on your plate? No you eat from it and live elsewhere, though it is under the same roof when dining in.

Don’t do anything the first video directs you to do. Pay close attention to what the second video shows you, because she knows worms well enough to keep them happy, and not miserable captives. If you’re worried about how meat and egg farming is done, then please don’t be abusive to your worms. Practice proper worm husbandry in a humane manner.

The Wrong Way to Build A Worm Bin

As one commentor said on this particular video’s page… so few worms cannot eat what he put in that bin. Wonder no more why most people’s worm bins smell – there is stuff rotting in there.

The Right Way to Build A Worm Bin

But what about the valuable leachate? Actually, leachate can be harmful to plants. It’s a sign that the worm bin is way too moist, and if it’s aerobic in the bin system, the run-off is toxic. If it has no smell, then it is safe to use 1-part water to 1-part leachate. Still, is this giving your worms a welcome home if the bin is so soggy that you have to drain it? Ever see how many worms lay dead on the sidewalk after a heavy rain? Especially when you contemplate what they were all doing up on the concrete in the first place. They were trying to survive, fleeing the flooding in their habitat. Now consider what the biggest worms in those overly wet bins are so desperate to escape that they’ll squeeze through any hole they find.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton

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