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vermicomposting...are these worms happy or are they stressed

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I bought a product called a worm factory for vermicomposting. These have smaller footprint than most systems i saw and i am suburban now. To tell the truth i am totally thrill with this i wanted it so long...ah but i digress.

I filled the bottom bin with veggie scraps and new paper and all the good stuff needed. Sandy hit and my worms took long time to get here...no big deal i heard they liked it to be less than fresh. I put the 1,000 worms in and they all woke up after 16 hours, they arrived very cold i was so surprised the survived at all.

After two weeks in the bottom bins, I went digging for worms. They were found all over the place but there was a ball in the middle (later i learned this is a sign of stress) and things were looking quite a bit composty and smelled just as it should, fresh soil like. To me everything was looking quite well in the bottom bin so i put another bin on top, these have holes in them for the worms to move through, tossed some damp craft paper scraps and some leaves and some kitchen wastes, i had to start tossing out waste too as i was creating more than i could feed them.

Then i started hearing about over feeding worms, well i knew the bottom bin is surely not finished i just wanted the second bin to start getting less then fresh for them later. I knew i put too much in to start so i went and I looked at the worms (this is week 3) and i see many many worms are sorta dripping out the holes in the second layer. I look around on lower layer and i find worms happily doing their thing...mostly on the edges of the lower bin but the center of the bin is just over 80 degrees (the room is 65ish) and there is worms on the upper layer moving around.

I then read about escapist worms if they are unhappy.... now i start to worry about the worms trying to escape the heat on the lower level by moving to the second one.

Now i do not know if i should ditch the lower level to get the over feeding gone or figure the worms will move in and out of it as they see fit.

Ok ok i just want someone to tell me my worms are happy not running away
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Worms that are overfed just need more time before more food is added. The worst part of overfeeding worms is that it will stink while it rots. As long as it doesn't get too acidic in the process, it won't harm the worms any.

I can't tell you when to add the next layer, since I use a single layer bin. However, I can tell you that worms are very forgiving. If their conditions aren't right, you just fix them as best as you can. There's an excellent resource found here that might help: http://www.vermicompost.net/common-vermicomposting-mistakes/

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Location: Zone 6 Ohio but interested in Zone 6 Southwest
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I have this system, the 'worm condo'. I've done it a couple years now and just love it! I could use another two. I keep all kitchen scraps usable and put them in plastic bags in the freezer to keep until the red wigglers are ready for more. This actually speeds up the break down process of the structure of the cells anyway. Plus I keep my kitchen Oort jar nice and tidy fresh.

The added benefit is when I set a frozen bag on top of the lid to thaw, by the next morning/day when I go to open and place it in a bin all the worms have come up to see what good food is being added. They have actually learned that cooler temps indicate food is coming! I could be scientific about this hypothesis and measure soil temps and do a double blind study etc etc but I prefer to believe I have extremely well trained worms and my herd is the best a worm rangler could have!

don't go much on onions and citrus. egad and no asparagus unless you don't mind strong stench that lasts and lasts.

They actually LOVE a bit of spaghetti now and then because the sauce is so nicely broken down for them. Just go easy on starches unless you have a real good population. What and how much you put in will vary depending on how many worms you have working. After I've dumped trays in the garden/ yard, and down to a lower population, I have to go slower. When all three trays are full, they are eating machines and anything goes!

I hope you enjoy your new hard working friends as much as I have. Your first few batches of babies will be the cutest little things you've ever seen.

keep an eye out for scorpions and black widows. But the tiny ads are safe.
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