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Just started my first worm farm!  RSS feed

 
Peter Gustas
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Hi all,
I just my first worm farm and am very excited! I put my worms in the bin today(about 500 of them). I have moist cardboard on the top of the bin and the majority of them are in/on around the cardboard on the top not further in the bedding.
Is this normal or should I be concerned? that they are staying up there and not digging down much?
Thanks,
Peter
 
Ronnie Ugulano
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Congratulations! It's always exciting to start a new worm farm!

Worms take a while to get settled into a new home, so this isn't unusual. The best thing you could do is leave the top off (if any) and turn on a light above it. The worms hate light and will dive beneath the surface, and stay put. As they make the bin their own, they'll stop wanting to jump ship.

What are you using for bedding, besides cardboard?
 
Peter Gustas
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Ronnie Ugulano wrote:Congratulations! It's always exciting to start a new worm farm!

Worms take a while to get settled into a new home, so this isn't unusual. The best thing you could do is leave the top off (if any) and turn on a light above it. The worms hate light and will dive beneath the surface, and stay put. As they make the bin their own, they'll stop wanting to jump ship.

What are you using for bedding, besides cardboard?



this is what I use: Also they aren't trying to escape they are just at the top by the cardboard/ in it under and ontop
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003F2YPYM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1



EDIT


I just checked and 3 got out. Its night now so that may be they are "nightcawlers" I will just keep the light on a few days.
 
Ronnie Ugulano
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OK, I looked at what you bought for bedding. I'm not familiar with that product, so I can't really comment on it specifically, but I would like to point out that it is not necessary to use a purchased product for bedding. You can use many things that are free for worm bedding, including leaves, paper, sawdust, and shredded cardboard.

On the page of the bedding you purchased, one of the users mentioned that s/he "changed the bedding every 6 weeks". That is absolutely unnecessary. Since you have only 500 worms or so to start with, you can easily go a couple of years on the bedding you started with. The worms will multiply on what's there in that particular bedding (it says it contains food), then, just add leftover bits from the kitchen, such as banana peels, toast ends and other biodegradable garbage to keep it going.

I really haven't "changed the bedding" with my worms in several years. When I do, I usually take about half of the well-used compost from a bin and apply it to my plants, then throw some more leaves/sawdust, what-have-you into the bin, and then go again.
 
Kyle Neath
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Worms love cardboard. It's one of their favorite places to hang out, I wouldn't worry at all about them not digging down, especially at first. As Ronnie said, worms usually take a while to get used to a new home, although a better way to describe it is that it usually takes a new home a little while to get used to the worms. Worms don't actually eat food, they eat the microorganisms that decompose organic matter. When you start a new worm bin, it's usually just bedding and food. So you'll need to wait a little while (2 weeks or so) for the microorganisms that came along with your worms to work their way through the bin and break down the organic material, at which point the worms will start moving toward the food sources.

I'll also echo Ronnie's other suggestion — in the future, just use cardboard / leaves / paper for bedding. Bedding isn't anything special, it's just a brown material (to balance out your "green" food scraps) that's a safe place for worms to go when other areas of the bin are unhospitable. Corrugated cardboard is possibly the best bedding you could ever use for composting worms. Rip it into pieces about the size of your palm and mix it in generously with every feeding. The glue provides a food source, the paper a source of bedding, and the spaces in between the cardboard layers provide them a nice, moist hiding place. Because worms are eating the microorganisms and not the food itself, they end up "eating" the bedding over time. The bedding and the food both get processed by the worms to produce vermicompost. There's no need to change your current bedding either, it will work fine.

Just try not to overfeed in these early times for your bin and things will be fine. Worms are resilient little beings. If they try and escape in large numbers, take the top off so the light forces them down. Good luck! I've found tremendous enjoyment from my worms, even if it did take me the better part of a year to stop worrying about them so much. Turns out worms love neglect most of all.
 
Peter Gustas
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Ronnie Ugulano wrote:OK, I looked at what you bought for bedding. I'm not familiar with that product, so I can't really comment on it specifically, but I would like to point out that it is not necessary to use a purchased product for bedding. You can use many things that are free for worm bedding, including leaves, paper, sawdust, and shredded cardboard.

On the page of the bedding you purchased, one of the users mentioned that s/he "changed the bedding every 6 weeks". That is absolutely unnecessary. Since you have only 500 worms or so to start with, you can easily go a couple of years on the bedding you started with. The worms will multiply on what's there in that particular bedding (it says it contains food), then, just add leftover bits from the kitchen, such as banana peels, toast ends and other biodegradable garbage to keep it going.

I really haven't "changed the bedding" with my worms in several years. When I do, I usually take about half of the well-used compost from a bin and apply it to my plants, then throw some more leaves/sawdust, what-have-you into the bin, and then go again.



Thanks for your feedback! I use it because it acts as food and bedding for the worms. I live alone just me and my dog so I don't have too many table scraps for the worms. I plan on trying to grow the worm farm on a large scale over the next several years and on. That's why I wanted to use something like this that I can continue to use on a large scale that will produce big healthy worms. And all the reviews I read on this says that it does just that!
 
Peter Gustas
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Kyle Neath wrote:Worms love cardboard. It's one of their favorite places to hang out, I wouldn't worry at all about them not digging down, especially at first. As Ronnie said, worms usually take a while to get used to a new home, although a better way to describe it is that it usually takes a new home a little while to get used to the worms. Worms don't actually eat food, they eat the microorganisms that decompose organic matter. When you start a new worm bin, it's usually just bedding and food. So you'll need to wait a little while (2 weeks or so) for the microorganisms that came along with your worms to work their way through the bin and break down the organic material, at which point the worms will start moving toward the food sources.

I'll also echo Ronnie's other suggestion — in the future, just use cardboard / leaves / paper for bedding. Bedding isn't anything special, it's just a brown material (to balance out your "green" food scraps) that's a safe place for worms to go when other areas of the bin are unhospitable. Corrugated cardboard is possibly the best bedding you could ever use for composting worms. Rip it into pieces about the size of your palm and mix it in generously with every feeding. The glue provides a food source, the paper a source of bedding, and the spaces in between the cardboard layers provide them a nice, moist hiding place. Because worms are eating the microorganisms and not the food itself, they end up "eating" the bedding over time. The bedding and the food both get processed by the worms to produce vermicompost. There's no need to change your current bedding either, it will work fine.

Just try not to overfeed in these early times for your bin and things will be fine. Worms are resilient little beings. If they try and escape in large numbers, take the top off so the light forces them down. Good luck! I've found tremendous enjoyment from my worms, even if it did take me the better part of a year to stop worrying about them so much. Turns out worms love neglect most of all.


Thanks for your feedback one of the main reasons I bought it is it acts as bedding and food which scaps are not widely available as I live alone.

I do have lots of cardboard. Do you both think that the worms would be happy and healthy with an all cardboard diet?


Thanks again for your replies!
 
Kyle Neath
pollinator
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Location: High Sierras, CA 6400'
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Do you both think that the worms would be happy and healthy with an all cardboard diet?


In theory, yes, but they will be small (but numerous). If you don't produce enough food scraps, you might try and see if you can get some from others. For example, coffee shops often have mountains of used coffee grounds they'll happily give away for free. If you have any livestock nearby, aged manure+bedding is absolutely ideal. Cafes, grocery stores, and restaurants all produce tremendous amounts of organic waste as well. It also depends on what your goals with your worm bin are. Are you raising worms for bait or looking to produce compost? Bait producers often opt for "manufactured" worm-food (usually a blend of grains) in order to produce large worms, while compost producers opt for free materials, ideally manure.

Personally, my primary goal with my worms is to dispose of my kitchen waste & yard trimmings, with my secondary goal being the production of high quality compost. As such, I'd never buy food — I just buy compost instead.
 
stephen lowe
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I would agree with the above posters that, unless you are trying to grow giant worms, you should be looking at the cheapest foods for them. Most all natural food stores are happy to share spoiled produce with livestock (yes, worms are live stock) producers, and coffee shops are just happy to get rid of the grounds (which worms freakin love, ours live on pretty much coffee grounds, avocado peels, and sawdust). Congrats on the new pets though, worms are super fun, I'm about a year into my second bin (my first lived for 2 years before being 'set free' at our old farm before we moved across country) and they are my favorite crawlies.
 
Ronnie Ugulano
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unless you are trying to grow giant worms

Even if you want the biggest worms possible, you don't really need to go deep into debt for them. For the first at least 3 months, put very little food in the bin. The worm population that you started with is small, and it will take time for them to make their way through it all.

I'll tell you though, that worms do like certain things. They like oats, cornmeal, crushed eggshells, used coffee grounds, spoiled straw (mentioned by stephen lowe) and squash (including pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelon). So, if you really want to actually spend some money on your worms, you can buy 5lbs of oatmeal and/or cornmeal, and they'll think they have it made for months. Toss in a watermelon rind on occasion, and they'll think they own the universe! So, you can be an exceptionally generous worm wrancher and not spend much at all. There's no need to break the bank. Worms are a cheap date.

Mostly, I want to steer you clear of purchasing Special Worm Building Foods that cost $$ from places like "fatworms.com" or "yougottabuyourwormfoodfromusforthemtobehappy.biz"
 
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