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Help For an Overfed Worm Bin

This question comes from a vermicomposting beginner, wondering how best to deal with an overfed bin.

I am a newbie and way overfed my worms. Can I just leave
them alone for a few weeks and let them work it out or do I need to
clean out their whole bin and start over? They seem to be enjoying
themselves, but I am worried about the white fuzzy mold growing on the
food they haven’t gotten to yet. It is only slightly musky
smelling…for now.

This is a great question, and deals with a problem I’m sure MANY worm composting newcomers encounter.
You never mentioned how you knew you had overfed your worms though. The fact that they are still “enjoying themselves” seems to indicate that all is still ok. That being said, it is always much better to err on the side of caution when concerned about the health of the bin.

I will assume that the presence of large amounts of unprocessed (now covered in fungi) food is what tipped you off. Indeed, this is a good indication of an overfed bin. If you see that the worms are not even coming close to processing everything that is being added then it’s definitely time to ease off with the feeding. I’d recommend either adding new wastes to an outdoor composter or some sort of food scrap holder (a bucket with bedding in it works great) in the meantime, if at all possible.

You definitely don’t need to completely start over – especially given the fact that the worms are still happy. I would recommend adding a decent amount of fresh bedding to the bin then simply letting it sit for as long as it takes for the food materials inside to be broken down. Once it looks like the worms have processed most of the wastes you can start adding new materials (slowly) again.

The musty bin odour you described is also another indication that the bin is still in OK shape – if you smelled some really foul odours it would likely be an indication of all the excess waste materials going anaerobic.

Anyway – hope this helps!

B

Written by Bentley on May 12th, 2008 with no comments.
Read more articles on Home Vermicomposting and Reader Questions.

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