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New to worm composting? Looking for some quick and dirty info before jumping in head-first? Well this is will be a great place to get started.

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Get your own gravatar by visiting ronald thomson
#1. June 8th, 2007, at 1:19 PM.

Very good introduction. All facts necessary to understand the basics very clearly given. As a lecturer in vermicomposting to local garden clubs and organic people in general, I can recommend your site to anybody starting out. Your list of references is extensive for the more advanced person.
well done

ronald thomson from western cape, south africa

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#2. June 11th, 2007, at 3:55 PM.

Hi Ronald,
I sent you an email, but just thought I’d reply here as well. Thanks very much for your kind words! Given your extensive experience in the field, your positive feedback certainly makes me feel like I’m on the right track here.

Unfortunately I haven’t had nearly the amount of time necessary to really develop the site as much I’d like, but all in good time I’m sure!

Thanks again


Get your own gravatar by visiting CHADWICK THOMPSON
#3. August 30th, 2007, at 2:16 AM.

I have a worm bin and have tons of little white spiders crawling all over the worms, lid, just every where. Can you point me in a direction on what these may be and how to get rid of them. It seems like the worms are not happy with the spiders all over them.

thank you,


Get your own gravatar by visiting Adriana Michael
#4. August 30th, 2007, at 4:42 AM.

Very nice introduction and reference material, especially to newcomers. I started a bin a couple of months ago and notice it is a real trial and error process until you find the right balance. A couple of times I left the bin totally closed for more than 4 days and it became too humid. I found red tiny spiders once, white tiny creatures another. I simply sprayed a little bit of Citrofresh ( on the surface. I was told that once the worms mature at around three months I should not let their eggs go along with the nice black soil, because they are not native to where I live now in Ottawa, Canada. Should they always stay in a closed bin or indoor planter?. Thank you for your comments. I would like to include an editorial on this topic in an upcoming edition of Organic & Wellness News.

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#5. August 30th, 2007, at 3:45 PM.

Hi Chadwick,
The creatures you have in your bin are almost certainly mites (which are in fact related to spiders). Worm bins can attract a wide variety of these creatures, and for the most part they are not harmful to the worms. Some are scavengers, while others can actually prey upon the larvae of annoying flying pests like fungus gnats.
In my experience, the round white mites that crawl over the worms are usually a sign of a system that is out of balance. I’m pretty sure they get rid of the dead bodies of the worms (and perhaps even start feeding on the dying worms as well).
How long has your bin been active? Are there any odors coming from it when you open it up?

I’d more than likely start up a second small bin and once it was aged, would add a bunch of the healthy worms from the other bin.

I have a picture of a brown mite and will see if I can get some pictures of other mites. In the meantime you can check out this page:


Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#6. August 30th, 2007, at 4:03 PM.

Hi Adriana,
Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comments! I will definitely be adding a lot more content in coming months.

The worms typically used for composting, Eisenia fetida are totally fine in either an indoor or outdoor system. They are very much adapted for life in rich organic matter, not soil, so the risk of them escaping out into the local environment isn’t that high.
Plus, I can pretty much guarantee that there are already many farms in the Ottawa area (and Ontario in general) that already have aged manure piles inoculated with redworms (can in fact be a great place to find a large free source of composting worms).

My first experience with red wigglers was when I found a huge pile of aged horse manure at a farm near Stratford. It was absolutely LOADED with composting worms!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Rich
#7. November 3rd, 2007, at 6:07 PM.

Thank you for taking questions regarding vermicomposting. I have trouble distinguishing between the pictures I’ve seen of the brownish mites and eggs. I have a lot of whichever it is, though my bin is only 3 weeks old. I also have thousands of very tiny white spider like creatures that crawl on the surfaces and walls. They don’t look like the mite pictures though. I feed my worms a few times a week juicing pulp, coffee grounds and eggshells because this is about the only waste I have. They seem to like it, but I’ve read that too much juicing pulp could increase the mite infestation. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thank you!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#8. November 4th, 2007, at 4:26 AM.

Hi Rich,
I assume you are talking about worm eggs? If so, they are much bigger than any mites you are likely to encounter in your bin.
If you are lots of them they are almost certainly mites – some varieties seem to move very slowly.

If you have small insect-like creatures and they are hugely abundant, they have to be either mites or springtails – the fact that they are spider-like make me think mites. There are many many species of mites, and it is quite possible that you just haven’t seen a picture of the variety in your bin. I’m actually going to be writing a post about mites fairly soon.

If your juicing pulp is solely citrus you may encounter some issues with acidity. Hopefully you are adding bedding on a fairly regular basis to help soak up excess moisture. Glad to hear you are adding egg shells (I typically dry mine and grind them up as much as possible).

Sounds like you are doing a pretty good job to me!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Jesse
#9. November 6th, 2007, at 2:07 AM.

I have a new composting bin with only about 50 worms right now. I am realizing that I am overfeeding them. About a dozen have “jumped ship” today out of their cedar home. I found them all over my kitchen floor this evening. As I was cleaning out their wooden bin, I found hundreds of small, white, round things- what I think are eggs- all over their boddies and in the compost material. I just wanted to double check to make sure these are in-fact worm eggs. Or are they something else caused by the overfeeding? They are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

One other thing- I live in a very dry environment (Wyoming). I have a hard time keeping the worm bedding moist from day-to-day. I am worried that if I go out of town, they will dry up very quickly. As I mentioned above, my worms live in a cedar box. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I might keep their bedding more moist?
Thank you for your help!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#10. November 6th, 2007, at 2:53 AM.

Hi Jesse,
Thanks for popping by.
Overfeeding when you have lots of worms is quite easy to do (especially early on), so I have no trouble believing you could do it with 50!
What kind of worms are they by the way? Given the small number I’m curious if you are using soil dwelling worms (since composting worms come in much larger numbers when you buy them).

Aside from overfeeding, the oils in cedar wood could potentially cause issues in a worm bin as well (but I suspect its the food).

The “small, white, round things” are in fact mites. Worm eggs are straw coloured and much larger. The type of mite you have described does look a lot like some sort of egg and often increases in abundance when you overfeed and/or when the worm are dying in general. While they don’t actually attack healthy worms, I have seen these mites coating worms that were close to dying, presumably finishing them off. They certainly get rid of the worm bodies in a hurry. Anyway, definitely leave the bin without new food for awhile (maybe as much as a couple weeks) then add some more (composting) worms. You chances of starving your worms are a lot less than overfeeding, so definitely err on the side of caution early on (once they are well established in the system worms will be able to process wastes faster).

Re: your drying issue (and the fact that you are using cedar) – I would definitely line the inside of your box with 1 or 2 layers of cardboard. This should help to keep some of the moisture in while still allowing the bin to ‘breathe’. Adding lots of water-rich foods should help as well (but again, use caution when first starting out).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Jesse
#11. November 6th, 2007, at 8:42 PM.

Thank you for the helpful information. I am using redworms. I recieved as small bunch of them from a friend. I’ve been hoping that their numbers will increase. And I do think that is the case. Many of the worms I see now are very small. This leads me to believe they are young, while the older worms are dying out.

The mites make sense. I cleaned out the worms’ large cedar bin last night, and put them in a small, open plastic container with fresh bedding and a tiny bit of food. There were still mites covering them, but hopefully I can restor the balance and they will survive.

I will experiment with lining the cedar home to keep it more moist. The box that I ordred has three levels, each about 4 inches deep. The bottom of each level is large wire mesh. This is how some of the worms “jumped ship” as I mentioned earlier. I had the bottom lined with paper towel, but they must have gotten out around the edges.

One more question- why would the levels have such large mesh? Is it intended so that the worms can move up and down through each level when I have that much compost?

Thanks again for your help!

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#12. November 6th, 2007, at 8:57 PM.

Hi again Jesse,
Glad to hear that you are using redworms! Also glad you were able to get some from a friend (always a great option when possible).

Your multi-level worm bin sounds like a ‘worm chalet’ or ‘worm factory’ (or something similar). The idea behind these stacked systems is that when the layer is almost full you can put new bedding and food in the next level and the worms will migrate upwards. You continue this process until you’ve almost finised the top level (4 or 5 levels would probably work better than 3) – by this time the very bottom tray should be free of worms and the compost can be used so you can dump it out and add it to the top of the system (filled with new bedding/food).

When conditions are ideal in the bin you shouldn’t encounter too much migration (although no matter what you’ll likely find a few worms in the bottom reservoir from time to time) – in your case, once conditions became intolerable the worms simply used an escape route that was available to them.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Rebekah
#13. January 20th, 2008, at 1:05 AM.

Can dog poop be used in a worm bin assuming that the dog is a small breed (not large amounts of feces every day in other words), healthy, free of internal parasites, and not receiving medications? I would really love to find a use for the waste our little house dog produces from her expensive organic dog food…..but the books always say to keep it off the garden due to pathogens. Can worms help with this?

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#14. January 20th, 2008, at 5:41 AM.

Hi Rebekah,
That’s a good question! While I’m sure some of the concerns are warranted when it comes to certain types of feces, I personally feel these things get blown out of proportion somewhat.

That being said, I personally wouldn’t add cat and/or dog feces to any of my ‘regular’ bins . Aside from any potential health issues, the material wouldn’t be very enjoyable to work with (lots of bad odour and potential issues with ammonia). But setting up a separate system, dedicated to pet wastes isn’t a bad idea. Ideally it would be an outdoor system, but if you have enough bedding material and make sure all the feces is buried, you could potentially keep an indoor bin as well.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now – hoping to write a post about this topic before too long.

Thanks again


Get your own gravatar by visiting Lynda
#15. March 8th, 2008, at 5:36 PM.

My new favorite site! I have just ordered a worm bin (tower Type) and I am excited about composting all of the kitchen waste i have have. I just hate throwing it out. Your site has answered so many questions I have, but I am concerned about one thing. I live in Texas and the summers can been extemely hot. Will I need to move the worm bin indoors? I was planning on keeping it in a shady spot in the yard or patio. I’m having trouble getting used to the idea of having worms in my kitchen, so I’ll need time to figure out where in the house they can go.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#16. March 16th, 2008, at 1:22 PM.

Wow – thanks Lynda! Apologies for the delay replying!
In hot climates it is definitely important to make sure your worms are kept somewhat cool – they are much more tolerant of heat than ‘normal’ earthworms, but do have limits. I can only imagine how hot a stackable worm system would get in the hot Texas summer sun!
If you have a nice shady spot on your property you might be ok. Alternatively, you could build an outdoor system partially set in the ground – just dig a hole then partially fill it with lot of shredded cardboard and food waste – make sure you add some water as well. Leave it sit for a week or so then add your worms (make sure everything is starting to rot and well moistened before doing so). You can then put a framed structure over top and start adding your kitchen scraps. It wouldn’t hurt if your composter was painted white (lessening the heat absorption) and well ventilated. You will likely need to add quite a bit of water to keep it moist since it is an outdoor summer system.

Of course you COULD also work on your fear re: having worms in the house too!

In a Rubbermaid tub bin you can literally keep them anywhere without offending anyone (assuming the bin is well maintained).

Hope this helps!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Jorge Luis Ricardez
#17. April 1st, 2008, at 5:49 PM.

I have a question about the vermocomposting culture… Is the pH important for a Esesnia foetida culture? How dos is it matter?
Thanks! My reason its because I have a lot of goat manure and want start with vermicompsting…

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#18. April 1st, 2008, at 6:50 PM.

Hi Jorge,
Red Worms have a very wide range of pH tolerance (something like 4-9), but there are other factors to keep in mind. Higher pH tends to favour the release of ammonia gas from waste materials (and soils), thus lowering the value of your compost and potentially harming the worms. The pH can also have a significant impact on the ecosystem of your worm bin. Lower (acidic) pH tends to favour fungi over bacteria.
Generally, I’d recommend a somewhat acidic pH (maybe between 6 and 7), but really I don’t worry too much about it.
If I was going to be using goat manure, I would likely mix it with shredded cardboard or straw and let it age for at least a week or two before adding the worms (even then you should add only a few and see how they respond). If you have a worm system up and running already, you may actually be able to add fresh goat manure directly on top (I’d still recommend adding some carbon-rich material at the same time though)


Get your own gravatar by visiting Mike P of Virginia
#19. April 16th, 2008, at 11:36 AM.

I have been using a general compost pile for over twenty years, but I thought I would venture into vermicomposting. I purchased the 5 tray wooden worm farm/condo and I am getting ready to set it up. Unfortunately the instructions provided with the unit was just general instructions on vermicomposting from the US-EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It did not provide the specifics associated with the 5 tray system I had hoped they would provide.

I was planning to start with the first three lower bins. Place a single layer of newspaper in the bottome of each. Fill each of the three bins with shredded computer paper, partialy composted grass clippings, peat moss, and soil. Let the unit sit for a week and then add a pound of the red worms to the lowest bin. I am going to monitor the temperature of the 3 lower bins and the ambient temperature with a four channel recording thermocouple. I want to see if I can detect the worm movement from the lowest bin to the upper bin via a change in the bin temperature. After about two weeks, I will set up the fourth bin and the fifth bin will follow a week later. After the fouth or fifth week with worms in the bin I plan to empty the lower bin and rotate it to the top with fresh shredded computer paper, partialy composted grass clippings, peat moss, and soil. I will also occasionally monitor the pH and the moisture content of the bins.

Do you have any additional suggestions?

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#20. April 16th, 2008, at 1:21 PM.

Wow Mike,
Sounds like you are a serious composter! You also seem to be taking a different approach when it comes to the use of a stackable bin system.
Generally, these bins are designed based on the ‘continuous flow’ vermicomposting concept – i.e. waste materials are continually added in a given direction and worms just naturally follow, occupying the zones with the best food and leaving their waste (castings) behind or below them.

Usually, with a bin like the ‘Chalet’ you would simply start the bottom tray and treat it as an independent worm bin. Once it has reached it’s capacity you then added the second tray (which ideally has had some wastes and bedding aging in it for a bit) and the worms then start to migrate upwards into it, and so on and so forth.

Putting newspaper down on the very bottom tray is definitely a good idea. I’m not sure I would recommend doing so for any of the other trays since this will impede the movement of the worms.

Your idea for measuring temperature differences sounds intriguing! I’d love to find out how it works out for you.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Mike P of Virginia
#21. April 17th, 2008, at 1:54 AM.

How much time would you recommend for setting up each successessive bin? Should it be based on observations of the first bin or based on time, or what? Should food be added to a worm occupied bin or just to a new bin?

As far as the setting up the first three bins in my experiment I just thought I would collect some data to see if I can determine if the migratory habits of the worms can be determined by a change in the temperature in the bins. My hypothysis is that temperature should increase with the increased activity in a bin as the worms start eating in a bin. After the initial testing of the first three bins, I plan to go to adding a bin after a set period of time and after the fifth bin addition I would start to rotate the lower bin to the upper bin after collecting the castings.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#22. April 18th, 2008, at 3:11 PM.

Hey Mike – sorry for the delay responding.
It’s not so much about a specific time to wait as it is about the amount of material in the tray, and how well processed it is. If the tray is nearly full and there is a lot of dark vermicompost present then it might be time to add another tray with some bedding and food scraps. At that point you should no longer add food to the first tray, and should wait for the worms to move into the second tray and start feeding on whats there before adding new food waste to that tray.


Get your own gravatar by visiting ali
#23. April 23rd, 2008, at 4:18 PM.

Hello all.
Very informative here! I noticed that someone was using paper towels rather than newspaper. Isn’t there a chance of harming the worms with bleach that may be contained in paper towels and napkins? I’ve read somewhere not to use papertowels for spills on fabrics due to how they’re made.

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#24. April 24th, 2008, at 2:48 PM.

Hi Ali,
That is an excellent question. I generally only use any sort of white paper (including paper towels) in moderation for that very reason. I recall adding a LOT of shredded office paper to one of my worm bins a a number of years ago, and the worms did not seem to like it at all. I’m pretty sure there was something in the paper that was causing them irritation.


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#25. May 6th, 2008, at 7:14 PM.

At what external temperature can my plastic worm container, with worms, be moved outdoor? There is no odour but space is a concern.

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#26. May 7th, 2008, at 3:12 AM.

As long as you are not going below freezing at night you should be able to take the worms out at any point

Get your own gravatar by visiting Free
#27. May 7th, 2008, at 3:20 AM.

The internal temp of my bin is quite warm. I live in Las Vegas, so I have my bin indoors to keep from overheating. My house is about 78 degrees – do I need to worry about the internal temperature of the bin.

Also, some maggots grew on the inside grooves of the bin and then died when the few food particles that were there were eaten. Is there ever a problem w/ maggots growing in the decomposing food?

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#28. May 7th, 2008, at 6:16 PM.

Ahhh ok – didn’t realize we were talking about the other end of the spectrum (too hot). You would definitely need to keep the system well shaded if outdoors in a hot climate like that. Creating some sort of in-ground system might help to keep the worms cool.

I have never had house fly maggots (what I generally associate with the word “maggot”) crop up in my systems. Not sure if this is the sort of maggot you are talking about. There are also Soldier Flies which are common in warm regions. Their larvae consume organic waste but won’t harm your worms or anything like that.
Generally speaking, I wouldn’t say there is too much of an issue with large maggot infestations developing (other than the tiny maggots of Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats).


Get your own gravatar by visiting justin
#29. May 22nd, 2008, at 7:20 AM.

I have an infestation of some sort of very small insect in my bin. The insect is approx. the size of the tip of a needle, more or less white in color and everywhere! They don’t seem to fly or get any larger. They just seem to reproducing at an exponential level. It is to the point that simply lifting the bedding to feed my worms is getting these things all over my hands. I had read a few web sites and most say the bugs should go away in time, however, even after not feeding my worms for a couple weeks now, i have seen no fewer bugs. I am thinking of dumping the bin, getting new bedding and attempt to “clean” the worms and put them back into an uninfested new home. If anyone has any better ideas please let me know. I’m not totally sure what to do about this situation and that is the best resolution i could come up with. Thanks.

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#30. May 23rd, 2008, at 7:27 PM.

Hi Justin,
It sounds as though you have a white mite infestation (assuming they are very slow moving – if they move quickly they may be springtails) – VERY common occurence in a worm bin. Really interesting that you have not fed for two weeks yet the mites still persist.
I NEVER recommend dumping worm bins and starting over – unless of course you simply want to add the materials to a well-prepared outdoor system (where the worms can still thrive). You’d be amazed how many ‘doomed’ worm bins have come back, even after all the adults have died off.

Perhaps you could try cutting up some watermelon or cucumber and putting it in the bin. The mites should congregate on the pieces. Simply remove them and dunk them in a bucket of water each day before putting them back in the bin. This should (hopefully help).

If the worms are doing great and you REALLY don’t want to deal with the mites, try removing the worms and rinsing them off with water before adding them to a new (prepared) system.

Hope this helps!


Get your own gravatar by visiting todd
#31. July 31st, 2008, at 9:02 PM.

I’ve started my first bins I’ve mixed my manure and peat as instructed by the company I purchased from (25% manure 75% peat) but have not added worms yet. The next day when checking the moisture content the mixture felt very warm on then inside of the bin. Why is this even though my bins are in the basement where it’s nice and cool and i used cold well water.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Worried Michelle
#32. August 24th, 2008, at 10:41 AM.

Hi there,
I am really sorry to but in on this discussion, I have nothing to do with worm bins and purely stumbled on this website whilst googling for information regarding a problem I have.
My problem is that I have some kind of creature crawling very slowly around the work surfaces, anything on the work surfaces and the cupboard doors under the surfaces in my kitchen. I first noticed this a couple of mornings ago when I came downstairs and found a small amount of what I thought at the time was just some kind of food particles though it looked like either brick or wood dust, I cleaned it away and thought nothing of it even when the same thing happened the day after. However when I came down this morning I was met by lots of this as well as the stuff crawling all over my tea, coffee and sugar canisters, my mobile phone which was on the kitchen unit charging. This is when I realised that this was not food particles but was in fact some kind of mite as it was actually moving although it was slowly. The only way I can describe it is that it really does look like dust from either wood or brick when in clumps and is a light brown colour against my black work surfaces but when it is single and crawling, it looks like a cream colour egg, all I can say is that it is a good job I have good eyesite or I would not have seen it as it is so tiny!
Please can anyone shed any light on these mites/eggs/creatures, and also can you please tell me why or how they would be in my kitchen? I have bleached all my things and these creatures are still coming back although not as much (at the moment) I really am very worried and concerned about this and to be honest scared to attempt any cooking etc.

Desperately waiting for help Michelle

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#33. August 27th, 2008, at 2:51 PM.

Hi Michelle,
Really sorry for the delay replying. Sounds like quite the situation you have on your hands. I’m not really sure what to tell you, given the fact that these creatures didn’t come from a worm bin. I can see why you might be a tad concerned. You might want to get in touch with an exterminator or someone at a local university to at least find out what you are dealing with.

Good luck! Sorry I can’t be of greater assistance.


Get your own gravatar by visiting Di
#34. September 3rd, 2008, at 1:40 PM.

I have had a worm bin system for over 6 months now,it is kept outside and they seem happy, eat well and I have now added another tier on top of the bottom one, so they are active and producing vermicompost.
My problem is that in this time I haven’t accumulated one bit of worm tea.
what could the reason for this?

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#35. September 5th, 2008, at 3:44 PM.

Hi Di,
I should point out that the liquid that drains out the bottom of a worm bin is more accurately called “leachate”. To make worm tea you really need to use good quality, finished vermicompost.
Leachate can be used as a worm tea, but it generally helps to dilute it and/or aerate it with an aquarium air pump.

The amount of leachate produced is directly related to the moisture content of your system. If enough moisture is constantly evaporating away (likely in an outdoor system) then you won’t likely get any drainage. Also it depends on the moisture content of the materials added. Lots of water rich fruit/veggie waste generally produce the most liquid.

Hope this helps.


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#36. September 8th, 2008, at 8:09 AM.

Hi Bentley, it has been a while since I’ve posted but I have been reading and learning. I recently had a large amount to harvest and because of our high temps (90-104) wasn’t able to get to it so I just piled the castings on top of my 2nd bin. Hopefully the worms will separate themselves and save me some work. I am hoping that someday I can get or make a harvester that speeds up the process. That is the only part I don’t enjoy. I did come up with a solution for my leachate. I have a set up on the side where I put a 20″ drain tray underneath two rectangle recycling bins that stack. (The worms love this setup by the way.) I water from the top, which goes through the top bin into the bottom bin, which goes into the drain tray. In order to get the leachate out, I had to lift both recycle bins off and pour the tray. I found a pallet that was in good shape and set the bins on top and the tray between the two sections of the pallet. When I water the leachate comes out and drains down into the tray and then I can pull the tray out sideways without touching the bins. I have 4 trays in between each pallet. Hopefully that makes sense. Still getting 4 gallons a day from this so it really saves my back. Keep up the good work that you are doing. Keeps me thinking. Patricia

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#37. September 24th, 2008, at 12:57 PM.

Hello all,

We are new to the worm composting world, about 1 week. As I have read through I have seen different things I would like to ask questions about. I will do them in different posts.
First question, how do you know you are over feeding them? We purchased 1 pound of worms, but what to you look for or how do you know they are over fed?
Thanks for your help.

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#38. September 24th, 2008, at 6:58 PM.

Hi Travis,
If food is starting to pile up in the bin (ie when you add new materials there is still a lot of unprocessed food waste in the bin) you are overfeeding. If the bin stinks and/or gets over-run by fungi (usually something that looks like fluffy mold) or other organisms (population explosions that is – having other creatures in the bin is to be expected).


Get your own gravatar by visiting Travis
#39. September 30th, 2008, at 1:38 AM.

Thank you for the reply.
i have another question…how fast do worms multiply…in general terms? i know each worm “home” can be different, but we have only been doing this about 2 weeks and their looks like there are more worms in the bin already, but i dont seem to see “baby” worms.
also after reading it looks like our second bin, will be a longer flatter bin rather than the taller deep bin. we also think that we may have to get a few more bins to continue the worm growth. we wont be able to use the soil in a garden until late winter or spring next year, so we should have a good amount i think.
thanks for the good information on the site, overall it is very helpful.

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#40. September 30th, 2008, at 3:39 AM.

Hey Travis – it is often said that a worm population can double every 90 days or so. This is certainly not set in stone, and like you say, each bin is indeed different. The conditions present in the system make ALL the difference in the world.
I’m actually going to be testing this out and writing about it on the blog, so stay tuned.

Get your own gravatar by visiting leslie
#41. October 13th, 2008, at 3:06 PM.

why do i not have any tea yet. we have arfrican red wranglers and seem to be doing fine outside, now it is 2 mo and no tea yet?

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#42. October 14th, 2008, at 3:56 AM.

Hi Leslie,
Compost tea is something you create – it isn’t produced in a worm bin. Essentially you produce high quality vermicompost, then you soak it in water (preferably aerated).
I suspect you are referring to ‘leachate’ – the liquid that drains out the bottom on a worm bin. The production of this liquid depends entirely on the moisture content of the materials in your bin. If it remains fairly dry in your system, no liquid will ever drain down. If you want to produce more, simply add some water (just make sure you have really good drainage).

Hope this helps!

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#43. October 27th, 2008, at 10:20 AM.

I am writing from Western Australia. We are now coming into our hot season. The temperature can get up to 43′. I have had a worm farm in a shaded area for two months but am concerned that the hot temps may kill the worms.
I have noticed that since the weather has started to warm the top layer of my worm farm has the mites? and surrounded by fruit flies.
I will try the suggestions listed in your facts.
Many thanks and love your site.

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#44. November 6th, 2008, at 7:05 PM.

I just found your site and am so thankful you’ve taken the time to share your knowledge!

I have raised rabbits for some time and am considering raising worms in the rabbit manure that is produced. I typically use wood shavings in my pans, then clean and disinfect the pans before putting them back under the cages. Are wood shavings ok to put in with the worms? I wonder if they would be too dry or would have soaked up rabbit urine which might burn the worms.

Any ideas, thoughts, comments, and concerns are GREATLY appreciated. I’d like to get a game plan together before I try to start raising worms!

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#45. December 1st, 2008, at 2:05 PM.

Does anyone know if “rinsing” the compost and worms with fresh water will keep the environment more healthy for the worms? It seems that when I add fresh water to the compost bin the worms do better then just leaving whatever moisture is coming from the veggie scraps I add. Some of my worms look very sluggish and swollen before I started doing this…now they are really lively.

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#46. December 1st, 2008, at 9:18 PM.

Hi Mark,
Interesting question. My ‘dream system’ would actually be some sort of plant grow bed with a constant trickle of (oxygenated) water going through it, and of course containing loads of worms. Waste materials could be added in the usual manner, but the worms could also feast on the microbial biofilm that would grow on the bed media. It would make the most sense if this bed was part of an aquaponics system (fish water pumped into grow beds) since the nutrients in the water would help to support the microbes.

Day dreaming aside, I’m not sure I would want to run water through a normal worm bin – especially not if I wanted to harvest quality vermicompost at some point. Aside from washing the nutrients and microbes out from the system constantly, it would be a pain dealing with the daily leachate (in the summer you could dump it out in your garden I guess).
That being said, I think your line of thinking is definitely spot on though – if you had a system that made this easy to do, and you weren’t concerned with the quality of the compost, it probably would help to rinse out all the (potentially harmful) metabolites getting produced during the rotting process.

Interesting idea – thanks for the comment, Mark!

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#47. March 1st, 2009, at 7:15 PM.

I am new to worm composting and I’m leaning a lot on websites such as this one, but I do have something very valuable to offer myself. You can use magnetism to dramatically improve your compost bin.

A scientist named Albert Roy Davis discovered that the North and South poles of a magnet are in fact two separate and distinct energies. Each pole has a different effect on living organisms. When worms are exposed to the South pole of a magnet they grow larger, reproduce faster, and their castings are richer in nutrients.

Seeds that are exposed to magnetic fields prior to planting grow into larger plants, they have higher yields, and they’re more nutritious than they would ordinarily be without magnetic exposure. I’ve magnetized seeds myself and had great results. For example, I’ve grown watermelons that were TWICE as large as normal! If you’d like to know more about using magnets for gardening (and this is the LEAST exciting chapter) read the book, “Magnetism and Its Effects on the Living System”, by Albert Roy Davis and Walter C. Rawls, Jr.

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#48. March 3rd, 2009, at 6:12 PM.

I’d love to see some scientifically documented (in a peer reviewed journal) proof that this does indeed work, Rich. I have a very open mind, believe me – but I just can’t help but wonder why there wouldn’t be more publicity about this if it worked so well.
I hate to be a ‘doubting Thomas’ or a ‘negative Nelly’, but my science background makes me curious about these sorts of things.

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#49. March 5th, 2009, at 12:24 PM.

I am new at this. We are sponsoring our sons entire third grade on a vermicomposting project. Each class will have its own 62 qt. bin. I’ve read how to set them up, but my question is this: How many worms per bin do we need to start? Thanks for any info.

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#50. March 27th, 2009, at 5:40 AM.

I used to have a large outdoor vermicomposting bin (composted both kitchen waste and humanure from a sawdust loo, very successfully). Now in a different climate (much further North) and with no yard, I’m keeping worms in a friend’s basement and feeding them only kitchen waste. I bought about a pound of littl’uns from a breeder and settled them in damp coir bedding; they get regular feedings of kitchen scraps, but perhaps I am underfeeding? the number of worms seems to have declined rather than multiplied, and what I’m left with is a small number of fat slow-moving worms, not a mass of active wrigglers.

Are they slow because it’s fairly cool in the basement? because they are underfed? because the bedding in their bins is getting too old? I’ve never kept them in so small a bit (rubbermaid tub) before. I set up a 2nd tub with fresh bedding and transferred several worms to the new tub; but on checking a week or two later I could find no survivors. I am worried — Spring is late coming this year, and I don’t know if I will have many worms left to introduce into the outdoor bins and raised beds.

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#51. March 27th, 2009, at 3:46 PM.

Hi Julie – I am pretty sure we corresponded via email, but for the benefit of others, a rough guideline for adding worms is 1/2 to 1 lb of worms per square ft of bin surface space.

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#52. March 27th, 2009, at 3:49 PM.

DeAnander – how cool is it down in the basement? Some types of composting worms can’t handle cool temps. I have heard quite a few stories from people about ordering ‘red worms’ but ending up with worms that seem to die when temps go below 50. To me this definitely seems to suggest that they received Blue Worms (Perionyx excavatus) since red worms are very cold-hardy.

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#53. April 3rd, 2009, at 4:01 PM.

Hi Bentley — the basement gets down to about 10C — a lot warmer than the outside, which is why they’re in theb cellar rather than an outdoor bin!

I think maybe they were underfed — they didn’t consume all their food scraps and so I didn’t re-feed, but on closer examination I find that the scraps they did not consume were veggies that were still fighting for life — carrots and onions that were sprouting, celery that was still trying to grow, etc. I’m guessing the worms can eat only what is truly dead and starting to rot, as they graze on the byproducts of bacterial growth rather than on the food itself?

I found about 10 big fat slow — but definitely red — worms in each bin when I hand-picked them over. That seems enough to re-start with. I gave them fresh litter and a big feed, and will see how they feel now. one bin (the old one) had definitely been a success: good heavy wet black worm compost came out, and I’m using it this week to bed new bare-root stock in the garden!

Thanks for the reality check :-) I think this was newbie error (I have not kept them indoors before or in such small tubs).

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#54. April 3rd, 2009, at 7:22 PM.

Hi! I started a tiered worm system on 3/12/09. Just over 2 weeks later I am seeing very few worms! I do, however have tons of tiny red mites! Are they killing my worms? There isn’t any smell and the kitchen scraps seem to be disappearing. I do think the bin got a little too wet and I’ve been trying to dry it out some. Also, I was afraid I had made the bin too acidic with coffee grounds so I sprinkled some lime (not slaked) over in. Now I see even less worms! Any help would be appreciated.

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#55. April 5th, 2009, at 6:38 PM.

Well, it’s been a couple of days since my posting and I am seeing tiny white worms in my kitchen scrap bin, but very few full size worms (I’m talking maybe 10) when I started with 1 lb. Still lots of red mites and now fruitflies, even though I have left the lid off of the plastic (Gusanito) bin and covered with dry shredded cardboard (as I’m trying to dry the bin out). Are these baby red worms or some other worm. Again, I’m afraid I maybe killed all of my worms! Still no real bad smell and the kitchen scraps appear to be decomposing. At the same time I started this bin, I started a bin strictly for dog poo which I though was doing great, but now I’m seeing hardly any worms in this either. Also has lots of red mites!! No bad smell in this bin either and it appears to be much drier than the kitchen scrap bin! Dare I buy more worms for these two bins or will I kill them off as well??? Again, any help from more experienced worm farmers would be greatly apprecdiated!

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#56. April 8th, 2009, at 2:32 PM.

Hi Everyone –
I am wondering when I can add redworms to my outside compost pile. The temp is now in the mid-30′s at night but I haven’t seen very much composting going on in my ‘hot bin’ so wonder if the temperature is too cold. I have a 4 bin system along with a rotating drum – moving stuff from one bin to another until it’s finished. I was planning to add only to the last bin and the rotating drum. Thanks for the reply!

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#57. April 11th, 2009, at 8:18 PM.

I was thinking of building my own wooden worm bin, do you have any suggestions as to the type of wood that would be best suited for this purpose?

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#58. April 12th, 2009, at 8:57 PM.

i have looked everywhere but i cant find the infor any where i wonder if you could help me i have a 100 litter womary from original organincs i need some tiger worms but i dont know how many do you know

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#59. April 20th, 2009, at 3:54 AM.

I have lost and am losing worms to over heating plastic bins…the stacking type….what is my best bet to use as bedding for them…I am using wet straw but this seems to heat up in two days.

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#60. April 28th, 2009, at 6:06 PM.

CLARICE – when you say `red`mites, how red are you talking about? There is apparently a species of red mites that is parasitic on worms, but I don`t think they are very common. There is a species that is reddish-brown that`s much more common, and is nothing to worry about.
Where was your bin sitting (and at what average temperature)?
The little white worms are likely Pot Worms (also known simply as `White Worms`), not baby red worms – the latter tend to be larger than white worms and contain some pigmentation

JEAN – I suspect that it`s even warmer there by now, so there is certainly no issue adding the worms. Even with night time temps around the freezing mark there should be no issues whatsoever, especially with a fairly large compost pile or bin. They are very cold-hardy worms. I`ve literally found them encased in partially frozen material and they were still wiggling (slowly, but surely – haha)

JAN – I`m not a building expert by any means, so I`d say that most woods are fine. Stay away from cedar (or similar woods) though – it contains potent oils that can kill your worms

ROWAN – generally, starting a worm bin with 1 lb of worms is not a bad way to go. They reproduce quite quickly and can grow in numbers to fill any system. 100 liters is pretty big though, so you could likely get away with 2 or 3 lb – I`m not familiar with the exact appearance of the bin in question, so these are just loose guidelines

DIANNE – you might try shredded cardboard or shredded newspaper – these should have less potential for overheating.

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#61. April 28th, 2009, at 10:36 PM.

Hi Bentley…thanks for your response. The mites were most definitely red and I finally dumped the bin with not more than 2 or 3 worms. Bin is in the garage and I’m in No. CA for the temps were 60s-70s. I have since restarted the bin with more worms initially and much drier bedding. So far so good. The only question I have left is how sould I feed. Books say to bury in one section, but the guy who sold me the new worms said to feed thinly over the top and cover with newspaper to ward off flies and (hopefully) mites. That has been working, but the worms seem to prefer the newspaper to the actual food. Not that I really mind as long as they are healthy and happy! Thanks again for the help!

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#62. April 29th, 2009, at 8:04 PM.

i have a 30 gallon container how many worms should i put in it please help i was wondering if 1000 was enough or too much

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#63. April 30th, 2009, at 4:43 PM.

My worm bin gets absolutely filled with fruit flies. I have a can of old wine with a drop of dish detergent and get a lot drowning in that , but they get all over the house when the bin is inside, as it has been during cold weather. What to do? I hate to use House and Garden spray.

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#64. May 11th, 2009, at 2:58 PM.

Thanks for all the help. Started a worm bin on april 8 with 2 lbs. and they are declining g in numbers quickly. Maybe too warm or not enough food. I am changing my tactics this week. I do have a nice bit of casings in the bottom layer now. What do you reccommend for bedding?
thanks for all the info.

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#65. May 11th, 2009, at 10:25 PM.

You printed my fruit fly concern, but to date, no answers or solutions. No help found where it was said help may be available. deanne

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#66. May 12th, 2009, at 2:05 AM.

Enjoyed reading most all of the post in this thread, only speed reading through parts of post where I had no interest.

I saw some inquiries about how to keep a worm bed from drying out when someone went on vacation (I think they were in Arizonia or Wyoming it might have been.

This reminded me of the way my mom kept her house plants from drying out when we went on vacation (55 years ago). She would lay the ends of strips of cloth on top of the soil with the other end going over the side and resting in a bucket of water. The natural wicking of the cloth kept the plants from drying out and would do so until the bucket ran dry.

I think something like this would work great for a worm bed. You could soak an old towell in water and cover the bed with a layer or two then cut wide strips that would lay under this towell then run over the edge and into a bucket of water. As the towell dried out more would wick in to keep it wet.

Of course drying out would not be too much of a problem if they were in plastic beds. I think this person had wooden beds. This would work if they kept the wooden beds.

Typed a lot, I guess, to just pass on a tip to use a wicking method :(

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#67. May 12th, 2009, at 4:00 AM.

I have had my can o worm farm for about 8 months now and so far so good, i avoid acidic scraps, add a worm fattener recipe that came with the instruction and also add some dolomate lime stuff every couple of weeks to avoid high acidic levels. a couple of weeks ago i started putting my food scraps through a food processer before adding them to the bin and i found it worked wonders, by doing this it has attracted heaps of the fully mature worms up the tier, then today i had a look at my bin and there are hundreds of ‘baby” worms EVERWHERE!!, i read your responce to clarice and am thinking they maybe “white worms” but mine are not white if you look close up they are more transparent, i have also read that baby worms can be transparent looking so i’m a little confused to what they are. if they are white worm, should i try to get rid of them and how?

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#68. May 14th, 2009, at 5:35 PM.

I’m learning a ton from your site.

Couple questions: I realize I probably have been overfeeding our worms — problem is, we got the worm bin as part of a fundraiser and so I don’t know how long the worms have been in this home or how many were put in to start with. I am wondering, since I have been feeding them every 3 days in the 2 weeks since we have had them, should I just let them chill for a week or so?

Also, before I saw on your site about the worms not liking noise and vibration, my son was having a ball beating the top of the bin like a drum. Oooops. We stopped him each time he started, but he got in a couple good whacks! Do you think he killed off a ton of the poor guys?

Lastly, give me a tip on how you store your scraps that you might potentially give the worms at feeding time. I was just putting them in a produce bag in the fridge, but maybe they are too dry that way.

Thanks for everything!

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#69. May 29th, 2009, at 12:31 AM.

I have read through this and no one seems to have problems with a smelly bin. I’ve had my bin for 2 months now and keep food scraps in a plastic tub under my sink. They stay in there for a long time, so they are pretty smelly when I put them in the bin. I feed the worms about once a week and it seems to work well for them (I think I put too much in at a time but we have a lot of scraps! And I want to cover the entire surface). Should I feed them less but more often? I think the smell is just from the food but it lasts for a few days even though it is covered with bedding. I also sorted through my bin today and noticed that some of the cardboard (and leaves that I started the bin with) are not breaking down. Should they be in smaller pieces? I still have a good number of worms (I started with 2 lbs) but I think I have less than I started with although they are larger. I know my bin (kept inside) has plenty of moisture and I try to drain it every couple of weeks. Any tips/suggestions? Since my bin is inside my husband complains of the smell but we thought it was better to let the food sit a little bit before putting it in the bin. Thanks!!!

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#70. June 21st, 2009, at 7:32 PM.


We have been composting with worms for more than 10 years and had thousands of red wigglers throughout our bin until today when we noticed that there was a complete die-off of worms – from gazillions to none in the space of a week or so. Anyone got any ideas on what may have happened? The soil is very moist and it seems that the breakdown of material continued until very recently. We use only kitchen produce, coffee grinds, egg-shells and some plant material from pruning potted plants. There does not appear to be any other insects or fungus – a complete mystery. None of our family has altered what we put in the bin so we don’t have a clue as to what happened. As we live in Vancouver, BC, the temperatures have been moderate – nothing above 25 or so. Any help would be appreciated.

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#71. July 15th, 2009, at 5:45 AM.

Love the site. The quick facts gave me enough information to start vermicomposting now I have 1 homemade and a Worm Factory going.

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#72. July 27th, 2009, at 12:40 AM.

We use red cedar bedding in our chicken coop. We want to start composting the chicken poop which is mixed with the bedding. Is this okay to do in a worm composter? Or will it harm the worms? Should we stick to a regular composter?


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#73. July 30th, 2009, at 2:51 PM.

Wow – looks like I’m WAY behind on comments for this page!

WILL B. – 30 gallons is a BIG worm bin and you could easily get away with adding more than 1000 worms (which is typically about 1 lb). That being said, it never hurts to start out modestly and let your worms grow in numbers to fill the system.
DEANNE – fruit flies are a major problem, that’s for sure. I use a multi-pronged approach when dealing with them. Apart from the traps (I use apple cider vinegar, but they do love wine as well), I often use a vacuum to suck up adults. I make sure to bury food materials well, and if the problem is really bad, you might think about stopping feeding altogether. Just added moistened bedding for a week or two and see what happens. You certainly won’t starve the worms. When it comes to fruit flies, prevention is really the key to success.
VINCE – that is a great tip. Thanks for sharing that!
FAYE – baby red worms are generally larger than white worms, and while more translucent, should have some pink or reddish pigment visible. If you DO have white worms I wouldn’t worry TOO much about them. It’s odd that they would spring up in your system given the fact that you are adding lime though – they generally prefer acidic conditions.
ALEX – Letting your worms ‘chill’ every now and again is never a bad idea. Especially if there is plenty of food in the system. In all honesty, it is very hard to starve these worms. You are far more likely to kill them via overfeeding. Banging on the bin won’t make the worms happy and healthy (haha), but I think you’d have to do it a LOT more than that to actually kill off worms – they are pretty tough little guys. As for storing worm food – what I usually do is gradually collect it in a biodegradable bag (with shredded cardboard in bottom) under my sink. When the bag is full I often will let it sit out in the sun and/or let it freeze before feeding it to my worms. This way it will be much more easily broken down by microbes and worms.
JENNIFER – Smelly food waste and bins are always caused by a lack of air circulation (usually augmented by excess moisture). When storing the wastes, make sure you have a ‘false bottom’ of absorbent, bulky bedding materials such as shredded cardboard. It doesn’t hurt to add more as you fill up the bag over time as well. This will keep moisture in check and will encourage air flow. Same goes for the bin itself – if it stinks it means that there isn’t enough airflow – add lots of dry, absorbent bedding materials like shredded cardboard and/or strips of newsprint. One other thing to mention is that you MAY be adding too much food waste at once – if food accumulates too much it can form anaerobic zones that will give off bad odours. As for the materials not breaking down, again oxygen is really important – also keep in mind the fact that some materials are a LOT more resistant than others. Those wastes with really high C:N ratio (such as cardboard) will definitely take a lot longer than other materials such as soft food wastes. Cutting into smaller pieces does increase surface area, which will definitely speed up the process since there will be more zones for microbes to feed.
BARRY – that is definitely very odd, given your level of experience and the fact that you’ve kept everything so consistent. I’d be curious to know how old the system is. Sometimes you can reach a threshold point, where there is simply too much worm waste and not enough good habitat. The only other thing I can think of is that perhaps something toxic was added accidentally with one of the food materials shortly before the die-off started.
Element – thanks! Glad to help
KIM – Both cedar and poultry waste can actually be really harmful to worms, especially when fresh. If the mix was hot composted and/or aged (outside for a long time) you may be able to use it, but I would first try in a larger outdoor system (and do so very carefully). Poultry wastes have been used for vermicomposting, but they always need to be washed/composted/aged in order to remove excess ammonia and inorganic salts.

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#74. August 2nd, 2009, at 11:48 PM.

I just started vermicomposting about a month ago. pretty sure after reading this that I have been WAY overfeeding them. It is summer and we have so much produce waste. I am not sure the worms can keep up with us! I bought 2000 reg wrigglers to start. also, it seems I have not been covering the waste with enough shredded paper – i was using just a thin layer of newpaper for on top. So the problem is I have lots of white spider mites, and I also have house fly larvae. I am pretty sure of this: I have house flies buzzing around and there are long white larvae which i compared to a picture i found on google of house fly larvae and it looks exactly the same. Doesn’t look like any of the other kinds of fly larvae or white worms. Also there is a sour smell (slight) to the composter. It’s a stack bin system by the way. so we put it outside in shade for now. So I guess I should stop feeding them for a month or so? I just put a bunch more food in right before I read this :(
there seem to be a lot of worms going to the bottom where the liquid is and they seem to be drowning in it… are they trying to escape all the pests?
btw we had fruit flies too (although no citrus fruits were used) but we put an extra bin on top full of dry shredded paper and that stopped them.
is there anything else I can do to help this? How much food is too much food? i was feeding them every few days a few handfuls when it looked like half of what was already there was compost. also, is lavender ok for composting? I have a lavender plant.. and I was thinking since house flies hate lavender, maybe by putting the dead leaves in there it might help somewhat. how can I get rid of the house flies?? I’m afraid I have totally messed this up. HELP!! so many questions, thank you for responding!!

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#75. August 7th, 2009, at 7:09 PM.

A Glorious Gallery of Rot: Compost as Art (Pictures) | Lighter Footstep: dark, and slimy: If you’re a worm, this is what a day at the beach looks like. Vermiculture is …

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#76. August 28th, 2009, at 10:35 PM.


Like Rebekah above, I have some concerns about composting dog waste. I’ve found a lot of resources online but they often contradict one another.

My plan was to create a separate worm bin using red wigglers to compost the dog waste. What I am wondering is could the resultant castings then be added to a regular hot compost pile and would that eliminate the pathogens associated with dog waste?

I’m assuming parasites in the dog waste would be digested by the worms, any truth to this?

Thanks in advance for your answers


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#77. August 31st, 2009, at 1:54 PM.

RACHEL – Really sorry for missing your comment. E-mail is definitely a better way to reach me. I’ll still respond here for the benefit of others (and perhaps you too). Keeping a vermicomposting system outdoors pretty much guarantees that you will get more critters than you would indoors. Right of the bat, it is important to remember that this is an ecosystem – not just worms and waste – so don’t sweat it too much when other ‘pests’ appear. Don’t get me wrong, I consider fruit flies a pest because they really ANNOY me (and my wife – haha), but they don’t harm the worms in any way – nor do most of the other creatures you generally encounter in a worm bin (white mites are an example). It DOES sound like you are overfeeding – houseflies are generally only attracted to worm bins when there are some stinky, wet zones. I have plenty of outdoor systems myself, but don’t get fly larvae – unless I somehow manage to create a stinky anaerobic mess.
The white mites are very common in worm bins and are usually a sign of excess moisture and/or overfeeding, when found in really high numbers (basically there to take advantage of a resource that the worms can’t consume by themselves).
More bedding, and reduced feeding will almost always improve conditions in a worm bin. Not sure leaving the bin for a month without feeding is necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt to leave it for a little while anyway – just keep an eye on it and see how long it takes for the worms to consume the remaining wastes.
Stacking systems with reservoirs are almost always going to end up with worms in the reservoir. Worms just naturally tend to roam – particularly to places that are dark, warm and wet. As you continue to move up in the stacking system I suspect that you will eventually see fewer and fewer worms down below. Others have made recommendations such as putting a layer of landscape fabric in between the bottom tray and the reservoir – so this might be worth testing out.
As for lavender, I would probably stay away from it personally. Maybe put a bunch around the bin, but I don’t think it would be ideal inside. It has a very aromatic oil that would likely irritate the worms, and it is also a somewhat bushy plant so it would also take awhile to break down.

Anyway – hope this helps some
Sorry again for the delay!

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#78. August 31st, 2009, at 2:44 PM.

BILL – It never hurts to play it safe with these sorts of materials. While I don’t have a dog, I do have cats (now using compostable cat litter) so I vermicompost my cat waste. I think it’s always important to do it in a separate system, and certainly one that is a good distance from any water body.
You talk about vermicomposting then hot composting – I’d actually suggest doing it the other way around. Simply compost the dog doo, mixed with straw or some other bulky bedding material – letting it ‘cook’ for a good week or two. Then start gradually adding it to a worm composting bed.
Vermicomposting is reported to be effective for pathogen destruction, but it never hurts to be sure (by including the hot phase).
Not sure I’d be putting the finished material on food crops or anything like that – even WITH the hot composting – but it would be great for trees/shrubs/ornamentals by the time the worms are finished with it.
Hope this helps

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#79. August 31st, 2009, at 7:07 PM.

Hi! I’m glad I found your site; lots of good info.

We started a vermicomposter bin for pet (dog) waste at the beginning of the summer with about 1000 red wigglers. They are doing well, reproducing, and handling probably half the pet waste in our yard. However, we’re about to head into fall and it suddenly occurred to me that I’m not sure what to do with the little guys in the winter. I’m in Northern Indiana, near the lake, and we do get below freezing for a good portion of the winter. I’m not a super-serious composter to the extent that I want to spend a lot of money and build elaborate systems to keep the bin outdoors, but I also don’t want to lose my happy little colony. Any thoughts? I was wondering whether I could bring the bin in for the winter and feed kitchen scraps, and then switch the back to outdoors/pet waste in the spring. Or, is it feasible to bury the bin and keep it underground for the winter? Obviously our native worms do something to keep themselves alive during the cold months. Thank you!

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#80. October 15th, 2009, at 7:37 PM.

I have a bucket of worms that I keep, for my fish tank, on the porch. Well, it got a little cold last night and when I came out to get a handful, most, not all, had crawled out and had formed 3 hugh worm balls, the size of a golf ball or bigger, and were laying on my porch floor. I believe they are red worms, they were in my compost. Is this normal? Where should I keep them? Everytime I try the refrigerator, they freeze, which still works, cause I can feed frozen worms, but I would rather feed live worms. I like your page and will check back, especially in the spring, so I can do a worm farm right, Thanks.

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#81. October 19th, 2009, at 5:20 PM.

MELISSA (sorry – must have missed your comment!!) – I recently wrote about what to do with your worms when it gets cold:

An in-ground system would be pretty easy to make and would definitely help to keep a lot of worms safe over the winter. Keeping at least one or two indoor bins is always a good idea as well!


BETTY – that is very strange and makes me wonder if you actually have another type of worm. My red worms have never done that, and seem to do just fine when it starts getting cold out. I’m also not sure why they would “freeze” in your refrigerator, unless of course you just happen to keep the temp setting really low (and other stuff freezes in there as well).

If you can manage, I highly recommend you keep a system indoors (maybe down in your basement) – this will ensure that you have an ongoing population of worms regardless of outdoor conditions.

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#82. October 20th, 2009, at 12:42 PM.

Fantastic site! Certainly not recommended for the general public – I doubt you will take too many readers away from

I think it’s amazing how well you answer all the questions. Especially the same question about mites over and over… All my worms are doing fine, but I just checked the temp since they were out in my shed and it was 40 F. After reading quite a bit on your site I moved them inside and there is little if any smell. I have a compost pit with more worms outside and have been putting all the stinky food in there. Things like onions, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. I am also going to make sure they have plenty of oxygen – which will require me re-reading a bunch again.

Thank you again for all your help.

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#83. October 27th, 2009, at 1:45 PM.

I want to know what is the maximum number of redworms per cubic ft (or cubic meter) one can have in a tank or a pit?
I read that one pound of worms can process 1/2 pound of organic waste. How many pounds of redworms will be needed to process one cubic ft. of horse manure (or cow dung) per day?

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#84. November 3rd, 2009, at 8:20 PM.

BRUCE – thanks for the kind words. As you can probably tell (assuming you ever read this), it DOES take me awhile sometimes to respond to comments, but I do make an effort to get to those ones in need of a response. Anyway – glad you found some useful info here!
PRASHANT – I really don’t have any good numbers for you – sorry. I have heard of densities as high as 4-6 lb per ‘sq foot’, but have always wondered what that implies in terms of depth.
The problem with coming up with any of these sorts of numbers is that there are SO MANY different variables. Sure, in some systems 1 lb of worms can process 1/2 lb of some sort of waste material daily – but that is definitely not applicable to ALL types of waste or at ALL temperatures etc etc etc. Ground up vegetable waste will obviously be processed much more quickly than straw for example. I hate to keep harping on this, but unfortunately your best bet is simply to experiment and find out how the worms respond.

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#85. January 18th, 2010, at 12:27 AM.

I have got a couple of questions. I started a bin off in my basement on the first of Nov. 2009. I made a 30x30x30 bin (approx.) and put a grate int he bottom with little doors on all four sides. Moved a bunch of my red worms into it. Put a bunch of newspaper in the bottom (shredded) and started feeding them my composted leaves mixed withcow manure. I started pulling some material from the bottom and am still filling the top. After approx.70 days I am taking out of the bottom. (It’s a home made flow through design). I am finding some material that is not finished eaten. Am I taking out too soon? Also I made a trommel screen out of 5gallon buckets and 1/8 inch screen. The problem with that is if I put the castings right into that there are a zillon baby worms locked into the screen and you lose them,other wise I spend a few hours hand sorting all of the eggs and babies out before hand. There is a lot of time in this. I hate to lose all of the little ones,besides I am using them to start off another bin. Any suggestions for a better way to do this of is it just a fact of life that you are gonna lose a lot of little ones?

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#86. January 19th, 2010, at 5:37 PM.

I think, yes, pulling material too soon. On separating out egg cocoons, yes, you do lose some babies – therefore it is best to not do this too often. When you want to start another bin you can simply divide all of the contents of your current bin in half and use that to start another bin combining with new bedding and adding new bedding to your original bin to make up the difference. This will disturb them the least and kill few if any babies.

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#87. January 19th, 2010, at 6:02 PM.

Hi Harry – 70 days sounds like a fair amount of time to me, but really, it comes down to simply seeing what the material looks/smells like. If it is dark, rich, earthy smelling stuff you are probably in business! Losing baby worms is definitely part of harvesting – no doubt about it. You might want to check out the harvesting articles linked to on the “Hot Topics” page (upper navigation buttons) to see some of the various approaches you can take as far as harvesting goes. If you REALLY want to save a lot of babies, simply let the material sit for awhile with some food materials up top – the babies should congregate in this zone, and if you wait long enough a lot of the cocoons should hatch out as well.
Hope this helps

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#88. January 20th, 2010, at 2:58 AM.

Thank you for your generous site.
I wonder which “condo” bin would you recommend between the plastic and the pine?
Thank you

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#89. January 20th, 2010, at 7:58 PM.

Hi Autumn – I’m not a huge fan of stacking bins, but if I HAD to choose I would definitely go with the plastic. I have a pine stacking bin and I found that it dried out too easily. If the trays were deeper, a wooden system would likely be my choice, based on the improve breathability.

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#90. February 20th, 2010, at 10:48 PM.

First off, like many people have said – great job on this site! It is so helpful and has been my biggest resource for starting my worm bin. I live in Colorado and have a bin (15 gallon – but only filled half way) in my basement. I wanted to start off slow and let them multiply so I only got a half pound of beautiful reds. I added a ton of shredded moist newspaper, cardboard, dirt, and leaves and let that chill for a few days before adding my worms, and a few more days before adding any kitchen scraps. However, they are not eating – anything. They are all alive so they must be doing something. I have had them now for about a month and haven’t added any scraps other than the 1/2 pound I started with. I know it takes time for them to get use to their new home, but how long do I wait before I should start to worry?
Also I have read that some people add some kind of compound to their bins. I believe it is calcium. What benefit does this provide to the worms and where can I find it?

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#91. February 23rd, 2010, at 6:35 AM.

thankyou for the good information because this is the only good website about composting that i could get a good idea from for my homework

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#92. February 23rd, 2010, at 3:09 PM.

JENNIFER – what temperature is the system at right now? (ie is it in a fairly warm indoor location?). What sort of kitchen scraps did you add?
If the worms seem totally fine, I would not worry at all – it may not seem like they are eating anything, but they are almost certainly consuming SOMETHING in the system if they’ve been content to stay there for a month.
Some people add lime (Calcium carbonate / chalk) to their bins to help prevent acidity. Not sure if this is what you are referring to. I personally prefer not to do this. I don’t like the idea of potentially causing major swings in pH – plus the fact is, composting worms actually prefer a somewhat acidic pH anyway (what they are used to in the type of habitats they tend to live in).
I add egg shells to my systems though – this can help to buffer pH somewhat and provide calcium as well.
CAITLIN – thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you were able to find the info you were looking for!

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#93. February 24th, 2010, at 12:43 AM.

This is going to be my second attemp to raise these little rascals. I had a bin Last summer that lasted about 3 months before going sour. I had alot of cocoons but no worms. I think I overfed and not enough airation. I have some questions for anyone willing to help.
Our family eats about 24 eggs in a week and a half. I have been drying them out before crushing them almost into a powder for some time now and storing them in a plastic bag What would be a good amount to add to the worms food? Will to much kill them?
I was told to start a bed with sphagum Peat Moss, cardboard, and paper. In a plastic bin. To my understanding Peat Moss retains moisture and it was suggessted that once a week I needed to add calcium carbonate (agricultural grade Limestone powder not hydrated). I don’t want to add this to the bin because I was told by someone else that it would harm the worm if it got on them there for I would think I have enough egg shells to suffice. Does anyone know about that?
Am I to understand correctly that You mix new bedding into the old material weekly? By weekly? Monthly? and harvest in 3 to six months? I have seen beautiful vermicompost on online videos with worms in it and no bedding how does that come about? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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#94. February 24th, 2010, at 4:07 AM.

Thanks Bentley – they are in the basement, I would say the temp in the basement is in the low – mid 50 during the day and mid 40s at night. I may be a little wrong on my temps, but they are no where near freezing. I also have a large piece of cardboard covering the bedding / food mix because I was told this would help with the smell and in keeping heat in. I have been the first feeding was – a banana peel, apple core, avacado rind, some squash, an orange rind, egg shells (dried and crumbled) and some lettuce. What I could safely blend in the blender I did, the rest I made sure was cut up as much as possible. I check them often (every other day / every day) to see what they are liking / not liking and there are almost always a few that are crawling up the side of the bin. I have several air holes but am now wondering if since it is in the basement maybe air isn’t flowing through? Basements aren’t well ventilated. Sorry for bothering you so much – I just really want my new “pets” to be happy.

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#95. February 26th, 2010, at 1:34 AM.

I have a worm bin and have tons of little spiders mites crawling all over the worms, lid, just every where. Can you point me in a direction on what these may be and how to get rid of them. Is there a spray or something tI can use that wont hurt the worms? Please help…

Thank you,

Patrick King

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#96. February 26th, 2010, at 3:44 PM.

TXLEAH – here are my responses
“What would be a good amount to add to the worms food? Will to much kill them?”
I wouldn’t dump all your shells in at once since all the jagged edges might cut the worms, but if you add a sprinkle of them every time you fed the system (and spread them around) you should be totally fine

“I don’t want to add this to the bin because I was told by someone else that it would harm the worm if it got on them”
Make sure you are using the right type of “lime” – it needs to be calcium carbonate, not “builders lime” or one of the other caustic types. Adding a bit (of the good stuff) every so often should be fine, just don’t overdo it (don’t want major swings in pH).

“Am I to understand correctly that You mix new bedding into the old material weekly? By weekly? Monthly? and harvest in 3 to six months?”
As easy way to make sure you have enough is to always keep a thick layer on top. As you add new food it will gradually be incorporated into the composting zone down below, and you can continue to top up as the level goes down. Harvest when the system looks like it contains mostly worm compost – stop feeding for maybe a week or so, then remove unprocessed stuff from the top.

“I have seen beautiful vermicompost on online videos with worms in it and no bedding how does that come about? ”
It’s hard to say for sure what’s going on there, but what I DO know is that once all the bedding is gone (especially in the case of a plastic enclosed system) if you simply keep feeding it, you will eventually encounter what I’ve referred to as “mature worm bin syndrome” and your worms won’t be happy campers. If you simply leave the worms alone entirely though, they seem to be able to live in the material for quite some time.
In open and/or flow-through systems this doesn’t seem to be quite as serious a problem (if at all). I think moisture content can play an important role.

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#97. February 26th, 2010, at 3:47 PM.

JENNIFER – Those temps definitely explain what’s going on. While worms will certainly tolerate those temps, the speed of composting will slow down a LOT. Microbes become inactive and the worms become sluggish. Just as putting fruit in your fridge will slow down the decay process, so too does putting your worm composting system someplace cool.

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#98. February 26th, 2010, at 3:49 PM.

PATRICK – There are no sprays (that I know of) that will get rid of mites and not harm the worms. Generally, I consider mites to be a normal participant in the worm composting ecosystem (important to remember it’s not just worms working there). A huge abundance of mites can indicate that conditions have become too wet and/or that you are overfeeding.

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#99. March 14th, 2010, at 10:31 PM.

I have been sorting the worms out of my compost when I take out of the bottom and have been adding them with new feed to the top. Is it possible to get too many worms in the bin. I don’t see any problems yet ,but can it get to being a problem

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#100. March 15th, 2010, at 5:20 AM.

Although not directly related to the daily travails of worm composting, I’ve been wondering about whether E. foetida are native to North America?

I’m also curious about differences in worm colors in my bins. I got my worms from a local charity that composts lots of produce and brewery waste. I’m suspicious that they are E. foetida, but some of them are much darker than others, with an almost purplish hue. Are such color variations likely within a species or do you think I have several different types? At least some of these worms are very cold hearty, as I found them alive (yet slow) at the bottom of a very cold bucket of harvested VC that had been sitting in my near-freezing garage for a month.

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#101. March 15th, 2010, at 8:09 PM.

HARRY – the worm population will regulate itself based on available resources, so you can’t every really end up with “too many worms” – at least not for very long.
ANNA – I am pretty sure Red Worms are originally from Europe, but they have become well-established across much of North America, as have many other species.

There is a wide range of coloration in these worms. I have seen them basically range from stripey orange, to solid reddish/purple. As for being cold-hardy, they are indeed. I have literally found wiggling red worms in frozen compost before! As long as they don’t freeze solid themselves, they can easily survive pretty cold winters.

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#102. March 17th, 2010, at 11:17 AM.

I have alot of heavy plywood pieces stored up.I want too build a large worm bin out in my old barn. What can I put on the inside of the bin to keep it lasting longer and help the worm food and castings slid down the side easier and not sticking?

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#103. March 19th, 2010, at 12:17 AM.

Hi Guys,

I have had my little composter going for about a month now , in a 5 gallon platic container in my kitchen. But I do have a few questions that I am having trouble finding answers to.
Firstly how moist does the soil have to be? How long do I leave before I change out the compost and replace with new soil?

Cheers Lee

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#104. March 22nd, 2010, at 12:54 AM.

HARRY – Excellent question. Not sure I have a good answer for you though. I’ve heard that linseed oil is good, but have not tried it myself. I’d certainly love to hear from anyone else who has some suggestions! I generally just leave wood untreated these days.
LEE – I hope you are not referring to garden soil when you say “soil”, since that won’t be the greatest medium for worm composting. As for moisture – the worms love it wet – but if you don’t have any drainage or good evaporation (no lid etc) you need to be really careful. I would never add water to an enclosed plastic bin. The “rule of thumb” I recommend is add as much water as you can without pooling in the bottom.
How long it takes before you have enough compost to harvest will totally depend on the system you are using, and the quantity of worms you have.


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#105. March 22nd, 2010, at 3:39 PM.

What I did to protect the plywood from the moisture is I lined the inside of the bin with some of that blue plastic tarp I gat from Wal Mart and stapled it.
It helps if you over lap the corners by with 6 inches of tarp.
It worked for me.
Good luck and have fun!

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#106. April 3rd, 2010, at 10:01 PM.

Hello. I have a question about a worm.
What is the function of the belt on a worm?

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#107. April 7th, 2010, at 8:37 PM.

I’m thinking about getting started with worm composting to add to my outdoor garden. Should I be concerned about adding red worms to my ecosystem when they’re not normally a part of it? I’m not really familiar with red worms, and I don’t know if they could mess up the balance.

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#108. April 8th, 2010, at 4:37 PM.

Lisa – Red worms may not be a part of your ecosystem right now, but somewhere nearby there will be red worms in a manure pile or similar source of worm nutrient. Here’s a thought – is your entire garden all native species? Most are not.

Good question, though. From my understanding of the little guys and gals – once their food source is diminishing, they will no longer reproduce and live out the remainder of their happy life where they were. So they won’t spread and become Worm Kudzu ( good name for a rock band ) and take over the world.

9 out of 10 garden surveyed really like what the red worms produce. The other one wouldn’t answer without a lawyer.

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#109. April 8th, 2010, at 4:39 PM.

Thanks, Bruce. That’s really helpful. The Kudzu part was what I was worried about. :)

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#110. April 13th, 2010, at 9:16 PM.


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#111. April 14th, 2010, at 6:09 AM.

I am new to worm farming and have a question about adding new bedding. I was given about 30 worms in a “bucket ‘o worms” tub with clean bedding about 45 days ago. I have loose coconut fiber substrate that I would like to add. If I understand an earlier post I can add new bedding to my bin by simply placing the new material on top of the established material. Is it correct that I do not have to mix the material together? Also the coconut fiber is pretty dry, is it best to moisten it when adding or leave it dry? I have seen my first baby worm and am as proud as any new “parent” can be. Thank you.

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#112. May 16th, 2010, at 12:37 PM.

I am new to vermi-composting and purchased “100″ red wigglers. They are in a 10 gal bin. I feel I followed basic instructions (certain amount of air holes, right size, placement of them, bedding, top layer, etc.), and I after reading a lot these past days understand that there is a balance that needs to be created. I started right away, however, meaning I didn’t wait two weeks to put the worms in after the waste. I read that part too late-Ugh! Today, two days later about 20-30 worms were on the top area of the bin, one even got out! I have holes on the bottom and the bin is lifted about an inch on an another lid. When I opened the the lid, the dry material on the top was lower, so I “gently” put the worms back to the bottom, added more shredded newspaper, gave a couple of spritz with water (my bedding is both cardboard and shredded newspaper). It’s in my pantry, which is like a small closet and fairly cool. I probably should take the temp?
So I guess I am wondering why they rose to the top?, especially after reading that they are “surface” dwellers on the organic matter. I don’t have citrus, I mostly have spinach leaves, parsley stems, fruit/vegetable waste, No onions or garlic, but I did put in a small cut up raw potato, after reading I shouldn’t or at least moderately, banana peel, and one cone of coffee grounds. And a little potting soil taken from my plants for a little dirt.
I realize this is a work in progress/getting experience. So your help is needed. Thank you, and I really like your website. Glad I found it.

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#113. June 9th, 2010, at 12:15 PM.

I am currently farming red worms on a large scale in the Western Cape, South Africa. I would love to connect with others interested in this good cause in order to share ideas etc. I have 4 old bath tubs filled to the brim with the most gorgeous compost and strong healthy worms. I’ve built larger tanks and would like to move the worms into their new homes but need a bit of advice. Is cement harmful and should I line the tanks with plastic? Please contact me if you know more?

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#114. August 1st, 2010, at 1:34 PM.

I would like to know if the Red Wiggler is basically the same thing as the Night Crawler. Ohio. And if I need to do anything different in the raising of my worms. I would be using them for my personal fishing.
Thank you

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#115. August 2nd, 2010, at 2:46 AM.

Hi John,
The Red Wiggler is definitely not the same thing as the “Night Crawler”, and in fact, the term “Night Crawler” (or “Nightcrawler”) doesn’t even necessarily refer to one type of worm. Likely the most common “Nightcrawler” for fishing is the Canadian Nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris). It is a deep burrowing soil worm as is MUCH larger that a Red Worm. The European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis), on the other hand, is a close relative of the Red Worm (Eisenia fetida/andrei). It is bigger than the Red Worm but not nearly as big as the Canadian Nightcrawler. It can however be raised in captivity, in much the same way as Red Worms (unlike CNCs)

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#116. August 4th, 2010, at 2:00 PM.

Hello folks!
Question: I`ve been growing worms for 9 month and recently I`ve noticed, that I get more worm tea on the floor than ever – and I really don`t understand why, I mean, previously I noticed, that there is liquid comming from bins, but as quantity was small and I don`t pay attention to it so much untill I found out that this is “TEA”! Also right now quantity of worms in bins are basically the same – it`s just bins getting more (but I don`t think that it`s main cause) and also I`m not watering them to much or too frequent, also harvesting castings frequently, so I can`t figure out, why so much tea is being produced! Maybe you can share some thought?
Thanks! : )

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#117. August 4th, 2010, at 3:08 PM.

Hi Gatis,
What has likely happened is that you’ve simply reached (and surpassed) the water-holding capacity of your system, and now most of the water released during the decomposition of the food wastes etc is likely draining down (or at least displacing liquid from further down in the system).
I always recommend being careful with terminology and overall assessment of any liquids simply draining out of a worm composting system. This stuff is more accurately referred to as “leachate”, and can range in quality (as a liquid fertilizer) from great to downright awful (and harmful). Worm compost tea is made using stabilized, high quality vermicompost / worm castings so it is quite a different liquid. If you worm system is REALLY mature, you are probably producing a leachate that’s not TOO far off the mark from being a form of worm compost tea – but still, there is a pretty significant difference.
What I recommend doing with leachate is diluting it with water (aged tap water or rain water) and using it out in the garden (not in potted plants).

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#118. August 4th, 2010, at 3:38 PM.

what are the sizes of the Euro worms cocoons (average size)

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#119. September 6th, 2010, at 2:16 AM.

Hi There,
I am composting with red worms and I didn’t know if it would be ok if some of the red worms were accidentally transfered into the potted plants. I am not sure if I can screen them all out if they happened to get in when I transfer the compost goods into my potted plants? Would the worms die or kill my potted plant in search for food?


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#120. September 8th, 2010, at 2:56 AM.

They will be OK for a while. The length of time will be depending on the size of the pot, moisture and food. Problem is that they will go on a “walk or I guess crawl about” trying to find greener pastures unless you have a weak light on in the area all the time.

I’m not growing any now because it took too much time to do all of the dividing and putting in new bedding that you have to do while at the same time being so busy in my organic garden beds. I took all of my worms and divided them among my garden beds. I’m doing a “no till” garden adding only compost or grass clippings. They eat it all and incorporate it into the beds. I’ve had to add no fertilizer. You can move the grass clippings aside and get a large handful of the soil. Texture wise it feels like used coffee grounds and there will be worms in every handful if it is not too dry. Hopefully they make it through the winter. I’m going to put a deep layer of mulch so hopefully they will be protected during cold weather and have plenty of working supplies to make more compost right where I need it.

Good luck,
Vince Dobson

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#121. September 9th, 2010, at 6:59 AM.

Hello everyone!
Winter is coming! : ) …any inovative ideas how to prepare worms for winter? Can anybody share some experience etc?


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#122. September 9th, 2010, at 2:58 PM.

Hi Gatis,
I recommend you spend some time perusing the “winter worm composting” section on the Hot Topics page:

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#123. December 3rd, 2010, at 7:54 AM.

when and how do you use the worm poo on your garden

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#124. February 5th, 2011, at 7:14 PM.

Hi Bentley,
This site has been very informative and I am glad I don’t have to go by a bunch of expensive equipment.
I did have some questions though-
-How long does the process usually take and how do you know that your compost is ready?
-How do you separate the worms from the compost?
-What is the reason for creating tea? Would you use this in place of spreading compost?
Thanks for your info!

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#125. February 24th, 2011, at 9:31 PM.

Thanks for all the great information here. I am considering ordering a worm composting system and wondering how long the worms can go without adding food. I will keep the system in the basement year round. We have some vacations scheduled and don’t know if I need to find someone to feed them when we are gone.

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#126. February 25th, 2011, at 4:33 PM.

Hi Guys – definitely best to drop me an email if you want to reach me quickly! Sorry for the delay!

Bill/Jenna- great questions, but they require long, involved responses so I will add these to my list of topic areas to use for blog posts, videos etc.
Sara – worms can go for a LONG time without food. It is far easier to kill worms via overfeeding than starvation. Leaving them during a vacation should absolutely not be a problem!

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#127. February 26th, 2011, at 8:21 AM.

Hi! Bentley – I want to thank you so much for your wonderful website. I’ve learnt so much from it in the past few weeks, you’re a Star!

I’m in New Zealand and I have a horse. For the past two months he has been living in a small paddock, maybe a quarter to a half acre, has very very little green grass (he’s laminitic and can’t take much grass). He lives on good meadow hay and a fantastic organic supplement specifically designed for NZ conditions. I pick up his manure every day and as you can imagine, I have a mountain of poo lol! He manures 22 times a day and each one I estimate weighs around 1kg, so that’s 22kg of gorgeous, yummy, healthy horse poo a day. I’ve been researching vermicomposting horse manure madly for a number of weeks now and for 10 days now have had 1kg of red worms in a small bin (40 x 30 cm, or just over a sq foot). They are very very happy and think their daily dinner of 2 month old horse poo is just the bestest. I’m about to divide them into more bins. It seems I need around 100,000 worms to cope with one horse’s daily poos, so it’ll be a while before I get to that number lol. I have a bath lined up, but think I should wait till they’ve increased to 2 or 3 kilos before I transfer them to that. Hopefully by Spring, I will have 4 or 5 kilos and intend to put them in a hay bale enclosure in the paddock. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to visiting here and keeping on learning. Thanks again Bentley, and everyone who contributes to this site. Glenys

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#128. February 27th, 2011, at 12:33 PM.

Bentley, hi.
Just read through your 128-ish items, didn’t realise there was so much activity in the composting world. I would be grateful for your possible help slightly off the worm subject. To put kitchen waste in my plastic composter I need to wear protective goggles to prevent insect bites to my eyelids, these causing intense irritation for a few days. A cloud of small (1-2mm) white insects launch themselves when I dump material. Any suggestions re id of the blighters, and possible cures?
Ernie, Essex, UK

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#129. February 28th, 2011, at 1:31 PM.

Hi Ernie – that is very strange! This is the first I’ve heard of white “eye-lid biters” in a worm bin. The main flying pests are fruit flies and fungus gnats – both very annoying, and certainly prone to ending up in eyes and nasal passages (haha), but definitely not biters (not white in color either).
One recommendation for all flying pests is to keep a really thick layer of bedding up top in the bin – this should at least help to impede the flying, if nothing else. I would also stop adding food to the bin until the worms have completely consumed everything you’ve added thus far.


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#130. March 31st, 2011, at 2:06 AM.

I’ve recently started growing worms for sale. I’m often asked about the type of worm I sell. In my part of the world (southern Australia), composting worms are classified as red wrigglers or tiger worms. As far as my research has taken me, these are the same species of worm. I’m curious as to whether there is any difference, ie., are they subspecies of E. fetida? My own observations indicate that sometimes the same worms appear to be tiger striped depending on their size and whether they are stretched out. What would you say?

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#131. April 16th, 2011, at 6:00 PM.

I have been vermicomposting for 2 years, and the worms have done really well. But in the past few months, I started having problems with a strange flying insect. They’re not like regular flies – they’re slow and smaller and I can usually kill them by swatting at them (unlike regular flies that are just too fast). Somehow I had dozens of them in the bin. I took the bin outside so that they would fly out and most did, but I guess there were still others left in there, so a few days later I found more. I had to do this a few times, and then finally I decided to empty the bin and put the worms into my garden bed for the time being. I live in NYC and was wondering, how long can the red worms could survive outside? I am still putting food scraps in there for them and burying the scraps.
How can I get rid of the bugs so I can bring the worms back inside?
I am very attached to my worms…it would be sad to see them all die.
thank you,

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#132. April 27th, 2011, at 1:53 AM.

WONDERFUL WONDERFUL website. I need some very good advice how much does average 15 lb bag worm castings cost? And If I had to sell my castings ……….How much should I ask Wholesaled?

Thank you so much


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#133. April 29th, 2011, at 12:18 PM.

I’ve just picked up about 700 night crawlers here in west Michigan of the sidewalks and pavement in the last few days. I just put them in several 1 gallon cut off jugs but would like to start a bed. Can this type of worm or night crawler be used and how much room do 700 of them require?

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#134. May 23rd, 2011, at 3:05 AM.

ok, i typed this a minute ago but it didn’t load for some reason, so rather than type it all out agian i’ll give a breif summary
i wanna breed composting worms mainly as a way to feed my chickens with some protein in the winter
i decided to go with actual composting worms because native groundworms can give them gapeworm(bad thing for chickens)
and some other reasons, never just one use for anything i’m gonna put effort into:)
anyway i have a few questions for you to get clarified, awesoem site btw, very helpful, thx for putting the time into making it
1:what is the biggest composting worm that i can get?
or the most productive quick breeding worm?
preferably ones that wont transmit gapeworm.

2: how many worms should i have before i can safely pull 6-12 worms out everyday without depleting the population?

3:how big of a bin should i get/build to have this big of a population and can anyone in the us or wyoming come up with any GENERAL cost range?
don’t need anything too specific

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#135. June 2nd, 2011, at 11:01 PM.


I need some help!!!!

I purchased my worm (eisenia foetida) compost bin a couple of months ago, and it seems like all the worms died. The bin seems to be not to dry and not too moist, temperature all this time was somewhere inbetween 8 – 25 degrees C, I don’t put any obviously accidic foods (citrus, coffee grounds) in the bin. Are there any other reasons why my worms could disappear?

Thank you for help.

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#136. June 5th, 2011, at 12:30 AM.

All my worms died. I had them in a bucket with organza bag and holes in the bottom of the bucket then inside another. One side had Trader Joe bag shredded. The other had veggie scraps. Placed in the shade. No direct sun. I ordered the worms off e-bay and got the correct ones. Today they were all dead. I also have compost bins and the worms live well in there. What did I do wrong? The bucket had a foul smell.

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#137. June 7th, 2011, at 2:45 PM.

SAM – There is E. fetida and E. andrei which are known to occur in the same population a lot of the time. They’ve been determined to be distinct species though so no inter-breeding. This MAY help to explain some of the differences you are seeing, although I’m pretty sure they can only conclusively be differentiated from one another via molecular analysis.
JOAN – sounds like you got hit with a fruit fly invasion. It is very challenging to get rid of fruit flies, especially outdoors. Sounds like you’ve got a good approach with taking care of the worms in the garden (by adding lots of organic waste materials) – they certainly won’t do well in regular soil otherwise. They are cold-tolerant, so with some additional protection (straw, fall leaves etc) you may be able to keep them alive over the winter.
DAN – I’m not really sure the answer to that since I have not been pricing castings as of late. I recommend simply checking out a variety of websites to see what people are selling it for. Worm Power is probably a good place to start.
T Wreath – soil nightcrawlers do not work well for worm composting. They are deep burrowing worms adapted for a much different environment than that provided in a worm bin. Best to start with Red Wigglers.
DEVON – 1) African Nightcrawlers are likely the biggest you can get, but not sure I’d recommend them in cooler US states (and other temperate regions) since they need warm conditions to thrive. European Nightcrawlers would be a better choice.
2) Tough to say for sure – lots of factors affect breeding etc. If you started with 5 lb of Euros that would be about 1500-2000 worms. If you removed 6 worms per day (and it was 1500) with zero reproduction (and also zero mortality) you’d have worms for 250 days. I’d recommend letting them sit for at least a month or so before starting to remove any (maybe buy a separate batch purely for food initially). Reds would be easier, but they certainly are smaller worms.
3) I’d say aim for 1/2 lb per square ft or less – so something at least 10 ft sq upper surface area. Better to let worms grow into a system in my opinion. With Euros I recommend decent depth – maybe 18-36″ or so
DEE – how hot has it been in your area?

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#138. June 7th, 2011, at 2:52 PM.

Hi Diana,
Assuming you have the right worms, I’d be curious to learn a few more details about your set-up. What materials have you been adding, how was it set up originally? Where located?


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#139. June 7th, 2011, at 7:08 PM.

I have a bucket inside another bucket. the bottom bucket hold the liquid that drains. The upper bucket rests inside and has holes in the bottom for drainage and on sides for ventalation. I have an organza fabric bag to keep the worms from escaping and to cover the air holes to keep bugs out. I bought worms from e-Bay and put in veggies and shredded brown paper bags wet. That is my system. I also have compost bins with worms. Large bins. I added those worms from time to time. All died. The worms I purchased on e-Bay looked exactly like the ones in my bins. Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed them. Anyway. I the last thing I did was add banannas and a peel and the sides of the bin were ugly so I sprayed them with the hose. I did not get much liquid on the worms so they couldn’t all have drowned. Maybe it was the chemical on the bananna peel or the chemical in the water. Have no idea. I have started over with more worms from my compost bins. Maybe these are not the same worms. They do great in the compost which is about 4 feet deep and 5 feet wide of black black aged compost I made from grass, vegg. etc. matter. Also should I have any compost in the bucket system? I have been trying to keep that at a minimum although a little compost is on each worm when I put them in the bucket. I don’t want to keep buying worms if they are gonna die. thanks for any help in advance. I am new at the worm thing.

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#140. June 7th, 2011, at 7:10 PM.

I live in S. Ca. and the weather is fine. I kept the bin in the shade under a tree so no sun hits it. Probably about 70′s. Perfect temp I think for the worms.

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#141. June 7th, 2011, at 10:55 PM.

So I understand this correctly, before my worms died, the inside of the bucket got brown looking and the cardboard was soaked. I take that cardboard and put water on it to get the part that is suppose to be harvested. Is that how you harvest the worm casting? What exactly are castings if not the drippings in the bottom bucket that seep thru.

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#142. June 9th, 2011, at 1:58 AM.

Also I bought the correct worms on e-bay that you describe but did mix them with worms in my compost bin. Maybe the 2 together didn’t work resulting in all of them dying. Right now I have a little compost and the worms that appear in my compost. They look exactly like the ones I bought from e-bay. Think this will work or should I toss them and order more worms. I am fearful that if I don’t figure out what I did wrong I will just kill more.

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#143. June 27th, 2011, at 1:41 PM.

due to soil conditions, i raise my garden every year in appox. 25 5gal. buckets. my plan is to build a wooden bin in my heated shop, load all the dirt (50%potting soil,50%peat moss) and add enough redworms to fertilize my soil for spring. the question is how many worms do i need to have for approx. 16 cubic feet of soil? thanks for all the good info on your site!

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#144. June 30th, 2011, at 5:29 PM.

I’m thinking of starting a worm bin but I still have some questions…

Worms die at some point even if they’re healthy, right? What is their life expectancy? What do you do when some of them start dying? Do you have to weed them out or will they decomposing and be okay to leave there?

Also, I’ve read some contrasting things about reproduction of worms. One site said they don’t reproduce beyond their environmental limitations so that you would never have to worry about having too many, but I’ve also read that when they start multiplying you need to start another bin. I just want to be able to have one small bin for my apartment. I wouldn’t be able to go out and start a new worm bin every six months. Help?


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#145. July 8th, 2011, at 2:08 PM.

I have a composting bin that is working great. I am confused by the adding eggshells advice – I stopped putting eggshells in because they remained untouched for weeks/months. Is this still helpful to the worms?

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#146. July 8th, 2011, at 9:15 PM.

Doesn’t look like this site is kept up. I put very finely crushed cooked egg shells (even if momentarily in the microwave) in my worms because I read that it helps with reproduction but what do I know… my first batch of worms all died.

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#147. July 8th, 2011, at 10:45 PM.

If “kept up” means responding immediately to every single comment on the site then you are right, Dee. I’m definitely slacking in that department. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day.
I have closed commenting on some other pages and have been considering doing so on this page, but I figured it would be better to leave them open so that people can respond to one another.

My apologies to those who have not received responses personally from me – unfortunately the volume of comments and emails has simply reached the point of being too much for me to maintain while keeping a shirt on my back and roof over our heads.
Commenting on newer blog posts is a good way to get in on the discussion (as long as your comment is related to the topic being discussed), and I do still make an attempt to respond to emails.

Kind regards


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#148. July 9th, 2011, at 7:38 PM.

Long time Bentley and it still looks good. I recently hand harvested 40 gallons of castings and put it into ziploc bags with just enough moisture to crumble. I read somewhere that I could store it this way for about 3 years. Does that make sense? Right after I harvested, I temporarily put all my worms into a 5 gallon bucket. Of course our temps went up into the 100′s and even in the shade my worms all died. They were all stretched out. UGHHHH. We live on a farm so I have been scavenging piles for replacements as we do not have money to buy more. Also, I recently found some of those white, hair thin, type worms. What are they?

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#149. July 28th, 2011, at 11:25 PM.

Re: Quick Facts About Worm Composting
1) Does Soap or detergent hurt or kill them (or bleach)? I use “grey water” alot.
2) How do you keep them cool in the summer with excessive heat outside?
3) Do you need to protect them in clod winter months?

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#150. August 11th, 2011, at 5:03 AM.

1) yes soap will kill them
2) keep them wet
3)yes in the house

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#151. August 11th, 2011, at 6:15 AM.

Hello Bentley,
My mom and I want to start vermicomposting and I have found your website really helpful so far! We have a couple questions. How many red worms should we start out with, and will we have to continue buying more or will they reproduce enough? Also, we do not have a lot of leaves in our yard besides eucalyptus leaves. Can red worms eat eucalyptus, as we have heard they are toxic.

Thank you!

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#152. August 11th, 2011, at 2:28 PM.

Patricia – nice to see you around these parts again. Sorry about your worms though!
White, hair-thin worms could either be white worms (aka pot worms) or horsehair worms (nematomorpha). The latter would seem stiff – almost like plastic string – whereas the white worms are more like regular earthworms.
Robin – great advice from Stingray (thks) – will just add that if you ARE going to keep them wet, it’s vitally important that they have excellent air flow. And open system or wooden system are ideal. A wet, enclosed plastic bin in hot temps is a disaster waiting to happen.
Rachelle – Red Worms breed readily, so there is not required number you need to start with. If you can get a 1/2 lb or 1 lb that should be more than enough. Just make sure you are feeding accourdingly (don’t assume they can eat “X” amount of food). I wouldn’t feed them eucaplytus leaves, and really, leaves in general are not needed in a worm composting system. I’d take an absorbent bedding, like shredded cardboard, over leaves any day.

**IMPORTANT** – For anyone with general questions about vermicomposting, be sure to sign up for the email list (accessed via the “Newsletter” link up top) so you can get access to the RWC Vermicomposting Guide pdf. You will find a lot of the info you are looking for all in one spot. I will actually be launching a “complete” version (for sale) fairly soon, but this original version will always be available free of charge.

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#153. August 12th, 2011, at 4:56 AM.

Bentley, Its nice to be back on here. When I put my castigs away I checked for moisture. Do I need to periodically open the zip locs and add some moisture or will they be ok as they are in a dark well room? Dont need the castings right now but because I just lost all my worms I am starting from scratch and cant afford to lose any castings. Oh, I have small frogs that keep getting into my worm container. Can I leave them in there or should I tell them to get? Keep up the good work.

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#154. August 18th, 2011, at 4:59 AM.

Very informative. I look forward to starting my bin.

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#155. August 23rd, 2011, at 3:30 AM.

Hello Bently,

I am currently working on an organic farming program and we have a fairly large vermicomposting system set up. One of the issues we have is that it is very hard to get a consistent quantity of organic manure for our composting. We are able to get manure from non-organic livestock, but we are concerned about the fact that this manure will have antibiotic and other residues which we don’t want on our farm.

I have heard that vermi can actually breakdown antibiotics in manure, but there is very limited data on this that I have been able to find. Do you have any experience with this or do you know if it is true that vermi can breakdown antibiotics and leave the vermicaste free of any nasty synthetic chemicals?

Thank you for your wonderful website and discussion board.

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#156. September 5th, 2011, at 5:42 PM.

Well, I am pretty bummed this morning, went to check on the worms, only to find that @ 98% are dead. We purchased the Worm Factory back in the middle of May … added 1lb of Uncle Jim's 250 Super Reds European Night Crawlers. After I set up the factory per the directions and video provided, I realized just how many worms it was going to take to process our kitchen waste, and being the impatient and excitable person that I am ordered 500 more of Uncle Jims Worms, about 10 days later.
Everything was going along splendidly (or so I thought), we live in Arizona and we are keeping the bin in the laundry room bathroom where the well within the range of 55-85 degrees… it could not have reached more than @81 degrees in the bin. It has been moist and conditions seem right.
In August I noticed that a good sized group (100?) had migrated to the bottom of the bin… I removed the worm poop and put a layer of newspaper on the bottom of the first tray, moved the stray worms back in to the tray. By this time there was a lot of vermicast. I wanted to add the second tray and was letting them finish off the kitchen scraps and paper (eggshell carton) up so that they would be anxious to move up to a new tray. I checked them about a week ago and there were large clumps of worms gathered in the corners and all looked fine. There are gnats in the tray, but from reading other posts, do not think that they should be the problem. Did I not feed them enough? Any suggestions or ideas as to the demise of the worms would be greatly appreciated, as I would like to start again, but not until I have some clue as to why they did not make it; also is it possible that there are eggs in the vermicast that may still hatch?
Distraught Worm Mom

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#157. October 13th, 2011, at 12:43 AM.

Are house plant trimmings safe for red wiggler composting? Are there any plants that are toxic to to the worms? I need to trim a euphorbia. I know the sap is toxic to people but I haven’t found any information about the effects on worms. I don’t want to throw away good composting material but I don’t want to poison my worms, either.
As frequently said above, Great site!

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#158. October 14th, 2011, at 6:37 PM.

Jane, I am so careful in what I put with my worms. If I’m in doubt, I leave it out. Of course, I also have the old outdoor compost piles, so I would put any house plant trimmings in one of the old piles , and thus, not damage my composting worms.

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#159. October 19th, 2011, at 6:27 AM.

I have the same problem as justin ( Comment #29 – ). The white mites dine on ANY worm that comes on to the surface and they seem to really bunch up in certain areas and are spread out elsewhere. Can somebody tell me if your reply to Justin is the only action to take in this matter? These guys get evil when a worm comes up. Otherwise they just sit all over the top and multiply in droves each day.

P.S. I have no traces of food on the top of the soil. It’s all buried.

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#160. October 23rd, 2011, at 12:49 PM.

I am new at red wigglers, I am worried that I am not doing it right.
A friend of mine gave me a hand full from her bin with some worms.
Using a plasic container I punched holes on the sides and used sredded newspaper for the bedding this was the new home for my worms.
When I add food I turn the contense of the container and also add more paper. Aren’t you supose to cover the food. How do I feed and how often and what ther bedding should I use. But my main conceren is now the container has these little white things around the sides, what is this and what do I do. This is a link that I found that shows what I think that is also in my container.
Thank You for all your help
I do so want this to work

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#161. October 24th, 2011, at 4:55 PM.

Hi Bentley,
I have had my worm far for about 3 weeks now, I only feed then cattle manure and coffee beans, and they have at least doubled in qty.
I have the following two questions.
1. How do I distinguish between the manure and the worm compost.
2. Although I feel my wormery is very wet, I have not really been able to harvest any worm tea.
Please help if you can.

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#162. October 27th, 2011, at 7:46 PM.

Thank you very much for helping us . your website is very helpful and we have learned a lot.

Nature is really interesting who would have thought worms play big roles in our life..

i was just curious if the european worm is the same as african worm because here in our country me and my bestfriend started a little SWARM OF WORM .



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#163. November 10th, 2011, at 8:55 PM.

I was reading the comments on wood worm bins and using something to protect the wood. I found a wonderful product that is completely non-toxic and I will be using it when I construct my next worm bin.
To date, I have found nothing better and it could be the answer to all your future wood finishing issues as well.

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#164. November 14th, 2011, at 8:33 PM.

This is another RWC page where I am unfortunately just not able to keep up with new comments. Very sorry everyone! Don’t hesitate to try emailing me, or to comment on newer blog posts – since your chances of getting a response are much higher!

I did want to say thanks to Barb for the link though! Very cool. I will have to learn more about that product!

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#165. November 16th, 2011, at 12:39 PM.

Hello everybody this is Da’Monte a new person working on worm composting and ive been working on this for about a week now a it is a very cool subject to learn about b)! Thanks for giving me good informatiion for my science fair project and i will always come to this page for more information thanks and have a blessed life :).

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#166. November 21st, 2011, at 4:21 AM.

Tired of worms roaming?
I have wood bins and i stapled bare copper wire around the
top. The worms dont seem to like crossing the wire.

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#167. November 25th, 2011, at 11:11 PM.

In one of the comments above, someone mentioned that their egg shells aren’t decomposing very fast and are sharp. I might have some helpful advise on what to do with them. I use a palm rock, like the one indians use to crush grain. We have been grinding the egg shells into a fine powder small enough the red wriglers can get their teeth on it. This has been effective so far. I really enjoy this site and have learned a lot from reading it. By the way, On the RWC page a lot of the questions I see here are answered. Thanks for that information Bentley

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#168. January 16th, 2012, at 7:02 PM.

what happens when red worms are in freezing tempertures?

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#169. January 25th, 2012, at 6:54 PM.

Hi, My husband and I started our worm farm about two months ago, we bought approximately 500 red worms. We live in Australia and it is super hot here at the moment. We have a three tiered worm farm. To keep them cool and moist we have an insulating blanket on top of the compost which we wet down every few days. Everything’s been going great, but today my husband noticed that most of the worms have left the actual top compost tier and moved downstairs where there is only water (no food or compost) and some were dead in the water over flow – my husband believed they drowned not that something bad has happened. In the actual compost mix there are some worms but there is also lots of ants.

Can you tell us what we might have done wrong?
Perhaps, we put the wrong food in? My husband is very fussy about making the food small and not putting in teabags, coffee, onions or citrus, although whilst inspecting it he has found a bit of onion and some big chunks of food with maggots…


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#170. March 1st, 2012, at 10:55 PM.

Hi Bentley,
I am very impressed with your depth of knowledge giving sound advice for beginners and sharing valid information with experienced composters.

I find many just pass information around so it ends up like that ‘whispers’ game children play. Some have no idea about the science or reasons behind why we do or don’t do things so their information is almost rumour and urban myth.

I will definitely use your site as a point of reference as I work on keeping these worms happy and healthy. I had a nieve attempt some years ago with sad results.


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#171. March 17th, 2012, at 11:19 PM.

I’m loving this page, just read all the way through it. I got a worm bin (stacking kind) about a year ago…I’d say about four months ago I started putting stuff in it and recently the leftovers from juicing vegetables, so creating a lot of waste! I filled about three trays without even having worms yet…I then finally got worms, I think a qt is how they measured it, and then I put some cardboard in with the food waste and put the worms into the bottom one…with two above kind of waiting for the worms to get hungry.

I got the worms a few weeks ago and have definitely seen babies and have lots of wiggling worms, I’m in Seattle and it’s cool here for the most part but not freezing. If I just “wait” for some time will the worms be able to go through all this stuff? I’m kind of wondering if I should get another worm bin just so there is more space…it’s not tightly packed so I think we’re good with air since I keep seeing worms when I check.

I’m not really concerned but if you want to say anything I’d be psyched to see a response!! I’m loving having it and will be happy if someday I have worm castings. My Mother in Law has a worm bin too so I’ll help her start it out “right” with lots more shredded paper and cardboard along with the leaves/mulchy stuff and then adding kitchen waste gradually…I’ve slowed up on feeding them and have been giving most waste to the chickens instead. Props for how awesome you have been at replying to people’s questions!!

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#172. March 20th, 2012, at 4:40 PM.

I just started my worm farm. I have noticed under the burlap that I have some kind of fluffy white stuff growing. Should I be concerned?

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#173. March 21st, 2012, at 8:39 AM.

@Kristin,congrats on the worms! I have had mine for almost a year now, and they have become my “pets” LOL
Don’t worry about them too much, though. They are tougher than you think. You just follow the simple rules and you will be fine. You should be able to see compost already, you just have to know what to look for. My guys are always exploring around the sides and lid of their bin. The entire surface has little brown specks…those are all castings. These guys live just to eat and poop; they are so incredibly efficient. I found in a cooler climate though, they seem to slow down a bit in the winter, at least mine did. You will know if you give them too much food…it could get stinky and moldy. They will still eat it all, but it takes longer and it is smellier. The newspaper bedding does cover up the smell though. I have lots of waste, and I chop it up quite fine and store it in a bucket in my freezer. I found that the smaller the scraps are, the quicker they will “disappear” and you will have compost sooner, too. Make sure if you freeze it that you thaw it first before dumping it in your bin. Freezing fruit scraps is an especially good idea, as it apparently kills those irritating fruit fly larvae. I have never had fruit flies in my bin, so I guess it works. Also, dont worry about the space. You would be surprised at how many worms can live in a bin. When they multiply (mine doubled in 9 weeks!) you can split them up or just leave them. Mine were happy to stay together. They are “self-regulating” so if the population gets too large, they will adapt like a lot of organisms do. You can either maintain the population or let them multiply by splitting them up and using another bin. Just remember that the more you have the more food they will need. Once you get to know your pets and their needs, it will be second nature to you. Wish you success and have fun!

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#174. March 22nd, 2012, at 3:35 AM.

I bought a tub of mixed worms home yesterday. 3-4 have gone wandering. thanks for the tip on dry stuff at the surface – I had damp newspaper on top! [(it is fun chasing them back bellow with my trusty torch! (trans: flash light)]
Look forward to visiting your site again.

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#175. March 31st, 2012, at 11:52 AM.

I just started worm composting about 6 weeks ago and have a few questions. I read that
worms like their food in small pieces and partially decomposed. I have been saving my kitchen
scraps and now have a back up supply in cans lined up by freshest to oldest. The worms
seem to like the scraps fairly rotted, and avoid the scraps that come straight from the table.
Some of my scraps have gotten very black and look like they are composting themselves. Is
there a point where the scraps are too far decomposed to feed the worms? Also, do they
need to be fed a certain amount of roughage like cardboard, paper and leaves for health?
Will they suffer if they don’t have any soil or sand in their environment? I initially didn’t have
any kind of soil, sand or egg shells in my box and noticed that they all of a sudden got much
more active and eating better once I added a bit of sand and finely crushed egg shells. And
finally, is it bad for them to hang out in their compost? My wooden bin, which is 5 1/2 inches
deep, is nearly full and there is hardly any room for more bedding. I don’t want them hanging
around in a toxic environment as I want to increase my numbers rapidly as I have a large
property with very bad soil. Thank you for you help!

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#176. April 12th, 2012, at 8:29 AM.

Had a worm farm for about 4 months now but arent getting any “TEA” from the little blighters,also how long before I empty the container that only has compost in, there might be a few odd worms, lastly how do i put it on the garden , do i dilute it or just spread it ,/ look forward to your reply , Bob

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#177. April 15th, 2012, at 7:53 PM.

just wanted to share that i just harvested my first bin (of 5 in my worm factory) and placed in in my planters. so many eggs and baby worms i was so happy! i started in september so the bin took about 7 months to produce completed compost.

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#178. May 11th, 2012, at 9:30 PM.

I have a worm condo w/red worms in it. Its located indoors in the laundry room. The first bin did great, but when I started the second one the worms became suicidal. They get out of the bin and jump off the counter top.Several are dried up behind the washer. It only happens at night, so i now keep the lights on all night long, which seems to keep them in. Is there something I am doing wrong that upsets them so much? Thanks for your input.

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#179. June 3rd, 2012, at 5:57 PM.

thanks for the easy info i had to trek all over the web to find you THANKS SOOO MUCH i learnd a lot im new to the worm rush i have not even got my worms yet so the info was well needed

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#180. July 20th, 2012, at 3:54 PM.


Love your site and I just joined the forum. Looking forward to learning all about vermicomposting. I just started my bin and it’s been about 2 weeks now. I keep it inside and I’m getting all the regular community of bugs (fruit flys, gnats, mites, etc). My bin is in the basement and my concern is can these other bugs get out of the bin and get in other parts of my house?

Will the mites bury themselves in my carpet and live in there? Will the gnats find a comfy home in the basement and reproduce like crazy? The fruit flys are already flying around in my basement, but I’m using a apple cider vinegar trap for them.

Also, how long does it take for the worms to get used to their new home? I put some scraps in there a couple of weeks ago and they still haven’t broken down that much. I think they might still be in love will all the bedding and eating that (cardboard & paper).

Thanks for this site!

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#181. August 23rd, 2012, at 8:07 AM.

I am interested in starting worm composting outside to handle the vegetable waste at our vacation house in the mountains. I am concerned about the possibility that animals (such as bears) might be attracted to the bin b/c of the smell of the food. Any info on this type of situation? I was thinking of buying one of those work composters that come with layers of bins. BTW, I have no seen or heard of any bears frequenting out lake community, and I don’t want to attract any either.

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#182. January 25th, 2013, at 10:19 PM.

We’ve been giving people worm farms (stackable types) as Christmas presents in Western Australia and South Australia, and were disappointed that in both cases they died due to the heat, even in shade. In each case the worms went to the bottom tray, and appeared to have drowned. The stackable types can only handle a number of hot days in a row, even if they’re fully mature and in the shade.

We’ve now moved to Western Australia and don’t want to make the same mistake. The two options seem to be either to dig a worm tower into the ground, or make them out of broccoli boxes which are good insulated material, and free too.

The stackable worm farms don’t appear well suited for places which get regular days in a row of 40C/110F, and with climate change, this is only going to be more so, so time to come up with a solution we reckon.

Once we get this sorted, we’ll post updates on our blog –

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#183. March 2nd, 2013, at 10:12 PM.

I just came across your site this evening via a link from another site and would like to make a helpful contribution to the knowledge pool here and maybe solve the bug problems of a lot of the readers.

Having raised plants (not worms) for many years, I’m used to having fungus gnats, whiteflies and other flying vermin in my home. They all lay eggs in [potting] soil, their maggot offspring feed on the plant roots, and they are extremely difficult to exterminate because they go through different phases in their growth cycle at different times and there’s always a batch pupating that are not susceptible to normal pesticides. (And yes, if you have them in your basement, where your worms are, you will eventually have them upstairs in the house – they’re drawn to light, as well as fruit odors and such.)

However, I was introduced to a substance called diatomaceous earth, or DE, that does a good job at eradicating various creepy-crawlies. It is a powdered form of fossilized diatoms (microscopic algae/plankton) that is mostly silica and about 14 other trace minerals, so it’s all organic and non-toxic, no chemicals or artificial ingredients. Silica is the basic ingredient of glass, so it is sharp – especially when the pure DE is dug out of the earth in chunks, then pulverized to a fine powder. It is used as a mechanical insecticide, dusted on houseplants, garden plants, ant-hills, in homes, barns, manure piles, and wherever “anything with an exoskeleton” roams. The bugs, flies, maggots, caterpillars, cockroaches, ants, slugs, aphids, mites, etc. walk/crawl through the powder and it cuts their outer surface, or they ‘lick’ it off (watch an ant groom itself to see what I mean), ingesting some of it. Inside their bodies (outside, for slugs and snails), it’s as if they’ve eaten razor blades – they are minutely gashed, and then the ‘hydrophilic’ (water-loving) quality of the DE draws the moisture out of their body, literally dehydrating them. The neat thing? DE is totally inert, so once it’s in the soil, it doesn’t go away, doesn’t dissolve, although it will wash deeper into the soil because the particles are so fine – but it STAYS there, working its magic for many months. It kills grubs in the lawn, and basically every kind of insect – but not earthworms, which have a different structure and it’s not supposed to hurt them! I’ve put it on ant-hills in the lawn, and two days later the ants are totally GONE. (Watch that you don’t put it on the flowers when you dust it on blooming plants so you don’t kill the honeybees!) I’ve read that worm-farmers use it in their worm beds to eliminate insect pests and other types of worms, but it DOES NOT HARM THE EARTHWORMS!

I use the food-grade DE from Perma-Guard (, giving it to my miniature dachshunds every day to prevent them from having intestinal parasites, and it can be dusted on them to eliminate fleas and ticks. (It doesn’t work too well that way, as they just shake it all off and it makes a dusty coating on everything in the house!) My dogs have had no problems with any kind of intestinal worms since I’ve been feeding them DE, and I use it myself – I add 1-2 tablespoons of it to my morning tea, adding valuable trace minerals to my diet. Our veterinarian recommended using it – she added it to her chickens’ dusting box and it killed off all their mites and lice, so their feathers grew back and they laid lots more eggs. She put up a bag of it so her cattle and horses could dust themselves, and they didn’t have ticks. For about four or five years a friend of mine has fed it to all the dogs in her breeding kennel to prevent them from having worms – it really works!

When I bought my DE, I got a 50-pound sack from the national Perma-Guard supplier (he had his office and warehouse in Silver Cliff, Colorado, near where I lived then), which only cost me about $25 at the time. It’s a bit more expensive now, but buying in bulk from a feed store rather than a little dab from a health-food store is a lot more reasonable! Just make sure you are getting FOOD-grade, NOT the stuff to go in swimming-pool filters, which is NOT the same thing. It’s DE, but has been heat-treated and assumes a different form.

I keep the 50-lb sack in a plastic trash can outdoors in the shed, but fill a plastic shaker-jar with it for use in the house, and for dusting on plants, the dogs’ food, etc. That’s what I would suggest for you vermi-people who have mites and weird little worms – my jar originally contained dry non-dairy creamer, but you can use whatever you have, as long as you can squirt or shake out a fine layer of the powder on top of your worm bed – up where those nasty little bugs are running and crawling around. Being hydrophilic, it is absorbent, too, and if you get too much in a wet spot it will form a hard cake, but you can break it up when it dries out again. I find it deodorizes as well, so your wet, stinky beds or decomposing kitchen scraps can be treated and should be a lot nicer to live with.

Do a Google search for ‘diatomaceous earth’ – there are many fine sites with tons of information and testimonials about it! Use it with your worms – they’ll be glad you did!

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#184. March 4th, 2013, at 9:26 AM.

Hi DachsieMama,
I appreciate you posting this extensive review of diatomaceous earth. It’s something I’ve been meaning to test out myself. That said, I personally don’t recommend using it freely in a vermicomposting system since this implies that essentially ALL critters other than worms are not welcome. This is definitely not the case, and I would not want to be needlessly killing off other beneficial organisms (primarily different kinds of arthropods) just for the sake of getting rid of the ones we actually don’t want.

Kind regards


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#185. March 4th, 2013, at 10:33 AM.

Good point, Bentley! I’m just offering DE as a non-toxic substitute for the poisons usually applied to eradicate mites and the like. If the mites and/or other critters ARE beneficial, leave’em alone, but we have a bunch of folks upset about the nasties crawling all over their beloved vermipets, and don’t want to sicken the worms while thinning out the pesty population. As I said above, I have not yet tried to do any vermiculture, especially indoors, but have certainly raised a LOT of houseplants – our 28×60 doublewide, an attached 8×24 sunporch, and a 300 sq ft freestanding greenhouse were all FILLED with plants – and bugs! In those days, I didn’t know about DE, but I would have tried dusting the soil in each pot and container with it, as well as the plants.

You can also make a slurry of it with water (constantly shaken, as the inert stuff settles to the bottom of any liquid) and spray it onto the plants, especially the undersides of leaves where bugs tend to hide. However, it seems to work best when served-up to them dry, so it can cut through their exoskeletons (earthworms don’t have one) and suck out their inner moisture. I don’t know why it’s not supposed to hurt earthworms, but will kill other soft-bodied things like slugs and snails and caterpillars…. I’ll have to write to one of the DE-experts! I found reports on some of their websites that worm-farmers use DE in the beds to eliminate “pest critters,” whatever they are, and that DE doesn’t hurt the worms. [Shrug!]

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#186. April 6th, 2013, at 11:50 AM.

I supply worms for people starting a worm bin through a non profit . Recently, people have wanted to put the red worms in a composting pile.
My thoughts are:
When you harvest, the worms will die in the dirt.
I could get too hot for the worms.
You are depleting the supply of worms when you harvest.
It does not speed up the composting process.

Am I wrong???


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#187. April 6th, 2013, at 1:23 PM.

DachsieMama – I think there are definitely situations where this is warranted. For example, when someone is raising composting worms for sale. Better to reduce the number of other critters the customer ends up receiving.
I’m tempted to do some small trials with DE myself to see if can help the worm population do their job. I’m all for critters (lol), but sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference to have a reduced springtail population (for example). I find it odd, though, that DE would harm other soft-bodied creatures but not worms. Hmmm…
PAUL – When you harvest compost you typically wouldn’t remove ALL the material from the bin. Your run of the mill backyard composter (eg “Earth Machine”) often has a bottom door for compost removal, while waste materials are continually added from above. So it’s unlikely you would just be leaving the worms in the dirt. If it’s a typical, larger batch hot composting system then, yes, it won’t be well suited for composting worms (a bigger heap might be ok as long as it had cool zones around the periphery).
You wouldn’t necessarily be depleting the worms when harvesting if you separate them and put them back – aside from that, they reproduce very quickly so the population would replenish itself before long.
Adding composting worms to a well-maintained backyard composter can absolutely speed up the process – it’s a fantastic way to do so, in fact. BUT you can’t be setting up and maintaining the bin the way many people do – basically just dumping in waste materials, sod, branches etc haphazardly. You DO need to treat it like a vermicomposting system.

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#188. April 7th, 2013, at 8:53 AM. has a WEALTH of info on using DE (diatomaceous earth), including a little blurb about DE and earthworms:

“Food grade diatomaceous earth is great for compost piles, to prevent breeding pests and control odors. It will not harm earthworms, provided you just apply to the top of the compost or worm farm soil. The earthworms will slowly work the DE into the soil making them healthier, as well as the soil. Of course, if you put the earthworms in a bucket of DE, it will dehydrate them.”

For all other kinds of livestock and pets, “more is better” when it comes to dealing with pest infestations, but for our earthworm farms and composting worms, go lightly!

My dogs, and the dogs at the kennel they came from, have been using DE on a daily basis, added to their food – and I put it in my tea every morning, in case the dogs somehow transfer a pest egg or larva to me (such as by “doggy kisses”). We have not found ANY parasitic worms in the dogs’ feces. Bought in 50-lb. sacks, it is a very economical product, and you can then experiment with it – dust it on plants, on smelly spots on the ground or carpet (it even reduces old pet-urine odor!), to dry up wet areas (it’s hydrophilic – “loves water” – and soaks up liquids; I used it to pull urine out of a mattress when a dog got too carried-away one day), sprinkle around the house to eliminate ants, roaches, scorpions, etc., etc., etc.

I love DE, and I hope you find it beneficial in your worm-beds. Perhaps set up a small ‘test bin’ with a known population of pests to see how much it takes to eliminate the pests (mites, etc. that bother the worms), but not harm the earthworms. I save old shaker-jars, such as parmesan cheese comes in, to apply a thin, even dusting.

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#189. May 9th, 2013, at 1:34 PM.


I have had a worm bin for about a month now and have a few questions:

1. I’m using a homemade tiered system. So far, I have only one tier, placed on top of/inside of the lower bin which collects the leachate that drains from the tier with worms, bedding and food. A lot of worms have fallen through the bottom of the first tier into the leachate catching bin. Is this supposed to happen? I even put a screen in the bottom of the tier to avoid losing worms by falling through the bottom? Is this a problem, or is it just part of worm composting? The tier smells fine, but the leachate catching bin is kind of stinky, likely due to the worms that have fallen into and drowned (and likely rotting) in the leachate. I researched a lot of different DIY tiered systems, and none of them seem to troubleshoot worms falling into the leachate, even though they all instruct you to cut a bunch of holes in the bottom of the tiers.

2. Is the leachate normally harmful to any specific plants? Is it harmful because it has a bunch of rotting worms in it?

3. I have a ton of worm castings throughout the tier, but it is all spread throughout and not settling at the bottom. Do I need to just continue to wait for all of the material to breakdown/get eaten before I attempt to harvest the castings? How long does it normally take for a new system to fully breakdown all materials (bedding and food) into worm castings/compost? At this rate, I would be surprised to see the tier fully broken down before maybe 6 months to a year. Is this normal? Everything seems healthy – no smells in the tier, lots of healthy looking worms, lots of tiny baby worms, no mites or other unwanted insects.

4. Every once in a while, I will find a slug in the bin. Is that bad/good? I have removed a few of them. Should I continue removing them, or leave them in there? Also, I have noticed a few tiny snails. I have also been removing these; should I remove them or leave them?

I know there is a lot here, but if you can answer any of my questions, I’d appreciate it! Thanks!

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#190. May 14th, 2013, at 12:04 PM.


Recently learned from our son in Calif. We are in SC Pa. We have a compost bin that can be turned, with airholes on the sides. I typically just add brown leaves, green grass or clippings and fruit and veggie discards.

Is it as simple as buying the red worms and adding them to that mix?



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#191. May 18th, 2013, at 10:41 AM.

Very nice introduction and reference material, especially to newcomers. I started a bin a couple of months ago and notice it is a real trial and error process until you find the right balance. A couple of times I left the bin totally closed for more than 4 days and it became too humid. I found red tiny spiders once, white tiny creatures another. I simply sprayed a little bit of Citrofresh ( on the surface. I was told that once the worms mature at around three months I should not let their eggs go along with the nice black soil, because they are not native to where I live now in Ottawa, Canada. Should they always stay in a closed bin or indoor planter?. Thank you for your comments. I would like to include an editorial on this topic in an upcoming edition of Organic & Wellness News.

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#192. May 22nd, 2013, at 2:57 PM.

Hi everyone,
Unfortunately, I just can’t keep up with a lot of the questions posted here (and on older posts in general). Don’t hesitate to e-mail me with questions. Still some delays, but much more likely you’ll get an answer.

Farzad – Red Worms are widespread in Canada, but remain in close proximity to human habitation. They pose no threat to natural ecosystems, thriving primarily in very rich deposits of organic matter such as farmyard manure. As such, they can certainly be used in outdoor systems (other considerations though if you live in a location with extreme seasonal fluctuations in temps etc).

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#193. May 23rd, 2013, at 8:03 PM.

Most of the same questions as eric 189. New comer also. Awaiting reply.

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#194. May 24th, 2013, at 12:03 PM.

Have you emailed me your questions, Steve?

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#195. May 24th, 2013, at 3:16 PM.

Sorry, I was just looking at the same questions as # 189

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#196. May 28th, 2013, at 12:34 PM.

So do worms like watermelon and the rinds?

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#197. June 26th, 2013, at 11:04 AM.

Hi Bently,
Can you please tell me if it is ok to use Elephant manure in the worm bin.

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#198. June 29th, 2013, at 2:44 AM.


I am a newbie and a frugal gardener. I came across a bait and tackle shop that carry red triggers at a very affordable price for me :-)

Are these worms okay to used for my compost?


(Oops, wrigglers, not triggers…on my cell phone -__-)

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#199. July 19th, 2013, at 6:09 PM.

Can a worm bin be used outside? What temps can worms haandle?

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#200. July 20th, 2013, at 2:31 PM.

NOTE: I will be closing the comments section on this page. Please send in your questions by filling out the form on the Contact page.

ERIC – Composting worms LOVE watermelon rinds!

DAVID – Elephant manure should work really well, but I’d give the same advice I would give for most other manures and tell you to use only aged material (ideally stuff that’s sat outside for a period of time).

RACHEL – if they ARE indeed the same “Red Wigglers” used for composting you should be ok (but you won’t get many so it will be very easy to overfeed).

CHAD – Composting worms should not be allowed to experience temps up above 90 F if at all possible. I recommend not using outdoor systems in locations where these temps (and higher) are common. I also just generally don’t recommend using plastic bins outside – unless it can be kept in a sheltered location (if sun shines on a plastic bin it can turn into a little oven).

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