Great question from Heidi:
I’ve been keeping worms for about fifteen years or so. When we have gone away our son has fed the worms and I have frozen ‘food’ in preparation for this. This year our son lives too far away to help out. Can you tell me the best way to leave them? I see from an earlier post that you said that you could leave the bins for a couple of months?? I have four healthy bins. They are in our cool basement in Ontario Canada.
The “short answer” and “good news” is that you definitely don’t need to worry! I’ve been demonstrating just how easily you can neglect worm bins in cool Ontario basements for at least as long as you’ve been actively vermicomposting! Hahaha
When all other key factors are looked after (eg. air flow, moisture, temperature), and a system has been getting fed regularly, really all you would need to do is bulk up on bedding (eg shredded cardboard) to ensure their survival. You might add a small amount of “slow food” – materials that are more resistant to break down, but still provide nutrition over time – like bulky chunks of fresh carrot, but moderation is definitely the key.
Just to provide a bit of perspective…
I set up my “Insurance Bin” system back at the end of January, and did not add anything more to it after that. When I checked up on it 6 months later, the worms were perfectly fine (albeit a bit shrunken – lol). I haven’t checked on the bin recently, but I’m virtually positive they are still fine.
I think yours can handle 6 weeks.
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Hi Heidi & Bentley,
Carrot chunks do take a while till they start to break down. What I did, depending on the size of the bin, I also left one (or a few) whole apple(s).
Perfect apples need to be bruised on one spot and break the skin or make a small cut to remove some skin. This is to add moisture during my absence.
I’ve left my worms for nearly three months without any problem. I have several type of bins. I have a multi-level Vermi-Hut and then several single bins. For the multi-level, I put shredded cardboard in all the levels (5) and then put the contents of a frozen large bag of food in the top bin and covered it well. Did essentially the same with the single bin, but just filled the bins a few inches from the top with shredded cardboard and added the frozen food near the top. Although some of the cardboard was slightly moist at least half was dry. When we returned, the worms were doing well and we had lots of worm castings. The worst that will happen is your older worms will die, but the eggs will hatch and you bin will contain mostly juveniles. The worms regulate themselves. If you have a very large population in your bins, I would split the bins up before you leave. Also remember, the worms eat the bedding too. The only way I’ve ruined a bin is by letting it get too hot, but even then, the eggs hatched and I ended up with a bin full of juveniles. The eggs can take much greater extremes than the worms and still be viable.