Standing Water in Corners of Worm Bin

Question from Roxanne:

I have tried to find the answer to my problem on the website but I am
worried about my worm bin having standing water in the corners. I am
afraid the worms will die with so much water. Do I need to drain it
some how or put a lot of bedding on top? Thanks!

Hi Roxanne,
You are right – it’s definitely a good idea to take care of this sort of thing! Sloppy, water-logged bins are definitely not ideal environments for your worms – nor are they effective vermicomposting systems in the slightest (this is an aerobic process).

Here are a few strategies for you to consider:

1) Create Corner Wicks – one thing I used to do when I had wet bins was pull back materials from the corners and shove LOTS of dry, absorbent bedding material down, all the way to the bottom. It’s important for it to be tightly packed so the moisture will be drawn all the way up – but at the same time, if you can do it with shredded material (vs one big piece) that may be better since it will continue to help air get down to the bottom of the bin. Similarly, just mixing in lots of dry bedding can be a great alternative or even partner strategy.

2) Maintain a Thick Layer of Dry Bedding – this one might be more of a maintenance strategy, best started before you encounter wet bin issues, but I figure it’s worth mentioning anyway. If you are keeping a really thick layer of bedding over top of the composting zone at all times it will help to absorb excess moisture, and will also help to ensure that the worm habitat zone always has lots of absorbent material, and likely decent air flow. Ideal materials include shredded cardboard and/or newsprint.

3) Keep the Lid Off – I know not everyone will be thrilled with the idea of leaving the lid off their worm bin, but I’ve got to tell you that this is one of the easiest ways to create a well-balanced vermicomposting system. Not only will excess moisture be able to escape, but all that added air flow will help to provide a lot more oxygen down where it’s needed, and remove any harmful gases (eg ammonia) that may start to build up from time to time. If you do this with a really wet bin, I recommend first mixing in plenty of dry bedding, continuing to gently mix the contents up from time to time (a small hand fork works great), and again, maintaining a nice thick layer of dry bedding over top (this acts as a sort of a lid). Letting a big solid gob of wet vermicomposting habitat dry out on its own is definitely NOT the way to go – it will take forever to dry, for one thing, but you will also likely end up big solid block of wormless material.

Hope this helps!

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  1. I agree with Bentley that having the top off with lots of dry bedding over top is the way to go. I switched to this method to fight an infestation of gnats and have stayed with it.

    In the mean time you can use a turkey baster to remove a lot of the liquid from the corners of your bin.

    • Bentley
    • March 31, 2012

    Great idea, Mike! (baster)

  2. That was in Mary Appelhof’s book “Worms Eat My Garbage”

    • Dave
    • March 31, 2012

    How about putting a “smart pot” or similar water-permeable fabric liner inside your plastic bin? In case of waterlogging, you could just lift the bag out and pour the excess liquid out of the bin.

  3. All good suggestions to cure the effects. The easiest way for me was to prop up one end and use dry corrugated cardboard to wick up the moisture. This created an ideal microbe environment — worm food.

    A question that needs to be asked is what caused the excess moisture? Overfeeding — 1 time or constant? Not enough bedding? Not enough air? I’ve done all of these so I’m not condemning. But I tried to stop these causes so I didn’t have the issues. The key word being tried 😉

    Good luck and don’t worry. The worms are very forgiving.

  4. I don’t have covers per say on any of my bins. I have carboard liners from an apple case that I place on top of the bedding. When the humidity is low I wet then to help keep some of the mositure in. Over the top of the liners I place an old throw rug.

    If I use the plastic lids that come with the containers it seems that the beds get to wet,

  5. I use to have the problem with water and now I use cardboard and it works great – try it

    • Penny
    • April 13, 2012

    I was wondering if it matters that I put all my food scraps in a blender to feed my worms. Well first i collect them for a week then when I feed them I liquefy them in the blender and just pour the slurry in. It’s kind of difficult to tell whether it’s being consumed but I make sure that I add dry bedding to soak up the moisture. Is it possible to overfeed? The reason I blend it is because I found I was getting mold growing on some of the scraps and it bothered me. My container has drainage holes in the bottom as well as many many holes drilled into the side. I have actually cut the center out of the lid and added a screen that I snap I to place with the remaining lid. This helps me to control the moisture as well it keeps my dog from tearing apart my bin. I started with a lb of worms about 6 weeks ago and the feeding habits are my main concern.

    • Teresa
    • April 17, 2012

    I have an inside plastic bin – and in the beginning I found that it was really wet.
    I tried to leave the lid off but then I got a ton of gnats (even with lots of bedding on top). To combat the moisture problem I made a cloth lid – which acts as a barrier for flying things but allows ventilation. It works great! It keeps stray gnats and flies from getting into the mix, and allows enough of the moisture to escape to keep the worms moist and happy.

    • Thomas
    • April 18, 2012

    I to found it better for the Worms if I left the lid of the bin
    And I used old carpet natural fiber is best but mix fibre will doo
    All so after a short time you will see the white small Worms crawling in and out
    The fibre’s on the underside of the carpet and in time the carpet will be turned in to
    Compose all so.
    Have a nice day
    Thomas UK

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