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!
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!