Worms Climbing Up Sides of Bin

Here is a question from Ray B:

A few weeks ago I harvested my castings and gave “the boys” new bedding which I think is about right in moisture. The bedding is a mix of newsprint, egg cartons, shredded toilet paper rolls and I put some leaf compost in too. I believe the majority of the worms are fine but there are some climbers up the walls of my 27 gallon bin.

They are in the basement which is about 57 degrees. The sides of the bin are damp, condensation I suppose. There aren’t a huge number of climbers but I would like to have fewer or none. Are some climbers normal? Thanks.

Hi Ray,

I see a lot of positives in the information you shared.
1) Clearly you have been through at least one vermicomposting cycle (start-to-harvest) now, so you must not be doing anything horribly wrong! lol
2) You are using a mix of great bedding materials.
3) You added some “living material” (the leaf compost) to help make the new habitat more microbially active.
4) Most of the worms are settling in just fine.

My guess is that the minor restlessness is simply the result of the harvesting disturbance and perhaps the fact that the new habitat isn’t quite balance (microbially etc) just yet. If you were seeing attempts at mass exodus of the worms, obviously there would be cause for concern. But I see nothing to suggest that the worms are in need of help.

The temperature you mentioned IS on the low side for sure. You may not see the same sort of processing speeds as a system with temps between 68 and 86 F. But given the size of the bin, I’m sure internal temps would be higher than ambient a lot of the time (due to microbial activity), so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this.

One suggestion I might make is to maintain a really thick layer of unmoistened bedding up top. In my experience this can reduce the condensation, making the upper walls less appealing for the worms. This may help them to settle in more quickly.

You didn’t mention any food being added either. I typically recommend only adding a fairly small amount of food when starting up a new system – but you should have at least something apart from the leaf compost (and perhaps you simply didn’t mention your food). This would likely help to keep the worms down as well.

Hope this helps!

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    • Ray Branas
    • February 12, 2018

    Thanks Bentley. There was some left over food after the bedding change so I didn’t want to add too much more. I did give them one of their favorites, pumpkin. I bought a pumpkin after Halloween for the seeds (for me) and scraped the pulp out and froze it. Every now and then I pull out a little for their treat. They finish a 1/3 cup in about 3-4 days. Thanks for the idea about the dry bedding. I’ll try that.

    Ray Branas

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