My Biggest Vermicomposting Frustrations

Yesterday I decided to try a fun little experiment on the Red Worm Composting Facebook Fan Page. I posted the question, “What is YOUR biggest frustration with vermicomposting?” – then waited.

I didn’t have to wait very long – the answers started coming in almost right away! As of this morning, there were 47 responses! Have I mentioned how much I am LOVING the Facebook Fan page? I don’t think there has been a single blog post (here on the site) yet that has received 47 comments in less than 24 hours – in fact, there might only be one or two that have received that many at all! Very cool indeed!
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I didn’t just ask the question to see how many responses I could get, though! I really wanted to see what sort of “frustrations” people are actually experiencing. In the “book” I talk about some of the things I think might be hampering a more widespread (mainstream) acceptance of vermicomposting. My suspicion has been that a lot of this can be linked to “critter hassles”, rather than a worm phobia. I am pretty sure that more people have started-then-stopped vermicomposting more often due to the presence of fruit flies / gnats / mites / maggots etc than due to anything else. I don’t have hard data here, but it’s something I see coming up over and over again.

The Facebook poll was no different…

Of the 39 “frustrations” I wrote down from the group of comments, 19 made mention of some sort of annoying critter (if not more than one) – that’s 48.7%!! Not too surprisingly, most of the critter concerns had to do with flying pests (such as fungus gnats and fruit flies). One thing that DID surprise me, though, was that I didn’t see any mention of black soldier fly grubs – and there was only one mention of “maggots”. Based on the number of emails I have received about “big ugly grubs” (or something similar), my impression has been that BSFLs are a hassle for a lot of new vermicomposters (with outdoor or semi-outdoor systems).

The next most common frustration seems to be harvesting. There were 8 comments (20.5%) that mentioned this as a hassle. I am not too surprised about this one either – it can be a real pain separating the worms from the vermicompost, ESPECIALLY when using some sort of plastic bin system (i.e. a system that results in higher moisture content).

Here are some of the other things people mentioned:
– Blue Worms (invading)
– cold weather
– mold
– other people getting annoyed or not understanding
– summer heat
– finding worm suppliers
– takes so long for results (including worms not growing as fast as expected)
– too much waste – not enough worms
– stinky waste materials
– too messy


What’s really awesome about this little “experiment”, aside from making me realize I need to spend more time on the FB Fan Page, is that it helps me to see some of the topics people are really keen to learn more about!

I’d love to get some more input though – are there any other major frustrations you have with vermicomposting? (don’t worry if they’ve already been mentioned).

My aim is to start writing some posts addressing these concerns.
Thanks again to all those who participate!
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Comments

    • Sandy Wright
    • November 9, 2010

    Excellent Idea, loved seeing other peoples “frustrations” on facebook and am looking forward to some solutions especially for the fruit flies. I either have fruit flies by the thousands or thieving ants. I also almost loss the entire stack due to intense heat but daily frozen water bottles solved that one.

  1. Hey Man I loved your experiment and it just shows you how many people like to be interactive. Keep up the good work. p.s. How come the category for “vermiponics” is suspiciously missing? Hrmmm?

    • Larry D.
    • November 9, 2010

    Well since i got stung three times today,i am going to say fire ants! I know it is bad to hate a creature.So i will say i dislike them a lot!

  2. Very interesting that “newbies” instinctively feel that the soldier grubs are not perceived as a pest. Or do you think there is a shift in perspective?

  3. I would have to say harvesting.
    Although I am making some interesting observations when it comes to radiant heat.

    • John Duffy
    • November 10, 2010

    Ok Mark…Don’t leave us hanging. What interesting observations have you made?

  4. Well John, That’s a good question. I’m doing a turbo light sort on my tub bins. They always worked slow and I can see the steam coming off the blob of bedding material. I wondering how my simulated sunlight will affect the microbes in the VC. Right now, I just stare at it, partly because there is nothing on TV.

    • Tom Stewart
    • November 10, 2010

    Hey Bently,
    First I would like to say congratulations on the berth of your son! Looks like a worm head to me!
    My main frustration is that I belive that I got Blue Worms when I ordered my worms back in April. The worms do a good job of comsuming the food stuff and producing worm caseings. But they do mot grow big enough to sell as fish bait (as I told you in my last e-mail). And I sorted out about 3 lbs of worms from my outside bed and have thoes in a tote in the utility room. If I do not leave the top of the tote open a little for air and light, the worms stage a mass exodus (this has happened twice so far!). But with the top open they burrow back into the bedding and go about thier busness.
    I do get quite a few black fly maggots in the outside bed, but they do not survive long and become more food for the worms.
    I will get the pictures I promiced to you soon.
    Tom

    • Anna
    • November 10, 2010

    I’d like to add “heavy worm bin” to the list. When my worm bins get full, they are heavy enough that I really struggle to move them (and I’m not generally a wimpy person). Yes, I could change the size of my container, but it’s easier to manage feeding & storing 3 large worm bins than 8 smaller ones. Would a flow through ameliorate this since it would have less moisture?

    • Larry D.
    • November 10, 2010

    Hey Tom,depending on what you consider fish bait.Think if they are big enough to be hooked.EF’s to me are too small to fish with.But can be used.A PE(Blue worm) is too small,unless you had a needle.Euros are what we think of as fish bait.But my EF’s will climb with moisture on the walls.And blue worms will also stay down in lit conditions.If you look at your worms relaxed,see if they are straight or tapered.Then if they are straight and you live in a real cold climate,you will really be frustrated.Because they will die off.You might have got a mix of worms too.

    • Kator
    • November 12, 2010

    Bentley, I can say that thanks to the information contained on the RWC site, your sharing of bad experiences, and your generous words of advice, I have encountered few problems and I am generally very pleased with my expanding little indoor operation.

    • Larry D.
    • November 13, 2010

    I forgot to add.My first experience with worms was a complete failure.Since then,i have gotten a little more experience under my belt.
    But how many people actually got it right the very first time?Luckily i didn’t give up.But my first try with a covered RM,opened my eyes to failing with worms.And if any one can kill all their worms.i was it!
    But knowing what i know now,i push the envelope,just seeing how far i can go with worm craziness!If i don’t get a certain stackable from Santa for some experiments,she didn’t get a good enough hint! HA HA!
    I will call it Fiber Optic Redworm Data! Or Ford for short! Just like my truck! HE HE!!

  5. Larry,
    What I like about you the most is that you challenge (or ignore) the conventional wisdom of vermicomposting. The torching of the fire ants is a good example.

    • Kator
    • November 13, 2010

    Good point Mark. I’ve been trying to buy a flame thrower on ebay ever since Larry’s post – can’t be had
    🙁

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