The Ugly Truth About Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting can be an incredibly rewarding experience, there’s no doubt about it. I am always excited to see the transformation some people go through, from “newbie” to full-blown “worm-heads” – especially in cases where I have helped the process along (I’m a “proud papa”, what can I say? lol).

Unfortunately, the path from novice worm composter to “worm-head” is not always “easy” (to say the least), and it’s not uncommon to end up discouraged – perhaps even wondering why on earth you bothered!

In light of this, I decided to put together a podcast/report addressing some of the most common challenges/frustrations encountered – the things that many have considered “deal breakers” – offering my thoughts on how best to deal with them (or prevent them from happening in the first place).

As was the case with The Tiny Worm Business With BIG Potential, this podcast is definitely longer than my usual “Q&A” sessions – but I have once again created a written version (can be downloaded below).

I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to add your comments down below!

NOTE: If the podcast player doesn’t show up (or download button doesn’t show up on player) try refreshing page. If it doesn’t work on a mobile device try it on a regular computer. My apologies for the audio quality – for some reason my microphone doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to.

*** You can access/download the written version (not exact transcripts, but covers same material) >>HERE<< ***

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    • Bethany
    • February 20, 2014

    Just started my worm bin; so I appreciate the warnings! It actually helps me to know what to expect, so that I DON’T get too frustrated.

    It would be nice to have a written list of warning signs and corrective measures to take when you encounter those signs. Such as, when the bin is retaining to much moisture? When is it too dry?

    Today, I opened the bin to check on my worms and an orange peel had developed a white web-like substance on it. I would assume it was some kind of mold/fungus, but whether it is helpful or harmful to the worms is a big question mark in my mind.

    Thanks again for all of the info! I’ve saved a link to your blog on a document for vermicomposting tips.


    • Scott
    • March 17, 2014

    Thanks for the Podcast. I enjoy taking care of my worm bin. I have gone through the trial and tribulations but it’s all part of it. Knowing I can make fertilizer makes it the right thing for me and digging into my bin in the middle of winter in my basement just makes me feel closer to the earth. The smell is only great soil. Thanks and keep up the great work. I have been doing vermicomposting for 10 years now and my produce shows it. Spring is on the way!

    • Craig Wright
    • March 29, 2014

    1. Do you have a recommendation for a design for worm & casting harvester/s.
    2. Do you have information on the U.S. biggest worm farm?
    I thought I had read that it was in California.
    Thank You

    • Steve C
    • April 22, 2014

    My experience – and the conventional wisdom – is that citrus is too acidic. I had the same white substance on my citrus, and a nasty smell to boot. I don’t use citrus in my bins. I like veggie waste along with apple cores, banana peels, and coffee grounds.
    Good luck,

    • Bethany
    • May 6, 2014

    Steve, thanks for the tip. I also had fruit flies in my bin, but they have all since died. I’m due to check on my bin in the next few days. Too sick to do it today. 🙁

    • sl farrell
    • July 31, 2014

    my 300+ worms just disappeared in less than a week. do housecats eat worms that escape from indoor worm bins? My outdoor cat wants in at night lately. I just harvested and all was good (2nd harvest)

    • Bentley
    • August 2, 2014

    SL – I have never heard of housecats eating worms. But if they are escaping from the bin I suppose this is possible – especially with an outdoor cat. The “escaping” part is likely more of an issue to focus on – sounds like something is going wrong in the system. Feel free to email me with more details:

    • gerda cohen
    • August 10, 2014

    can my earth worms (plenty of them) be put intomy my garden?

    • Bentley
    • August 13, 2014

    What sort of earth worms are you talking about, Gerda?
    If you mean composting worms from a worm bin (etc), I definitely don’t recommend adding them straight into regular soil. They can certainly be used in various ways out in your garden – but they will need some sort of composting habitat.

    • Kimberly
    • October 30, 2014

    I just want to thank you for all the wonderful resources you’ve provided!

    • Bradan Beech
    • December 31, 2014

    I agree with the previous person who says this will help them avoid a lot of disappointment. Thanks for the benefit of your experience — I see now that the advertising displays of rich, fluffy vermicompost can be as misleading as seed-packet and cookbook photos! However, I am enjoying this new venture!

    • Kim
    • March 22, 2015

    I’ve been a worm wrangler (a tag name given to me by my husband) for about a year now. I was a total novice and came across this site in doing my prep research. Throughout any issues I’ve had, including an infestation of red ants and fruit flies, I have found excellent resources here to amend the situation. So I thought I might share a little tip myself. I’m going on vacation for a month and wanted to harvest some worm poo for my spring plants – in a hurry. Of course I decide to do this late in the afternoon. My bins are in my greenhouse, which does not have an electric hook up. No power – no problem. I keep solar lights in the greenhouse for aesthetic reasons (I like to look out at night and see it glowing) so I got the bright idea to use the solar light to get the critters to make their way to the feed tray and planted a light to shine down on the tray I wanted to finish. Hope it works! Thanks for all your great info. I’ve been having a blast slopping the worms and reaping the black gold benefits.

    • bethany
    • March 22, 2015

    Kim, good tip on worm transfer for collecting. I am having a baby soon and have been afraid my worms are or will be dead. I want to harvest what is in there and try to start my bin out with fresh bedding and soil. The only gardening I am doing this year is in pots on our back deck. I might give your tip a try!

    • Verónica Ávila Suárez
    • December 9, 2015

    Hi. I’ve been vermicomposting for about a year. I harvested my first vermicompost but I couldn’t get anything to sieve it, and I put the whole thing, worm poo mixed with some material that was not still fully decomposed, and put it in my plants. Afterwards, I had a plague of some kind of bug all around. SHould I blame myself for skipping sieving the vermicompost?

    • Helen
    • February 18, 2017

    I have a can o worms bin and I have a lot of babies or threads that keep going into the bottom of the bin where the fluids retain….and I’ve lost a bunch these so what I did was put shredded newspaper in the area to help soak up some of the liquid so they won’t drown any more do you think that is a good idea? I don’t collect any liquid from the bin I make my verma-compost tea another way and the spout is not working any anyhow I got this bin second hand, with worm threads and castings
    Already so I was excited to get it! Thanks.

    • Bentley
    • February 27, 2017

    Hi Helen
    Yep that should help. Something I always recommend with stacking bins is laying multiple sheets of newsprint down over the floor of the lowermost tray before starting. In your case, maybe when you harvest (empty) the lowermost tray you might think about adding the sheets of newsprint and just dumping in the contents from the second tray.

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