Red Worms Love Wet Conditions

During my recent worm transfer I was reminded of the fact that red worms really do like it wet. The older bin I was harvesting the worms from is the same one used for the squash composting experiment and was absolutely loaded with worms. There were so many in there that they were starting to congregate in writhing masses at or near the surface. Any time I added food it was disappearing very quickly.

I just assumed that all the worms in the bin were just up near the surface. Well as I discovered, there were actually loads of worms all throughout the bin. Especially interesting was the fact that I found lots of worms (and cocoons) right down at the very bottom of the bin, where conditions were extremely wet, and borderline anaerobic. This was one of my simple Rubbermaid bins with no drainage – in fact all it has is a few air holes in the lid.

Obviously I’m not sharing this information to convince you that you don’t need to be careful with moisture levels in a bin – you still do. It was soaking wet down in the bottom of my bin, but it wasn’t flooded. Also, as much as the worms do love wet conditions, it is more difficult to produce quality compost. Decomposition slows down and you don’t get that nice rich, dark humus that is produced via aerobic composting. Having drainage holes (and some sort of catch tray or reservoir) is not a bad idea.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that tidbit with you.

[tags]red worms, red wigglers, eisenia fetida, worm bin, worm bins, worm composter, worm composting, vermicomposting[/tags]

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  1. Hi –
    I’m learning about compost worms right now for a project I’m working on.
    Your comment about them liking wet is true of my experience. I had read that the bin should be damp but found that the worms actually congregate in the wet places at the bottom of the bins.
    Now I keep the bin wetter than I originally had thought it should be and the worms are getting larger faster.
    Thanks for your site – it’s a great resource in a field where there is so little information readily available.

    • Down in the Southwest
    • April 13, 2008

    Oh, mine are like yours and Martha’s too!

    I kept reading that Eisenia fetida and Eisenia hortensis (I have a mix of both) liked living within six inches of the surface, bedding damp as a well-wrung sponge, and that their own castings were somewhat toxic to them, so I kept moistening the top layer daily (it was outside in summer). But whenever I looked for the worms, they always seemed to congregate in the wet muddy parts at the bottom where worm poo concentration is highest, even if the top was nice and dark and damp.

    Also, if I let the bin sit directly on the ground and liquid drained out, a blob of worms would often come out and sit in the puddles. Now I prop it off the ground a bit because some would get lost trying to find their way back in and get all dried up. 🙁

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