12 Common Vermicomposting Problems And Solutions
An established vermicomposting bin is essentially a self-contained ecosystem that will survive as long as you provide it food. Despite this, a few things can occasionally go wrong. Read on to learn about common problems associated with vermicomposting and how to handle them.
The Number of Worms is Declining, But They Aren’t Dying
Worms are a favorite food for many small animals like birds, mice and frogs. If you notice your worm numbers are falling, but that there does not seem to be a collection of dead bodies, there is probably a predator at work. Check your bin to see if there are any signs of an entrance. Rats and mice can chew through plastic easily, and don't need very much space to move through a surface.
If there is no obvious point of entry, make sure the top of the bin is held securely in place. That will probably solve the problem. Consider installing a latch or securing the bin with rope or bungee cords.
The Worm Farm Smells
Always bury the food you add or cover it with a layer of bedding. Otherwise, unpleasant smells will begin to emanate from your bin.
The Worm Farm Smells Very Bad
A very bad odor is caused by too much food being added to the bin. Do not treat the worm bin like a rubbish bin. Only add as much food as the worms can contend with at a given time. If food sits in the bin too long it will start to rot. The rotting process will deplete the oxygen in the bin and increase the amount of liquid.
Give the worms time to clear the food backlog before adding any more. If you find that you have an excess of waste, consider building another worm bin.
The Worms Keep Escaping
If your worms are deserting your bin, something is wrong with their living conditions. If the food is plentiful, the bedding is moist and the farm is well-ventilated, your worms won’t have any reason or need to escape.
Bedding is Going Moldy
Ensure that the bedding is only adequately moist and that the bin is well-ventilated.
The Bedding is Drying Out
Dry bedding is no good for worms. Make sure it is always moist. Sprinkle or spray with water if it appears or feels dry.
There is Water at the Bottom of The Bin
Excess water should be able to leave the bin by way of drainage holes in the bottom. This water is actually worm tea, a very effective liquid fertilizer. Excess water is hazardous for worms, so check how much water is being put into the bin and reduce the amount.
Flies are Plaguing the Bin
Flies will only become a nuisance if there is something in the bin that they want to eat. If food added to the bin is covered, flies should not be a problem.
The Worms Will Not Stay in the Bedding
If the worms are crawling up the side of the bin, there is something wrong with the acid level in the bedding. Adding a little garden lime to the bedding should neutralize the excess. Cut down the amount of citrus peel you are adding to the compost.
Harvesting the Compost (1)
This can be a problem the first time you do it. Move the finished compost to one side of the bin and put fresh bedding in the space you have created. Add food into the bedding. Over the next day or 2, most of the worms will have moved over to the new food and bedding and you will be able to scoop the compost out.
Harvesting the Compost (2)
To collect all of the compost, tip the contents of the bin onto a large plastic sheet. The worms will burrow to the bottom of the compost to escape the light. Use a soft brush to gently sweep the compost off the burrowing worms. The worms will keep burrowing and you can keep sweeping the compost off them until there is just a squirming mass of worms. Put these into a new worm farm that you have already prepared.
Harvesting the Compost (3)
Tip the contents of the worm farm onto a plastic sheet and remove the worms by hand.