A. If you are purchasing a system from us we can also supply the worms. If you are interested in obtaining worms yourself, there are a number of worm farmers in most states or provinces. These can be found through ads in magazines or the Yellow Pages. Some local nurseries may sell them or advise you or even your local municipal offices may promote worm composting and be able to direct you to a local supplier. We recommend that you purchase a minimum of 1000 compost worms (1 lb), You can obtain worms from us here.
A. This depends on how many worms you have. Worms can eat up to half their own body weight every day and can double their population every few months. If you start your Worm Factory with 1 pound/450gms of mature worms (identify mature worms by a distinct ring shaped swelling around their body) they will consume up to half a pound/225gms of food waste per day. After a few months you should have double your population and you can feed them more. The baby worms, however, wonít eat much and will take about 3 months to mature. As you become familiar with them you will learn their rate of food consumption.
A. Worms will feed at a faster rate once they have adapted to any new food source. Worms will also eat more if food waste is cut into small pieces, mashed or processed. Controlling temperatures to around 70 degrees F/24 degrees C will improve the overall performance of your system. Worms will leave very acidic food such as onions and orange peels until after they have eaten their preferred foods. A handful of garden lime (or crushed oyster shells or ashes from a fire) every few weeks will help to balance the effect of acidic foods. The regular addition of worm fattener (which is included in our instruction booklet) will encourage stronger, fatter worms. Since they consume up to half their own body weight each day, the fatter they are the more wastes they will eat.
A. Be careful what you feed your worms, particularly if you are unaware of itís source. Manures, for example, from horses, cattle or dogs often have vermicides still active in it that were designed to kill parasitic worms in the animal. They can kill all your worms in one day. If you use animal manures make sure you know when worming is conducted and avoid using the manure for a few weeks.
A. Not usually. The Worm Factory is designed to break down soft organic waste. Slow composting organic wastes, such as garden refuse are best dealt with by conventional aerobic composting methods.
A. The worms may be eating your bedding material if you have used manure or compost in addition to your Worm Factory bedding block. If that is the case the worms will eat through this before eating any introduced food. If just the bedding block is used, the worms should readily eat introduced food waste, even though they do also like to eat the coir fiber.
A. Watering of the Worm Factory system will enhance the production of liquid plant food. Food wastes are about 80% water, which is released as the worms break them down. This will tend to stay in the bedding for a long time before eventually draining out. Any dry material such as old manure, newspaper or cardboard should be presoaked before being added. It is important to keep moist newspaper or a moist burlap/hessian bag over the freshly added food to encourage the worms to move up to the surface to feed. This will provide a dark damp shelter for them. If you pour a maximum of Ĺ gallon / 2 liters of water over the covering and scraps each week or two and then place the empty bucket under the open tap, you will have a constant supply of liquid plant food. The sudden Ďfloodí will not harm the worms.
A. No, you can never have too many worms. They will regulate their population to the confines of available space and the amount of food you give them. Worm concentration should reach capacity (about 15,000 to 20,000 worms) after 2 - 5 years.
A. Only if you have a thick surface layer of mulch in your garden. Compost worms require moist conditions all year round because they donít tunnel deep like earth workers to find moisture. If you cannot provide this environment in your garden, donít introduce compost worms into it.
A. This situation can arise in two ways. First, you may be adding new food too soon before the worms can eat the previous food. This will result in a lot of uneaten wastes being distributed throughout the system and general reluctance by the worms to migrate upwards while they can still access material lower in the system. Before adding new trays, stop feeding the worms for at least a week to ensure that all existing food in the lower tray has been eaten. Worms will then move up to eat from the surface as this is their natural behavior pattern. Secondly, you may not have waited for the level of worm casting to pass the support ribs on the inside of the tray before adding the next tray. This will create a gap preventing the worms from reaching the top trays.
A. Worms will tolerate a wide temperature range from about 50 - 90 degrees F/ 10 -30 degrees C. If it gets much hotter than this, make sure the Worm Factory system is in a shady cool position. Take the lid off and hose the whole unit down keeping the bottom drainage tap turned on so it doesnít flood. If it gets much colder and freezes, put your Worm Factory in the warmest possible position, an example being your basement, laundry or shed. If it is on a balcony or in the yard, cover the unit with a couple of old carpet pads or old blankets to keep some warmth in. Feed them a lot more food wastes which will create some warmth as the food decomposes. The best place to have your Worm Factory is indoors, where the temperature always stays the same.
A. What you are noticing is the worms sensitivity to pressure changes in the weather. They will often go up into the lid even before it rains. In nature this takes them out of the soil to stop them from flooding and drowning. Move the Worm Factory out of the rain. Take the worms out of the lid and replace them in the bedding if needed.
A. Ants will enter your Worm Factory if you have a lot of them in your yard and particularly if you have let the bedding become too dry or acidic. Add water to raise the moisture level and add a liberal quantity of garden lime to where the ants are gathering. This should discourage them. If they persist, remove them physically and smear some Vaseline around the legs or place each leg of the Worm Factory in a container of water to isolate the system.
A. No, the Worm Factory is fly-proof against household flies. Sometimes the very small vinegar fly (often mistaken for the fruit fly) gets in, but these do not harm. However, very large numbers of the vinegar fly may indicate that you are feeding your Worm Factory too much and may be a prelude to problems such as offensive odors. To eradicate vinegar flies, slow your rate of feeding to what the worms will eat on a daily basis and ensure that freshly added wastes are covered by a moist newspaper or burlap bag.
A. The only smell associated with a well maintained Worm Factory system is a pleasant rainforest odor. If your Worm Factory has an offensive smell, it is an indication that anaerobic bacteria have built up in the system in uneaten food wastes. Stop feeding the worms and stir the wastes in the tip tray lightly with a garden fork, adding garden lime as well. This aerates the organic material and allows worms to move through it more easily. Repeat this aeration procedure regularly to prevent recurrence. Start feeding again when all smells are gone.
A. Leaving an established Worm Factory for 3-4 weeks without constantly adding food is not a problem. Just feed the worms a good quantity of food waste (1/3 of a tray full) before your leave. Make sure that you leave the unit in a cool place under cover and leave the tap open with a container under it. Putting a soaked newspaper on top of your burlap will give added protection against their bedding drying out.
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