Worm Composting Problems
Although our beginning was smooth sailing, it was not long before a few worm composting problems began to arise. Having decided to make a business out of raising and selling worms we decided to branch out a little more. We started this website which was a significant challenge, not a techy guy, lol.
Because things had been going so well with the Red Wigglers, we decided to get some European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia Hortensis). Since we decided to make a business selling composting worms, Euro’s would be the next best worm to sell. Euro’s, being possibly the best bait worm in the world would appeal to the bait market. And Euro’s may actually be the best all around worm, being a fantastic bait worm, and a good composting worm too.
We purchased five pounds of “bed-run” euro’s and split them between 2 large plastic bins. Our worm composting problems began with these Euros. They were very restless and we began to find them out of the bin, on the floor, every morning. We tried to pick up as many as we could find and put them back into their bin. It seemed like the numbers were dwindling, so obviously more were getting away than we were finding. We learned that they are more sensitive to acidic conditions, and vibration. So we added some crushed eggshells, and quit running the compressor in that shop.
The CFT (Continuous Flow Through) Bed
The CFT with Red’s that I mentioned in the previous post began to progress nicely but we had made it a bit too shallow. As a result, a bunch of Red’s ended up falling through onto the floor. Red’s and Euro’s ended up mixed together in those “Euro bins”. Red’s and Euro’s look quite a bit alike except for size so it was difficult to tell the difference. We really were not sure if we had any Euro’s left, or if those 2 large bins were predominantly Red’s. Those bins have been split into 4 even larger bins, but are still contaminated, having both Reds and Euros in them. If we decide to sell a blend of both worms, they will become another product. For now, they are compost producing bins only.
The CFT had been progressing very well, the population had multiplied many times over. We had finally built up the depth enough that the worms were no longer falling out of the bottom. After arriving home from a trip we found that the CFT had collapsed and all the vermicompost and worms were on the floor. We figured out where the flaws were in the construction of this worm bed and made plans to either repair or rebuild it.
The Worm Trench
Winter was on its way and we had to figure out how we were going to protect the worms from the cold. The most cost effective way seemed to be an in-ground trench. We had approximately 25 to 35 pounds of Red Wigglers we had to protect. So a trench 4 feet by 8 feet we figured would be the minimum. Not knowing how well they would multiply during the winter we wanted some growing room. The final decision was to make the trench 5 feet wide, 12 feet long, and 2 feet deep.
It was all dug by hand, no power equipment available, hard work! The details of how the worm trench was built will be in an upcoming post. A thick layer of leaves was put in first for bedding then all the Red Wigglers we had were added to half the trench. The other half was left empty at this point. We added a layer of leaves, then a layer of rabbit manure, then a layer of spent coffee grounds on top for food.
At first, it became a bit hotter than we wanted, around 90 degrees F but then cooled down to 60 degrees F. A few weeks later I tried to warm it up by adding more rabbit manure and coffee grounds but got it over a 100 degrees F in about 1/3rd of the worm area. Balancing the temps are still a bit challenging and will require more experience.
Then, all of a sudden, it rained a ton overnight and the trench was flooded. There were approximately 1.5 feet of water in the 2 feet deep trench. Another rookie mistake, not having a tarp over it. I used a 5-gallon bucket to scoop it out at the end that wasn’t being used yet.
These worm composting problems have taught us some valuable lessons this year. We know that there are many more lessons we will learn in the future. But it has been fun also, and we would not have it any other way. I goal is to pass on all that we learn and help as many as we can to learn how to compost with worms successfully. If you would like to follow us on this journey please leave us a reply below requesting to be added to our e-mailing list. If you would like to get started on the worm composting journey with us please check out our products here.