Composting Worms FAQ's
WHAT WORMS DO I USE IN MY WORM FARM?
Composting worms that we use are called Eisenia fetida and also known under various common names such as redworm, brandling worm, panfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, red wiggler worms.
Why do we use the red wiggler in our worm farm
This species of earthworm is the best composting worm and are among the best composting worms available. They are hardy and easy to care for, tolerable to various temperatures, consume organic waste and reproduce very quickly.
What is the difference between an Earthworm and a Composting worm
The garden earthworm will borrow deep into the soil while the red wiggler lives in the top layer of soil below decomposing organic waste, decaying leaves, animal manure.
HOW MANY WORMS WILL I NEED?
It depends on the amount of organic waste you want to recycle. 1 kg of worms (app 4000) will be able to eat 1 pound of organic waste per day. The worms are prolific breeders and will multiply quickly. So even if you start with a small population you will be able to increase your recycling amounts in no time.
HOW MUCH DO WORMS EAT?
Worms can eat 1/3 to ½ their body weight every day.
IDEAL TEMPERATURE RANGE OF COMPOSTING WORMS
Composting worms have the ability with stand a wide range of temperatures. Typically red wigglers thrive in temperatures between 18 C – 27 C.
BEST BREEDING CONDITIONS FOR THE WORMS
Climate conditions will have an effect on the cocoon production; when there is too little moisture in the bin the worms will stop producing cocoons. Peak production occurs when ambient ground and air temperatures are between 18º-27ºC and the environmental moisture content within the bin is between 80-90%. When environmental conditions are not appropriate for survival, the cocoons will lie dormant awaiting more favourable conditions. Cocoons have been known to survive for up to three years under extremely dry conditions without being adversely affected.
HOW LONG DO WORMS LIVE FOR?
Worms can live for about one year in the worm bin. When they die, they are 90% water so will shrivel up and become compost within the bin.
HOW DO WORMS MATE?
Worms are hermaphrodites, which means they are both male and female at the same time. In order to mate, they still require two worms. The worms line up in opposite directions near their band (or clitellum), which contains some of the sexual organs. The worms are attached for about 15 minutes while they exchange sperm cells. Several days later, eggs come in contact with the sperm cells and form a cocoon, or egg case. The cocoon separates from the worm, then fertilization takes place. Inside the cocoon, 2-5 baby worms may be found.
THE WORM COCOONS (THE WORM EGGS)
Red wigglers lay cocoons that contain from 1 to 20 worms with an average of 3 to 5. The cocoons are oblong egg shaped and about the size of apple seed. Cocoons are olive green when first hatched and get darker with age until they are brown. Worms can hatch out of the cocoons as early as 21 days if conditions are right but can also take several months to hatch. In proper conditions red wigglers will lay one cocoon per week.
WHAT TO FEED YOUR WORMS?
Red Worms spend most of their time eating. They love to eat nearly anything that has ever been alive and is now dead, lots of things we wouldn't even like to touch.
Fruit: Apples, pears, banana peels, strawberries, peaches, grapes, and all melons
Vegetables: beans, cabbage, celery, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, all greens, corn, corncobs and squash
Cereals and grains: oatmeal, pasta, rice, non-sugared breakfast cereals, cornmeal, pancakes
Coffee filer paper, tea bags, eggshells, dead flowers
Newspaper (no shiny / coated paper), cardboard, paper egg cartons, leaves
Chopping these foods up will make it easier for the worms to eat, but is not essential. You might want to keep a plastic container in your refrigerator to hold food scraps so they will be nice and fresh for them. Don't let them rot and become smelly but if they are the Worms will still eat them.
WHAT NOT TO FEED YOUR WORMS?
Meat, poultry, fish and dairy – this can attract rats to the worm farm
Sweets, potato chips and oil – this will attract ants to the bin
Oranges, lemons and limes – will make the bin too citrus and could be toxic to the worms
WHAT IF THE WORMS TRY TO ESCAPE
If the worms are leaving the bin there it would be for a reason and would indicate that the conditions are not favourable.
• You could shine a light on the bin this will encourage the worms to
• Burrow down in the bedding
• If the contents of the bin is to wet, drain the Bin and add dry bedding.
• If the contents of the bin is to dry, (ants in the bin are a sure sign), add some moisture to the bedding.
WHY WILL THE WORMS IN THE BIN DIE?
Worms could die because for bad conditions in bin. It could be that the bin is too wet or too dry and that they are receiving no food. The worms could die if the bin gets too hot or too cold. Should your worms die the best is too make sure that you bin.