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  • My redworms are (almost) gone?

    Created by jasonnet on

    Hi All,

    I’m hoping you can help. I bought a Can-O-Worms about a month ago. I started with about 1000 worms. The worms seemed pretty active a week or two later. But my worms seem to be gone now except for one or two in the drain water and one on the lid with the condensation. I’m not recognizing any bodies under the covering or at the top of the next level down. I’ve not dug for them. — I’m wondering what I did wrong. I have all sorts of ideas, but nothing definitive.

    I’ve been feeding it compost since then. But I wonder if I’ve fed them too much. How do I know?

    I’ve added water about three times. Really not much. Less than half a cup each time when I thought the newspaper and canvas covering was becoming a bit dry, or at least not as wet as originally.

    I’ve drained water about four or five times. I wonder if I should do it more frequently because the water I removed yesterday smelled a bit like a junior high school pond water experiment.

    I did add a level about a week ago and a few days later I did see a couple worms active in the new level. The food at the lower level below does seem to be in contact the new level. The room temp has varied from about 50F to about 75F.

    There are some green white carpety millimeter nodules that might be fungus or mold in some parts. Mostly on apples. After I added a bit of water a lot of worms appeared in a pig pile in one spot at the top of the lower layer and nowhere else. That spot had none of those apple pieces with tiny nodules growing. (So yes, the worms are not totally gone, but they don’t seem to be spreading evenly at all or touching any new food recently.)

    Is something wrong?

  • Author
  • #184945

    Eric Vinje

    Hello Jason,

    Getting a vermicompost started can be a little tricky. I find that adding newspaper (or whatever your carbon source my be) at a 3:1 ratio to organic matter. Adding too much organic matter can turn your system thermophilic, and literally cook your worms.

    Keeping your system moist constantly is the next important thing. Too much water, and you risk drowning your worms and too little they will dry out (along with their bacterial food source). The water collected from your system, aka the worm tea, is always rather pungent. It is comprised of fantastic nutrients and soil probiotics, so don’t throw it out. I dilute mine, adding about a cup per gallon of dechlorinated water.

    Your worms will move all around the system, often concentrating on foods they like most (or maybe the food that bacteria likes most). I’ve noticed that the higher the water content of a food, generally, the more they seem to enjoy it. Onion and citrus products stick around the longest in my system, I would avoid adding them until you have a large worm population.

    Good luck!



    Thanks. That bit of practical reality makes me feel better. FWIW I think I’m finding that adding toilet paper or wet newspaper does reduce the odor that leaks in to my house.

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