Due to a worm’s sensitive nature, any worm farmer can experience a wide range of complications inside their worm farms. It can be a journey of trial and error before the worms live up to their reputation as voracious eaters. The worm, albeit a simple creature, is quite complex in its connection with its environment, so it is important your worm’s habitat is in balance. To ensure this, there are several factors to consider:
Overheating: Worms are very heat sensitive. There are a few reasons your worm farm can harbor too much heat. It is very important your farm is positioned in the shade and out of direct sunlight. On an extra hot day, a great tip is to freeze a plastic bottle of water and bury it under the soil in the bedroom (bottom tray). This will give the worms somewhere to retreat if they are overheating, a bit like air-conditioning! Another factor causing heat is the material added inside the worm’s environment; just like the composting process when nitrogenous material is added, it can heat up during the decomposing process, releasing energy in the form of heat, which could be too much for the worms. If this happens, remove all food and mix up the material inside the farm, water well and recommence feeding small amounts more frequently.
Neglect: For your worm farm to be a success it will need your observation and input. Regular feeding and watering will give you plenty of opportunity to get in tune with the worms. You will know if they are happy or not by observing their activity around the food source.
Too much food: It is easy to overfeed your worms, especially when establishing a new farm. It is easy to underestimate how long it takes 1,000 worms to increase in number so that the farm can consistently process a significant volume of kitchen scraps. The excess food can turn sour before the worms get the chance to eat it, which throws out the balance inside the farm. If this occurs, remove all food scraps and mix your feeding tray (top tray) with your hands or small fork, until the material is completely aerated. (You may want to wear gloves.) Add some ripped cardboard and a small amount of food scraps, cut small, pour on 1 litre of water and leave for a few days before checking to see that the worms are gathered around the food source. Continue feeding small amounts of food waste as determined by their needs.
Not enough water: Worms breathe through their skin and thrive in a moist environment. They will go into a hibernation state if their home becomes too dry. The farm conditions should be moist like a damp sponge, but not too soggy.
Are there enough worms? 1,000 live worms are a good start for a basic new farm but this will require starting with small amounts of food, increasing slowly as the population begins to build. Acquiring more worms will mean processing more waste faster. For example, an additional 1,000 worms (2,000 total) would probably save you around three months of the initial population establishment stage. If it has already been a couple of months and you haven’t seen too much action around the food source or too many worms getting around, something isn’t right. Check the bottom reservoir to make sure there aren’t any worms trapped down there. Next, remove all food from the feeding layer and aerate the material with your hands or a fork. Introduce some straw or ripped up cardboard and a small amount of food with one litre of water. Leave for a few days and come back to check. If there’s still no luck, your worms may have met with foul play, and you may need to introduce more.