Although there are thousands of types of earthworms, the worms that we sell are the Red Worms or Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida), which we especially use for composting because:
they prefer the top layer of the soil as opposed to the usual "tunnel-diggers" we have in the garden.
- they are very sociable creatures so do not mind a big conglomerate of worms.
- They also eat very fast and a lot so your compost will be produced in 3 months instead of years.
- In order to survive being in the top-soil they breed faster than most other types of worms.
- Apparently they are excellent for fishing too
The adult red wiggler (identified by a "saddle" for reproduction) is generally 5cm to 10cm long with a reddish/purple color, but their appearance and overall physical characteristics can vary quite considerably. They can range in color from a light orange (almost opaque) to dark purple, sometimes with stripes. One characteristic that does seem to be fairly consistent among specimens of this species is the yellow tail tip.
This is usually because of chemicals in the new environment or lack of moisture or temperature differences.
Ideally get your soil chemical free, loose and moist and the earthworms will find you.
If the worms die one has to start from scratch as the worms are protein and will invite maggots etc
Not all of these creatures will be seen in your bin, but the following might be spotted (amongst others):
No problem - just throw them out.
BLACK SOLDIER FLIES
These creatures are actually in great demand for food waste recyclers.
The adults resemble wasps. Though they may be a nuisance, soldier flies do not bite and are not known to transmit any diseases. Eggs are laid by the female near or in a food source.
Soldier fly larvae are scavengers and may out-compete the earthworms for food.
Mites are the most common creatures in the wormfarm - they look like pin-heads: globular with bristling hairs on its back and often red-orange in color. They move around fast.
They are normal but when their volumes get out of control it is very frustrating and indicates an acidic environment and over-feeding.
To get their numbers back under control, first add a slice or two of stale bread. Give them a day or so and they will totally cover the bread. Feed the bread to the birds and repeat the process until it looks better. In the meantime feed a bit less, looosely stir the compost in the top tray and also add lime & shredded paper or mulch. It takes time to recover.
These worm bin creatures belong to the crustacean family; however pill bugs are unusual dry-land crustaceans.
They do not bite and they don’t sting. The creatures don’t transmit diseases to humans. They do not harm other plants or animals.
They require moist habitats like under logs, stones, and in damp basements and compost bins.
Also known as White Worms they resemble small earthworms. They won't harm your bin or the compost worms. They are actually composters too. If you encounter a lot of them it's an indication that the bin is slightly acidic.
Red wigglers are quite tolerant of a wide range of temperatures - from freezing to 35 ‘C, so they do very well both indoors and outdoors. However, the optimal temperature for maximum growth and waste processing ability is closer to 23-25 ‘C. Light: Worms live underground so they thrive in an environment that is cool, dark and moist.
When you just purchased a wormbin and added the worms it is a good idea to keep the light on for the first night, especially in humid warm climates. This will ensure they know where they must stay.
Moisture: Worms like moist environments and should not be allowed to dry out. Wormbins generally do not need any extra moisture but a light spray of fresh water will generally suffice during windy, dry seasons. But if you add too much extra water or allow rainwater to fill the trays, the wormfarm may become anaerobic. The soil must be “moist” not “wet”. In hot, moist or rainy areas the lid can be replaced with dry newspapers or a coir sheet.
pH: Although not necessary, it helps to add lime regularly in order to prevent an acidic build-up. Egg shells are also great as long as it is relatively clean (maggots come to protein). A great habit is to add shredded paper or autumn leaves as neutral base.
You can easily smell when the pH goes too low and it becomes acidic.Oxygen: The worms need to breath. Aerate the bin by stirring the top one or two trays now and then in order to avoid bulk and to monitor the temperature.Temperature: Too hot is not good if a bin is slightly acidic. The heat initiates a chemical reaction which can create ammonia.
Red wigglers are varocious eaters. Still, most people tend to over-feed initially - a rough guideline is their own weight every day - so 250g earthworms will eat 250g daily.
A with people, their diet should ideally be balanced.
Most vegetable and fruit scraps, old flowers, tea bags, coffee grinds, leaves, herbs, egg shells, ripped cardboard, shredded paper / newspaper (avoid heavy and color printed newspapers)
- Scraps could be cut into smaller pieces if one wants the composting process to go faster and you have spare time :).
- Manure / grass (cattle, horses, goats or rabbits) is also a treat but it has to be composted first as the nitrogen creates a temperature spike when composting. Avoid bird or dog poo.
they do NOT like:
- Freshly cut grass
- bread and pasta
- protein: avoid meat, protein and dairy-products.
- The COPS (citrus, onion, pineapple and family thereof). A little bit will not do damage but they will avoid it.
- No oils or salad dressing or spices.
- Cooked food is not idealNO droppings from birds or dog poo