Q – I have had my farm for a few years….do I need to add some new worms or can I just keep going with the ones I have ?

A – If the worm farm is working well and processing everything you put in, then it is fine to keep on with the ones you have.

Q – My worm blanket only lasted about month, is this normal?

A – Commercial worm blankets and home made ones from old cotton towels, woollen blanket or jute are made from all natural materials, which will deteriorate and the worms will eventually consume. One month is quite fast though! You could try putting a few sheets of corrugated cardboard underneath the worm blanket, which also act as a type of worm blanket, which they can consume first. If you notice the worms really getting into the cardboard, add more so they can eat this rather than the blanket. Worm blankets are wonderful for the worm farm for so many reasons!

Q – What is an ideal pH for a worm farm?

A – High acidity or alkalinity levels can hinder the efficiency of worms and microorganisms at work in a worm farm. The ideal conditions for maximum efficiency is a neutral reading of 7.0. If your reading is too acidic or too alkaline, add a teaspoon of Tumbleweed Worm Farm & Compost Conditioner, finely crushed eggshells, or dolomite, mixing into soil. Ensure to also keep your worm farm slightly damp, which helps to maintain a neutral pH level.

Q – How much food do I put into an inground worm farm? Can I pile it in or just add a bit and wait for the worms to eat it before adding more?

In ground worm farms make things very simple. I have found they seem to process more scraps more quickly than above ground ones, possibly because of the extra worm action from the worms that live in the garden bed as well as the ones that reside inside the farm. One caution is to add in shredded paper and cardboard, if you add only vegetable matter the high nitrogen content can cause overheating of the worm farm as it decomposes. It is a bit of a misconception too, to think that worms will just start chomping away at whatever is added….the organic matter needs to start breaking down before it is in a form that they can start digesting. So adding new stuff to the top will start that process, they will squirm into whatever is at the stage they need, some scraps break down faster than others which is why you see worms going all through a pile of scraps.

Q – My lower of two worm trays has been ready for months to harvest. Even though they are full of very broken down castings, there are still a lot of worms in there. Apart from painstakingly picking out the worms from the castings, how do I remove them so I can use the castings?

It can be difficult to separate all of the baby worms from finished castings, but the beauty of the multi level worm farms is that they do make it easier to do so. Once the very bottom level is processed enough by the worms (or when I need some castings to improve my soil), I remove the top two levels and put them aside. I then take out the bottom level. The middle level gets replaced and becomes the new bottom layer, what was the top layer now becomes the middle, and the level that was on the bottom sits on the top. I then leave the lid off, and the sunlight and drying effect, coupled with the better food source below, should see most of the worms migrate downwards. Every day I push the castings to one end, and in doing so take out any worms I see to put in the layers below. If you do this for a few days in a row, you should end up encouraging most worms to migrate downwards. You will probably still have worm capsules in your castings, if you need worm free castings to use (say in pots), then you will need to leave your castings for a couple of weeks to allow the baby worms to hatch, then repeat. You can read more about harvesting castings here>>>

Using Leachate From Your Worm Farm

Q – What are your thoughts on leachate and whether it should be used on products you will be consuming?

A – There is the potential for unfavourable bacteria and fungi to be present in leachate, so if in doubt, keep it away from contact with any fruit, leafy greens or vegetables you will be eating, and use it directly to the soil. It is mostly manures that can be the cause of problematic pathogenic outbreaks from foodstuffs, but it does pay to be cautious, and to always wash whatever healthy produce you eat, wherever you get it from

Invaders Of Your Worm Farm – Friend Or Foe?

Q – I have seen tiny black beetles (oval-shaped, shiny) in my worm farm. Are they bad news for the worm farm and if so, how do I get rid of them?

A -I have had these and have tried to identify them without success. I did fix the problem by adding more carbon rich material to my worm farm, in the form of shredded paper and plain brown corrugated cardboard. The beetles may be attracted to the more nitrogen rich scraps perhaps, and bulking them up with ‘browns’ (carbon rich matter) seems to make it less attractive, with the added bonus of keeping the worms happier too. It also helps to add a sprinkle of Compost Conditioner or dolomite/lime to counteract acidity every now and then too.

Q – My worm farm has little white insects. Any hints as to reduce these?

A – This are likely to be mites, or they could also be springtails. Generally speaking, the ones that live in worm farms are usually harmless to your worms. But they do indicate that conditions are becoming less favourable for worms, so can point to the need to change a few things in your farm. Try adding more carbon (browns), in the form of shredded paper and plain cardboard, and it also helps to add a sprinkle of Compost Conditioner or dolomite/lime to counteract acidity every now and then too. Stirring the contents around to aerate also seems to deter the unwelcome visitors. Mites and springtails like things on the wet side, so improve the drainage by propping the back legs of your farm up slightly so that excess water drains away quickly. You can also leave the lid open from time to time, the worms will burrow away for protection, unlike the mites or springtails who will not like the exposure.

Q – Recommendations for keeping cockroaches out of compost bin?

A – Cockroaches can be a visitor to both compost bins and worm farms, as they are attracted to the readily available food. Stirring things up as often as possible to make them uncomfortable and scuttle off will help. If you are fast enough you can squish them with a garden trowel. You can also console yourself that they will also help process the organic matter, but this will not help when one scuttles up your arm or into your hair! If you keep chickens, they love eating cockroaches, as do huntsmen spiders.