I get frantic calls from some worm customers. After six to twelve months their worms aren’t good. This is a surprise because the herd had been doing so well. Now they are thin, not moving much, and not multiplying. It takes a couple of questions to get to the root of this problem. They have been feeding, and feeding, and feeding.
Sounds great, but they forgot my worm bin advice of, “The bin should look like bedding with worms and food in it.” They didn’t add much or even any bedding to buffer the food. Their bed instead looks like a mucky paste. It’s sad to see the skinny worms struggling to swim through very firm pudding. Their bin needs a big dose of light fluffy base to live in while eating the food scraps.
So, if you have a new worm farm, regularly add more bedding. This is the pre-wetted cardboard, leaves, coco coir, paper, compost, or whatever high carbon/low nutrition bed that you have. Some experts say add bedding with every feeding, but I’m not that perfect. I add food until it looks like there is a lot of food in there. Then I add a bedding layer to ‘soak up’ all that food. If the bed is wet, I’ll add dry bedding and stir it in a bit.
If your worm bed is already mucky, it’s time to rescue the worms and start again. Getting the worms out of muck can be tough, so I use my lazy method overnight. My lazy method uses light to push worms down into their new home. Put fresh bedding, with maybe a little food, into a bin. Put some kind of worm filter on the new bed. Put that muck with worms on top of the filter. Now walk away. Overnight the worms will migrate down to that better new home. Lift the filter to put the muck into a harvest container. Now you have harvested vermicompost and a new worm farm.
Sometimes, you are in a hurry, or the worms need a little push to make their move. In that case, make your stack of new bedding, filter, and muck. Wait 15 minutes or so, then scrape off the top of the muck. The top inch or so should be worm free. Repeat the wait and scrape to harvest all the muck. This lazy method works even better before your bin to harvest gets so mucky.
I am selling a great worm filter, but you can use any mesh. It is just a tool to get a clean separation between new bedding and old bed. You can even do this with no filter at all if you don’t mind a little muck mixed into your new bedding.