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Hands on Farming

At Old Toms Wormery, I am a very hands on worm farmer. My worms live in plastic tubs that are just the right size for me to move around and stir by hand. I like fast composting, so each tub gets stirred several times a week and sometimes several times a day!

Frequent stirring allows close monitoring of the health and happiness of the herd. I get to watch for issues such as overheating or over watering. I also get to see how fast their food is used up and they are ready for more.

A bin of 20 to 30 gallons should be just about the right size for the average American family. Within a few months you will know if that is enough space for your family. ‘Experts’ say that worms eat 25 to 50% of their weight in food scraps per day. I don’t use any hard and fast rules like that. I can’t know how many pounds of worms are in each bin so how can I know how many pounds of banana peels to pour in?

I instead look to see if the worms have finished their last meal before adding more. How fast they eat is how fast I add new food. Worms are not members of the ‘clean plate club’, but you get the idea.

Fresh food is best added to the ends or even the corners of the tub. That way, you can see when the food is getting well broken down and the worms have safe and cool bedding to live in, in the middle of the tub.

Fresh food might heat up for the first couple of days. That is the active composting that worms don’t like. They might avoid that area until that food is starting to break down and get ready for them. When the worms crawl in to start feasting, it’s time to stir that food into the rest of the bin. Watching and stirring keep my worms safe and happy.