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  Everyone has questions when they start composting with redworms. As I get time I will post as many questions and answers as I can.  
 
Does redworm composting smell? 
How many redworms should I start with? 
I started my bin and some of the redworms are crawling out, what do I do?
If I buy a pound of redworms is this weight all redworms?
Can my redworm bin be in direct sunlight?
Will the worms "multiply" too fast for me to contain them or will I have to give some away periodically?
Is it too cold in the winter to have my compost outside?
Your add says worms eat table scraps- does that include meat, dairy..etc or are the rules the same as a compost bin?
What happens when you use your compost with worms in the yard? Would it be detrimental to plants?


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Q: Does redworm composting smell? 

A: No, redworm compost should not smell at all. Most composts smell from the presence of a bacteria that exists in a no oxygen environment (hence the septic smell). No air in the compost is due to too much moisture and compression.

Solution: Make sure you have enough bedding material with your food debris. Plastic redworm bins are more prone this problem, since it does not soak in and disperse fluids.


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Q: How many redworms should I start with?

A: This depends on how much food waste you will have each week. Your redworms will eat half their body weight each day.

Idea: Before you start save your food waste for one week and then weigh it. A pound of redworms will consume 3 to 4 lbs in a week. The compost will take a little time to break down enough for the redworms so you will still see food from last week in the bin, you still need to feed them. In colder weather you may not need to feed them as much.


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Q: I started my bin and some of the redworms are crawling out, what do I do?
A: When first starting a redworm bin your worms may scurry since this is not the home they are used to. Just like any other pet they need to get to know their new home. Make sure there is food in your bin, not just bedding (ie: newspaper, leaves or sawdust).
Solution: When starting your bin you will need to keep a small light on above your compost to keep your redworms at bay. They will get used to their new home in 2 to 4 days. Another solution is to have some composted compost in your bin to help them feel at home.

 

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Q: If I buy a pound of redworms is this weight all redworms?
A: Yes, although I can only speak for myself and the suppliers I have, when you buy redworms you should get a pound of redworms. A pound looks like almost 2 cups of space or volume. Often when you contact your vendor and let them know that you did not get a lb they will blame it on the shipping. I ship in a damp peat moss which helps the redworms retain their fluids.


A pound of redworms average 1000, but can vary from 500 to 15,000 depending on the current maturity of your redworms. Do not buy a pound of dirt with redworms, your shipping weight for a pound of worms should be two pounds.

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Q: Can my redworm bin sit in direct sunlight?

A: Your redworm bin will do best if it is protected by the shade from a tree or fence at least part of the day. The smaller the bin the more likely it may dry out, but generally I have found that if you keep enough moisture and compost bulk (at least 6" of depth) in your compost the temp will not get too high.


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Q: Will the worms "multiply" too fast for me to contain them or will I have to give some away periodically?

A: I have yet to see a bin that has too many worms (but I have seen someone start a medium bin with 15 lbs of redworms...yikes...and he wondered why they were crawling out. He quickly upgraded to a larger bin). Your colony of redworms will increase according to how much food they are getting. The more worms you have the faster your compost will turn into castings. If by chance you slow down your feeding after building up your colony invite a friend to compost and harvest out some of the redworms. Otherwise the redworms will self regulate and the older redworms will die off.

 

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Q: Is it too cold in the winter to have my compost outside?

A: Never, I composted with redworms in Alaska and as long as the center of your compost did not freeze your redworms survived. The important thing to know here is how deep does the ground freeze in the winter since this would be an indicator of how far in on all sides your compost may reach freezing temperatures. The other advantage to an aerobic vermicompost is there are bacteria that will create heat, but you can't count on this for long periods. In really cold regions an indoor compost works very well.

 

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Q: Your add says worms eat table scraps - does that include meat, dairy..etc?
A: You can feed your redworms all your table scraps and they will eat it, but there are several items that are not recommended for various reasons. Let me explain; all meats are not recommended since they will attract large animals, rodents and it will smell. Dairy products are not recommended since they will also smell. Citrus in large quantities will bring the PH level down too much and stress your redworms. Breads may attract mice, but redworms really like breads and they also bring molds that are very helpful in the compost process (like breaking down citrus rinds). Your redworms are secondary eaters so molds and bacteria (good bacteria) help prepare the food for the redworms. They also eat the mold and bacteria.


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Q: What happens when you use your compost with worms in the yard? Would it be detrimental to plants?

A: All types of worms aerate the soil. Redworms live off the decaying matter and bacteria in the soil so they will not harm live plants at all. Instead they will leave casting for the plants to absorb. Unfortunately it may not be healthy for a large number of redworms to be added into your yard due to the limited amount of decaying matter. A flower garden filled with mulch is ideal. European redworms are very good to add into a garden since they are 18" dwellers. Like native nightcrawlers they consume more leaf litter than redworms so they can survive better in an older mulch (like what you may put in your garden or around trees). Since they dwell in the upper 18" of the soil they are great tillers of the soil for aeration, drainage and nutrient dispersal.