Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Does red worm composting smell?
No, redworm compost should not smell at all. If you've noticed an odd smell, this is likely due to lack of oxygen within the compost, caused by too much moisture or compression. To resolve this, make sure you've mixed enough bedding material with your food debris. Plastic redworm bins are more prone this problem, since they don't soak in and disperse fluids.
Q: How many red worms should I start with?
This depends on how much food waste you will have each week. Your redworms will eat half their body weight each day. A pound of redworms will consume 3 to 4 lbs in a week. I recommend saving your food waste for a full week, weighing it, and basing your starting number of redworms off of that total.
Q: I started my bin and some of the redworms are crawling out, what do I do?
Worms in a new bin may scurry, until they get used to their new home. Be sure you have the proper balance of food and bedding (ie newspaper, leaves or sawdust). I recommend keeping a small light on above the compost, to keep them beneath the surface. Within a few days, they will settle in. If you continue to have trouble, try adding fresh compost to your bin. This may help them feel more comfortable.
Q: If I buy a pound of red worms, is that weight all red worms?
Depending on your supplier, yes. I can only speak for myself and my direct suppliers - but yes. When you buy a pound of redworms, that weight should not include the soil. This should be roughly two cups volume of worms, at roughly 1000 worms per pound. However, this can vary from 500 to 15,000 depending on the maturity and size of each worm.
Do not buy a pound of dirt with redworms, your shipping weight for a pound of worms should be two pounds.
Additionally, suppliers will often blame shipping if you receive less than your purchase weight. I ship in a damp peat moss, which helps the redworms retain their fluids through that process.
Q: Can my bin sit in direct sunlight?
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. 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.
Q: Is it too cold in the winter to have my compost outside?
Never, I composted with redworms in Alaska! As long as the center of your compost doesn't freeze, your redworms will survive. I would recommend determining how deep the ground freezes in winter, since this would be a solid indicator of how far in on all sides your compost may reach freezing temperatures. Having an aerobic vermicompost comes in handy in colder weather, because the bacteria create heat as they eat. However, this can't be counted on for long periods of time. In exceptionally cold regions, indoor composting may be best.
Q: Will my worms multiply too fast for me to contain them? Will I have to give some away periodically?
I have yet to see a bin that has too many worms, as long as you've selected the right bin size based on weight. Your redworms will reproduce according to how much food they are getting. The more worms you have the faster your compost will turn into castings. If 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 ones will die off.
Q: Your site says worms eat table scraps - is there anything I should exclude?
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:
- Meat and dairy products will attract large animals, rodents and it will smell as they decompose.
-Too much citrus will lower the PH level, which will cause stress for your redworms.
- Breads may attract mice, but they also bring molds that help break down rinds within the decomposition process, so this may be a worthwhile trade-off.
Q: What happens when you use your compost with worms in the yard? Would it be detrimental to plants?
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.
European redworms are best for gardens since they dwell in the upper 18" of soil. Because of this, they consume more leaf litter than redworms, surviving better in an older mulch. Additionally, they till the soil for aeration, drainage and nutrient dispersal.
However, it may not be healthy for a large number of redworms to live in your yard due to limited decaying matter. A flower garden filled with mulch is ideal.
Q: If you have a question that you weren't able to find an answer for, let us know!