Friday, September 2, 2011

Crawing Worms

It's time to post some recent questions or problems I've been contacted about.

My Worms Are Crawling!

One of my customers in South Carolina called the other day.  His worms were crawling out and he'd lost most of the worms.  After quizzing him, I determined that his worms were crawling because his bedding had "heated up".   Read on to learn the reasons why worm bedding heats up and how to avoid it. 

Fix It Immediately!

First, my advice to South Carolina was:

  • Remove any remaining worms and
  • Hold them in a container with moistened peat moss and/or shredded paper until he can
  • Mix up new bedding to replace the hot stuff, then
  • Return the worms to the new bedding

Hot Worm Bedding?

Heat will kill your worms, whether it's from the weather or from the bedding becoming "hot".  Bedding heats up  from excess microbial activity occurring in "fresh" organic content or grain.

Think of a compost heap.  It needs to "heat up" in order for the organic materials to break down and make rich compost for your garden.  To do this, you layer the pile with  green and brown materials.  Fresh horse manure or fresh grass clippings are your green materials and straw or dead leaves serve as the brown materials.  Not enough green and too much brown  and your pile will not heat up.

Reverse the situation with your worm bedding.  If you use horse manure, cow manure, or grass clippings that have not "aged" enough, your bed will heat up once you add moisture to it.  The only way to ensure your worm bedding materials have "aged" sufficiently (i.e., the microbial activity has reached it's peak and died down) is to pile up the bedding, moisten it and wait.

It's simple:  If the bedding is not aged enough, it will heat up; if it's aged, it won't.  Always wait before adding your worms to freshly mixed bedding to avoid cooking your worms or finding them all over your floor, dead and dying.

Worm Farm Resources:

Find out more about worm farming in my Worm Farm Manual.

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