Notes and Troubleshooting
When you feed your worms, be sure to bury the food scraps in the bedding to prevent fruit flies and odors. If the bedding feels dry, mist it periodically with a spray bottle filled with regular tap water. When the bedding is gone, you're ready to harvest your humus and start again.
Harvesting can be accomplished by starting a new bin with fresh bedding and food. Instead of feeding in the old bin, stack the old bin on top of the new one. The worms will work their way through the bottom ventilation holes and into the new bin, drawn by the new food. Make sure bins are a snug fit so light does not show through. Otherwise, your worms may huddle in dark areas of the old bin, rather than moving to the new one. Alternatively, you can dump your bins onto a tarp and manually move worms to their new home. Be sure to also move cocoons so new worms can hatch in the new bin.
To prevent worms from escaping your bins, keep them on a solid surface such as a concrete pad, table, or other surface off the ground and feed them regularly. This will help keep worms from burrowing out of the bin through the ventilation holes in search of fresh food. If you notice worms escaping, this generally means conditions in the bin are not to their liking. This could be the result of too much moisture, lack of food, or poor air flow.
Vary the bedding used for better nutrition. In addition to damp newspaper, you can use aged manure, shredded dead leaves, dead plants, or even sawdust.
If bedding becomes too compact during composting, this usually indicates higher moisture than needed. Mix in dry bedding and fluff. Worms need air ventilation. Lifting and fluffing compacted bedding and mixing in drier bedding stabilizes moisture levels, provides air circulation, and will reduce odors.
On average, it takes approximately 2 to 3 months for worms to use up their bedding, depending on the material. To keep worms healthy, harvest humus at least every 75 days and store in plastic bags until needed.
Moisture levels and air circulation are the most important factors for healthy worms, besides food. If food sits too long, stop feeding until all food is consumed. Rotting food adds to moisture levels. High moisture can drown worms. Likewise, poor air circulation contributes to bad odors and high moisture levels. Periodically check ventilation holes and turn bin contents to encourage good air flow.