I think in terms of the habitat. My worms never broke up like that. When I split a bin, the new bin has to sit for at least 5 - 7 days before adding worms. Is it possible the bins got too hot? If I could suggest, save the finished VC it is probaly full of cocoons.
My most important bin tool is my thermometer.
Sorry to hear of your troubles. The one time I had liquefying worms [along with the stench of death :-( ] was when I fed too much pineapple to a small colony of worms in a 1 gal. enclosed bin. The living worms were non-responsive and stretched out on the walls, but recovered once I dumped the entire contents into a larger bin. I've since stopped using small or unvented containers. I also feed half of the bin at a time so the worms have room to escape any food scraps that turn out to be harmful for some reason. Is it possible to remove any of the scraps (citrus, etc.) you suspect might cause the problem? Approx. what percentage of your worms are experiencing these symptoms?
Although I did not split an existing bin, I did start 2 bins at the same time from a colony of "wild" worms found in my regular compost bin. I've since read that worms reproduce at higher rates when their population is denser. So I've been consolidating the 2 bins into a single bin. Just something you might consider once you've solved the more immediate problems. It might help grow your colony back a bit faster if they're all together.
Sorry I don't have any more concrete suggestions. Hope someone else has a solution.
Thank you very much for your comment. My flow-through designed worm bin appears to have improved upon some of the weaknesses I had experienced with earlier bins (ie. stackable tray). I was not a fan of the "finished" compost product that I had to work with at the end being the most wet always. This occurred frequently in my tray system. I also did not like the migration effects I had with worms sitting in the bottom tray for a very long time, or even causing the "drain" to plug frequently. I have only been running the large Flow-through a few weeks now, but it appears to not have nearly to drainage (slopping wet compost) problems I had with my stackable.
In my early days I cannot say I really had "die-offs" as I was an insatiable reader of literature on soil chemistry and such (My University degree is actually in Soil Science). I also wanted to "maximize" my worms potential so I experimented with them somewhat trying to encourage better conditions etc for them to consume me garbage and recyclable materials.
As far as protein poisoning... I did have the start of such at one point. It was bad enough that most of my worms started climbing out of some of my bins. Quickly stirring the bin contents with additional paper/cardboard seemed to solve the problem within short order, but I know there was a setback in population density for awhile (so I put some of my compost outside in another bin in winter). I you ever suspect protein poisoning immediately gently stir the compost with some additional shredded paper material. This will absorb some of the moisture and allow the worms to go to areas within the pile that are not as toxic. Air is the solution to many worm bin problems. But it is a balance.
One of my unique problems is the fact that I cannot have my worms outside for most of the year, so I am always looking at ways to work better with indoor solutions (or even heating types).
Welcome to the group. If you ever want to ask something.... don't hesitate.
I think as the weather got warmer, the plastic in the bin got weaker. I also had taken out some of the bars to make VC collection easier. I had a block of ice on top of the bin that day to cool it off, and the bag it was in punctured, making a rivulet down one side. That unbalanced the weight, I think, and that one side folded in just below the bars.
There was some plastic left around the collection area, and a small log in the center as a support, but it just wasn't enough as the bin got fuller.
If I resurrect it, I will have to be careful not to get it anywhere near full, and to let Dear Hubby reinforce it more. And to be very careful to keep it more damp inside. Parts of it were quite dry.
But probably if I do decide to do a flow through again, I will just fork out the cash for a much stronger bin to begin with. The flimsy plastic was just no where near strong enough. I have been looking at Home Depot and the like, and have found much stronger bins for about 60 dollars, but they have lots of grooves around the wheels where lost worms would inevitably collect and die, so I am not sure they would be optimal, even if I wanted to pay that much.
The flow thru did process food and cardboard quickly, but the VC was only medium -finished at the end. Which is fine for my garden, but some people like it more casting-rich. Also the bin dried out quickly, and it was hard to see what the worms were doing all through the bin. But for fast turn over, a flow through can't be beat!
C, check to see if you have the most recent version of Adobe Flash loaded on your browser. You can search "flash plugin" and click on the Adobe website to download the most recent version available for your system. If your computer is older, there may be a limit to what will work.
Cherry; Thanks for the quick reply. I live off of Luther Road in Auburn. I am a volunteer Docent at the Placer Nature Center at the end of Christian Valley Road. I take care of their worms also. All of our vermiculture systems (besides the 4 large compost bins) are the Rubbermaid type containers. Yes, controlling the wetness can be a problem. I chech each system once a week, adding bedding (newspaper strips) when theyare getting too wet.
They say, each 1 pound of worms with eat 1/2 to 1 pound of food each DAY. But I find that mine do not eat that much. That is why I check each week. Some days I do not need to feed them. I am up at the Center usually M-T 8 am till noon or sometimes 1:30 pm. You may call at any time to verify I am up there before you drive up to visit and see our worms.
Next Friday at noon we are having our Docent lunch. I'd like you to be my guest and see the operations up there. Many people our age working to teach school kids about nature, composting, and the ecosystems.
My email is email@example.com or we can chat here. Thanks Richard
The grate for my bin my FIL found at the curb and it's from an old bbq. don't get one that close together tough it should be much wider. This bin does dry up quickly and the worms do fall to the bottom easily so you have to keep contents in the bottom and keep it moist which is a pain. Just to give you some feedback so you can make yours better than mine. Other than that just throwing things in on top and adding more bedding gives you a bin that can handle alot more food scraps.
I’d be careful not to have the bars too close together. It can make harvesting very difficult.
On this one, there is a 2” gap between the bars. Next time I’m going to use 2¼”.
It’s also a good idea to have the bars removable. You sometimes need to take one or two out to get at the stubborn bits.
No comments yet!
You need to be a member of vermicomposters.com to add comments!