Sunday, July 19, 2009


I think i got interested in worms about 20 years ago (late 1980's)when i went to a worm seminar in Adelaide. It looked at medium scale worm farming for profit. If i remember correctly it was a scheme where you paid a sum of money, They help you to get set up and offer advise and then you can sell your worms back the same man. It wasn't really an option for me at the time, but it did spark an interest which has been on going ever since.

My first worms came about 15years ago (early 1990's)when i bought a Reln Worm Factory. I loved that thing. I read the little instruction book from cover to cover several times (no Internet back then). It did work, in that the worms did multiply but i never really progressed to get that top tray on and working. and i never did any harvesting of castings either. I felt the bottom tray was always full of precious worms i couldn't harvest.

I kept them out the back under the verandah and one hot night i went out to check on them and found they were in the process of vacating. No kidding they were every where up the walls on the ground, everywhere. It was just too hot in there. That's also when i realised i had too many in there its a wonder they could even breath. I dint know why i just didn't buy another one. Probably because i still hadn't got anything out of the first one yet.

I also lost the lot one time by putting the food over the entire surface area and that caused it to heat up as well.

I leave it a few years, (late 1990's)pull the thing out of the shed, scrub it up a bit. Start again, this time i lose interest and let the thing dry out... worms again. I think i did that twice.

We moved to Queensland in 2005 and in 2008 i try again. Pretty determined this time. I buy one of those big worm farms this time, with the little sliding doors at the bottom to get the castings out. The 2000 worms i buy from Bunnings are really slow to start. My initial bedding is not deep enough. Every time i try to get some castings, I pull out worms as well.

I decide i need to go bigger, more worms equals more food consumed and more castings produced. A Christmas holiday project 2008 sees me buying four big fishing tubs, I drill holes, install taps ect. I have new knowledge now from the Internet. I order 8000 juvenile worms 1.2kg from Kizan worms online and now i dreaming of being a weekend worm farmer, with the worms themselves being the main product.

Today i harvested 2kg of worms for a new bed, i have two big tubs of castings set aside to hatch cocoons and then finally ...i have my first castings. And guess what? plenty more where that came from .......I have a long way to go. but stay tuned and we'll see.


  1. Hi Robyn,
    Congrats on starting your blog!! I'm always interested in others experiences with their worms. Good or bad! How are we going to learn if we don't try this and that?
    One thing I'd like to know: Where do you find your cocoons at in your bins? Are they usually in the "cleaner" top layers or more towards the bottom of the bin? I've never seen any cocoons in mine but I always see lots of babies. I don't really like tearing the whole bin apart to look.
    Another question I have is: Should I take all the material out once in a while and stir it up? I never have, I've just kept adding more food/bedding to the top. So the bottom of the bin is pretty thick with a solid mix of castings and old bedding that hasn't broken down all the way.
    I'd appreciate any advice you can give me on this. I also hope you don't mind if I bend your ear often with questions and comments!!
    Take care and I LOVE YOUR SITE!!!!

  2. Hi Selene,

    oooooh! how exciting my first follower.

    Thankyou for your interest. i am happy to share my wormy experiences with you and the wide world.

    I don't think you would find too many cocoons at the bottom of your bin simply because the worms have not been active in that location for a while. Any that were there would have hatched and made their way to the top. I wouldn’t worry that you cant see the cocoons, the fact that you can see the babies means they are doing well. They are hard to spot if your not sure what to look for.

    When i harvested my worms last weekend i did notice the cocoons seem to be more concentrated in certain pockets of the bed. I assume this is because this would have been an area that previously would have high concentrate of food. It is in these areas that the worms mass together. It makes sense that this is where they deposit the cocoons as well. Then the next feed will be in a different spot in bed and the worms will move on leaving the cocoons behind.

    You should definitely stir things up once and while. This will add oxygen to the bedding and bring to the top some of that unprocessed bedding so the worms can get to work on that too. It also stops the castings from getting too compacted and allows the worms to easily move around. I do this about once or twice a month maybe. I can understand you don’t want to stress the little guys out. But they really do benefit from turning the bedding. How long have you had them? It sounds like you could harvest the castings soon.
    I hope this has helped.

  3. Hey Robyn,
    I've only had my bin since the end of May. I bought 1lb of worms and the bin is 16x13x12". I kinda got shorted on the amount of worms. I counted them and only received 500 instead of the approx 1000 I've heard it should have been. There were lots of juvies and not many adults. I was kinda surprised by this since the company I bought them from has an excellent reputation. Oh well! At least they were real healthy so I try not to complain.
    Anyway, as far as harvesting the bin is concerned, I didn't think I'd had it long enough for this. And if I do harvest it, it would only be the bottom layers that are ready. The way I do it is that whenever I feed them, about once a week, I also add in more bedding. The level has always dropped enough for me to add at least another 3-4" of bedding. I have no idea when I should stop adding more bedding and just let them work on what they've got. Another problem I have is that I've got a lot of soldier fly larvaes in my bins. They eat up the food pretty fast but from what I've read they're not a problem creature. That they're actually beneficial to the worms. The worms will eat their castings so they don't go hungry. If you've got any advice on this I'd love to hear it!

    Thanks for telling me about stirring up the bin. I had no idea I should be doing this. And the worms actually seem to prefer staying down in the muck more than in the cleaner layers. What do you think about that? And I'm talking about the majority of the worms are down there!

    Well, I know what I'm gonna be doing tomorrow!! I'll be dumping out my bins and stirring things up a bit!!

    Thanks Robyn,

  4. Hi Selene,

    Did you really count your worms? You just might be crazier than me. I guess with only about 500 worms the whole thing is going to be a little slower to start but with patients you will get there. They do multiply pretty quickly.

    You are right you have not had them long enough to be ready to harvest yet. I am trying to get a picture in my head of what your system looks like. What do use for bedding material? and how deep is it? Do you have one of those 4 tray systems where the worms will eat their way to the top level, or is it just a single tub? As far as why the majority of your worms are down in bottom layers of the bin i am not sure. Basically the worms will go to where conditions are right for them. Trust me if they don't like it in there they will try to leave. These worms are surface feeders and i know that in my beds although you will find worms through out the bed the majority of them will be in the top 10cm/4-5in as this is where the food is. So in my system the cleaner unprocessed bedding material would be at the bottom. Did you read my post "Worm bed maintenance" this pretty much describes how i do it. When i see that all the bedding material has been processed and has changed color, this is the time to harvest.

    Now about your fly problem. Forgive me but I’m not sure which flies are "solider flys". Are the little ones that like to hang around the fruit bowl? I do know all the living organisms in the bin will only help the worms break down the food. So no harm to the worms, However i did find some gross gigantic maggots in there once which i found to be really smelly. I took them all out as i was afraid of what they would mutate into and they were also spoiling my enjoyment of the whole worm experience. Putting wet hessian bags over the entire surface area will stop flies laying maggots in the food. I haven’t really had any problems this area. I do find giant white grubs in the compost bin and in the worm bed. These end up a tasty treat for the chooks.

  5. Hi Robyn,
    Sorry I haven't written lately.
    To answer your questions, I have a single bin. Not the 4-tier type. It's about 12" deep. I've been taking your advice and aerating them. I did my smaller bin first. It didn't take much time to do it but the larger bin is taking forever. Of course, it's not helping that I'm counting the worms as I go;-}!! Yes, I know,I'm crazy!! But how am I gonna know where I am with them if I don't know how many I have now compared to what I started with?!
    One question I've got for you is this:
    When do you stop feeding them and stop adding more bedding and let them work on the material they already have? It's not gonna get all broken down if I don't stop at some point. I just don't know when I'm supposed to do this.
    Soldier flies are ones that look like small wasps. Not sure if you have them where you're at. They're hard to keep out of bins here. My bins are inside but I put them together and let them age outside until my worms arrived. So the flies got in at that time and laid their hundreds of eggs! They're really no big deal except when they go for a walk-about. My boyfriend swears they're slimey and won't touch one. They're NOT slimey and he's just a wuss!!

    What are chooks? I'm assuming it's some kind of bird?
    Anyway, take care!!

  6. Hi Selene,

    I know what you mean by wanting to know how many worms you have. i have done the same thing when harvesting castings, I weigh mine before popping them into the new bed. I pulled out another 500g about 2000 to get my niece started with worms last weekend. Aerating the bed doesn't have to be a big deal though. Just grab a hand trowel and gently turn it over. I’m pretty sure this could be done in about 30sec flat.

    With regard to when to stop feeding them.... well, never. With regard to adding bedding, well 12inches sounds deep enough, so not sure why you do this anyway, your volume will still grow because food is bedding as well, and if it becomes a little compacted then it's time to aerate again. When all the bedding material is thoroughly worked through, and looks like a nice black soil like product. Then time to harvest the whole lot and start two new beds. It would probably be about 8-10 months before you even get anything out of it, especially with only 500 worms to start. What are you using for bedding material by the way? I kinda wish i could just pop over to visit. Where are you by the way? Rockhampton is right on the tropic of Capricorn. It’s the middle of winter here now but the day time temps are around 26deg C or 80deg F, pretty nice for worms actually.

    If the soldier flies are like wasps, do they sting or bite or anything? And once they morph into the fly. Do they just fly away or hang around like its a hive. The grubs i find in mine are pure white, about as thick as a pencil and are around 2-3cm long. This is what makes great food for the chooks or in your language... chickens. I laughed my head off at your question about what chooks are. I guess i didn’t realise it was such a uniquely Australian term.

    I hope this helps..and keep letting me how it all going.