|Hi Worm Dude,
I’ve been vermicomposting with a “Worm Factory” for about 6 months with mixed success. If i was starting over today I would definitely have gone with a Worm Inn, but at the time I got my WF I knew very little about the various products on the market and now that I’ve gone down the WF road I’m not willing to jump ship just yet.
Recently I’ve had some new issues that I’m hoping you can help me with. Mainly I’ve got problems with other bugs in my worm bin. I’m wondering a) if I need to take corrective action and b) if I need to change my feeding habits to prevent further issues.
1. I have a mite population. I’ve had mite blooms before and have been able to limit them but putting large watermelon rinds in and letting them swarm on the rinds, then removing a good chunk of the population that way. I know that this is an indication that my environment is too wet and I’m probably overfeeding, so I’m also limiting food.
2. I recently found some maggot-like critters in the middle of my feeding tray. This was rather alarming to me until I discovered that they were actually Black Solder Fly Larvae. I’ve read that these little maggots are harmless to my worms and to my compost, but are they something I should attempt to eliminate? What caused their arrival?
3. When draining my WF I also drained a handful of these other maggot-like creatures. These ones were different than the BSFL and I’ve yet been unable to identify what they are. They are not segmented like a BSFL but move like a caterpillar with no legs. They are transparent in that you can see their organs through their opal skin. And perhaps weirdest of all they have a tail slightly longer than their body that resembles a stinger (though it’s not rigid). I’ve only found them in the Worm Tea that drains from the WF spigot and I’ve only found a few (less than 10), but they seem ominous with their weird skin and weirder tail. Any ideas?
I think I need to adjust my feeding regime. I have basically fed them for the past 6 months on my family’s schedule in that whatever scraps we produced went into the worm bin. This was fine until this summer when the WF became much much wetter with dense mud-like castings. I am guessing this is due to the combination of more watermelon introducing more moisture recently plus the weight of 4 trays compacting the lower compost. Whenever I see commercial vermicompost it is light and airy – how can I replicate that?
After reading through your blog and forums I also think I’ve been providing too little bedding. I’ve added bedding much less frequently than food and am never sure how much I should be adding or how often. My basic bedding medium is newspaper that I’ve shredded through a paper-shredder. I’ve found that if I put a large amount of this newspaper below the food, over time it compacts and becomes clumps of newspaper that I end up having to break up by hand.
What is the bedding to food ratio?
Does the bedding need to be mixed in well with the food?
Do I need to add bedding every time I feed, how much?
Any suggestions to avoid the compacted mud effect I’m getting? (I know, buy a Worm Inn right?!)
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my questions!!