Mistakes made, first timer.

by Sarah-lee
(Perth, Australia)

Hi there,

I started my worm cafe about a month or so ago. My other half took the frozen scraps (I read that if you freeze them, then defrost, they'll turn mushy and easier for the worms to eat) without defrosting and dumped them in top of my newspaper layers.

I didn't check it for a week, and now have an infestation (it's seriously disgusting) of tiny white maggots.

They don't look like Black Soldier Fly maggots.. so I'm assuming they're fruit fly maggots perhaps?
Now it smells and the worms are trying to escape/have disappeared.

So I added another tier of newspaper, soil and compost conditioner to the bottom, a safe place for remaining worms..

ALOT of compost conditioner to the infested one, placed on top. Turned the soil as much as I could without retching and added dry leaves, soil with some sand and paper. Then I added an empty tier with compost condition all over on top and left the lid half off to try dry it out a bit.

Are my worms going to be ok? Have I done the right thing?

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Feb 06, 2017
Worm Farming Mistakes for First Timer
by: Paul

Hello Sarah-Lee,

This is very common with beginners, so don't feel too badly.

I'm not sure what you read about placing food (generally kitchen-type scraps) on top, whether frozen or not.

Your article may have stated to bury the scraps under a few inches of bedding (carbon material like, plenty of shredded newspaper or cardboard) which helps keep the odor from escaping. This attracts a lot of unwanted organisms that'll have a party in the decaying scraps.

I generally tell beginners to only feed in a couple of areas and small handfuls at a time.

Worms can only consume so much food at a time, especially when starting out with 1 or 2 pounds.

Mimicking nature is the best way to compost with worm when just starting out. The forest floor is mostly decaying carbon and some nitrogen. This is why we use a C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio of 20:1 give or take a few. This is what worms really like, for a number of reason.

You can certainly work your way up to higher rations of nitrogen, but over a period of time other organisms may get out of control again.

Adding too much nitrogen-rich foods causes the system to become anaerobic and too acidic. This is why you worms have "moved south" or died off somewhat.

You can still freeze the food, but only add small amounts of it under the carbon bedding or newspaper blanket after it thaws.

Follow these steps:

1. Take out some big pieces of food scraps, as much as you can.

2. Replace with moist shredded carbon. Understand that the carbon is still food for the worms. This will also soak up some of the acidic liquids.

3. Add some ground minerals like, eggshell or agricultural lime, Azomite, Dolomite, etc. It doesn't need to be all of those, just one. But you surely can add them all. 1 Tablespoon per Sq Ft.

3. Add a moist newsprint blanket (3 sheets or so) or a moist cardboard blanket.

4. Bring your surviving worms up into the new bedding.

You'll need to wait a couple of weeks for the maggots or other pests to complete there cycles to see a lot of improvement, but you should see improvement the next day.

Whew! Hope all turns out okay. In the Meantime, I've put together a free guide for worm farming beginners which is a prelude to the Worm Farming Revolution book.

Here's the link to the free guide:

Thanks for writing. You'll get better and better as time goes on. At least you didn't kill them off completely like I did my first time.

Pretty soon your friends will be saying, "Nobody does it like Sarah-Lee" ;)

Sorry I REALLY COULDN'T HELP MYSELF :) Bet you never heard that before :/

All the best,

Mar 21, 2017
Regarding the "maggots"
by: Cathy

It is possible that you got a boat load of pot worms if it is kept indoors. Outside it could be fly larvae but I wouldn't think so. Pot worms can be very prolific when the bin gets too wet from food or liquids. When I get them I squish them so they don't get an overgrowth in the bin. They seem to like carbohydrates also like bread or oats. Unfortunately so do the worms.

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