worms not eating much and won't move up

by Joanie
(Columbus OHIO)

Hi. I started my vermiculture over 5 months ago with healthy wrigglers gifted from a friend, plus bought stackable (3 trays) composting system.

I set up the base as instructed with coco coir etc. and worms have multiplied and look healthy, after 2-3 months added the second 'bin' just for food scraps.

The worms aren't eating a ton of the food unless I pulse it in a food processor, but then they create so much leachate! So been using 1 inch food pieces but still seems wet and they aren't eating as much or producing more castings plus won't move up.(a few move up but there are a lot of springtails in that food bin).

Should I add a third tray and try feeding from there? I use shredded brown paper bags as the paper.

Also, worms are going to the lowest 'leachate' area and drowning! I removed the spout so now just the hole there and even then gets clogged w/worms. Are they swimming?

By basement (where the bin is) is not hot....nice temp in low 70's or high 60's
Any ideas?

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Jun 30, 2024
worms not eating much and won't move up
by: Pauly

Hello Joanie,

This is typical with adding food scraps. Anytime kitchen scraps are are added, they need to be fed in moderation and in pockets under the bedding or castings.

Depending on how many worm you have, determines how much food to add.

Always add plenty of carbon (as you mentioned, shredded browns) of about 20:1 C:N ratio(carbon to nitrogen) until you know how your worms (and the species) will consume it.

I would pull out any kitchen scraps that you can and add plenty more carbon. Sprinkle in minerals, if you have any, such as Azomite or ground (powdered) eggshells or agricultural lime.

Let the worm bin settle down for a bit until the springtails, spider mites, etc are at low levels.

You should never have any leachate. This is something that takes some time to learn. Adding only small handfuls at a time, and in pockets will help avoid the dripping of leachate.

If you have 1 pound of worms, add a couple of handfuls of kitchen waste that is NOT juicy.

If juicy, squeeze out the excess liquids and feed. If you see too much leachate again, add plenty of dry carbon to soak it up.

Adding thick wet sheets of newsprint to the bottom of the first tray will help keep your worm out of the bottom ("basement") where the leachate collects.

Leachate can be very nasty and smell and often times harmful to plants. Throw it out.

All of this plus tons more is in The Worm Farming Revolution book and even in my Free worm Farming Guide online.

Free Worm Farming Guide

The Worm Farming Revolution

I hope you get this resolved, but it will take some patience.


Jun 30, 2024
by: Joanie

Thanks I will try everything you mentioned here though. I don’t have the azomite or lime or anything like that. I do have sand. Would that work?

Jul 03, 2024
Adding sand in a worm bin NEW
by: Pauly

I would not add sand as it really doesn't serve any purpose in a worm bin.

In a garden, yes, but not a worm bin.

Sand is tiny pieces of silicon quartz and worms will not easily or even consume it. It is much larger than a mineral, flour mesh.

Eggshells is generally the easiest mineral to have on hand and grind to a powder after baking in an oven.

Other than minerals offsetting the low PH, just keep using a lot of carbon.


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