Frequently Asked Questions

How much will my worms eat?

How can I help the worms to eat more?

What should I feed my worms?

Can I feed my worms garden refuse?

I’ve had my Tumbleweed Worm Factory for nearly a month now, but the worms don’t seem to be eating.

Should I add water to the Tumbleweed Worm Factory?

Will I get too many worms?

Can I put compost worms in the garden?

What should I not put in my worm farm?

Why aren’t the worms moving up from the lower levels into the top working tray?

What about severe temperatures?

If it’s raining and the worms seem to be gathering on the lid, what should I do?

Are the little worms in my Tumbleweed Worm Factory baby earthworms?

How do I keep ants out of my worm factory?

Will the worm factory attract flies?

What about maggots?

Will the Worm Factory Smell?

What about holidays?

My worms are in the collector tray.

Can I use my Factory as an Animal Manure Converter?

 

How much will my worms eat?

This depends on how many worms you have. Worms can eat up to their own body weight every day and can double their population every 6-8 weeks. If you start your factory with 1000 mature worms (identify mature worms by a distinct ring shaped swelling around their body) they will consume up to 250 grams of scraps per day. After a few months you should have 2000 worms and you can feed them more. The baby worms, however, won’t eat much and will take about 3 months to mature. As you become familiar with them you will learn their rate of food consumption.

 

How can I help the worms to eat more?

Worms will feed at a faster rate once they have adapted to any new food source. Worms will eat more if kitchen scraps are mashed, blended or food processed. Controlling temperature to around 24 degrees will improve the overall performance of your system. Worms will leave very acid food such as onions and orange peels until after they have eaten their preferred foods. A handful of garden lime every few weeks will help balance the effect of acid foods. The regular addition of worm fattener will encourage stronger, fatter worms,. Since they consume up the their own body weight each day, the fatter they are the more water they will eat.

 

What should I feed my worms?

Be careful what you feed your worms particularly if you are unaware of its source. Manures, for example, from horses, cattle, dogs often have vermicides still active in it that were designed to kill parasitic worms in the animal. They can kill all your worms in one day. We recommend that you allow all manures to age before you use them.

 

Can I feed my worms garden refuse?

Not usually. Your Reln Worm Factory is designed to break down soft organic waste. Slow composting organic wastes such as garden refuse are best dealt with by conventional aerobic composting methods.

 

I’ve had my Tumbleweed Worm Factory for nearly a month now, but the worms don’t seem to be eating.

The worms may be eating the bedding material if you have used manure or compost in addition to your Tumbleweed Worm Factory Bedding Block. If that is the case the worms will eat through this before eating any introduced food. If just the bedding block is used the worms should readily eat introduced food faster.

 

Should I add water to the Tumbleweed Worm Factory?

Watering the Tumbleweed Worm Factory will enhance the production of liquid fertilizer. Food wastes are about 80% water, which is released as the worms break them down. This will tend to stay in the bedding for a long time before eventually draining out. If you pour a bucket of water over the Hessian and each week or two and place an empty bucket under the open tap, you will have a constant supply of liquid fertilizer. The sudden “flood” will not harm the worms but will simulate a heavy rainfall. Any dry material such as newspaper or cardboard should be pre-soaked before being added to the Tumbleweed Worm Factory. It is important to keep a moist Hessian bag or wet newspaper over the freshly added food to encourage the worms to move up to feed off the surface. This will provide a dark damp shelter form them.

 

Will I get too many worms?

No, you can never have too many worms. They self regulate their population to the confines of available space and the amount of food you give them. Worm concentration should reach capacity (about 15,000 to 20,000 worms) after 2-5 years.

 

Can I put compost worms in the garden?

Compost worms can be put into the garden only if it has a thick surface layer of mulch on your garden beds. Compost worms require moist conditions all year round because they don’t tunnel deep like pasture worms to find moisture. If you cannot provide this environment in your garden, don’t introduce compost worms.

 

What should I not put in my worm farm?

Never add chemicals of any sort, nor super phosphate or any other prepared fertilizers.

No excess of citrus fruit, onion scraps or red peppers etc (perhaps in moderation is finely chopped and mixed well with other food e.g. grass clippings).

Avoid ripened weed seeds, also meat and bones as they may encourage flies.

 

Why aren’t the worms moving up from the lower levels into the top working tray?

This situation could arise in two ways. First, you may be adding new food too soon before the worms can eat the previous food. This will result in a lot of uneaten food being distributed through the system and a general reluctance by the worms to migrate upwards whilst they can still access food lower in the system. Before adding new trays, stop feeding the worms for a least a week to ensure that all existing food has been eaten. Worms will then move up to consume food from the surface, as this is their natural behavior pattern. Secondly, you may not have waited for the level of worm casting to pass the line on the inside of the tray before adding the next tray. This will create a gap preventing the worm from reaching the top trays.

 

What about severe temperatures?

Worms will tolerate a wide temperature range from about 10—30 degrees C. If it gets much hotter than this make sure the Tumbleweed Worm Factory is in a shady cool position. Take the lid off and hose the whole unit down keeping the bottom drainage tap turned on. If you live in an area that suffers from frosts, put your Tumbleweed Factory in the warmest possible position, an example being your laundry, garage or shed. If it is on a balcony or in the backyard then cover the unit with a couple of old blankets, to keep some warmth in it. Feed them a lot more food waste which will create some extra warmth as it decomposes.

 

If it’s raining and the worms seem to be gathering on the lid, what should I do?

What you are noticing is the worms sensitivity to pressure changes in the weather. They will often go up into the lid even before it rains. In nature, this takes them out of the soil to stop them drowning should it flood. Move the Tumbleweed Worm Factory out of the rain. Take the worms out of the lid and replace them in the bedding.

 

Are the little worms in my Tumbleweed Worm Factory baby earthworms?

No, baby earthworms are no white, but clear to opaque, before developing a reddish color. They are just visible at this stage. The ‘white worm’ you are noticing is a type of worm called entrachydids. They will not hurt the compost worms but they do indicate acidic conditions, which can be overcome by the regular addition of a handful of lime. By placing a piece of moist bread in your worm factory, you can also lure the white worms to a small area for easy removal.  It is important to note that many organisms that may appear in your worm factory (such as large populations of minute mites and large soldier fly larvae) are beneficial to the breakdown of organic material, so there is no need to remove them.

 

How do I keep ants out of my worm factory?

Ants will enter your worm factory if you have a lot of them in your backyard and particularly if you have let the bedding become dry or acidic. Add water to raise the moisture and add a liberal quantity of garden lime to where the ants are gathering. This should discourage them. If they persist remove them physically and smear some Vaseline around the legs of the worm farm or  place each leg in a container of water to isolate the system.

 

Will the worm factory attract flies?

No the worm factory is fly proof against household flies. Sometimes the very small vinegar fly (often mistaken for the fruit fly) gets in, but these do no harm. However, very large numbers of the vinegar fly may indicate that you are feeding the worm factory too much and may prelude to problems such as offensive odors. To eradicate vinegar flies, slow your rate of feeding to what the worms will eat on a daily basis.

 

What about maggots?

Should you experience any influx of maggots, it will most likely be the soldier fly larvae The soldier fly larvae grow up to an inch big starting out white but soon turning dark gray with distinct ribbing bands. Fisherman say they make great bait. The vinegar fly larvae are small, usually 1/4 inch or less. Don’t be too alarmed if they appear. They  are actually beneficial to the waste breakdown. If you want to remove them though, do so by liberally applying lime or placing bread soaked in milk on the surface of the compost. Larvae love bread and should infest it. Remove the bread after 2-3 days and dispose of it.

 

Will the Worm Factory Smell?

The only smell associated with a well maintained worm factory is a pleasant rainforest odor. If your worm factory has an offensive smell, it is an indication that the anaerobic bacteria have built up in the system of uneaten food wastes. Stop feeding the worms and stir the waste in the top tray lightly with a garden fork adding lime as well. This aerates the organic material and allows the worms to move through it more easily. Repeat this aeration procedure regularly to prevent recurrence. Start feeding again when all the smells are gone.

 

What about holidays?

Leaving an established Tumbleweed Worm Factory for 3-4 weeks without constantly adding food is no problems. Just feed the worms with a good quantity of food waste (1/3 of a tray full) before you leave. Make sure that you leave the unit in a cool place under cover and leave the tap open with a container under it. Putting a soaked newspaper on top of your Hessian will give it added protection against their bedding drying out.

 

My worms are in the collector tray.

There are many reasons why the worms will move down into the collector tray. To encourage the worm to return to the first working tray a standard ice cream container upside down in the centre of the collector Tray on top of a newspaper and covered by newspaper, will provide the worms a path from the collector tray preventing the worms from drowning.

 

Can I use my Factory as an Animal Manure Converter?

The Tumbleweed Factory works very well with animal manures. You will need about 500 -1000 worms for each small to medium dog and at least 1000 for each large dog. Vegetable scraps and dog manures do not mix well together, so you will need a separate factory for each operation