Did you know that it is rational to convert food waste to gold in agriculture? No, we are not discussing alchemy here; rather, we are discussing worm farming. Now, in an era when pesticides are laden with chemicals, we have developed a method for rapidly producing natural and effective fertilizer.
Vermicomposting, or worm farming, is an environmentally friendly, long-lasting, and very efficient method of producing nutrient-dense compost for gardening. Worm farming offers many advantages to urban farmers and is a very reasonable method to meet their fertilizer requirements.
Therefore, should water be added to a worm farm? You should! Weekly, add 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of water to your worm farm. Fill the top working tray equally with water and allow it to drip through, moistening the whole worm farm. This is particularly critical during warmer times (25+ Celsius / 77+ Fahrenheit) to maintain the worms’ comfort and health.
Let us go to the process of raising worms in your garden, specifically to the point where many home farmers get perplexed, namely, how much water to apply to grow a competent worm farm.
Why Should I Monitor My Worm Farm’s Moisture Content?
Worms, in general, like and flourish in a fairly wet environment that should be 70% humid. To begin, they thrive in moist environments by consuming oxygen and excreting carbon dioxide. Secondly, they need water in order to breathe through their skins.
Maintaining an optimal mix of water and air in the worm farm is critical to its success. Worms are prone to dehydration, and their skin is designed to remain always wet. As a result, it is essential to monitor the moisture level of the bedding on a frequent basis.
Professional worm growers often use a hydrometer to monitor the worm farm’s moisture level. The procedure is simple; you just insert the gadget into a section of bedding that contains a few worms.
When the measurement is complete, a value in the damp range will display. That is about four to eight.
This is not to say that you should immediately get a hydrometer if you want to conduct vermicomposting in your garden. You can simply determine the moisture level in your compost bin using a few hacks, determining if the worms are drying out or the bedding is excessively wet.
How Much Water Do I Need for My Worm Farm?
To begin, the container or area designated for worm farming should be sufficiently wet to maintain the muck loosely packed. Ascertain that the soil does not get too moist. This puts the worms at danger of drowning.
If water leaks from the mattress when squeezed, this is a negative indication. Additionally, take care of the bedding in terms of wetness, since it should never be dry and should always be at least 80 percent damp.
Additionally, the food scraps you feed to your worm farm include water components that mix with the bedding and stay there, contributing to its moisture retention. However, the need to add water persists. Under typical conditions, add 5 litres of water to your worm farm once a week to keep it wet and healthy.
Water and moisture addition to the worm farm is critical to the worm farming process. While the moisture content of the bedding may vary over time, it is critical that you pay attention to it here. Whenever you sense the soil is becoming dry, add water or spritz it.
Consider washing clothing. They do not drip water, but are wet and contain saturated water. The same is true for the bedding used in worm farming.
Avoid flooding the water to the point that the worming farm becomes muddy.
How to Evade Severe Weather?
Under severe weather conditions, your worm farm will need a little more attention. Enhance your farm’s moisture level, particularly during the hotter seasons, by providing adequate water and keeping it wet.
The excess water may be drained via the faucet, and this water acts as a rich liquid fertilizer for you.
Additionally, dry items like as newspaper and cardboard may be used to keep the bedding wet. These should be soaked and placed in layers between the bedding. This hack will prevent your worm farm from ever getting completely dry.
Keep your worm farm in a shaded, cool location during hot seasons to prevent it from drying out. You may maintain the moisture level using food scraps or water. If the temperature in the bin reaches 95° Fahrenheit, the worms suffer and die, and they migrate to cooler regions of the bin.
Maintain your worm farm in the hottest possible location during cold weather, since worms cannot live below about 40° Fahrenheit.
The Signs That Your Worm Farm Is Dying
As is, a worm need moisture to survive. Therefore, if your farm’s moisture level is too low, a worm’s body will dry up, and all the worms will eventually suffocate and die. Maintaining an equilibrium of air and moisture is critical to vermicomposting, and everything is dependent on it.
To keep the worm farm healthy, the carbon-nitrogen ratio should be carefully monitored. Inadequate food production on the farm may also result in decreased moisture levels. Additionally, the hot, dry weather conditions can dehydrate your worm bin.
The following are indications that your worm farm is dehydrating:
- Reduced worm population in your farm
- There is no leaking of water as a result of squeezing the compost.
- Inadequate worm tea
- Infestation of ants
Symptoms of an Overly Wet Worm Farm
Worm farms may get excessively moist and odorous if the drain faucet at the bottom of your vermicomposting bin becomes clogged with castings or dead worms.
You should determine whether this is the cause of your container being too moist each week. You may remove the obstruction using a piece of thin wire.
Alternatively, if the tap continues to get clogged on a regular basis, you may consider removing it entirely. Because the water added to the compost is unable to reach the bottom layer owing to such obstructions. As a consequence, producing no liquid fertilizer will be ineffective for the worm farm.
The following are signs that your worm farm is excessively moist:
- A revolting odor emanating from the vermicomposting bin or farm as a result of an imbalance in the acid content
- While squeezing a handful of compost, water drips between your fingers.
- Instead of being plump and healthy, the worms become pallid and thin.
- Signs of segmented white maggots in your worm farm, which are soldier fly larvae
Methods for Eliminating Extra Moisture from Your Worm Farm
If your worming farm is muddy and stagnant, oxygen levels will drop and the worms will drown. The concept of a worm farm will fail immediately. However, the issue of standing water in a worm farm is very simple to resolve.
The following are possible solutions for excess wetness on your farm:
Make Use of Dry Bedding
Add two handfuls of dry bedding to the farm; for instance, you may use coconut coir or pure peat moss. Gently mix it in without harming the worms.
Corrugated cardboard or ink paper
Additionally, you may use shredded ink paper or cardboard to absorb excess moisture and protect your worming farm.
Blow it up
Opening the lid and blowing the container with a fan may also assist, but you must open a shine at the tray to keep the worms contained.
Avoid Using Food Scraps
Until the issue is resolved, refrain from introducing food scraps that have a high water content.
Leaves that Have Withered
Additionally, some dried leaves or fiber will function similarly to a compost lump in terms of reducing moisture.
Factors Critical to Worm Raising
Numerous variables play a major role within the worm bin and also have an effect on its health. These considerations include the following:
Temperature or other meteorological conditions
- Scraps of food
- Adequate ventilation
Always check to see whether these items are in good condition before attempting to repair your composting bin or resolving any problem.
Leachate from Worm Farms: Harmful or Not?
Leachate from a worm farm, often known as worm tea, is the liquid that drains from the bottom of your worm bin. Human involvement is required entirely to steep worm castings in water and create the fertilizer. Not all microorganisms in your worm bin, however, are beneficial.
When your worm farm’s circumstances are not optimal, that is, when it is either too dry or too moist. The dangerous bacteria in the worm tea will very certainly outweigh the beneficial bacteria. This results in the presence of toxic poisons in the leachate.
Additionally, leachate may be acidic, anaerobic, or helpful to plants when used as a liquid fertilizer.
How to Maintain an Appropriate Moisture Level in Worm Bin Bedding
Worms need wetness to breathe oxygen through their skin. Suffocation occurs when a worm’s skin dries up. Similarly, if the moisture content of the worm bin bedding is excessive, the worms will drown. Additionally, when circumstances are too moist, oxygen is depleted, which is required for food digestion. This results in a plethora of anaerobic activity and a poisonous environment in the worm bin.
There is always a moisture level sweet spot where your worms reproduce happily, feed happily, and seem to be in good condition. Maintaining a constant moisture level, on the other hand, may be difficult, particularly when the weather changes. Composting worms, on the other hand, are tolerant of a broad range of wetness (50 percent -90 percent ). The optimum moisture content for worm bin bedding is about 80%.
The majority of the moisture in the bin is caused by the food you add. Did you realize that 92 percent of watermelon is water? You may be interested in our information on what worms eat.
Worms dislike much water. Excessive wetness may cause your worms to perish. If your worm bin becomes too moist, the worms will seek for drier conditions. Additionally, if you see your worms becoming pale or growing thin, your worm farm’s moisture levels are probably too high.
A damp worm bin may significantly reduce worm production. And, even worse, it may devolve into an odiferous swarm of anaerobic activity, threatening to ruin your whole bin. Additionally, you may see several white maggots (soldier fly larvae) since they favor sloppy circumstances. Due to the anaerobic conditions in the worm bin, the acidity may rise. Additionally, it is typical to see extensive fungal development in this situation. Additionally, excessive moisture complicates the process of harvesting worm castings and separating the worms from them.
A damp and wet worm farm may be the consequence of the following:
• Adding an excessive amount of meals with a high water content – It is not difficult to see why they named it Watermelon. It contains 92 percent water!
• Adding excessive water – There should be no need to add more water to the worm bin. That is, unless it is very hot. Moisture should be provided by the food scraps you add.
• Inadequate bedding – Fresh bedding aids in absorbing extra moisture. If you do not replace the bedding in your worm bin as it degrades, any extra water will have nowhere to go.
• Inadequate drainage – It is very unusual for the drainage openings in worm bins to get blocked with worm castings. Additionally, the worm castings and bedding may become excessively compact, impairing drainage and ventilation.
• Depending on the design of your worm farm, rainwater may sometimes enter via the lid’s ventilation holes (if any).
Add some dry paper or cardboard on top of the mattress to absorb excess moisture. Additionally, you should inspect the worm bin’s drainage system for obstructions. Take a break from feeding food for a while to allow the bin to dry up a little more. Additionally, if you have been doing so, cease adding water to your worm bin. Moisture should be supplied by the food scraps you add.
The longer term answer is to increase the amount of bedding material available, such as straw and paper. Additionally, ensure that you are not overfeeding the worms, since this may result in excess wetness. Additionally, keep an eye on the water content of the meals you give to the worm bin (e.g. cucumber and lettuce are 96 percent water).
How to Resolve Common Worm Farm Issues
You may want to consult our thorough “go-to” guide on typical worm farm issues and how to resolve them.
Too Dry Worms need moisture to absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide via their skin. This process is aided by a mucus covering on the worm’s skin. If the moisture level in the worm bin is too low, the worms’ bodies would dry up and ultimately suffocate. If you see ants invading your worm bin, this is most likely an indication that your worm bin is becoming too dry.
A dry worm farm may be the consequence of one of the following:
• Low carbon:nitrogen ratio — Carbon-based materials such as newspaper and cardboard absorb moisture. Inadequate diet will also deplete the supply of moisture.
• Weather changes – Obviously, hot, dry weather dries up your worm bin and depletes the air of moisture.
The simple fix is to add some water using a spray bottle until the moisture level is right.
Longer term, the best approach is to maintain a 50:50 split between Greens and Browns. Greens consist of vegetables and fruits, while browns include more fiber and consist of carbon-based products such as paper and cardboard. Always ensure that you have a sufficient amount of wet bedding on top to trap the moisture. Additionally, a worm blanket works well.
Moisture Content of Food Be mindful of the amount of water in the meals you put to the worm bin. Cantaloupe, for instance, is 90% water.
Apart from the list of meals that you should feed your worms, you need also consider the water content of foods. Overfeeding high-moisture vegetables such as zucchini and watermelon may result in an overly moist worm bin.
For reference, below is a list of fruits and vegetables and their water content in percentages:
• 92 percent – Watermelon and strawberries • 90 percent – Cantaloupe • 97 percent – Pineapple, oranges, and raspberries • 91 percent – Grapefruit • 88 percent – Peaches • 86 percent – Apricots • 85 percent – Blueberries • 84 percent – Apple, pear, and tomatos • 81 percent – Cherries and grapes
To add to the intrigue, worms are 90% water. By contrast, humans are about 75% water.
The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Worm Farming
Are you considering establishing a worm farm? This tutorial will show you how to establish a worm farm from scratch.
Checking The Worm Bin’s Moisture Level
Keeping the worm bin at a constant moisture level may be a significant problem. What we are concerned with is the moisture content of the worm compost material. Therefore, do not be alarmed if condensation forms on the lid and edges of the bin. Additionally, the moisture levels will remain consistent throughout the victory. Numerous variables affect the moisture level within the worm bin. This comprises the following: • Temperature • Humidity • Foods • Bedding • Ventilation • Drainage
There are two ways to determine the moisture content of the worm bin:
Squeeze Test – This technique offers a fast and approximate assessment of the worm farm’s moisture level. Moisture content in the worm bin bedding should be comparable to that of a wrung-out sponge. Squeeze a handful of bedding firmly in your palm. Only a few droplets of water should be visible. If you are unable to do so, your worm farm is probably too dry. Additionally, if the material is too moist, it will clump together, and if it is too dry, it will feel sandy, dusty, and crumbly.
- How to Use a Moisture Meter – A moisture meter is suggested for more accurate measurements of the moisture level in the worm bin. The optimum moisture content for worm bin bedding is about 80%. As the contents of the worm bin are not consistent, it is necessary to take an average of several locations to get a more accurate conclusion. Sinking the probe into a region dense with watermelon, for example, will result in a reading that is greater than anticipated. Similarly, inadequately hydrated peat moss may create the illusion that the worm farm is excessively dry.
• Drill holes around the top and sides of the bin to enhance ventilation and evaporation as required. • Always drain the worm farm leachate. Allow no water to collect at the bottom. I leave the spigot open at all times and place a plastic container underneath it to collect the leachate. This helps to avoid floods.
Finally, the worm farm’s moisture and air levels must be balanced to ensure the worms’ and farm’s health.