Category: composting worms

Composting Stuff

pH Meters and Red Worm Composting Bin pH

What is pH in a worm bin?

pH is the measurement of the acidity of the bedding.  Red Worms, European Night Crawlers and African Nightcrawlers, all composting worms for that matter, need a neutral worm bedding pH in order to thrive.  Worm bins that have bedding that is too acidic or alkaline post health risks for the worms.  Before the worms die, however, they will attempt to migrate out of the worm composting bin.

Why is pH important to red worms and all composting worms? 

pH is important because the worms cannot live and breed in a bedding that is too acidic or alkaline.

How does the pH turn acidic?  

pH can be impacted by lack of air flow through the worm bin and bedding, too much moisture in the worm bedding and by the food that is fed to the worms.   Acidic food can, over time, cause worm bedding to form acid.  That doesn't mean that you can't feed your worms citrus, but it does mean that you have to monitor pH and ensure that any fluctuations in compost bedding bin pH are caught and corrected.

Please help me understand pH.  Does a high pH number mean high acid?

No.  pH is on a scale from Acid to Alkaline, so a low number means a higher acid level and a higher number means that the worm bedding is more alkaline.

What is the right pH for Red worms?

The proper pH for red worm composting is between 6 and 7.  This is not an exact science and some worms, like the African Nightcrawler, will have a higher acid level in there worm bin.  The African Night Crawlers also have a tendency to pull bits of food under the bedding as they eat it.  If you are feeding prepared grain based worm food, like chicken egg layer feed, this can cause higher acide levels if the food goes uneaten and breaks down in the bedding.  Feed grain based foods sparingly, and only feed again once you are sure that all of the food is gone.

 

How do you adjust the pH of worm bedding in a worm composting bin?
Adding eggshells to your weekly feedings of your composting bin or beds will help reduce acid.  You can also adjust the pH by properly aerating the bedding and ensuring that there are adequate air holes in the worm bin.

You also should ensure that the worm bedding isn't too wet. Moist worm bedding is great, but wet worm bedding is not.  Wet compost bin bedding will cause anerobic bacteria to take over and this will cause major issues.  Your worms will die without swift action to dry out the bedding and without treatment of the acid levels.

If the aforementioned preventative methods or cures are put into place and you still have pH issues in your worm bin, then having some powdered limestone on hand is the best way to go.

Lightly sprinkle powdered limestone on the surface of the bedding and then mix it into the worm bedding.  Test the bedding a couple of days after applying lime to ensure that the bedding pH is being corrected.

 

Where can I get powdered lime for my worm bed?

You can get powdered limestone from any farm and garden store or you can get it from us.  We have bagged limestone and we have it in a shaker top can. 

One caveat on lime is that you have to ensure that you get powdered lime and not hydrated lime.  Hydrated lime will kill your worms.  Powdered limestone is what you need.  This is what a bag of powdered limestone looks like from a farm and garden store.  

Where can I get a pH Meter?

You can get a pH meter at many farm and garden stores, from us or online.  Please check out our meters or the ones at the links below.

The meter below is a digital pH meter.

LUSTER LEAF 1845 RAPITEST DIGITAL Soil Plant Garden PH Sensor Meter Tester Test
LUSTER LEAF 1845 RAPITEST DIGITAL Soil Plant Garden PH Sensor Meter Tester Test $12.68
Time Remaining: 24d 10h 56m
Buy It Now for only: $12.68
Luster Leaf 1845 Rapitest Digital Soil Garden Plant pH Meter Sensor Test Tester
Luster Leaf 1845 Rapitest Digital Soil Garden Plant pH Meter Sensor Test Tester $12.62
Time Remaining: 10d 1h 18m
Buy It Now for only: $12.62
LUSTER LEAF 1847 RAPITEST DIGITAL PLUS Soil Plant Garden PH Sensor Meter Tester
LUSTER LEAF 1847 RAPITEST DIGITAL PLUS Soil Plant Garden PH Sensor Meter Tester $19.90
Time Remaining: 25d 6h 10m
Buy It Now for only: $19.90

Please watch our video about pH and using pH meters on your red worm composting efforts.

African Nightcrawlers

How Many Worms Do You Need for You Worm Composting Bin?

One of the main questions that we get all year long is "How many worms do I need for my vermicomposting bin?".  Many people start their Red Worm composting bins using bins that they have in the house, or something that they bought inexpensively and they have no idea how many worms it takes to get their worm composter going.  I have probably answered that question a thousand times over the years.

Now the work is done for us thanks to a site called http://www.howmanywormsdoineed.com  .

The site allows you to choose 3 different types of worms and then input your worm bin demensions by inches.  The site then provides how many worms you will need for your worm bin or worm bed.

The cool thing is that it is simple and easy and accurate.  Check it out and let us know your thoughts.  We will be linking to it on our site too.  We have been give permission to link to the calculator below.  Try it out and then squirm on over and get some worms from Wormman.com.  🙂

 







Result

African Nightcrawlers

Making Peat Moss Free Red Composting Worms Breeder Bedding

I get at least an email per week asking me how to make bedding for breeding worms.  Then I get more about how to make bedding without peat moss.  We do not use peat moss because it is nonrenewable, so we opt for creating our own "Worm-Safe" bedding, which can be used for breeding Red Worms, African Night Crawlers and European Nightcrawlers, also known as "Euro Worms".  All red composting worms can use our Worm-Safe worm bedding recipe.

I have made a long video explaining the process.  I apologize for the length of the video but I wanted to get all of the information in.  You can also see a cameo of my son's pig, Spamela.

Making the worm breeder bedding is a two part process.  The first part is mixing about 40% fresh horse, rabbit or cow manure, or aged fowl manure, with 60% straw or other brown material like dried grass clippings.  That mixture is moistened and allowed to heat for a couple of weeks.

Then, once past the compost heating stage, we mix that with 50/50 with shredded cardboard and newspaper that has been wet down, mixed and also allowed to age about a week or so.

We mix those two parts together, 50-50 and let it age again for week to ensure that it will not heat again.  We take daily temperature readings with a composting thermometer.

Then we add the bedding to our composting or bait worm breeder bins.  We only use about 3 inches of that mixture and we put in our breeders.  They stay in that worm bin for 21 days at around 75 degrees and then they are moved to fresh bins.  The egg capsules and babies, which are now in the bin with our original mixture, are placed in an incubator, bin and all, and hatch out.  We keep them in that bin until we can see them easily.  At that point we put them into a growout worm bed and feed them to get them to mature size as quickly as possible.

I will be posting some diagrams and pictures of our system soon.  Please ask your questions below or in our forum.

Thank you.

Ken
Worm Man's Worm Farm.  Wormman.com