Q. How do I look after my worms during hot weather?

A. Your worms are living creatures, treat them as you would your family pets.

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your worms can cope with the summer heat & continue to work for you recycling that waste & producing the good stuff for your garden.

  1. Location.

Make sure your worm farm is located in the coolest possible spot.

Don’t allow any sun to shine on it at all. Even morning sun for a short amount of time can be very hot. Worm farms made from black plastic can heat up extremely quickly.

Also be mindful that hot air blowing around the worm farm can also heat it.

  1. Limit feeding.

As food waste generates heat as it’s breaking down, be very careful not to have a build-up of uneaten waste. On the hot days, we also recommend reducing the amount you normally feed. Even not putting in any food is fine. Don’t worry the worms will not starve.

  1. Keep them cool.

Have ready in the freezer a collection of ice packs. Solid ice blocks, as large as possible are best. Ice cubes are too small & defrost too quickly. You can use frozen 600ml water or cooldrink bottles, esky cool bricks, ice packs or takeaway containers full of ice. Keep the ice in their containers & place under the blanket in the worm farm.

On hot days, place a couple of ice packs in the worm farm first thing in the morning & swap them over as they defrost throughout the day.

Even if you are not sure if it’s going to get very hot that day, it won’t do any harm putting the ice packs in. Think of it as a good insurance policy to safe guard your worms.

The aim is to create a COOL environment inside the worm farm.

  1. Water.

Make sure the blanket & their bedding is moist at all times. But do be careful when watering, if the bedding has already got warm/hot then it will heat the water & potentially boil your worms.

If the bedding has already got hot, put in the ice packs rather than watering. Remember you want to create COOL.

  1. Prop the lid open.

By leaving the lid slightly ajar or propped open creates air flow & allows any hot air to escape.

  1. Put them in the garden.

If you are struggling with finding a good location or keeping them cool, you can place the trays of the worm farm with the worms out into the garden. Place them in a reticulated area, so they are getting watered. You can continue to feed the worms in the trays as per usual. If it gets too hot, the worms can move down into the soil where it is cool. They will come back up to feed when it’s suitable.

When the weather is cooler, you can collect the trays along with the worms & reassemble it.

Q. What should I do before going away?

A. If you are going away for a short length of time, just make sure the worm farm is in a cool place & has been watered well. Do not add extra food to the worm farm. If you wish to add some extra moist shredded paper that will be fine, but not food scraps. The worms can go quite some time without food, but you must make sure they will be cool & moist.

If you are going away for an extended time, or during the height of summer, then it would be best to put the worms in a nice place in your garden. If you have a tiered worm farm, place each tray singularly, side by side, on the soil, in a reticulated area of the garden.

Place a bag (or two, or three, depending on how long you are going away) of sheep or horse manure on the soil around the trays. Use a large piece of carpet, or similar, to cover over the trays. This will be kept moist by the reticulation. When you come home, start feeding in the trays to encourage the worms back in (you may need to wait for them to finish the manures first before they head home).

Q. There are red mites in my worm farm. Will they harm the worms?

A. The red mites are not a problem. They will not harm the worms, and they will also help to break down the food. Red mites tend to come & go, appearing when particular types of food are used, like yeast products. If you want to get rid of them, try sprinkling on some dolomite (garden lime).

Q. Worms are on the inside walls and lid of my farm. Are they trying to escape?

A. Often, the worms just wander about because they can. It’s dark and moist and it’s in their nature to move about; it’s not at all uncommon to see a few worms on the inside walls or lid of your worm farm. They may also gather in masses around some food that they really like.

However, when worms are clumping together in corners & around edges of the worm farm, this indicates that there is something wrong with the bedding they’re in; i.e. too hot, too wet, too dry, too acidic, etc. They aren't happy with the bedding and are doing their utmost to get away from it. This requires your immediate attention to determine what the problem is & rectify it.

Q. I have had my farm operating for a while now, but it seems to be taking a long time to fill up with Castings?

A. It is very important to add plenty of shredded paper on a regular basis for the following reasons:

• It helps to aerate the bedding.

• It creates more surface area for bacteria to colonise.

• Worms need 4 times more Carbon (paper, cardboard etc) than Nitrogen (food scraps/green waste).

• As food scraps are mostly liquid, the paper adds bulk for the worms to process.

Q. How do I keep ants out of my worm farm?

A. Stand the worm farm legs in containers of water & add a few drops of Methylated Spirits or Kerosene. To prevent attracting ants in the first place, make sure you bury food scraps completely in the bedding & do not overfeed.