Too many worms in compost – Good or Bad?

When you start worm composting it can take a while before your bin is full of worms. It feels like an accomplishment when you reach that point, but them you start wondering…What if their numbers kept growing?will it overrun your house with worms…A wormacalypse!. Lets address your concerns so you can be at peace 

Can you have too many worms in your compost? No, You cannot have too many worms in a composting pile. After reaching a critical population the worm reproduction slows down. There is limited food in a composting bin which can support limited population of worms. As the competition for limited food increases, the rate of population growth decreases.

Even though you can’t have too many worms, you can still have more than usual worms, which may or may not be optimal for most people. Let’s go through various aspects of the increased worm population and what you can do about it.

What happens if there are more than the required worms in your composting bin

First and foremost, you should be happy that you could attain a thriving population of worms. For most people, the problem is too few worms and not the other way around. It’s time to congratulate yourself.

Most people think that they will continue to grow more and more, and eventually, they with overload the worm bin. These worms will then move in all directions in great numbers and eventually take over their homes! Well, that will never happen except in some bizarre movie. There are, however, a few things that do happen.

  • The habitat quality of your worm bin will decline with the rising number of worms.
  • You might encounter a few worms roaming around. With diminished habitat quality, some worms might leave the bin.
  • The worms automatically start controlling their population. You can expect fewer baby worms in the coming days.

How to remove additional worms

Suppose you are looking to remove additional worms to sell them or give them away; there are a few tricks to do it. While it’s not easy to completely separate worms from compost automatically, but these methods will make it easy for you by concentrating their population in a small area.

  • Light Method: Worms are light-sensitive, and try to stay away from it. You can take a part of the compost and spread it on a covered surface. Then shine some light on it or briefly put it under the sun (Not for long). The worms will move away from the light towards the darker parts.
  • Bin Separation – If you separate your bin into two parts, with older compost on one side and fresher scraps on the other, the worms will migrate to the fresh scraps

Things You Can Do With Additional Worms

Having additional worms in your compost bin is not a bad thing; you can use them in a myriad of ways.

  • Sell the Worms: Turn your additional worms into an asset. Some people are always looking for worms to jump-start their vermicomposting process. With the rising popularity of green living, it’s not hard to find people interested in worms. Worms are more valuable than you think. A pound of red wigglers can fetch you as much as $80 in some places! If you are wondering that it’s too much work to remove, you can sell some of the “Rich Worm Culture Mix.” There is a demand for culture mixes as well. It contains microorganisms in addition to the worms, which can jump-start the composting process. Whatever you want to sell, just put it out on craigslist or your local Facebook groups, and you will be surprised to see the number of people interested in worm composting.
  • Add More Composting Piles: This one is for the people who have additional space and resources to start additional worm piles. Though that may not be the case with most people reading this, I would still like to discuss that. A great way is to take half of the contents of your worm bin and add them to a new bin every few months. Then continue those two as separate bins. You can repeat this process as many times as your space permits.
  • Give Them More Food: More worms can process more food. With all those other worms, your bin can handle larger quantities of waste. Now you can quickly get additional batches of vermicompost for your plants.
  • Feed Them to Other Animals: If you are not overly attached to your worms (I know I was), you can feed them to your pet chickens, lizards, frogs, snakes, turtles, fishes, etc. These animals love worms and would be thankful to you for delicious treats.
  • Spread Vermicomposting: You can include your family and friends in your vermicomposting circle. Help them start their composting bins. You are in a great position to teach them about it. The worms will also be happy to live and expand in their new homes.
  • Give Them Away: Maybe your friends and family are not into composting, but many others are! There are people, colleges, and schools looking for worms. If they are happy to pay money for them, they would certainly be happier to take them for free. Just get in touch with interested people around you.

Why you should consider splitting the bin

By now, you should have known that having too many worms is undoubtedly a good thing; you can do so much with it. One of the best things you can do is split your bin and double the output of the so-called “Black gold.”

Initially, you had a few worms, and before you knew, you had a mass of worms working day and night, converting your scraps into something valuable.

The size of your worm bin limits the population of worms. After exponential growth, they have to slow down to compensate for the limited space. But they don’t have to if you are willing to help. Let’s see the reasons to consider splitting.

  • Stimulating Population: You can restart the worm reproduction, which stopped due to limited space. Most people are often looking for the continued increase in the number of worms to keep getting more output. When you divide a full worm bin into two, the worms sense that there is more space to grow and resume the breeding.
  • Processing More Scrap: You have seen what a few worms can do to your waste, how they can convert it into black gold in a matter of days. Now think what they can do if they have twice the number. More worms equal more scrap turned into fertilizer.
  • Healthier Worms: When worms eat scraps, they cast out their droppings. These droppings are harmful to the worms. As the number of worms grows, the concentration of these potentially harmful casting increases, posing a severe health risk for the worms. But if you split your bin into two and add new waste into your vermicomposting bin, you dilute the bin by reducing the concentration of worm castings. This results in a healthier and thriving population of worms.

Final Thoughts

Nature is pretty good at balancing the worm population, so you should never be worried about having too many worms. It will run its natural course. At first, it starts slow, and then it grows exponentially; after that, it plateaus, and then it declines. However, it’s upto you how you turn the growing population of worms into an asset!

Sources

  • http://compost.css.cornell.edu/worms/basics.html
  • http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/redwormsedit.htm
  • http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/redwormsedit.htm
  • https://extension.psu.edu/earthworm-production
  • https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/open_educational_resources/p5547r80s
  • https://yadda.icm.edu.pl/baztech/element/bwmeta1.element.baztech-8eb9491c-f525-45aa-a789-f002c5c46cf6

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