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What did I do wrong?

13 years ago

I thought this would be a simple and fun way to teach the kids about the environment and feed my garden. Here's a little background.

Three months ago I bought a plastic, three tray worm farm online and bought a starter herd of worms at a local garden store. My original bedding was the coconut coir that came with the worm farm. I fed them kitchen scraps each week. After a month I started adding food to a second tray. (I didn't put any bedding in that tray because I'm a dumb rookie and hadn't found these boards) The worms didn't really travel into the second bin, so I continued adding scraps to both the first and second. The worms still seemed healthy.

After a while, the food scraps got moldy and started growing hair and such. I actually thought this was a good thing at first because I thought the worms fed on that stuff. I decided that I needed more worms. I found a lot of worms around the yard. (Different species of course). These went in the bin about two or three weeks ago.

This weekend I pulled the trays apart and found several worms dead in the very bottom of the farm. Then I scooped up a few more living worms. They weren't firm and strong anymore. They were lethargic and week. They were no longer tacky to touch, more wet and sloppy. Also, maybe the most important thing is that the farm had become overrun with insects. Fruit flies, and ants didn't really bother me, but there were all these really small white worms everywhere. (First I thought they were baby worms, wrong) They seemed like parasites, because they were attached to many of the worms. And, there were also tons of teeny black insects that had completely colonized the bottom of my first tray, where I couldn't see them.

So, I hand picked all the living worms and worm eggs out of both trays. The farm was cleaned with water. I started a new tray with egg carton bedding and some coconut coir. For food I gave them crushed apple. 48 hours later, I think all the remaining worms went to the bottom of the farm and died. My daughter's gonna be so sad.

Anyway here's the post-mortem, as I see it; I overfed, I didn't provide enough bedding, I didn't change out the first tray for three months and I added worms from a native, local population. Plus we had a heat wave at the same time. In short, I made a better environment for mold and insects, then for worms.

Am I on the right track?

Hopefully I have made all the rookie mistakes, and do a better job next time.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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